I have had the displeasure of laying people off in my time as a manager of some sorts. It's gut-wrenching. It's horrible. It's dickish. But I've done it because the poor soul whose career I'm about to disrupt deserves to hear it in person from the boss who's axing him or her.
Can someone please tell this basic tenet of manhood to Orange County Register owner Aaron Kushner? Last Thursday, the man who would save journalism jolted the newspaper world by pushing out–either via buyout, forced resignation or flat-out layoff–32 reporters, editors and designers. Now, some of those affected are telling the Weekly exactly how it went down–without Kushner being enough of a man to do the dirty deed himself.
"Got told to report to HR, and that was that," said one person, who requested anonymity. People went in, one by one, to learn their fate. Stunned colleagues could only look on or, at best, help them pack up (at one point, I nearly reported that Register reporter Mary Ann Milbourn–who has been reduced to writing press releases for the Kushner regime–was among those laid off, until a source realized she was merely being helpful).
Kushner also wasn't present in the Register's newsroom to send departing editor Ken Brusic off, according to newsroom sources. And that memo he sent off, lamely spinning his layoffs after hiring up for more than a year? Didn't even have the guts to send it off himself–instead, his Minister of Information, Eric Morgan, forwarded it Thursday at 3:42 p.m. to "OCR Associates," exactly five hours after the news had broken. At no time during that day or Friday did Kushner ever directly address the newsroom or those he axed.
Kushner wasn't always this wimpy in laying off people. As quoted from my 2012 Kushner profile:
On the day of the card companies' merger [that Kushner had orchestrated] was announced, Kushner called an all-employees meeting. "When they opened up the door," a former employee told Boston magazine in a 2011 Kushner profile, "we got into a line like cattle, and there were people at the door with clipboards asking us what our name was, and they looked at us and said, 'Okay, you go upstairs, you go to the cafeteria, you go upstairs, you go to the cafeteria.' Once we started seeing who was in the room, we were like, 'Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Those people downstairs are going to be let go today.' And sure enough, that's what happened. We never got to say goodbye to them."
And now? Kushner didn't even have the stones to do that. Aaron Smalley rides again!