Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Saturday, September 30, 2006

What's Missing...

I was so impressed with this list from blogger Balanced Commentaries that I have to post it, thanks BC!...Sara


This new “COMMENTARIES” section backfires in that it’s better defined by what’s missing, than by what Wendy McCaw (owner and publisher) selectively includes from the ongoing debacle:

MISSING: The statement of public concern signed by the distinguished group of local clergy, eventually published in the Independent after rejection by the News-Press.

MISSING: Arthur von Wiesenberger’s (McCaw’s live-in boyfriend) disrespectful reply to that group of clergy.

MISSING: David Millstein’s (San Francisco lawyer now sitting in editor-in-chief’s office) ignorant letter to Edhat asking that it “cease and desist” from linking to free public portion of the News-Press’ website.

MISSING: Millstein’s dumbfounding “don’t you dare represent journalists” letter to 44 local prominent lawyers and ex-judges.

MISSING: A courteous response, or any response, to the request of several respected national journalists, living locally, to meet with McCaw and von Wiesenberger.

MISSING: Travis Armstrong’s (editorial page editor and sometimes publisher) DUI sentencing story.

MISSING: McCaw’s July 13 “note to readers” – published on the front page of the Santa Barbara News-Press -- where she attacked her own editors and reporters for inaccurate biased reporting, causing more talented journalists to walk out.

MISSING: McCaw’s written apology (never made) to her remaining newsroom staff for her gratuitous July 13 public attack.

MISSING: Copies of the slew of “cease and desist” letters sent by Millstein to a variety of past employees demanding them to refrain from their constitutional right of freedom of speech.

MISSING: Von Wiesenberger’s libelous essay posted on his website claiming that his newsroom employees are like dishonest hamburger cooks.

MISSING: The spiked story about the newspaper’s $500,000 lawsuit against Jerry Roberts (former editor-in-chief), even though the information ran in a L.A. Times story after Millstein leaked it to the press.

MISSING: A photo of the 56-year-old McCaw, looking her real age, rather than the sorority shot with pearls used now.

MISSING: The court document dropping the ridiculous lawsuit against Michael Todd (former business editor) seeking a restraining order arising from a terrible joke involving an ex-photographer who is now only being kept on the payroll as a reporter, but not working, to maintain legal standing to keep the action against Todd alive.

MISSING: A copy of McCaw’s warning to the Daily Sound demanding that it stop, well, looking like a newspaper.

MISSING: An even cursory listing of the 16 new reporters, for the benefit of readers, in case someone wants to contact one of them about breaking news.

MISSING: A copy of the written policy that keeps the elected county Supervisor representing the News-Press and the elected Mayor representing the News-Press from being on a News-Press radio show, after an invitation, to talk about the homeless problem in parts of the city including the News-Press.

MISSING: The written acknowledgement (doesn’t exist) that McCaw’s “I’m scared” national press release – issued two days before the union vote -- about a quickly removed anonymous comment several weeks ago on Blogabarbara, was a poorly conceived attempt to improperly inject fear into the union ballot.

MISSING: An explanation why, when publishers go on vacation, the opinion page editor must be appointed acting publisher with special authority to start editing news stories.

MISSING: The July 7 “note to readers” by Armstrong saying that the editors and columnist walking out on July 6 was sort of an internal family tiff, even though he grabbed Roberts by the arm and escorted him from the building physically.

MISSING: The news story, written by Scott Hadley (departed senior writer), about the editors and columnist resigning, that was spiked by Armstrong in favor of the not credible July 7 “note to readers.”

MISSING: The results from Nick Montano (private investigator hired by McCaw) and the results from the examination of the hard drives pulled from the computers of the editors walking out on July 7.

MISSING: McCaw’s letter of thanks (which doesn’t exist) to Mike Martino (night security guard of several decades) for his long service, before replacing him with her own troops.

MISSING: The list of local celebrities with whom McCaw is star struck, so Scott Steepleton (Associate Editor, there’s no Editor) can be sure to know when to not publish addresses arising from public zoning hearings.

MISSING: The original Carpinteria councilwoman story before interference by then acting Publisher Travis Armstrong.

MISSING: The complete McCaw style book, staring with: Ms. vs. Mrs. vs. Miss; blonde vs. blond..

