Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Friday, September 01, 2006

Update on Suspensions - Press Conference Tuesday

As reported on both BlogaBarbara this morning and Craig Smith's Blog -- the suspensions include Dawn Hobbs, Barney McManigal, Mike Traphagen, Lara Milton and Rob Kuznia.

Just got this press release from the Teamsters:

To: All Media
From: The Organized Staff of the Santa Barbara News-Press

Re: Press conference at SBNP

Recent critical developments at the Santa Barbara News-Press have prompted us, the organized staff of the newsroom, to hold a press conference Tuesday, Sept. 5, at noon.

This press conference will be held either on De la Guerra Plaza or at the adjoining placita (if the fence is not yet taken down around the plaza).

There will be several major announcements made concerning the following:

*The illegal suspension of newsroom employees who attempted to deliver a letter to Wendy McCaw, the News-Press owner of five years, requesting she respect our individual liberties and allow us to make up our own mind about whether we want to oin a union. To date, McCaw and her union-busting attorneys have instead relied on tactics of intimidation, harassment and retaliation to dissuade us from doing so.

*Our immediate response to McCaw ignoring the request of the community to support us in our effort to restore journalistic integrity to the paper, obtain union recognition and negotiate a fair employment contract. These people have pledged to cancel their subscriptions on Sept. 5 if the employees’ demands have not been met to their satisfaction. Be there to hear our next step.

*Developments in the legal arena and how they affect the election hearing with the National Labor Relations Board and the actual election itself.

*McCaw’s hiring of a private investigator and a new security firm and how this has affected the individual lliberties of newsroom employees.

*Details of our future campaign efforts.

We very much appreciate all of your coverage. It not only means a lot to us, but to the profession as a whole. This upcoming press conference is a turning point in this campaign. Please be there.


Anonymous Alice, again said...

Here's a radical story: McCaw sitting down, face-to-face, and having a heart-to-heart with her newsroom employees, no lawyers or flacks or investigators or security, and working the issues out as a professional manager in the best interests of all concerned.

Faster, cheaper, and much better for her than the losing war she's engaged in now.

Value of cutting her losses: Priceless

Chances of rational behavior: -0-

9/01/2006 5:16 PM  
Anonymous Travisty said...

That proves it!

They are trying to bring down the paper with their biases!

They will not get me until they take away my poison pen from my cold dead hands!

9/01/2006 5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After hearing about the sbnp "mess" and looking into it there is one conclusion that came to mind, is this woman "ok" ?, and that maybe people should take a look at her past actions.
There are some interesting documents from proceedings that may give a clue on the web.

9/01/2006 6:24 PM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

At the risk of giving a hint to the indentity of my alter ego, I have worked on the management side of things for some time now; and it seems to me that what the News-Press management is doing is scarcely legal. Any human resources manager I have ever employed would have run screaming from the room if I would have suggested suspending employees for delivering a demand letter to me. Someone said it before, and it bares repeating now, if you have union you deserved it.

9/01/2006 8:18 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

Well now, who's left to WRITE articles for the NP? Certainly no one that I can see. dd

Oh, I forgot, will TA do it all now?

9/01/2006 8:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The following link may offer some insight into Mrs. McCaw:

9/01/2006 10:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a strong feeling that there's something more than a bit unbalanced in the Amazing Mind of Wendy.

When some (often undeserving) folk reach a (often undeserved) towering height of power and wealth in life, they may begin to feel quite invincible. Hangers-on and devoted hires, eager to bask in the supposed glory of this power, will usually never say "no", and so the ones who do so are seen as clearly in the wrong, 100 percent of the time.

And this false perception of invincibility can often lead to bizarre thoughts and actions, which can skirt the edges of illegality, if not cross the line completely.

What other people in a position of great power and wealth can you think of who have succumbed to this, and not just local folk either?

Anyway, Wendy's really done it this time. She just pulled the stone over the hole she's been digging for months now. It was a grave error on her part, and on the part of some of her hires and hangers-on as well. It's all over for her and the N-P now, only she still doesn't realize it.

She will, in time.

