Did Bill Marimow Ask for $1 Million to Leave the Inquirer?

One side of the ownership dispute says yes. The other side says he simply wasn’t for sale.

Bill Marimow. Photo | AP / Joseph Kaczmarek

Bill Marimow. Photo | AP / Joseph Kaczmarek

The two sides in the dispute among owners of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com got hung up on one issue in last-ditch settlement talks: the fate of Inquirer editor Bill Marimow.

According to a person with knowledge of the negotiations, Marimow requested four years salary, equal to about $1 million, to vacate his editor’s position.

Attorney William Chadwick, who represented Marimow, rejects this account.

“The assertion that Bill Marimow asked for any money during the negotiations — much less 4 years severance — is absolutely false,” says Chadwick. “His primary concern is and always has been the journalistic independence of the Inquirer. For that reason, Mr. Marimow rejected numerous offers of severance because they did nothing to ensure the journalistic independence of the paper, which he believes cannot be maintained so long as George Norcross controls the paper. Mr. Marimow believes Norcross’s motivation for removing him as editor stems from Norcross’s desire to control the content of the paper, which Marimow has resisted.”

A spokesman for insurance executive and political power broker George Norcross III, Dan Fee, responds: “There has never been any credible evidence that George Norcross has either directly or indirectly attempted to influence the newsroom, or the journalistic and editorial operations of the company. None has appeared in print, none was introduced in the hearings and they never even bothered to call him to testify under oath when they had the chance. They’ve made a lot of allegations, and provided no facts. And if they had any, they would be public by now. Other than that, we can not have any comment on discussions between the parties.”

Marimow, a two-time Pulitzer prize winning journalist, in his second stint as editor of the Inquirer, was fired in October by publisher Robert Hall. The dismissal set in motion a wave of suits and counter-suits that continues to this day. The court proceedings, which went on over a couple of weeks at City Hall, made public a schism that had been present since the early days of the new ownership group’s existence.

The primary combatants are George Norcross III, an insurance executive and the Democratic party boss of South Jersey, and Lewis Katz, a parking lot magnate with deep political connections of his own. The pair sit on a two-man management committee that, according to the terms of their operating agreement, must agree on major business decisions. Katz, the longtime companion of Inquirer city editor Nancy Phillips, backed Marimow and contended, in court, that he had not been allowed to exercise his blocking rights as a co-manager. His lawyers also argued that Hall, the publisher, had been acting on Norcross’s behalf both in requesting that Marimow fire specific sub-editors and ultimately in firing Marimow himself.

Chadwick adds that shortly after Marimow had been fired, Katz was approached, through a back channel, with a pair of offers. The first was for three years’ salary, which Marimow rejected after hearing about it from Katz because it did nothing to ensure the journalistic independence of the paper.  The second offer was so large Katz told Marimow it would “make him a rich man,” and that he didn’t want to specify the figure for fear it would “ruin his day.”

According to Chadwick, Marimow declined this second offer without ever hearing what it was worth.

“If Bill Marimow was offered something by Mr. Katz,” Fee responds, “they should be asked where the money was coming from. Clearly they thought it was worth giving him money to go away or else they wouldn’t have even raised the issue with him. Otherwise, this allegation should be considered just another in their series of illusionary claims.”

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  • Keith

    Norcross is up to no good. Call homeland security

  • Love to Read

    These big Boys(?) are acting like a pair of bullies – where is the interest in getting the news to the public. This in-fighting and posturing is ridiculous, annoying, and should be stopped immediately!!! I ‘m tired and disgusted about reading/hearing about this fiasco! Everyone grow up and be realistic Philly is a super town and deserves a GREAT paper – Remember when we had the Inquirer, the Bulletin as competitors and they did a wonderful job of getting information, news to the public. Where is the Philly pride in getting a job well done! Disgusting behavior on both sides – very childish -and very expensive – so petty it is nauseating. In my opinion,the principals are working toward the goal of getting the Inky closed down by trying to argue themselves out of existence and the public be damned! and THEN PHILLY WILL NOT HAVE A LOCAL PAPER! come on BOYS and play nice! I want a paper to hold and read at my convenience not an electronic gizmo!

  • Mister E

    What a total embarrassment that place continues to be.

    Norcross is a smart man. He knows that you can control your image if you control information. And you control information by controlling the source of the information, which is the Inquirer. And what does his daughter possess that qualifies her to run the philly.com operation?

  • Keith

    Norcross controls the content of AOL Patch and since he has invested MILLIONS in that unethical, inaccurate, MANUFACTURED Misleading and COMPROMISED Social Media Site, Norcross has managed to use negative, Cyber Harrassing, Cyber Bullying, Defamatory stories and photos to destroy individuals Norcross seeks VENGEANCE on. Norcross loves to Punish and Hurt people who go against what he wants. Patch is a failing social media site that needs to hyperlocal link with DIGITAL News to keep Norcross and his Negative
    CONCOCTED stories on Google sites and create Negative Content and Inaccurate information that is One Soded and BIASED. Norcross wants to misuse news and Patch editors are Desperate, Greedy, Write stories with Reckless Disregard. Some of these reporters wrote for him at the Courier Post and those who were against him at one time have now Sold Out for a Buck.

    Patch writes what George Norcross wants the Witten. Patch has No integrity and is Biased. Norcross is going to destroy people with Patch. I bet he is the secret partner of Patch. Armstrong and Norcross love Firing People. Two Arrogant SOBs Arianna Huffington is part of this crap too.

    Philly mobsters and elected officials better watch out. Their is power on the Pen and it looks like Norcross will soon be running Philly like he runs NJ. Lexie is kissing up to Cornett and letting him have his own articles

    The Norcross’s are Evil Manipulators – Immoral Snakes. Don’t fall for their kindness, they will set you up for a fall. Dirty people with active and an agenda.

    My question is, what’s up with Patch and Pakistan?

  • Keith

    Norcross is a Chronic Liar.