Day: May 22, 2016

Jones vs. Jones: A mystery over the true identity of Louisville’s biggest political donor

Business First logoBusiness First has a curious story about political campaign contributions in its current issue both in print and on its website. (We won’t link to the web version because it’s only for subscribers). The story lists the Louisville area’s top 30 individual donors for the 2016 election cycle — this includes White House candidates — and says whether their gifts went mostly to Democrats or to Republicans. The names were compiled for the business weekly by the well-regarded Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan group in Washington that tracks campaign finance.

Here’s what’s odd; bear with us, because it’s complicated. The story says the No. 1 donor is a retired Dr. Mark Jones, who’s said to have given a total $200,950 primarily to Republicans. He’s far and away the most generous donor listed; No. 2 is the philanthropist Christy Brown, who’s given $76,600 (mostly to Democrats), according to the list.

But Boulevard wonders whether the center has erred. We used its searchable database to build our own list of the biggest Kentucky donors for the 2016 election cycle. At the top of our list: one David A. Jones, identified only as a Louisville retiree who gave $200,000 on Sept. 14 to the Kentuckians for Strong Leadership PAC.

David Jones Sr
Jones

He’s almost certainly Humana co-founder David A. Jones Sr.; the PAC lists his $200,000 gift, and his West Main Street office address in its annual 2015 Federal Election Commission report. (Moreover, if you search solely for any David A. Joneses, you turn up another five donations totaling $41,500 from a retired David A. Jones Sr., including $33,400 on May 27, 2015, to the Republican National Committee. However, it doesn’t look like these gifts were from his son, venture capitalist and Humana director David A. Jones Jr.; these appear to be from Jones Sr.)

Back to the Business First story. The center’s database does, indeed, show two contributions by a Dr. Mark Robert Jones of Louisville, but totaling only $950. And unlike Business First’s account, Jones isn’t identified as retired. The donations went to 21st Century Oncology; it’s unclear whether that’s a PAC.

Did the center mistakenly credit the $200,000 from David Jones Sr. to Dr. Jones and his $950, pushing the doctor to the top of the list? It certainly seems possible. That would mean the Humana co-founder is the real top donor, with a total $241,500. We’ll watch Business First for any clarification in the days ahead.

McConnell,Mitch-012309-18422-jf 0024
McConnell

This much is certain: The Kentuckians for Strong Leadership PAC is solidly Republican. “Our highest priority in 2014,” its website says, “was ensuring the reelection of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. In 2016, we turn our attention to delivering control of Kentucky’s State House of Representatives to the Republican Party.”

For Humana’s top brass, Anthem-Cigna’s private ‘squabbles’ offer a window on mega-merger pitfalls

A news summary, focused on big employers; updated 6:12 p.m.

anthem-cigna-logos-thumb-400Quarrels have broken out behind the scenes of Anthem’s proposed acquisition of Cigna, as the health insurers seek regulatory approval for their landmark $48 billion deal, according to a series of letters reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. “People on both sides say the squabbles could delay or derail antitrust approvals, which are typically harder to obtain if both parties aren’t in sync,” the Journal is reporting today.

The deal was announced July 24, three weeks after Aetna and Humana announced their own planned $34 billion tie-up, as big insurers sought scale and efficiency in a shifting U.S. health care industry. The Anthem-Cigna dissension suggests their proposal may fall behind in the regulatory review,  worrisome because it’s “thought to have better odds if reviewed alongside Aetna-Humana,” the Journal says.

On Friday, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said he expected his company’s purchase of Humana would close during the second half of the year. He also said he couldn’t rule out the possibility Aetna might move its headquarters from its historic Hartford home once the deal is complete.

In other news, new federal overtime regulations could force employers to boost the pay of about 149,000 Kentuckians, although mostly at small and mid-sized companies. Starting in December, salaried employees earning $47,476 or less annually must be paid time-and-a-half for working more than 40 hours in a week; that’s twice the current level (Courier-Journal).

In today’s Courier-Journal, a tale of two newspapers

CJ premium editionFor a glimpse of what the Courier-Journal can do when it really commits resources, consider today’s installment of the quarterly premium sections introduced in March. It’s devoted to all things food: from farmer’s markets to an impressive farm-to-table restaurant guide. It’s handsomely designed, as you can see in the photo, left, of the cover.

