Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Thursday, December 28, 2006

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


Anonymous Anonymous said...


If memory serves, the SBN-P briefly mentioned Cole's departure in a "by the way" paragraph at the end of a long article about the appointment of the new co-publisher and his qualification for the job. I also recall the contrast between that coverage and the near-simultaneous article in The Indy about George Thurlow's move to UCSB after years as that paper's publisher. The Indy devoted a warm and appreciative half page to Thurlow's contributions and character. The NP gave Cole the back of its hand. It was a signal of what was to come.

12/28/2006 6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great coverage Sara of the past year.
Wishing you a very Happy New Year and lam looking forward to next years coverage.
Thanks for keeping the public informed now that we no longer have a daily news paer that can do the job.

12/28/2006 10:21 AM  
Anonymous savethenewspress said...

CONTACT: Ira L. Gottlieb 818 973-3219, Marty Keegan (202) 230-9794

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.


12/28/2006 11:54 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

6:41 AM -- you may be right, I don't remember seeing it but am willing to hope there was...thanks for pointing that out.

10:21 AM -- thank you!

12/28/2006 5:08 PM  

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