9/02/2006 8:44 AM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

Below, lots more details from Santa Maria Times today. Vlad from Newspress must be saving up the story for tomorrow, Sunday (when Santa Cruz Island destructive feral pigs fly)!.

See, with Santa Maria Times and their relentless, two-reporter coverage of the Mess, we are one unified County after all, to get our Santa Barbara news coverage from that newspaper. BTW, many of the top editors and now reporters at Santa Maria Times came from the Newspress and were pushed out by the Wendinator and her Hireling a few years ago.

Representatives: News-Press employees reprimanded
[Santa Maria Times]
By Samantha Yale /Staff writer

Eleven News-Press journalists have received two-day unpaid suspensions for their roles in an Aug. 24 effort to deliver a letter to owner-publisher Wendy McCaw demanding improvement in the terms and conditions of their employment, an attorney for the Teamsters union said Friday.

The action by the employees was “protected, concerted activity” that took place peacefully and on their break time, said Ira Gottlieb, attorney for the Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.


Some members of the newsroom staff are seeking to be represented by the Teamsters. An election and other proceedings in the matter have been delayed by increasingly bitter squabbling between the two sides.

In response to the suspensions, the union filed an unfair-labor-practices charge against News-Press management with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

A company spokeswoman said only that “disciplinary action” had been taken against some employees.

“We're saying that it's legally protected conduct to gather employees together, to complain to management or to ask management to change a working condition or to improve working conditions,” Gottlieb said.

The union's charge follows a complaint reportedly filed with the NLRB Wednesday by the News-Press, alleging that the gathering of employees constituted “intimidating and disruptive behavior.”

Gottlieb said that the union's charge was not in response to the News-Press's complaint, but rather to the suspensions.

News-Press spokeswoman Agnes Huff maintained Friday that the most recent charge filed with the NLRB by the newspaper regarding the gathering of employees was an amendment to an unfair-labor-practice charge already filed by the newspaper against employees. Tony Bisceglia, NLRB spokesman, said Wednesday that charge had been withdrawn, which Huff denied.

Bisceglia could not be reached Friday to confirm whether charges in the employee gathering incident had been filed with the NLRB by both sides.

Huff, owner of the public relations firm Agnes Huff Communications, said, “There was disciplinary action taken against some people that violated ... policy.”

She declined to discuss whether News-Press employees were suspended, or to reveal the names of those reportedly suspended, saying that it was a personnel matter.

Gottlieb said that 11 newsroom staff members were given letters saying they would be suspended for two days, but that as of Friday, suspensions had not been implemented.

He said that he did not know all the names of those involved, but said he was told that reporters Dawn Hobbs and Rob Kuznia and copy editor Lara Milton were among them. A source who spoke on condition of anonymity said that others involved were reporters Mike Traphagen and Barney McManigal and copy editor Al Bonowitz. Traphagen previously had given notice that he was leaving the paper.

Gottlieb provided a copy of a letter addressed to Hobbs, announcing her two-day unpaid suspension for her involvement in the assembly. The letter indicated Hobbs would be advised by her supervisor of the dates when the suspension would be served.

The letter was from Scott Steepleton, associate editor, and was dated Aug. 31.

Steepleton wrote that he told Hobbs and other reporters gathered in the newsroom that they could meet in the lunch room if they wanted to assemble, but not in the newsroom, and told them to get back to work. He wrote that employees ignored him and marched to McCaw's office.

Although McCaw was not present, the group outside her office knocking on the door “was a clear and outrageous attempt to physically intimidate Mrs. McCaw and everyone else in the workplace,” Steepleton wrote.

They then ignored another directive by Steepleton to get back to work, he wrote, and interrupted a meeting in Human Resources Director Yolanda Apodaca's office.

Gottlieb also provided a letter sent Aug. 31 from Apodaca to all newsroom staff stating that any employee who engages in similar behavior in the future is subject to discipline up to and including termination.

