Merry Axe-mas from the News-Herald!

As the holidays approach, be thankful for those few jobs in Cleveland that naturally suck more than yours — like chairing the Kucinich for President campaign. More than that, be thankful you still have a job to complain about. Howie Balaban can't. In August — a month after he and his pregnant wife moved from Des Moines, Iowa to Mayfield Heights -- Balaban got a job as a copy editor for the Lake County News-Herald. For the next three months he helped assemble editions for Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula Counties. The bosses were pleased. His wife had a baby boy. Things were good. Then, a month ago, Balaban got a call from Tricia Ambrose, the paper's executive editor. She asked if they could meet before he went to work that evening. No problem, he told her — he just needed to call a sitter for his son. "Clue No. 1 should have been: 'Oh, that's not a problem. You can bring your son with you.'" Okay, he thought. What time? Right before his shift — say, four o'clock? Three-thirty, maybe? One-thirty, she said. "And when she said the Golden Gate shopping center, which is, like, right around the corner from us and much further out of the way for her, that should have been Clue No. 2." Ambrose didn't diddle. She told Balaban the News-Herald was cutting down from three editions to two. They needed fewer copy editors. They were letting him go. Later, dude. He couldn't believe it. Staffers thought the paper was already two copy wonks short. But what really peeved Balaban was the timing. With three months in he was just about to start accruing benefits. Now he's got to find some other way to support a cherub and a wife paying to finish medical school, which even C-Notes can tell you costs more than a nice box of fruitcake. "For lack of a better word, it sucks," he says. Speaking of fruitcakes, hopefully Ambrose isn't too busy touring the region to whack other breadwinners right before the holidays. She didn't return our calls. Still, Balaban insists there are no hard feelings. "I'm not bad-mouthing anybody," he says. No need, How-itzer. Happy to step in. -- Jason Nedley
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