Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

SBNP Against Free Speech?

A reader sent this in this seems the SBNP management thinks that The Organized don't have the right to peacefully protest outside charity functions. I'm not sure I understand the reasoning here....perhaps TKA decided he couldn't take on or report Sarah Miler McCune's comments inside the Biltmore which perhaps weren't entirely appropriate for the event (although well received by many) and more worthy of the "not the place for this" argument.

You would think Tony Soprano was trying to crash their quinceañera with TKA's continued "rude" references to the mafia when talking about The Organized. His insistence that only some people can attend the party as they are a privately-owned business adds to the elitist approach News-Press management has continued to take in relation to their employees and our community. With most businesses and non-profit events, when you buy a ticket -- you can attend the event. Most businesses wouldn't be in business for very long if they continually turned people away at the door. Isn't this, however, an apt metaphor for how the News-Press interacts with the community? You are outside, we are inside and you can't come in because we don't agree with what you stand for....

Newspress editorial
Opinion: Debasing Santa Barbara

November 15, 2006

It's the season for charity events and fund-raisers in Santa Barbara. It's a time for recognizing and supporting the accomplishments of nonprofit organizations, volunteers and civic leaders.

This is all part of the Santa Barbara tradition.

But at least one group would like to upend this, and turn such events into circuses or forums to promote their own self-interests.

There's a baseness to it all, and that baseness was on display this weekend when people carrying signs tried to mar a longtime event honoring people in our community for their good works.

Those picketing outside the Four Seasons Biltmore Resort in Montecito apparently attempted to humiliate the recipients of the News-Press Lifetime Achievement Awards, the 200-plus attendees, and the two charities that will receive the proceeds of the event.

Why people would choose to picket an event honoring philanthropy and volunteerism is, to most people, beyond comprehension. Yet the picketers outside the Biltmore and their organizers apparently had no qualms about resorting to the tactics of the lowest common denominator.

It should be troubling to all Santa Barbarans that an outside entity, the Teamsters labor organization, is bringing this kind of behavior to our community. Civility, reasoned discussions and good manners are the qualities that separate and distinguish our community from so many other places in California and the rest of the country.

Picketing establishments that are sites of charitable events, and trying to crash or sneak into them, have no place in Santa Barbara. But groups such as the Teamsters appear little concerned about trying to drag down our community with such tactics imported from union playbooks.

One union organizer even attempted to gain entrance to the private event held on private property. A local attorney reportedly also came to the hotel. It's a sad day when any local attorneys on their own try to interject themselves into matters of a privately owned business to seek attention and free advertising.

There's little doubt if the Teamsters gain a foothold in Santa Barbara that other employers too will soon be targeted by a union that, according to the Center for Union Facts, is "best known for its historical relationship with the mafia."

Those picketing at the Biltmore appear to have put their own interests above those of local charities, but in the end they only served to bring embarrassment and shame to themselves for their poor judgment and bad taste.

Picketing establishments that are sites of charitable events, or trying to crash or sneak into them, have no place in Santa Barbara. But groups such as the Teamsters appear little concerned about trying to drag down our community with such tactics imported from union playbooks.


Anonymous dd said...

Ummm, Travis, ever hear of the First Amendment, the right to gather and protest? Everybody in the good ol USA has that right, from the immigrants to the obscenely rich, as long as no state, local or federal laws are violated. And this was a peaceful and rather dignified demonstration, people expressing their POV in a lawful manner.

Quit putting your emotions before fact! dd

11/15/2006 7:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The union "organizer" they refer to -- actually the union attorney -- bought a ticket for this not private but very public event.

He was refused entrance but, in the interest of charity, told the NP to keep the money anyway.

You can read the true account here ... ... under "Last Night" and "Un-invited."

By the way, we all talked about the charity angle to all this, and how our presence might be spun by the NP due to the nature of the event.

As one of the vigil attendees, I can say that I didn't even know where the banquet room was we were so far away. We were on a public sidewalk on Channel Drive by the valet entrrance drive, never once entered the property with our signs and candles.

A bullhorn was denied use, out of respect for a nearby wedding. And when security politely asked us to stop chanting, we politely complied. The demonstration finished at 6:40, long before the NP program.

Travis, if you write about this again, I challenge you to include those last tidbits of information.

If any guests of tbe News-Press were ashamed to be there, then that's their own problem. Maybe someone should call Towbes, or Martha, or Hal and ask whether they felt their "tradition" was being stomped upon by the individuals who write and layout their newspaper. Michael, please do chime in. Hal? Martha et al? Your voices would be most appreciated on this one.

