She’s gone

Talk about getting scooped. Imagine our surprise to read in last week’s Enterprise-Record that our publisher, Kathy Barrett, had quit. In truth, my journalistic instincts kicked in the day before that story came out when an E-R reporter called and said, “We heard Kathy Barrett quit.” I made a note to jot down that information and do some good old-fashioned gumshoe investigating. First I’d call Kathy’s office. If that didn’t work, I’d walk downstairs and knock on her office door. I’d get to the bottom of this, I told myself. Unfortunately, that night the cleaning people threw away my note reminding me to look into the matter.

The next day, we read the story in the E-R. But like most of what we read there, we were skeptical. Then, one of our sales reps said, “You know, now that I think about it, I did notice Kathy’s office has been dark the last few days.” Another chimed in, “Yeah, and there’s suddenly an extra space in the parking lot. Hmm,” she said, nodding her head and tapping her forefinger against her right temple, “this is starting to make sense.” And with that a flood of circumstantial evidence poured forth. Kathy’s mailbox was full. Her IN/OUT button on the board next to the front door was missing. So was her name. We all agreed that none of us had seen either her husband Jim or her son Calloway around the office for at least a week. We looked at each other in stunned disbelief. Could the E-R story be true? Was our Georgia peach really gone? We mentally staggered under the crushing weight of this cruel and unforgiving realization. “Kathy,” we cried out in unison, “we hardly knew ye!”

That’s not really accurate. Here’s the story: Last week we were remiss not to report that our publisher, Kathy Barrett, had decided after eight years here to expand her horizons and try something new, like raising her son and maybe running her own business. We’ll miss her sharp wit and delightful Georgia accent, both of which have been flavored by stays in New York and San Francisco. We wish her luck and aren’t all that sad because she and her family are still in town. And I got a new parking space.

We got a tip this week that Assemblyman Rick Keene was turned away from a governor’s press conference on the new man’s second day in office. We heard Keene was stopped at the door, so he pushed his business card forward to show his credentials—he was recently named the lead Republican member of the Assembly Budget Committee. But the card came back and the doors didn’t open. We called Keene’s chief of staff, Cliff Wagner, who was in Chico, but he told us he hadn’t heard anything about it and seriously doubted it was true. I suggested maybe Keene didn’t have the proper reporter’s credentials. “Well the only thing I could think of is if every square inch of the governor’s press room was filled, maybe then,” Wagner said. “You ever been in that room?” I said I hadn’t. “Well, it’s pretty small.” (Actually the conference was held in Memorial Auditorium.) Wagner called back later to confirm the tip and said Keene hadn’t heard that the press conference was for reporters only. (Hey, maybe this new guy isn’t too bad.) We’re guessing Keene said in a thick Austrian accent, “I’ll be back!” before he walked away.