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STEVE BAILEY | DOWNTOWN

I take it all back

King Kilts -- I mean Mr. Kilts -- is a great man. A masterful executive, a humanitarian, and a guy who looks fabulous in a blue suit. And he is going to make one wonderful director for my company, The New York Times Co., owner of The Boston Globe.

Now I admit it took a few minutes to get my mind right about Mr. Kilts moving to our team. But on further reflection, I may have been just a little too harsh when I wrote that column -- or two or three -- about him cutting thousands of jobs at Gillette -- and Nabisco before that -- and getting paid $165 million (excluding the newest slug of options, mind you) for selling one of Boston's last great companies.

The Globe's long-term owners, the Taylor family, had no trouble selling the place to Times Co., so why should Mr. James Kilts not sell Gillette to Procter & Gamble? And for him, commuting to New York for monthly board meetings from Rye, N.Y., should be a lot less stressful than those long limo rides to Boston from time to time.

It's not like Times Co. can't use someone with Mr. Kilts's skills. You might have read about the Internet creating a little uncertainty in my business, what with people insisting on reading the news online for free and putting their classified ads for free -- that ugly word again -- on craigslist. Mr. Kilts is a proven turnaround guy, and Wall Street adores him. Yesterday there was a Kilts rally in the Times anemic stock, which gained $1.41 to close at $32.15. Thank you, Mr. Kilts.

Times Co. has a big job ahead. Who cares that King Kilts -- oops, Mr. Kilts -- is seen in Boston as Mr. Greed? Who cares that he spent four years commuting between Rye and Boston, cut 6,500 jobs (with thousands more to come), and then made a fortune on the way out the door? It is a little odd to see a man who is allergic to the press sitting on the board of one of the world's most prestigious media companies.

When he rolls up his sleeves at Times Co., and brings out the bag of tricks he has used so well selling razors and Velveeta and cutting costs, I want him to know that I have changed my mind and mended my ways. I also want him to know I have a mortgage and three kids.

So welcome, Mr. Kilts. We value your help -- even if we don't share your values.

Neighborhood news. As the Museum of Fine Arts continues to seek givebacks in a new contract with its security guards, it makes the point to anyone who will listen that these are tough times -- even as it is raising hundreds of millions to expand. But what the MFA has been saying in public and private are two different things.

Here is what director Malcolm Rogers said to the staff in June in disclosing 23 layoffs: ''These have been tough economic times nationwide. . . . This has required us to examine every expense and to make adjustments appropriate to the long-term interests of the museum."

Here is what deputy director John Stanley told the board in September, according to the board minutes:

''Overall it was an excellent year for the museum, which along with the School of the Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts and Enterprise, ended the year in the black." Stanley reported gains virtually across the board -- in assets, investments, giving, and cash. The corporation's ''net," as he described it, was $2.4 million -- or twice what was budgeted.

A museum spokeswoman says the job cuts were to avoid future deficits, and says $1 million of the surplus went for staff bonuses.

Steve Bailey is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at bailey@globe.com or at 617-929-2902.

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