Newsroom staff members of the News-Press said there will be a press conference Tuesday in De la Guerra Plaza, outside the newspaper's offices, to make announcements regarding the suspension of newsroom employees, subscriber cancellation pledges scheduled to be enacted Tuesday if demands are not met, the NLRB election hearing and election, McCaw's hiring of a private investigation and a new security firm, and details of future campaign efforts.

Samantha Yale can be reached at 739-2159 or

Sept. 2, 2006

9/02/2006 9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, 10:59, thanks for that Foley and Bezek link ! Noted the Justice's description of Ms. McCaw's conduct as "oppressive, meaning despicable."

And this paragraph: "The award shows it was based on credibility. It describes McCaw and her personal lawyer (and Santa Barbara News-Press former Publisher and current President) Joseph Cole as not being credible: "As far as McCaw's testimony is concerned she waffled, contradicted herself, was generally uncertain, suffered from unusual lack of recollection, was evasive and expressed denial of events even in the face of written evidence to the contrary. Put differently, she was a totally unconvincing witness." The award continued: "Cole was a completely compromised witness... [H]e was not able to testify forthrightly about the events in which he was directly involved and with respect to which he should have had much better recollection. He too was an unconvincing witness."

... Where is former publisher Mr. Cole now, that is, what, if anything, is he doing to try to resolve this situation now that he is no longer associated with the N-P? Is there anything that can be done?

9/02/2006 9:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This one is more entertaining:

9/02/2006 10:02 AM  
Anonymous Vladster said...

Maybe this new hire will be able to correct all my factual errors?

Santa Barbara News-Press
Copy Editor
Santa Barbara, California
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Not Specified
Ad Expires:
September 4, 2006
Job ID: 628682
The Santa Barbara News-Press is looking for copy editors for our copy desk, which handles presentation and editing of news, business and features sections. We need people who can fill in on a variety of jobs as needed. We're looking for editors who can quickly pick up new skills, works efficiently, has solid news judgment and editing skills. Night and weekend work are required. Two years experience on a copy or design desk preferred. To apply, please send your resume and design clips to the Santa Barbara News-Press, P.O. Box 1359, Santa Barbara, CA. 93102-1359 or e-mail to

When applying, mention you saw this opening listed at

9/02/2006 12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


While they are at it, maybe they can fix the grammatical error in the ad!

Has you spotted it? Doesn't take much works.


9/02/2006 1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Soap Opera is great... can't wait for the next episode... oh wait it's not a Soap Opera it's real life, oh man they should be filming this .. it could have been this Falls new Survivor Show. Seeing how the Spendy Hour was canceled?
Can this woman get a table in Santa Barbara anymore?
Star, Enquirer and Globe where are you on this story? it makes great reading and it's real!!!! somebody call Susie and Cindy so inquiring minds can know. PBS could use a new Santa Barbara show.. something like the Loud Family but with Wendy and crew.. .i smell an Emmy....maybe Rob Lowe could get cameo.

Those legal papers made a good read and laugh...She needs a real friend to tell what is right....sad.

9/03/2006 12:43 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

And here's a "new" hire for the Santa Maria Times - Chuck Schultz! dd

Times names new Nipomo reporter

Bolstering its efforts in southern San Luis Obispo County, the Santa Maria Times has assigned a full-time reporter to write news and feature stories focused on the burgeoning community of Nipomo.

Randi Block, who has been covering Santa Barbara County government for the Times, is the new Nipomo beat reporter.

Block, 23, has a journalism degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and has been with the paper since 2004.

“We're excited to be focusing Randi's talents and enthusiasm on Nipomo, which is undergoing a transformation spurred by significant growth,” said Tom Bolton, Times Executive Editor. “Randi has distinguished herself on the county beat, and I'm sure will do likewise in Nipomo.”

To take over the Santa Barbara County government beat, the Times has hired veteran local reporter Chuck Schultz.

Schultz, 52, recently resigned from the Santa Barbara News-Press after more than 25 years with that publication.

A former Santa Maria resident, Schultz graduated from San Luis Obispo High School and also earned a journalism degree from Cal Poly. He started his journalism career at the Times-Press-Recorder in Arroyo Grande, which is a sister newspaper to the Times.