This is a swift yacht attack, the likes of which we've not yet seen. TKA hit a new low with this one. Brings to mind that politician who held a press conference surrounded by a day care class when the Mark Foley scandal broke. Nipper and Wendy are hiding behind the less fortunate to the slam the union and the free speech rights of their own employees. Despicable.

And since when is this awards ceremony a "private" event? Since this year? No media allowed as of 2006. Wonder why.

Wendy moved to SB, what, 10 years ago? Who is she to riff on the importance of local traditions? Wendy, please leave our town and go back to Seattle. You're services here are no longer needed. Get a clue.

11/15/2006 7:19 AM  
Blogger Lauren said...


I didn't know Travis wrote humor. This is great! Thanks for the laughter that is still echoing here.

11/15/2006 7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It should be troubling to all Santa Barbarans that an outside entity, the Teamsters labor organization, is bringing this kind of behavior to our community. Civility, reasoned discussions and good manners are the qualities that separate and distinguish our community from so many other places in California and the rest of the country."

How stupid do they think the community and employees are, or have they been holding these "reasoned discussions" in their dreams? When has McCaw and management EVER held discussions with anyone! Travis, who do you think is buying this crap? It is appalling that you keep spewing the same lies over and over again.

11/15/2006 7:38 AM  
Anonymous city watcher said...

Pot and kettle division: "Civility, reasoned discussions and good manners are the qualities that separate and distinguish our community from so many other places in California and the rest of the country." LOL!

Civility, reasoned discussions and good manners is what used to distinguish the News-Press from other bird cage liners that one sees in the supermarket checkout lines.

Unfortunately, the editorial page reeks of nastiness and vindictiveness since Mr Armstrong has been riding high on that horse.

And the news section has weakened - btw, was there a news story about the demonstration? I saw the write-up in the Daily Sound.

11/15/2006 7:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And buried on the opposite page at the bottom of another opinion piece
is a jab at Sara Miller McCune by the
unbiased Travis K. Armstrong. Perhaps it is Wendy who doesn't want journalists on her staff because their opinions differ from hers. Pot meet kettle.

YOU'RE FIRED: Santa Barbaran Sara Miller McCune covets this newspaper and told me Saturday night that if she owned it, she'd fire me. Perhaps the politically active Ms. Miller McCune doesn't want journalists on staff with views that might be different than her own. Ms. Miller McCune needn't worry: I'd quit before working for someone like that.

11/15/2006 7:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's sad. Elitists Vs. Thugs - with the community in the middle. None of these folks have any shame!

11/15/2006 8:22 AM  
Anonymous Sonny said...


The editorial in in Wednesday's paper "Debasing Santa Barbara" was hilarious! Here's a paraphrased quote: Travis says "civility, reasoned discussion and good manners are qualities that separate SB from everybody else... and it's time for recognizing and supporting civic leaders" ...then on the next page in another opinion piece, he mentions one of the honorees, Sara McCune, and spills a little vindictive gossip about her!! CLASSIC!

11/15/2006 8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And Travis, when you quit, we'll all throw a party the likes of which Santa Barbara has never seen. It will make Fiesta look like a child's birthday.

11/15/2006 8:29 AM  
Anonymous Friend of Travis said...

These editorials by TKA are so important, they need to be at the Commentaries section of the Newspress web site.

11/15/2006 8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are so many things wrong with this swipe at the American way that defy simple logic, that it would take an article twice its length to detail. Which I won't do here, but I've just got to say this much:

Travis, how utterly melodramatic of you! "It should be troubling to all Santa Barbarans ..."? Thank you for telling us how we should all be feeling about this mess of your own design. Otherwise, I don't know what I'd do with myself. Maybe sit around on my hiney in Pampers, suck my thumb and drool mindlessly.

But what's really priceless about this is that the apparent decorum that Travis is calling for in others doesn't really apply to himself, Wendy, Nipper and the cadre of drones that they employ to try to ram their version of things down everyone else's throats. History alone brings this little cockroach to light.

11/15/2006 9:00 AM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

As their signs indicated "McCaw, Obey The Law" the point of the people on the sidewalk was about the stalling of Newspress management in negotiating with the new Teamsters union, and the illegal termination of employees who were active in the untion activities. Hence, the Obey-The-Law message.

Quite a fantasy there by the editorialist hireling to morph and spin that the union members and their supporters were somehow against the charities and volunteers recognized during the event inside the secure Biltmore hotel.

11/15/2006 9:28 AM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

The same First Amendment gives the owner of the News-Press, a privately owned business, the right to exercise her free speech.

