Lee newspaper columnist writes about CEO Mary Junck

With career-threatening candor, Bill McClellan, a columnist still employed at the Lee-owned St. Louis Post Dispatchwrites about his recent social interaction with the company’s CEO, Mary Junck. Like many of us, he’s a little slow but invariably polite in social situations:

“Hello,” she said. “Aren’t you Bill McClellan?”

I am, I said.

“I’m Mary Junck,” she said.

They didn’t discuss work! It was, after all, a summer party. Bill is more candid when he’s at a keyboard:

I have written about Junck before, and not warmly. Last September, when Lee announced a round of layoffs at this newspaper, I wrote that while the workers were facing uncertain futures, Junck seemed to be like the banks — too big to fail.

If that sort of thing bothered her, she didn’t let on. Not when I wrote it, not at the party.

The fact is, Ms. Junck, by the actual evidence, is dismantling the business she nominally “leads”: She’s cutting staff and has pocketed over a million dollars (in bonus pay this year) for doing it.

McClellan says he’s a Lee stockholder. It makes you wonder how many Lee employees hold Lee stock in their 401k’s. What do they say to each other when the job-slashing CEO is rewarded, gifted, incentivized (what IS the word) with another half-million shares ($655,000)?

The company’s executive compensation committee said stockholders would benefit from linking her compensation to the value of the company’s stock.

As a stockholder, I hope so. When Lee bought Pulitzer Inc. in 2005, Lee stock was at $44.55. It closed Friday at $1.26. Junck has been CEO for all that time.

By the way, her $500,000 bonus in March was for steering the company out of bankruptcy.