Happier times at the Long Beach Post’s former offices. Photo by Thomas Cordova.

Well, it’s like this

People stop me on the street, which is always sort of alarming because I feel like I’m going to get yelled at, but they simply ask how things are going at the Post, and that’s a disappointing question, ranking with “How do you get your ideas?”

I wrote a column years ago about how I get my ideas, but I’ve forgotten at some point during the intervening years. As for the Post, things aren’t grand right now.

For starters, we’re running low on cash and have laid off several staffers in order to keep afloat, and most of those who weren’t laid off are now on strike alongside those who were. That makes for a sad situation not only for the Post and its ever-increasing readership, but also on a more personal side, which always carries a lot of weight with me as well.

I’ve lost a friend or two over the years for a variety of reasons, but never so many at one time, because I’m on the other side in this situation.

I’ve spent most of my career — maybe 80 percent — on the side of labor and labor unions when I’ve felt that the union’s issues are worth fighting for. I’ve walked more picket lines than I like to remember, and spent many weekends being one of those pests that accost people in Target parking lots asking folks to sign de-circulation cards in case management refused to negotiate with us.

Happily, we always reached an agreement eventually and life went on. We were all reasonable adults. Unfortunately, in some cases I’ve been involved with in later years, unions have only existed to serve their least competent members.

In the case with the Post, the employees’ chief, if not sole, criticism fell on our CEO Melissa Evans, with some of the excess grievances going to our executive editor Jeremiah Dobruck, and I can’t be part of that. Melissa, in particular, was excoriated by the dissatisfied employees, in a sudden, seemingly spontaneous rebellion in which she was blamed for everything that could go wrong. 

In June 2018, Melissa, Jeremiah and I walked away from the foundering PressTelegram and we were quickly followed by photographer Thomas Cordova. Perhaps not coincidentally, we’re the only ones who didn’t join the walk-out or subsequent strike (although I have the asterisk that comes with having recently retired, except for writing this newsletter).

I’ve worked for Melissa since she was a little kid and have never had anything but a sort of shameless admiration and appreciation for her work over the more than a dozen years I’ve worked in close proximity to her. I’ve told her often that she’s the best editor I’ve ever worked for, and that’s still true, despite all of the blame and derision recently heaped upon her.

I have similar feelings for Jeremiah, who I first met when he strode into the Press-Telegram office for a job interview with Melissa. He’s the finest investigative reporter I’ve known and an excellent editor and mentor for several of our later hires at the Post. Those who have walked out at the Post have called him Melissa’s “henchman,” which is ludicrous. I don’t think he’s capable of henching.

And, of course, there’s no better person to work with than “my photographer” Thomas, who I can’t praise highly enough.

No one, least of all Melissa, is to blame for whatever problems the Post is facing right now. News gathering and publishing vacuums up money. It’s a truism that the fastest way to become a millionaire is to become a billionaire and buy a newspaper. And when a newspaper can no longer afford to keep a full and talented group of people, no amount of striking will change that. Are the laid-off and striking workers angry? Of course. Just as angry, I suppose, as the thousands of others affected by the continuing shuttering of news outlets nationwide.

I’ve been happy coming to work in our offices for the nearly half-dozen years since I joined the Post.

It’s been fun, it really has. I hope it will be again for those who choose to stay and help cover Long Beach and keep an eye on its politicians and celebrate its people.

For me, I have no complaints. It’s been an honor and a pleasure to have been a part of it.

Turning, rather alarmingly, to breakfast

My daughter Hannah and I have embarked on a worldwide search for the best breakfast and, as a loyal reader might point out, we’ve only tried places in Long Beach, save for a brief and uneventful excursion into Lakewood.

On Monday we traveled to the faraway city of Seal Beach (pop. 24,627) for a breaking of our fast at The Hangout on Ocean Avenue and Main Street, the site of the former Kinda Lahaina.

It’s not going to crack the Top 10 of best breakfast spots in the world. My waffle came with little foil-wrapped packets of cold, hard butter along with a steak knife which sadly came in handy. I probably should have opted for the Surf and Turf Bloody Mary, served with a skewered shrimp and bacon.

Another lesson learned.

Tim Grobaty is a columnist and the Opinions Editor for the Long Beach Post. You can reach him at 562-714-2116, email [email protected], @grobaty on Twitter and Grobaty on Facebook.