“Chuck has vast knowledge and experience as a reporter on the Central Coast, and we're fortunate, indeed, to have him joining our team,” Bolton said. “It's an added bonus that he previously has covered county government on two occasions.”

Schultz began working for the Times last week. He and Block will transition to their new assignments over the next couple weeks.

Block can be contacted at or 347-4580. Schultz can be reached at or 925-2691, Ext. 2241.

9/03/2006 7:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lucky, lucky Santa Maria Times--Chuck Schultz is an excellent reporter! I guess I will now head to the Santa Maria Times to read SB County gov't. coverage, because Chuck has the background and the capabilities to get the story--without error and without bias!

Four months ago I did not even know the name of the Santa Maria paper, so to think I will now be going there for local SB news is beyond my wildest imagination. Talk about a "county split"--Wendy give it up!

9/03/2006 4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great website. I don't think I'll look at the newspress again because of it. Thanks for filling the void.


9/04/2006 6:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone on the "inside" of all this,I've resisted writing so far. But, just reading through the comments to date, it's really frustrating to read about about giving up. Those of us who remain at the NP are fighting, and it would be good to know the community is behind us. Please, keep up the hope. We've come this far, and it's discouraging to think an amazing city like Santa Barbara could do without a daily newspaper that has respect. Let's fight.

9/05/2006 8:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck with your future endeavors Anon 8:51am

9/05/2006 10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get out before it's too late!

9/05/2006 11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip on the Santa Maria Times. I just went to their website - Great! I can actually read the news. I'm a new subscriber to SMT.

Goodbye News-Press.

9/05/2006 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:51 --

For those of us on the outside, it is really hard to know what to do. I, for instance, have always subscribed to the NP (for more than 30 years) and have thought that a daily local newspaper was an essential part of my life and of a community. (In fact, some of my family worked on newspapers in the east and I grew up respecting the work journalists do.)

I thought that the NP was improved under the recent ownership, even though I have not by any means agreed with all the editorials or, even though I am an animal lover, the news emphasis on animal matters.

However, the treatment of the staff, especially Roberts, causing him and others to quit, was an eye-opener! The quality of the news stories in the last month has been very poor, at least those public meetings where I have attended, including the meeting at the Victoria that had laughable coverage.

"Laughable" if it were not so serious! Does it support a better newspaper to end my subscription (as in fact I pledged)? I don't know.

I think a lot of the community is behind you ("Those of us who remain at the NP are fighting, and it would be good to know the community is behind us. Please, keep up the hope.") But also a lot of the community only knows what it reads in the paper.... And even more of us simply don't know what to do, how to keep up the hope.

Please provide suggestions from the "inside"....


9/06/2006 6:28 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

Duh, try reading other local news"papers", even via their web sites:

Santa Barbara Independent
Santa Barbara Daily Sound
Santa Maria Times
Ventura County Star
Pacific Coast Business Times

9/07/2006 6:17 PM  
Anonymous fromtheinside said...

Dear 6:28,

If you have a shred of support for us, DEFINITELY cancel your subscription. We need to bring pressure to bear on the ownership to sit down and speak with us about the conditions there. This is an extreme, awkward and difficult request from us. And it's critical. Your dollar is your vote in this.

When things improve, we will urge the community to re-subscribe - en masse!

CALL: 966-7171 to cancel.

Get a "Banish The Bias" yard sign or window placard at ... drum roll, please ...

Plan another forum, if you can. Heck, invite Travis and his cabal this time to see if they will show and debate the issues.

Another nice thing were those flowers. Supporters in recent weeks have sent bouquets to the newsroom. It was an obviously coordinated effort as many arrived, typcally one a day. Pretty soon, they nearly filled the place.

But they are wilting now (snif).

Santa Barbara, send more if you have the means. I like seeing smiles on my colleagues' faces for a change.


from the inside

9/07/2006 9:50 PM  
Anonymous Brian Olson said...

I missed most of the rally/press conference on Tuesday, but put up a couple pictures here:

9/09/2006 8:33 PM  

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