When you get tired of waving your First Amendment finger at Travis, take some time to look up the definition of hypocrite.

11/15/2006 9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Civility, reasoned discussions and good manners are the qualities that separate and distinguish our community from so many other places in California and the rest of the country.” Right, Wendy, it’s why about 30 of the finest people in our town have walked from the newspaper, and many more would, if they could find jobs.

11/15/2006 9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Travis is a hoot.

How can we get the Santa Maria Times to establish a Goleta Paper, as the
first inroad to a new daily that gets delivered to doorsteps down here?

They have the Lompoc Record... and Goleta is a gap in coverage right
now. The Valley Voice is just not cutting it, and the Nexus is too
irregular. The Independent and Sound don't cover Goleta enough.

11/15/2006 9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Travis is right!

11/15/2006 10:22 AM  
Anonymous Concerned reader said...

Picketing outside the Biltmore? What? Had anyone heard about it until this morning’s editorial?

I must have missed the article in the paper and can’t find it online. I did come across this blog and Craig Smith while on the internet.

After reading, the immature behavior of Wendy McCaw, Arthur von Wiesenberger and Travis Armstrong in attacking Sara McCune at the Biltmore and bouncing a paid ticket holder because Wendy McCaw might “feel uncomfortable” turned what should have been a special evening honoring three local heroes into a sad imbroglio. The editorial makes it worse for the three humanitarians.

It appears that McCaw is incapable emotionally of constraining herself and as a consequence is being handed her head by the union and the NLRB. The News-Press’ executives have debased Santa Barbara and will be stricken from many guest lists this season.

11/15/2006 10:27 AM  
Anonymous Yeah, right! said...

Look, quit ragging on Wendy and Arthur. The newspaper has never been better and there’s no more “bias or agenda.” The owl was found, for God’s sake. Big front page story and photograph yesterday. Nice for the only news editor, Scott Steepleton, to write about Max personally, along with the save-the-animals holiday fund story. So get off of it. The bias has been banned.

11/15/2006 10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although not mentioned in “Debasing Santa Barbara” this morning, word on the street is that Dr. “Full Monty” Laura also confronted Sara Miller McCune at the Biltmore, batteries not included with the action figure. Anyone know?

11/15/2006 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

isn't it funny that Wendy has kept her married name even after her bitter divorce and that Nipper isn't even a Baron? These people crack me up.

11/15/2006 11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And Travis, when you quit, we'll all throw a party the likes of which Santa Barbara has never seen. It will make Fiesta look like a child's birthday.

Are you going to pay for it?

11/15/2006 12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every word TKA wrote rings true. What an embarrassment. The above posts are an embarrassment. Have you no dignity? You all and the union are a disgrace. Walk away while you still have a soul.

11/15/2006 12:02 PM  
Anonymous Louella Parsons said...

Wendy News-Press, Not all gossip is bad (doesn't belong in legitimate editorials, etc) Read FUNCTIONS OF GOSSIP in Wikipedia to start.

11/15/2006 1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You Elitist Bloggers are a disgrace. The NP is right on this one!

11/15/2006 1:51 PM  
Anonymous Kim Jong-il said...

Media contact:
Agnes Huff

November 15, 2006 01:47 PM Eastern Time

Santa Barbara News-Press Files Unfair Labor Practice Charge
against Teamsters Union for Picketing

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Santa Barbara
News-Press has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National
Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the Teamsters Union for engaging
in illegal picketing which was threatening and coercive secondary activity
in violation of the National Labor Relations Act.
The charge states that the union, through its representatives, engaged in,
or encouraged others to engage in, illegal secondary activities for the
purpose of forcing or requiring the Santa Barbara Biltmore Hotel to cease
doing business with Ampersand Publishing, LLC, or pressuring
Ampersand to recognize or bargain with the Teamsters. The charge also
states that the conduct of the Teamsters included picketing at the Santa
Barbara Biltmore Hotel with the intended purpose of forcing Ampersand
Publishing to bargain with the Teamsters.
According to the Santa Barbara News-Press, the Teamsters continue
to wage a deliberate and hostile campaign against the newspaper and
others that do business with the paper. The Teamsters use former
employees, community members and public attacks against their intended
targets, including threats, intimidation, harassment and secondary
activities that harm third-parties. This type of campaign was waged by lead
Teamster organizer Marty Keegan against the San Diego Union Tribune
when that paper refused to meet union demands.
The Teamsters have admitted publicly that they intend to allocate
whatever resources are required and do everything they can to win this
campaign so they can use the News-Press as a stepping stone to unionize
all mid-size newspapers across the country.

