Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Sunday, December 31, 2006

BlogaBarbara 2006 Person of the Year Nominations Coming to a Close

The person of the year announcement will be made tomorrow afternoon....if you have any more nominations, please make them. In the meantime, have a great New Year's Eve and don't drink and drive. Or blog for that matter!

Friday, December 29, 2006

BlogaBarbara Person of the Year Nominations

Time Magazine really dropped the ball with naming "YOU" the person of the year. How about some nominations for BlogaBarbara's 2006 Person of the Year?

The criteria should be for better or worse, who had the most impact on our community in the last year? Clearly, Travis Armstrong, Wendy McCaw and Arthur Von Wiesenberger should be considered -- but who else?

BlogaBarbara 2006 in Review: November and December

We began the month making predictions on the upcoming elections. Hattie pretty much got it right for Sheriff. In Goleta, just about everyone was surprised by the end of November when it turned out all three incumbents were ousted. Not too much of a surprise in the 2nd District race or school board. We asked that KEYT list the candidates in percentage rather than alphabetical order if they are using more than one screen and wondered how Richard Cochrane could blame UCSB students for Sheriff Anderson's loss.

Vlad Kogan at the News-Press and the Goleta Observer decided to ride off into the sunset within days of each other (hmmmm....I doubt they were connected). Craig Smith did a great job at reporting on how Sara Miller McCune shook up the SBNP Lifetime Achievement Awards. Travis Armstrong told us that The Organized didn't have the right to peacefully protest outside their event and we read an Agness Huff release saying the NP was going to prosecute over the matter. The AJR article came out and Armstrong cried conspiracy over the city's desire to remodel DLG Plaza. The News-Press made Business Week and two days later a fence was erected around their parking lot. They dropped Community TV from their TV listings due to "space reasons" when there was plenty the week before. Jimmy's was sold to the Trust for Historic Preservation with plans on making it into a museum.

November Overview Stats:
News-Press Mess: 7
News-Press Policy: 2
SBNP Editorials: 1 (opinion), 0 (neutral), 0 (no opinion)
Election for 2nd District: 2
Goleta City Council: 4
2nd District Race: 2
School Board: 1
Sheriff: 3
SB City Council: 3
Planning: 1
Other: 5

Earlier this month the UCSB Gaucho Mens Soccer Team won the NCAA Chapionship and we also looked at relaxed drug rules in our schools. There was a Hedge Row at the Lowe's and no one from the News-Press covered it. Old Navy is set to go in where Copelands was. Sheriff Anderson blamed the Elections Office for a SNAFU that probably did not cost him the election. If that wasn't enough -- it was reported that he was seeking a high profile job at the County to keep his retirement going. We looked at whether The Independent is biased and asked "What would Colin do?". Barry "Big Heavy" Capello went after small business owners on Wendy McCaw's behalf and her CFO Randy Alcorn was let go. Nelville told us about "tighter and brighter" reporting and Judge Hall was removed from the bench. The SBNP decided to sue the AJR and the 101 was closed for hours on the 19th due to an overturned truck. The ACLU got into the sign controversy and Nelville told us that the "obey the law" signs defamed an executive. Finally we looked at the Planning Commissioner vote, found that the NLRB will look into the Burns firing and looked at this year in review.

December Overview Stats:
News-Press Mess: 13
SBNP articles: 1
Sheriff: 2
Planning: 1
SB City Council: 2
Year in Review: 4
Other: 6

BlogaBarbara 2006 in Review: August to October

Part of our continuing series on the biggest stories of the year -- followed by statistics on what posts on BlogaBarbara were about for that month.

August saw the continuing saga of the News-Press Mess unfold with posts on Ampersand's injunction against Michael Todd, Dr. Laura, the continuing "salsipuedes" of news reporters such as Josh Molina and Tom Schultz. Travis Armstrong attacked a record 21 people, news outlets and organizations in one editorial. We discussed whether the city was trying to push the Cottage EIR through during Fiesta, learned that the Architectural Board of Review is actually an Agricultural Board of Review in the News-Press and were honored by the fact that the News Press Nine received the Society of Professional Journalists award. Nelville Flynn began posting on BlogaBarbara and Travis' one-sided editorials continued on campaign finance. McCaw blasted the SBJ awards, nabbed the Daily Sound domain name and Starshine Roshell left the News-Press. Finally we questioned whether Brian Banmiller had ever really been to DLG Plaza and Spendy McFlaw's blog was pulled.

