Dan Neil, a Los Angeles Times auto critic and columnist, just left the paper to join the Wall Street Journal. He released a particularly fiery exit memo yesterday, taking a jab at the Los Angeles Times‘ owners, Sam Zell and co. at the Tribune company:
It’s been a rough few years here, mainly because of the jackasses in Chicago who own us. To them I say, with as much gusto as I can muster in an email, fuck you.
On a happier note, there’s not a person in this building I do not like, if not love. The paper has more greatness ahead of it, and I’ll be watching from the east coast and rooting you on.
Read the whole memo at LA Observed.
Neil won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 2004, so he’s certainly a pro at harsh insights. But this isn’t his first run-in with Zell.
In 2008, Neil participated in a class action lawsuit against Zell, with several former LA Times employees (Neil was the only one who still worked at the paper) seeking to force the Tribune boss to relinquish control of the company, according to Portfolio.
“This is basically a workers’-rights issue,” says Dan Neil, an automotive columnist* who won a Pulitzer Prize for his work at the Times. The suit hinges on what he and his fellow plaintiffs allege is Zell’s misuse of the employee stock ownership plan through which Zell was able to acquire a controlling interest in Tribune for a mere $500 million. “The ESOP law was not written so companies could be taken over like this. It’s an abuse of the ESOP structure and, I think, a fairly obvious effort to avoid paying taxes.”
Zell responded to the lawsuit with a statement that denounced the suit’s allegations as “frivolous and unfounded” and cast the employees’ actions as an affront to team spirit.
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