MISSING: A specific example from McCaw, just one, of the “agenda” or “bias” in stories by her reporters and editors that resulted in 21of them walking out, compared, perhaps, against the specific examples of the ethical breaches by McCaw of the SPJ Code provided in detail and in writing by the departing journalists.

MISSING: Stories and photographs about last Sunday’s protest rally occurring steps from the front door of the News-Press.

MISSING: A clear and credible corporate mission statement (doesn’t exist) from McCaw to her employees and her readers detailing what course she plans to sail with the Santa Barbara News-Press and what plans she has – if any – for restoring respect to her and her newspaper.

POA Meets at Harry's

The Santa Barbara Police Officers Association met at Harry's Plaza Cafe the other day to vote on whether to accept the City's "last, best and final" contract of 24.2 percent over three years. This wasn't a typical union meeting, however, as POA President Mike McGrew made sure that members of the press and two council members were present. What the News-Press didn't tell you is that it took a motion and a vote from the rank and file to get them out of the room for members to discuss the contract.

Much like chess champion Vladimir Kramnik's silly, unprofessional grandstanding this week over bathroom rights at the World Chess Championsip, one has to wonder how much of this meeting was for a straight up and down vote on the contract and how much of it was pure grandstanding in anticipation of a ballot measure next election.

Orginally the POA came in with a request of 10% and the City came in a couple of percent under -- is that what it's really about? They are lucky that they have gotten their health care paid for in the past as far as I am concerned -- most employers maybe pay for half. I want our police officers paid what they deserve and commensurate with other cities -- but how far do we have to go to get there? No very far but it might take some sacrifices on both sides...

More Media Salsipuedes

I was thinking yesterday that now that the vote of The Organized is over -- we will probably see more News-Press employees leave in that there was bound to be a few that were just holding out for the vote. Good for them but maybe bad for those that are left.

Surprisingly the "salsipuedes", or "get out while you can", mentality may be infectious. Craig Smith reports today that Matt McAllister from KTYD is off the air due to a controversy with management between music and talk. Craig also reports that this is Debby Davison's last night at KEYT.

Friday, September 29, 2006

You don't have to pay for these!

From Duplicity Watch:

NOTICE on the NP Website today, there is the word "COMMENTARIES" in the upper right hand corner of each page. Lo and behold, if you click on it, FOR FREE you can read all of the Cabal/UNION BUSTER op-eds from Travis, Wendy et al.....

so nice and accommodating of them

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

News-Press Workers Unionize

Thanks to several readers who passed this and other stories along that you can see in the "Keeping It Real" post.

Here's the Associated Press story in its' entirety. Craig Smith's Blog has the story and will likely have more tomorrow.

Congrats to The Organized for their hard work in getting the union vote approved. It goes to show that negative tactics and speaking poorly of your workers right to unionize are not good anti-union tactics. Even in the aftermath of the election, NP management had to say the results where influenced and coerced....all they had to do was treat their employees fairly and well and this would not have happened.

Have a glass of champagne tonight. You've got a caring community behind you and you deserve it.


SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The feud between newsroom employees and ownership at the Santa Barbara News-Press intensified Wednesday, with workers voting to join a union and management alleging employees may have been coerced.

The vote was the culmination of months' worth of bad blood that spilled into public view last summer when nearly every top editor quit to protest what they claimed was meddling by owner Wendy McCaw. She has countered that the former employees had injected their personal views into news coverage.

The workers voted to join the Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Attorney Ira Gottlieb, who represents the workers, said the tally was 33-6. A spokeswoman for McCaw would not confirm the total but acknowledged employees had voted for the union.

"This historic vote sends a serious message to the company that we are strong and united in our efforts," the employees said in a statement.

The results must be certified by the National Labor Relations Board before both sides can begin contract negotiations, Gottlieb said.

Union officials and management agreed earlier this month to the election after both sides traded accusations of unfair labor practices. After the balloting, the paper issued a statement saying, "the News-Press is not convinced that its employees were afforded a fair election free from coercion. The paper will consider all its options."

News-Press spokeswoman Agnes Huff declined to elaborate.

In a statement, McCaw said she was disappointed by the outcome "and the way this organizing campaign has been waged."