August Overview Stats:
News-Press Mess: 13
SBNP Newsroom Articles: 2 (opinion)
SBNP Editorials: 6 (opinion), 0 (neutral), 0 (no opinion)
Election for Sheriff: 1
Election for 2nd District: 3
Planning: 5
Goleta City Council: 2
SB City Council: 0
BlogaBarbara: 2
Other: 0

Attorneys for Jerry Roberts fired back at News-Press accusations that he leaked details about a lawsuit against him as it was clear information related to it could have come from several sources. Travis Armstrong wrote an editorial trying to make us believe that there was rampant bias in the SBNP Newsroom and a rash of suspensions were handed out as newsroom employees tried to deliver a letter to McCaw. Armstrong continued his attack on the union by pulling the mafia card on the Teamsters on Labor Day. Goleta finally named a planning commission and the Vanity Fair article was the subject of much discussion around town -- if you could find a copy of it. SBNP columnist Michael Seabaugh got accused of making a personal attack on Dr. Laura and McCaw actually published an apology about it to her readers. Our friends at EdHat got a cease and desist over publishing obituaries that were freely available over the Internet and then Seabaugh and 25-year photographer veteran Len Wood tendered their resignations. Finally, we saw information on the Day Fire published here sooner than many local news outlets.

September Overview Stats:
News-Press Mess: 19
SBNP Newsroom Articles: 2 (opinion)
SBNP Editorials: 3 (opinion), 0 (neutral), 0 (no opinion)
Election for Sheriff: 1
Election for 2nd District: 2
Goleta City Council: 1
SB City Council: 3
BlogaBarbara: 2
Other: 2

October began with some coverage on SBNP related court cases and Goleta passing a General Plan. The biggest post topics were about Starshine Roshell leaving the News-Press (along with Al Bonowitz). Starshine and Seabaugh then went to the Indie and Doc Searles published his 10 point plan for newspapers. We questioned whether the Valley Voice would ever cover the Goleta Council race and looked at exactly who the Orange County Goletans for Fiscal Responsibility were. We questioned donations to Dr. Dan and questioned why he didn't publish the data earlier as promised. Jack Hawxhurst left the Chamber of Commerce luncheon early and later in the month the other incumbents publicly supported him at the WPC dinner when the WPC wasn't endorsing him. We learned that Esau's was closing its doors and read about Jan Campbell's criticism of The Independent for endorsing Boe Noel. The Organized had a victory in October at the NLRB and we had a lot of activity on the News-Press lack of endorsement of Measure D and the Measure D Mailer that included an article from Melinda Burns. The SBNP injunction against Michael Todd was dismissed but they turned around and filed a complaint against The Independent a day later. October ended with Melinda Burn's firing -- someone who just happened to be active in the unionization effort.

October Overview Stats:
News-Press Mess: 10
SBNP Editorials: 2 (opinion), 0 (neutral), 0 (no opinion)
Election for 2nd District: 1
Goleta City Council: 6
2nd District Race: 1
School Board: 1
SB City Council: 3
Planning: 2
Other: 4

Thursday, December 28, 2006

BlogaBarbara 2006 in Review: May to July

May began with a look a sheriff race spam generated by Sheriff Anderson. We looked at what I called a vendetta by Travis Armstrong against Mayor Blum and new member of the TKA List Brian Barnwell. While Armstrong kept asking about where Susan Rose was in the 2nd District race in editorial after editorial, I announced the Armstrong DUI after sitting on it for several days. I actually waited for it to show up in the News-Press after receiving an anonymous comment days before. We argued about whether Das Williams should say he is Latino and, unlike most candidates, he actually posted under his name. The Indie endorsed Janet Wolf and the Goleta Valley Growth Plan was endorsed by the Board of Supervisors.

May Overview Stats:
SBNP Newsroom Articles: 1
SBNP Editorials: 3 (opinion), 0 (neutral), 0 (no opinion)
Election for Sheriff: 3
Election for 2nd District: 8
SB City Council: 1
Planning: 0
Other: 0

June saw former Sheriff Jim Thomas respond to a post on BlogaBarbara. We got through election day and I questioned whether the vitriol in our comments area was worth the trouble. Travis bashed the Mayor and Janet Wolf yet again and called for the dismantling of Community Development. Like most Santa Barbarans, I questioned whether he was biased. Joe Guzzardi got into the fray by responding on BlogaBarbara as to his alleged use of County of SB email for campaign use. Travis kicked it up a notch by comparing SB City Hall to Tammany Hall and continued to point out SEIU money while ignoring POA money in the SB City Council race.

June Overview Stats:
SBNP Newsroom Articles: 1 (opinion)
SBNP Editorials: 4 (opinion), 0 (neutral), 0 (no opinion)
Election for Sheriff: 2
Election for 2nd District: 2
SB City Council: 2
BlogaBarbara: 1
Other: 2

The Guzz's endorsement of Dan Secord in the 2nd District race during the early part of July did not end up being the story of the month. FDS came at us strong with a "news on the street" report that Travis Armstrong would be replacing Joe Cole as the SBNP publisher.