And at a $1 per-subscriber surcharge, the sections surely brings in tens of thousands of dollars in additional revenue. Plus, they’ve got a long shelf life, so readers are likely to keep them well after recycling the rest of the paper.

But that’s in the CJ’s printed version. Where’s all that special new content in the other, more important edition: the website and mobile app, where coveted younger readers spend most of their time? Boulevard can’t find it online in  the food section. Ditto for the farm-to-table section, or health and fitness. Strangest of all, it’s not in the subscribers-only Xtras section, even though that’s where the paper’s top editor directed readers when the first installment was published in March.

Newspapers everywhere are battling for business in a world turned upside down by online competition. But all too often, their digital distribution comes up way too short, especially when it involves content that, like freeze-dried food, has a long shelf life.

Jennifer LawrenceBoulevard reviews the latest media coverage of the Oscar-winning Louisville native in our exclusive Jennifer Lawrence Diary™. Today’s news, rated on a scale of 1-5 stars:

Three starsLawrence was trashing her Beverly Hills house — figuratively, at any rate — not long after she snapped it up for $8.2 million in October 2014. The 5,500-square-foot bachelorette pad’s provenance was apparently problematical. “It’s Ellen [DeGeneres]’s old house,” Lawrence said, according to Pop Sugar. “It was Jessica Simpson‘s old house. It’s like the neighborhood whore. I was outside and some girl was like, ‘I grew up in this house.’ Beat it, kid. Everybody’s lived in this house.”

Now, pushing two years later, that kid would have plenty of company on the street outside, according to this just-published MSN story:

“There are 10 [paparazzi] sleeping outside my house, and I see them every morning and it’s not lovely,” 25-year-old Lawrence says. “I’ve talked about it a lot with other actors who have the same problems, but we don’t really like to complain about it because if we do people go, ‘Shut up, millionaires,’ and say, ‘you’re so lucky.’ And yes, we are lucky, but I deserve the right to have control over my image. I would prefer that the only time somebody sees me is when I am in a film or in character or if I am promoting a movie.”

Curbed Los Angeles says Lawrence’s house in the guarded Hidden Valley enclave sold for $6.4 million only a year before she bought it from DeGeneres for nearly $2 million more. For those 10 men who’d love to come inside to snap pictures, Curbed offers this inside tour — including the entrance, with the garage gate open:

Jennifer Lawrence house

For not being all judge-y about Lawrence’s poor-me travails, Boulevard gives MSN three stars!

$25 per hour: Here’s a job so unusual, it’ll probably leave friends scratching their heads

time-clockBoulevard reports extensively on executive pay at big local employers. But we also look at what folks are making down in the trenches — or, in this case, up in the heads. Here’s a recent ad from Craigslist’s salon/spa/fitness category of Louisville job listings.

The job: head lice removal technician.

The description: Lice Doctors is looking for people who can work part-time, on-call — and away from an office, because you’ll likely treat families in their home or another agreed-upon location. To qualify, you must have experience removing head lice, either professionally or on family and friends; be able to find small nits in hair, and have reliable transportation, a valid driver’s license, and proof of auto insurance. Ideally, you have already worked in healthcare (such as a nurse, home health aide, certified nursing assistant, or phlebotomist); as a hairdresser, and with children.

What the ad doesn’t say seems nearly as important, according to the company’s website: You must be willing to tell people what you do for a living, in a conversation that goes like this:

“You’re a what?!”

“A lice remover.”

” . . . so you pick lice out of people’s hair?”

“Yep.”

“Does it work? Can you really get rid of the lice? Do you clean their whole house or something?”

“It works 100%. I can really get rid of the lice and I don’t do anything with the home because that isn’t necessary. All the focus and energy goes towards the head and hair.”

“Do you use a pesticide or something?”

“No, I use olive oil.”

“Olive oil?!”

“Yep.”

What it pays: $25 per hour, plus travel expenses. (Lice Doctors charges customers $125 for the first hour, then $110 for each additional hour.) At that hourly rate, working 20 hours a week (plus many extra hours after school starts, we imagine), you’d earn $26,000 a year.

Related: Yes, you really can use olive oil to treat lice. Plus, Amazon sells 143 different lice removal kits.