11/15/2006 2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! These Internets even have a tool that can translate Travis into plain English:

News-Press Editorial

Debasing Santa Barbarans

Nov. 15, 2006

It’s the season of discontent in Santa Barbara. It’s a time for recognizing the arrogance, elitism and incompetence of the Santa Barbara News-Press management, and its owner, Wendy McCaw.

Santa Barbara, the Queen of the California Riviera, is an old, storied city with many proud and hallowed institutions and traditions. The News-Press is no longer one of them.

One group, which includes an excessively wealthy and vindictive harpy of a divorcee, a water-sipping dilettante, an ill-informed, fire-spewing demagogue, and a cadre of mercenary lawyers and handlers, have turned the Santa Barbara media into a circus, a forum for voicing the publisher’s own flaky self-interests and political leanings.

There is a baseness to it all, and that baseness was on display last weekend when McCaw and her minions transformed a once-proud charity event open to anyone willing to make a donation, and intended to honor members of the public for their contributions to the community, into a private debutante ball.

Those barricaded inside the News Press Building on De la Guerra Plaza have spent the past four months defaming and humiliating scores of long-time employees of the News-Press, and anyone else with the temerity to voice their concern about the direction of the newspaper.

Why a newspaper owner would choose to dismember an award-winning publication with a well-regarded slate of editors and writers is beyond comprehension. Yet McCaw’s management, legal, and publicity flunkies still apparently have no clue as to the amount of damage they have done, reducing local coverage to the lowest common denominator.

It should be troubling to Santa Barbarans that an outside entity, a litigious Stanford history major formerly residing in Seattle, has brought this kind of behavior to the community. Civility, reasoned discussions and good manners are qualities now absent in the News-Press editorial pages, which have generated widespread opprobrium regarding the paper throughout California, the rest of the country, and the literate world.

Picketing the sites where events are held, in a peaceful attempt to express displeasure at an institution, and the people running that institution, is a long-time tradition in these United States, whose constitution even applies in Wendy’s little fiefdom. But groups such as the News-Press ownership and management appear little concerned about the First Amendment, press freedoms, and speaking truth to power.

One union organizer purchased a ticket and booked a room at the Biltmore in Montecito, where the event was held, but was ejected, after McCaw, yet again, capriciously re-interpreted the rules. A local attorney even tried to penetrate the wall of obfuscation thrown-up by the News-Press to report goings-on at the event that its organizers would have preferred to keep quiet. It’s a sad day when the only place one can get the straight story about a long-running charity event is in an Internet blog, because the television and print media trying to do their jobs were turned away at the door.

There’s little doubt that Ampersand Publications, and its owner, Wendy McCaw’s foothold in Santa Barbara is an attempt to establish a form of monarchy, with the city’s residents, organizations and businesses as its peasants. As was once attributed to Marie Antoinette, “Let them eat cake.”

Those shocked—shocked!—that the unwashed masses have gathered before the castle gates in outrage at the incompetence and intransigence of the News-Press leadership appear to have put their own shallow interests above the public at large, but in the end have only brought embarrassment and shame upon themselves for their poor judgment, bad taste, and lack of writing skill.

Employers who libel former employees by means of press releases, or attempt to intimidate their competitors by filing frivolous, malicious lawsuits, have no place in Santa Barbara. But groups such as the News-Press ownership and management appear little concerned about destroying once-respected community institutions and resources, and have insulted the reading public with tendentious drivel, venomous personal attacks, and reporting that has sunk below the level of a third-rate high school newspaper.

11/15/2006 2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems to me the easiest way to disparage people's reputations is tell people they work for the NP.

11/15/2006 4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


11/15/2006 4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's been sometime that i have had the time to check in the the little city of Santa Barbara and her reality soap opera "News Mess" but i'm all caught up now! thanks for all the info you can only get on the blogs.
oh by the way, how many drinks did "Wrong Way" have on Saturday night ? and what did Wendy wear? fur?
i just love your little city and thanks for the entertainment.

ps i just love that Craig Smith's site....such a cutie and so strong.

11/15/2006 5:50 PM  
Anonymous Are you kidding me? said...

This is just the SBNP's latest attempt to suppress free speech which it, ironically for a journalistic institution, does not favor when it disagrees with its content. There can be no question that the candlelight vigil protest at the Santa Barbara Biltmore on Saturday was constitutionally and statutorily protected activity. The message of the protest - "McCaw Obey the Law" - was clearly directed at the SBNP and its owner-publisher, not the hotel, and was intended to and did demand that Wendy McCaw comply with her obligations under the law not to unlawfully discipline, discharge, coerce and intimidate its employees. Indeed, the NLRB on Monday announced the first in what may well be a succession of decisions to prosecute the SBNP for its labor law violations. On Saturday, hotel security expressly advised the protesters that it had no problem with them engaging in their activity, which lasted approximately one hour.