The News-Press Exodus, later named Salsipuedes, began with Jerry Roberts, George Foulsham, Don Murphy, Jane Hulse, MIchael Todd and Barney Brantingham jumping ship. The blond(e) issue came up and Travis told us that he emulated Civil War-era editor William Story's admonition to "print the news and raise hell". We asked whether the Indie should go daily and questioned the quotes of SBNP hired gun Sam Singer. A bunch of new editors were hired that we never really heard from and the Duct-Tape Gang began their campaign for unionization at the News-Press.

Barney said that Nipper was no longer a friend and in a somber statement, began offering daily news for "those of you who are no longer reading the News-Press". Wendy McCaw said her employees were "disgruntled" and accused them, of all things, of inserting bias in the newsroom. Scott Hadley resigned and even Lou Cannon cancelled his subscription.

NPR took the story on and then Armstrong tried unsuccessfully to say that coverage of his DUI was a conspiracy. The Indie published letters of reprimand from McCaw to her employees which chastised them for publishing Rob Lowe's address. BlogaBarbara doubled in pageviews in one week.

Canon Presidio said goodbye in an odd post about feral pigs and Agnes Huff began her revisionist PR campaign. More letters from Wendy McCaw to readers and coverage of several other issues including the "CRISIS!" campaign from the POA rounded out a busy month at BlogaBarbara.

July Overview Stats:
News-Press Mess: 22
SBNP Newsroom Articles: 2 (opinion)
SBNP Editorials: 1 (opinion), 0 (neutral), 0 (no opinion)
Election for Sheriff: 0
Election for 2nd District: 1
Planning: 1
Goleta City Council: 1
SB City Council: 3
BlogaBarbara: 3
Other: 2

NLRB to Prosecute Over Burns Firing

A press release from The Organized....
link: NLRB complaint pdf

In further vindication of the Teamsters Union's battle against Santa Barbara News-Press management, the National Labor Relations Board today issued a complaint to formally begin the prosecution of the News-Press for its unlawful October 27 firing of senior writer and leading union supporter Melinda Burns, and for its imposition of "gag orders" severely restricting employees' rights to communicate with each other and with the public about their plight. The complaint the NLRB issued against the SBNP (attached) after a thorough and painstaking investigation including witness interviews and evidence gathered from union, management, and third parties -- also cites earlier noted News-Press labor law violations, including the News-Press' August, 2006 threat to impose wholesale suspensions on at least 11 newsroom employees for lawfully gathering together to deliver a working conditions demand letter to News-Press owner and co-publisher Wendy McCaw, and its retaliatory cancellation of Starshine Roshell's weekly column.

"The NLRB General Counsel's decision to prosecute the News-Press for its serious labor law violations validates the Union's position that the News-Press is a labor outlaw trafficking in threats and intimidation to transform the newsroom from a haven of journalistic professionalism to a den of arbitrary management fiat", said Ira Gottlieb, attorney for the Union and partner in the Burbank labor law firm of Geffner & Bush. "The News-Press has repeatedly and falsely asserted it would abide by the federal labor law rules that have been in place for almost three-quarters of a century, but it has only honored them in the breach," he added. "The decision to prosecute the News-Press for its retaliatory discharge of Ms. Burns is particularly poignant both because of Melinda's leadership role in the union's successful organizing campaign, and because of the vicious defamatory falsehoods the News-Press published about her in connection with that discharge, which the NLRB General Counsel's investigation has revealed to be specious and without substance." It also is further validation of the "McCaw Obey the Law" signs displayed in shop windows and vehicles in town, which have drawn litigation threats made to local business owners by a News-Press lawyer, and a sharp rebuke to that McCaw lawyer from a constitutional lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. Added Gottlieb: "The NLRB has seen through the trumped-up post hoc pretext offered up by Associate Editor Scott Steepleton and shockingly published by News-Press public relations representative Agnes Huff, in a reprehensible effort to damage Ms. Burns' reputation. This announcement of a prosecution by the neutral federal labor relations agency helps expose the News-Press' abhorrent decision for what it truly was: retaliation and discrimination, pure and simple."

With the issuance of the complaint, the NLRB announced a hearing date to try the unfair labor practice complaint before an administrative law judge of February 26, 2007, in Santa Barbara. In that hearing, a lawyer representing the General Counsel of the NLRB will present its case against the Santa Barbara News-Press.