She said she remained committed to providing timely, balanced news coverage to readers in the picturesque oceanfront community about 95 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

Both sides had previously filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming intimidation and harassment. Those issues were being investigated by the board, which will decide whether to dismiss the charges, settle the dispute or issue a complaint detailing violations that an administrative law judge would consider.

Many of the employees who resigned said McCaw intervened to nix a story about the drunken driving sentencing of editorial page editor Travis Armstrong, as well as reprimanding staff for publishing the address where actor Rob Lowe wants to build a mansion.

The News-Press is a 41,000-circulation daily. It has about 50 newsroom employees among a 206-person work force.

Dr. Dan Wants to 'Save Water'?

In today's News-Press, Dr. Dan said he voted for a large development which replaced 25 acres of ag land to 'save water'....interesting justification in a district which is fighting to save every bit of farmland left. The article, which continued the who-is-more-of-an-environmentalist charade which the News-Press keeps promoting, had an even more interesting quote from Dr. Dan considering my post last Friday.

Secord, the "ready-to-go" guy, accussed the Wolf campaign of going negative. This is ironic considering Janet has been accussed of money laundering through "party bosses" in several press releases to the media from the Secord campaign. It seems to me that the Secord campaign can dish it out but can't take it. There's a difference between going negative and providing comparisons between candidates and I think accusations of money laundering cross that line far more than one's record on the Coastal Commission.

Friday will mark 8 weeks since Dr. Dan promised campaign finance information would be posted on the web -- BlogaBarbara has a bipartisan audience and I'm willing to post the information without comment, will he take me up on it?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Keeping It Real with the News-Press

Editor and Publisher mentioned BlogaBarbara in their article about the News-Press Victimization today. SBNP PR Maven Agnes Huff told the reporter that SBNP management certainly wouldn't plant the comment to gain anti-union sympathy:

"That is totally ridiculous," Huff said. "We wouldn't be taking the steps necessary if it wasn't something we felt threatened by."

Still one has to wonder why, as several of our readers have pointed out, she waited until days before the union vote to release the information and be so concerned about the "thinly veiled solicitation of criminal acts". I think I want to start the Center for Union-Busting Studies and use The Mess as a case study. Any grant writers out there?

I am glad she saw that an anonymous submitted the comment....still, I want to make a distinction that "posts" are from blog operators and "comments" should be the correct term for what is written by readers. Otherwise, it seems as if we are all one body rather than individuals.

I stand by my decision to delete the post and am glad to have had our community's strong support for that -- I don't think anyone here would support domestic terrorism. Let's just keep on keepin' it real.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

News-Press Victimized by the Internet

Several readers contributed this story for a possible post -- thanks for the help! You will remember that a comment of a similar nature appeared on these pages and was deleted for not being appropriate....

-- Sara

Santa Barbara News-Press Being Victimized by Criminal Solicitation Alert

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Santa Barbara News-Press issued the following statement today in response to anonymous threats made against the paper:

A disturbing anonymous Internet posting related to the current labor dispute between the Santa Barbara News-Press and the Teamsters union was sent to the company calling for certain illegal actions to be taken against the paper. Several of the actions are serious crimes and the posting itself is a thinly veiled solicitation for criminal acts, which is also a crime.

Among the threats is a call to break into the newspaper's computer system to disrupt and damage normal business activities and for people to steal papers from the news racks. These sorts of attacks are crimes punishable by heavy fines and even prison terms.

The Santa Barbara News-Press takes these threats seriously and intends to cooperate fully in any law enforcement investigation. The company is committed to prosecuting any criminal activities directed towards the paper and its employees to the full extent of the law.

While the identity of the writer isn't yet known, activities of this nature are involved in union corporate campaigns and are used when attempting to improperly force a company to give in to union demands. Professor Jarol B. Manheim at The George Washington University, who is recognized by one publication as "one of the world's foremost experts on campaigns against businesses," describes a corporate campaign this way:

"It is a highly sophisticated form of warfare in which a target company is subjected to diverse attacks...the function of which is to so thoroughly undermine confidence in the company that it is no longer able to do business as usual. The union waging the campaign then offers to withdraw the pressure in return for substantial concessions."

