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Citizen’s permanent vacation postponed – for now

Citizen Staff Writer

I’ve been overeating, lying to the dog, barely cleaning – the house, mostly, not myself – figuring next week there would be plenty of time for sit-ups, walkies and head-to-toe moisturizing.

Pure folly.

The Tucson Citizen’s day-to-day status might be seen as an existential opportunity, a chance to live in the “now.” Except that usually we make some plans for “next week.”

News that the Gannett Co. Inc. will hold off the planned March 21 closure of the Citizen while it negotiates with possible buyers raises questions about a severance package good for up to 26 weeks’ pay.

Gannett informed Citizen employees late Friday afternoon that the paper will not be sold or closed before March 27.

Happily, from the point of view of the noble workers of the proletariat, the CEO’s pay was cut to $3.1 million.

And the company spokeswoman did return our phone calls. Eventually.

TELLING TEACHERS: The state’s economic shakes make Gannett look like bedrock. One issue in play this week: whether to tell teachers now their contracts might not be renewed, or wait till June 15, when the funding picture may be clearer.

It hardly matters. Anyone with a teaching position knows it’s tenuous. Early notice might help some people plan ahead, but anyone could make the wrong call.

Armed with my new teaching certificate, I found few districts advertising opportunities.

Rural districts may fare slightly better. New teachers could have a good life near the border – if they lived on the Mexican side.

IT TAKES TWO? Reina Gonzales and Christopher Payne both caused the deaths of Payne’s children, who were imprisoned and starved to death in 2006.

Gonzales cut a deal that will have her out of prison in about 20 years.

Payne, though, faces the death penalty after a jury this week took about three hours to convict him of first-degree murder.

The jury will decide between life in prison or execution after the sentencing phase of his trial, which continues Tuesday.

His defense strategy has been to blame Gonzales.

With two defendants, prosecutors run the risk of making deals with the devil. Gonzales may be just as guilty as Payne.

But with just one in front of jurors, I doubt they’ll face a tough call.

HAPPY NORUZ: Like other presidents, Barack Obama released a greeting to the people of Iran to coincide with the Persian new year.

His is on the Net, with Farsi subtitles, and calls for diplomatic relations – if the regime drops its usual bluster.

Iran, a hotbed of blogging, probably won’t put too much stock in the well-wishes.

The country has a well-entrenched democratic structure, but ultimately religious leaders make the calls. Hating Israel and enriching uranium are two favorite government pastimes.

Then again, John McCain famously resurrected a Beach Boys’ knockoff from the hostage era – “Bomb Iran” – that recently was taken off YouTube.

There is this: Iran hates the Taliban just as much as we do.

LUTE VS. UTES: I gave the University of Arizona Wildcats about as much hope of getting into the NCAA Tournament as I did the Citizen’s surviving March 21.

Retired coach Lute Olson’s recruits helped the Cats get into Sunday’s second round.

Good for the team, and for interim coach Russ Pennell.

We’ll keep covering them for a few more days, at least. Oh, me of little faith.

Contact Judy Carlock at 573-4608 or jcarlock@tucsoncitizen.com. To read the stories she refers to, click on this column at www.tucsoncitizen.com.

Carlock: Second life possible for the Citizen – what about its staff?

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