The Union will continue to press forward with its request that the NLRB seek interim injunctive relief against the NP to gain immediate reinstatement for Ms. Burns, and a rollback of the News-Press' unlawful policies and discipline, pending the trial of the unfair labor practices before the ALJ.

The hearing on the News-Press' frivolous election objections remains on schedule for January 9 in Santa Barbara. It will take place in the Santa Barbara bankruptcy court, 1415 State Street, Courtroom 202.

In a related development, the Union has appealed the dismissal of its charge protesting Wendy McCaw's photo surveillance in the News-Press employee parking lot to the General Counsel's Office of Appeals in Washington, D.C. McCaw has admitted to using a camera in the parking lot to record evidence of employees' union sentiment, but denies she did so for improper reasons. The Union believes the issue of the substance, credibility and legitimacy of McCaw's justification for what would otherwise be unlawful surveillance under longstanding NLRB doctrine should be determined by an administrative law judge and perhaps the Board itself, rather than dismissed without a hearing. It is not clear when the appeal may be decided.


BlogaBarbara 2006 in Review: January - April

Today will begin the first in a series of our year at BlogaBarbara in review. You will find a quick synopsis of what happened on the blog during each month and a tally of what the stories were about. I also tried to point out when opinion was given about the News-Press issue as there were times when I supported their editorials or failed to express an opinion. Most of the stories, however, in this first period had little to do with the News-Press. I say "News-Press" as the "News-Press Mess" was not yet a story --- although many of us clearly saw something coming in the review of the posts and comments of the early part of 2006 on the issue.

The year started off with posts on COLAB's Andy Caldwell thinking county workers are paid too much and Sheriff Anderson "threatening" a possible Sheriff's candidate. Other highlights included the SB Council inauguration, the frat fight in the Sheriff's race and whether Das Williams had a tie with a fox or a "wolf" on it at an event. Clearly, the Goleta Post Office tragedy was the one event that surprised and shocked us most.

January Overview Stats
SBNP Newsroom Articles: 1
SBNP Editorials: 1 (no opinion)
Election for Sheriff: 2
Election for 2nd District: 1
SB City Council: 2
City/County Issues: 2
Other: 5

The "wolf" allusions continued in February with The Guzz saying that Barry Berkus is "like a wolf". He went on to say that Berkus "urinates" on Santa Barbara with his 'monstrous' architecture. We discussed the Sheriff's Council mess and Das' $25,000 contribution. The most popular post was perhaps Mayor Blum's comment that "you have to do what you have to do to get elected" when referring to the massive spending in the the recent council race.

February Overview Stats
SBNP Newsroom Articles: 0
SBNP Editorials: 1 (no opinion)
Election for Sheriff: 1
Election for 2nd District: 3
SB City Council: 1
City/County Issues: 1
Planning: 4
Other: 2

We went on in March to talk about the State Street Lofts. I came to Travis' defense on the issue of "voodoo parking forecasting", we got into some planning issues, mourned the passing of Eli Luria, reviewed Goleta Council Member Jack Hawxhurt's refusal to create a planning commission, looked at the SBNP letters to the editor policy, saw the Daily Sound be announced in the blogosphere and saw Susan Rose fight back by sending a letter to supporters about Travis Armstrong's unfair characterizations of her. Dan Secord had 12 fundraisers in the previous finance period and raised $106,000 and The Guzz began his continuing attack on the state housing mandate. I also began comment moderation at BlogaBarbara.

March Overview Stats
SBNP Newsroom Articles: 0
SBNP Editorials: 3 (opinion), 1 (neutral), 1 (no opinion)
Election for Sheriff: 0
Election for 2nd District: 4
SB City Council: 1
City/County Issues: 1
Media: 1
Goleta: 1
Planning: 1
Other: 5

April began with a Travis Armstrong editorial on Supervisor Susan Rose's letter where he said it was "time we forget about Ms. Rose" and accused her of a "victim mentality". Not Supervisor Rose, Ms. Rose. The DSA endorsed Sheriff Anderson but their voting process was questioned and a judge order was sought to block a $25,000 Anderson contribution. Meanwhile, Anderson brought up the spectre of immigration on the campaign trail. We began tracking letters to the editor. In hindsight, the two biggest stories were Josh Molina's article on Travis' refusal to allow Mayor Blum and Supervisor Rose on the radio and the story not reported in the News-Press that Joe Cole stepped down.

April Overview Stats
SBNP Newsroom Articles: 1
SBNP Editorials: 2 (opinion), 0 (neutral), 0 (no opinion)
Election for Sheriff: 5
Election for 2nd District: 1
SB City Council: 2
Planning: 1
Other: 4

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Holidays!

A Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah and in general -- happy holidays to you all. This is a time where I reflect a lot on what I am thankful for and the ability to discuss with my community, the events of today -- is something I am truly thankful for. Also, thanks to all of you for supporting BlogaBarbara -- I never dreamed we would have such a large readership two years ago. I appreciate your attention and time -- and wish you and yours a happy, peaceful holiday season....

Is the News-Press Irrelevant?

Here's a topic suggested by a reader:

I propose we revisit a subject last explored months ago: The Declining Quality of the News Press. A number of folks have noticed a perceptible drop off in the amount of local news in the SBN-P, and much less depth in the local news that is reported. With just a couple of reporters, the upstart Daily Sound has scooped the NP on a number of occasions (the Levy bankruptcy, Veronica Meadows). And the N-P editorials too often deal with issues with no relation to life in SB. Today's editorial is an example: It chastises certain religious extremists who argue that bottled water is immoral. Is this a big issue for Santa Barbara? Or is it just a big issue for the co-publisher who has a well known interest in bottled water issues? (Shouln't that interest been disclosed in the editorial?)

The people I know who are interested in local news, particularly politics, government, land use and environmental issues, now look to the Daily Sound, the Independent, and Blogabarbara to get their basic information.

Has the News Press declined to the point of irrelevency?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Planning Commission Vote

A faithful reader suggested the following for a worthy of discussion post:
There was an important City Council vote yesterday for the Planning Commission. 7 applied, 5 were nominated. The new commissioner will be Bruce Bartlett, replacing retiring Bill Mahan.

The argument was there should be an architect on the PC, but that commission is exactly that, planning for the future and protecting what we have. It will be interesting to see if he follows Mr. House's never-seen-a-development-I-don't-like pattern. The betting is that he will. Watch out NPO and other such protection measures! but at least Vadim Hsu did not get in, despite two sometimes supporters.

Shocking that former mayor (and former planning commissioner) Sheila Lodge got only Mayor Blum's vote and then in the first round! Interesting to see Horton switch to Bartlett and Williams from Pritchett to Hsu. That last is quite a leap and something neighborhood people should keep in mind.

Here are the votes.

First round:
Bartlett: Brianwell, Falcone, House,
Hsu: Horton
Jordan: -
Lodge: Blum
Pritchett: Schneider, Williams

2nd round:
Bartlett: Barnwell, Falcone, Horton, House
Hsu: Williams
Jordan: Blum
Lodge: -
Pritchett: Schneider

Product Dispargement or Freedom of Speech?

Nelville Flynn's latest post brings up an interesting argument that is worth discussing -- namely, are the "obey the law" signs product dispargement or freedom of speech? Here's what he had to say:

Legally, the News-Press enjoys the same protections as any business in defending itself against illegal product disparagement as well as personal defamation of character of its executives. The News-Press is exercising such rights in the Paterno case, notably. For the ACLU to attempt to handcuff the News-Press is unconscionable, particularly given that it is a small business with many outside forces arrayed against it.

Isn't Wendy McCaw a public figure? Why wouldn't this be freedom of speech? In my view, the News-Press is not like a commercial product like Tylenol because they shape opinion and have a responsibility to the community, no? Also, is it the product that is in question or the public figure?

Please Note: This kind of a comment from Nelville often brings out the toughest comments in our readers and makes it hard for me to moderate -- please, please try to take it easy. No matter what I think of his arguments, I have to say that he is, with an exception or two, civil in his argument. Let's do the same in responding to my post -- think of it as a shout out to the holidays.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

ACLU Weighs In on Sign Controversy

KEYT reports that the ACLU says that the SBNP is improperly threatening local businesses with threatening letters from their Big Heavy, Barry Capello. Good for the ACLU -- someone needs to stand up to the ridiculous, community-bashing litigation practices of the SBNP.

Down with the Little Guy

Often I suggest our more vociferous readers start their own blog and that I will provide a link to them. From my point of view, the more the's a new, unmoderated parody blog from Worker Bee:

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

101 North Shut Down!

This from a citizen stringer....
December 19, 2006 MONTECITO -- A traffic accident involving a big rig shut down all northbound lanes of Highway 101 through Montecito Tuesday morning. At approximately 5:40 AM Tuesday a tractor-trailer rig traveling northbound on US 101 collided with the bridge railing on the Cabrillo Blvd overpass, jackknifed and caught fire blocking both traffic lanes. Additionally, debris from the collision rained down onto Cabrillo Blvd forcing its closure as well. It is not known at this time what cargo the big rig was carrying. However, it is known that it was not carrying any hazardous substances. The driver apparently escaped uninjured. Traffic on northbound US 101 is being diverted off at Hermosillo Road in Montecito, then onto Old Coast Highway to Salinas Street. Preliminary estimate is a 2 -3 hour closure of northbound US 101. It is anticipated that the big rig will likely have to be pushed off the freeway overpass and down onto Cabrillo Blvd to be removed. Caltrans will then have to patch the bridge railing. Motorists are encouraged to avoid this area if at all possible and give yourself plenty of extra time. Patience will be in extra order this morning for those who normally commute via northbound US 101.

