Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Fast-lane Spector riles Tribune reporters

Penny-pinching at the ChiTrib is getting downright miserly, acc to recent reports in the rival Sun-Times, which detail how the beancounters want to save half a million bucks on office supplies:

For some employees at the Chicago Tribune, a memo Monday was the last straw. Make that the last Post-it note, pen and notebook.

The paper's corporate owner, Tribune Co., is trying to save $500,000 a year on office supplies. Gerald Spector, the company's chief administration officer, issued a memo asking workers to reduce their supply purchases and to economize on travel.

Spector told employees Tribune needs to cut its $3.5 million annual shopping bill at OfficeMax. But some workers said Spector might not have been the best guy to deliver a message about penny-pinching.

Around Tribune Tower, Spector, 61, is known for cruising into the executive parking lot with a 2007 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, worth about $235,000, according to car valuation references. Records also show Spector has owned a 2001 Ferrari 360 Spider, worth about $172,000, and a 2004 Mercedes-Benz SL600, which cost $126,000 new but now commands a modest $59,000.

The three cars are worth about what Spector hopes to achieve in corporate savings, which perhaps was on his mind when he wrote, "As you can see with office supplies, small amounts quickly add up and make a difference."

Spector did not return a call Monday, and a Tribune spokeswoman declined to comment.

It's the latest sign of cutbacks and culture shock at Tribune, which is groaning under $13 billion in debt. Real estate titan Sam Zell used the debt to finance a company buyout last year that made him chairman.

He has since brought in longtime associates to shake up a media company Zell has described as bloated and bureaucratic. The new bosses have ordered layoffs at other company newspapers and are expected to do so this summer at the Chicago Tribune.

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