When Mrs. McCaw is offended by constitutionally-protected speech with which she does not agree - even when she is in the wrong, as she certainly is in this case - she calls for her lawyers to take action, and they file yet another frivolous legal action, which will be summarily dismissed, much as its first charge against the Union was dismissed by the NLRB.

What the SBNP refuses to accept is that its newsroom employees have voted overwhelmingly for union representation, and that Mrs. McCaw's defiance of that verdict and refusal to accept what will inevitably come to pass - collective bargaining negotiations - is not going to deter the employees or the union. Enormous amounts of money do not replace or purchase integrity or a claim to fairness; indeed, Mrs. McCaw's squandered both despite her vast wealth. To the community's astonishment, Mrs. McCaw continues to demonstrate her disdain for her employees' voices and rights, and that is a disgrace to the Santa Barbara community she purports to respect and cherish.

11/15/2006 8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly, 4:25, that's just too true. I've been with the N-P for quite a while, and I was always proud to say I worked there. Now I'm actually embarrassed to tell people where I work, because if they're tuned in to the community at all, they get this look of sad pity. Sometimes they'll ask about the situation, but mostly they avoid it, like a suicide in the family or something.

Those of you on the outside have no idea just how bad it is in there.

Maybe Costco is hiring ...

11/15/2006 8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Huff and Puff must be laughing all the way to bank.... one would have to be crazy to hire and pay someone that would write such crap has she writes....i guess that explains it.... crazy.... birds of a feather flock together.

Perhaps the good people in the community could reach out to the people left at the news press and offer them employment so that they could continue to support their families....Santa Barbara does not need the News Press anymore we have the blogs...a big thanks to Sara for hosting this fair and honest blog... your a real hero to the Santa Barbara comminity...hummm maybe they could name a plaza after you or put a star on the sidewalk.

11/15/2006 11:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it true that in Santa Barbara they now refer to the trash containers as "Wendy's" ?

11/15/2006 11:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What century is His Royal Highness King Wrongious Wayous from?

If I to put a voice to these words, it would be one of a puff and grumble Shakespearean character actor, playing a mentally unstable king that has delusions of a huge court of admirers for him and his Queen Wendela, and that he must punish this riff raff -- these foul-smelling upstarts -- for upsetting his genteel consortium by issuing a tar and feather ordinance for these derelicts that dare spoil the gold-brick-paved streets of his kingdom.

I could see him riding along on his gallant steed with a rose up to his nose so he doesn't have to smell the stench of reality.

11/16/2006 3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You, 3:21, are my new hero. Seriously. Great post.

11/16/2006 6:22 PM  
Anonymous David Pritchett said...

So everyone can see for themselves all the insinuated burning effigies, tire necklaces, Molatov cocktails, and obscene hatespeech out there on the sidewalk in front of Biltmore Hotel last Saturday for the candlelight vigil, here is the cablecast schedule (cable TV, not cabal TV) for this half-hour special production by Larry Nimmer, shown by the Rival Media, Santa Barbara Channels, Community Access Cable Channel 17:

Friday, 11/17 at 8 pm
Saturday, 11/18 at 6 pm
Sunday, 11/19 at 2 pm and 10 pm
Tuesday, 11/21 at 7:30 AM
Wed., 11/22 at 10 AM 6:30 PM
Thurs., 11/23 at 5:30 PM and 10:30 PM

11/17/2006 11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

check this out (courtesy of edhat)

11/17/2006 9:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Largest private-sector labour union in the U.S., representing truck drivers and workers in related industries such as aviation. It was formed in 1903 with the merger of two team-drivers' unions, and local deliverymen using horse-drawn vehicles remained the core membership until the 1930s, when intercity truck drivers became predominant. From 1907 to 1952 the union was headed by Daniel J. Tobin, who built it up from 40,000 members in 1907 to more than one million in 1950. Disclosures of corruption in the leadership led to the Teamsters' expulsion from the AFL-CIO in 1957. Between 1957 and 1988 three Teamsters presidents-Dave Beck, Jimmy Hoffa, and Roy Williams-were convicted of various criminal charges and sentenced to prison terms.

You're judged by the company you keep!

11/28/2006 10:35 AM  

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