SBNP Smackdown Continues

A faithful reader has pointed out that McCaw ands Company are now suing fellow (sic) journalists at KESQ in Palm Springs American Journalism Review. Don't journalists have a code about this? Never, ever go outside the family with your dirty laundry....

Boy, McCaw's got what Stephen Colbert would call thatchers. While too many of the mainstream media outlets are covering Britney Spear's money shot (btw - where is her non-car seated child while she is processing her text message divorce?) or gingerbread Nazi's (does anyone have respect for the Judeo-Christian tradition anymore? especially during Hannukah?) -- Agnes Huff is earning her salary with an age-old adage in public relations. If you have bad news, give it during the holidays as nobody pays attention. Or will they?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Hair Stylist Threatened Over McCaw Sign

Catching up on the news, I ran across this story from KSBY via EdHat. Yikes -- Wendy and Barry are even going after the little guy? It's just plain bad PR that is digging an even deeper hole for the News-Press.

Maybe public officials should start threatening any consituent that put their opponent's lawn sign up for all to see at election time. Can you imagine? The Second District race would have seen a flurry of litigation over Das supporters that voted for Janet or even better -- Guzzardi supporters that didn't end up supporting Dr. Dan.

"Hey -- you voted for me but now you have a Wolf lawn sign on your property?," my fictional Guzzardi would say,"That exposed me to hatred, contempt and ridicule....I'm going to take appropriate action if you don't take it down and put Dr. Dan's sign up right now!".

Joe, of course, would never do such a thing but could you imagine? This is one slippery slope.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Family Visiting

BlogaBarbara Readers -- I will be pretty much off the Internet this weekend as I have family visiting from out of town. I'll do my best to moderate some comments but you aren't likely to hear from me until Monday night. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Judge Hall Removed from Bench

In a very rare move, the Commission on Judicial Performance ordered Diana Hall removed from office stating she has "an alarming disrespect for authority".....The Governator can appoint a replacement judge or wait until next Election Day and let the voters decide.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tighter and Brighter Reporting

In my effort to give all sides of the story -- and you are welcome to give a contrary opinion -- I've got to make a post out of Nelville's "inside and outside forces" comment tonight. I can't, however, without brief comment....There are subversives -- worse than Saul Alinsky or even Abbie Hoffman -- that the News-Press must purge. They are programming their improvements and engaging their layouts. Today they removed bias from the news room by publishing their press release verbatim on page 3 -- without comment from The Organized or anyone else who might have a different view. It's McCarthyism all over again but in the news room (I know Craig, Ed and I are on their black list). "Tighter and brighter" reporting? Is the News-Press emulating USA Today? And what's up with the Patriot-News having such a great affect on how our news is reported and whether or not reporters unionize? This is what's wrong with America....

From Nelville Flynn:

The News-Press is continuing its program of top-to-bottom improvements, including more engaging page layouts, tighter and brighter investigative reporting, and most importantly, the removal of bias from news reporting.

Unfortunately, forces both inside and outside the newspaper are trying to thwart these goals for their own reasons. Inside the newspaper, subversives have been identified and dealt with appropriately -- in some cases removed from employment while other cases are pending. For some reason, a few critics and bloggers seem to expect the News-Press to tolerate subversives while any other company is free (indeed expected) to terminate employees who work from within to sabotage the company.

Make no mistake: This has nothing to do with "bias" at the News-Press or working conditions. The unionization campaign began shortly after employees of another midsized newspaper, the Patriot-News in Pennsylvania, voted to decertify their union. The Teamsters then sensed an opportunity to avenge this loss by teaming with developers and politicians with their own narrow agendas against the News-Press. They succeeded in creating an atmosphere of mistrust and continue to push their agendas, sometimes with the complicity of News-Press employees.

Although steps have been taken to deal with this problem, it remains to a small extent. This is obviously unacceptable to News-Press management and will continue to be addressed.

NP CFO Randy Alcorn Let Go

Randy Alcorn, Chief Financial Officer of the Santa Barbara News-Press, was let go yesterday according to Craig Smith's Blog. You are either with us or against us at the News-Press and they clearly will take no dissension at all.

Teamsters Withdraw Three Claims, NLRB Drops One

Thanks BE for providing us with this article/statement from the News-Press! Here it is with an all caps headline and a cliche quote from the Center for Union Studies -- where's a quote from one of The Organized? Is this article biased? Who wrote it? There isn't a this going above the fold?


SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – December 11, 2006 – The Santa Barbara News-Press has been advised by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that the Teamsters Union has agreed to withdraw three of the unfair labor practice charges they filed against the paper, after having been informed the NRLB found insufficient evidence to proceed on the charges. The NLRB dismissed a fourth claim brought by the union against the News-Press.

The process for handling unfair labor practice charges involves an in-depth investigation of the facts and a determination by the NLRB whether sufficient evidence exists to schedule a hearing. If the NLRB finds insufficient justification after its review, the charging party is offered a choice to withdraw the claim or have the agency issue a dismissal.

The Teamsters agreed to withdraw the three unfair labor practice charges that they filed against the paper, which are:

1) An allegation that the Employer unfairly discharged an employee

2) A claim that the Employer conducted an unlawful interview with an employee

3) An allegation that the Employer unlawfully changed work assignments

The fourth claim was an allegation by the Teamsters that the paper engaged in unlawful surveillance of employees. The NLRB made the decision that further proceedings were not warranted.

“We are encouraged that after a thorough investigation by the NLRB, these four baseless union claims were found to be without merit,” said David J. Millstein, general counsel for the Santa Barbara News-Press.

The NLRB also announced it will set a hearing date on the paper’s objections to the union election.

The continued Teamsters orchestrated publicity activities are intended to damage the paper’s current and future business relationships. The Teamsters’ ongoing campaign against the News-Press most recently included accelerated threatening behavior which forces the paper to file unfair labor practice charges against the union.

The News-Press believes that the barrage of intimidating tactics being played out in Santa Barbara against the paper have nothing to do with the newsroom employees at the News-Press. Such public displays highlight Teamster underlying motives to pacify and retain members to justify union dues at a time that union membership is declining.

“Missing from the debate thus far has been an examination of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters history,” said Sarah Longwell, director of communications for the non-profit Center for Union Facts in Washington D.C., “Four of the last eight presidents have been indicted. It has long been a poster child for corruption.”

Monday, December 11, 2006

Capello Plays The Big Heavy

Craig Smith's Blog reported today that McCaw and Company lawyer Barry Capello has sent a letter to local lawyers suggesting their support of The Organized is "pecuniary and personal". An assertion that of course could be redirected back towards Capello -- especially the pecuniary part. The letter goes on to state that once the News-Press side of the story is aired -- we will all understand. Forgive me if I am wrong, but they have had plenty of chance to tell their story. As Craig points out McCaw is "one of those rare individuals who buys printer's ink by the barrel, so just what is keeping her from presenting "the News-Press' side of the story?".

Sunday, December 10, 2006

WWCD? What would Colin do?

This from a frequent reader -- a little long, but worth discussion:
Colin Powell wakes up every morning and goes to bed every evening realizing that his willingness to go along with the power of the President and the overstated and missing facts is costing innocent lives day after day. For a person informed in the workings of war and abuses of power from Nixon to the present, Colin Powell cannot reconcile his presentation to the UN with the remainder of his actions and his professed belief in doing what is right.

Some members of the City Council are playing a role with similar challenges.

Cottage Hospital, using political and economic power over literally hundreds, if not thousands, and with a Board of Directors selected, either with or without their knowledge, for their willingness to be part of the team controlled by Cottage's management enhanced by a formidable team of public relations operatives, provided the City Council with literally no options. You are with us or against us--at your political peril--regarding future use of the site. A fact, not disputable, is that Cottage decided, driven by management desire to maximize the financial value of its holdings, only one approach was acceptable. Facts, which usually are difficult adversaries, have been suppressed, changed, twisted and then delivered by paid emissaries seeking to improve Cottage’s holdings while demonizing St. Francis Hospital, once seen as attractive, beneficial and an historical part of the neighborhood which grew up around it. Nearly all of the governmental system saw no future in articulating against this strong wind.

Demolition of buildings and construction of new ones in their place requires relentless attacks with heavy equipment and huge dump trucks to move dangerous and dirty materials from one dirty, noisy and dusty site to another; all within the heart of the city and near playgrounds, schools and homes. Will the time period for the assault be counted in months or years? What will be the cost to neighbors who at one time chose to live near a hospital? Noise, dirty air, and traffic snarls during demolition, construction and then during operation of Cottage's project will not be limited by the representations and observations appearing in an EIR which began and ended with data gathered from sources closely and improperly tied to

City Council’s next question is: Will you be one of those council members standing next to ground breaking or ribbon cutting executives wondering how and why protection of the public health, safety, and welfare became victim to the desire for financial power? What would Colin Powell do now? Would he reply with “Yes, Sir,” or “No, Sir.”

Anderson Getting Special Treatment?

If I were a County of Santa Barbara employee and had one year left for retirement and my position was not funded for the next fiscal year, could I count on the County Administrator to get me a job so I could make almost $40,000 in additional retirement funds per year? I doubt it.

A recent News-Press story pointed out that outgoing Sheriff Jim Anderson is seeking a job as head of the Office of Emergency Services. CAO Mike Brown is not commenting and has not posted the opening. Bob Geis commented that Anderson could even drive a trash truck and get full retirement. One more year and Anderson gets almost $40,000 more for his retirement -- even though the voters did not re-elect him -- Richard Cochrane's protestations not withstanding.

Kudos to the new Sheriff for not commenting but shame on the Supervisors if they let this happen. Let's let Chief Brown do his job and not have to work with his predecessor in any way, shape or form. What are they thinking?

News-Press Staff Rally on Channel 17

This in from one of our readers...

The NewsPress staff rally and march-demonstration is now scheduled to show on Santa Barbara Channels, Channel 17, on the following dates and times. This video was produced by Larry Nimmer.

Saturday, Dec. 9 at 6:00 pm
Sunday, Dec. 10 at 9:30 pm
Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 10 am
Wednesday, Dec 13 at 5 pm and 10:30 pm
Thursday, Dec. 14 at 8 pm
Saturday, Dec 16 at 11 am
Sunday, Dec 17 at 10:30 pm

This show is listed as "SBNP Demonstration"
Full programming schedule here:

Friday, December 08, 2006

Is The Independent Biased?

Looks like we have our first counter point to the "banish the bias" at the News-Press coverage. These are clearly not my views but I am happy to post this and see how it Anonymous 9:26 AM. Thanks for offering a little more than we've seen in the past...


"Independent is biased" isn't good enough here -- provide some examples and I'll put them up.


How about that the guy who writes the chief editorial, also does the reporting? How would the hencoop here feel if Travis was doing the editorials and the reporting at the same time? Be honest, my little chickens.

How about that half of some bitter ex-NewsPress employee's articles in the Independent are about the News-Press? Coincidence? Or how about a bitter agenda?

Sara, you SO have a double standard, and you're incredibly biased. How many times has somebody posted that the "NewsPress is biased" without backing it up that you have been comfortable with posting.

Also, it's not about the's about fair coverage and whether there are different rules for different people.

How many hedge issues have made it to the paper that didn't involve the famous people? Is there a hedge section of the NewsPress that consistently reports on hedge activity, that had a glaring omission of the All Important Lowe Hedge? Uhh, no.

You know who has different rules for different people? You do.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Did Election Office SNAFU Cost Anderson?

In catching up with the news and The Sound after a few days off, I noticed a story where Sheriff Anderson says the Election Office mismatched voter names to addresses. The Elections Office admits to the error but did it cost Anderson the election? Richard Cochrane, Anderson's consultant who originally faulted partying students, seemed to think so. Did the Anderson camp do their due diligence and test the list before they sent it? Did they run it versus prior lists of county voters? Maybe that's immaterial but it's hard to believe that one mailer would make a difference. What do you think?

Old Navy to Replace Copelands

One of our loyal readers tells me that Old Navy will be taking over the Copeland's space (I assume that would be the State and A location). Will State Street eventually become one long mall from Paseo Nuevo to the Arlington Theater?

Hedge Row at the Lowe's

See Craig Smith's Blog for a story on Robe Lowe and his wife taking their neighbor to court over trimming a hedge...a Craig points out, the News-Press didn't have anybody in the court room and I didn't see anything about it in the paper...did I miss something? It's very consistent with her "we don't cover our friends" policy....there's only one thing to say to that....banish the bias.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Relax Drug Rules in Schools?

EdHat provided a link to an article in the SLO Tribune this morning about the SB School District perhaps relaxing their rules on expulsions and drugs. Have we finally had enough of zero tolerance and realized that it gets rid of our valedictorians as much as our pothead students? Well maybe just over zero tolerance since the current strike level is two offenses.

Three strikes makes sense here -- and it will also increase the number of days a student is in school and thus the amount of money the district gets from the state, no? Did I just say that? Perhaps I am too cynical....

Ole, Ole, Ole....Gauchos!

Took a couple of days off to recharge....but did watch the Gaucho Men's Soccer team beat UCLA for the National Championship. The victory is sweet considering the consistent loss record to the Bruins. Still, we won when it counted. Congrats to a team that didn't look like it would go this far early in the season and steadily improved right through to the College Cup.