This sort of campaign is most often used to circumvent the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) procedures and secret ballot elections. The News-Press has already agreed on a date for the NLRB sanctioned election. The paper is doing everything it can to work within the system and the law, and will vigorously defend itself against any attempts to do otherwise by anyone.

Agnes Huff Communications
Agnes Huff, PhD, 310-641-2525

SBNP Tells Lawyers to Just Say No to Union

EdHat reported the following press statement from the News-Press management yesterday telling lawyers to stay away from the union. Who do they think they are? Is this a veiled threat of action against them? News of the the way, I hear that it's okay to link to EdHat.

Santa Barbara News-Press Statement

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 22, 2006--The Santa Barbara News-Press issued the following statement today:

The News-Press was disappointed to learn that a group of local attorneys are jumping on the publicity bandwagon by forming a so-called Lawyers Alliance for Free Speech Rights group claiming to raise funds to provide legal assistance for former employees of the paper. This appears to be a self-serving attempt to secure publicity under the guise of benevolent volunteerism by attaching themselves to a local controversy.

The purpose of the group is unclear since there has been no denial of free speech in this dispute. Former employees are required to abide by the various confidentiality agreements and policies they signed while employed at the News-Press. The Supreme Court of the United States has consistently upheld the validity of these confidentiality agreements and the News-Press actions to protect the paper's intellectual property and confidential information are lawful and proper and have nothing to do with free speech.

The willingness of professionals to join support groups without taking time to investigate what they are being asked to do and by who is disconcerting. Responsible professionals should make informed decisions, and as attorneys, these lawyers should definitely know not to draw conclusions without knowing all the facts. A call to the paper was never initiated and a personal letter from a fellow attorney challenging the reason for founding such a group went unacknowledged.

One main Teamster strategy is to co-opt community groups and leaders into putting public pressure on a company until they give in to union demands. The Santa Barbara News-Press is the target of a vicious corporate campaign and it is disappointing that many have been this easily taken in. By the union's own admission, they have pledged unlimited resources to win this campaign -- as a stepping stone to unionization attempts at other newspapers across the country.

Before rushing to judgment, the News-Press encourages politicians, journalism organizations, columnists, clergy, old reporters, rivals and competitors to reflect on how many facts they do not know, and to refrain from commenting without all the facts. Disingenuous statements about trying to save the paper, free the press, rescue the employees and protect citizens, are not only self-serving, but damaging to those involved, as well as the entire community.

For more information, obtain a copy of "Trends in Union Corporate Campaigns" by Jarol Manheim, published by George Washington University, or visit or the Teamsters web site.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Where's the Transparency, Dr. Dan?

I came across a press release from Dan Secord's campaign that a supporter had sent me in late July that I've filed away in my tickler file to remind me to check up on in a few weeks.

The press release was a typical one from Secord's campaign accusing Wolf of deceptively funneling her fundraising through other campaigns and "party bosses" and called for a "reporting of every dollar and every donor on a weekly basis through a neutral website."

Secord promised in the press release that he would start the "transparent campaign program" on that Friday and hoped Wolf would too. Here is the exact wording:

As of release, Secord had not received a response from Ms. Wolf, but said that he would start the transparent campaign program on Friday and hoped that she would contact him to participate.

I hadn't seen anything of the sort posted on local blogs or on his own web site so I did a little research and found a very lonely blog called SB Transparent Campaigns. It's first and only post on June 25, 2006 -- more than a month before the press release in question was mailed out -- says its' purpose is the following:

So that voters may choose candidates with full knowledge of their campaign practices, and in order to encourage public awareness of Campaign Contributions in Santa Barbara County; all donations to participating candidates will be posted on a weekly basis on this site.

There is no way to tell if Secord or a Secord staffer created the site as the profile for the site has a Blogger name of "SB Transparency" and no other information. I guess plausible denial is a great thing when you are a campaign operative.

To be fair, who knows who created SB Transparent Campaigns -- but isn't it strange that we haven't heard anything about this since the press release came out? The date the Secord self-reporting should have started was August 4th -- with $57,500 cash on hand as of July 31st, you would think Secord would have raised a few contributions in the last six and a half weeks.

Perhaps SB Transparency could use his/her Blogger account to explain. Better yet, maybe Secord's campaign can explain this contradiction or direct us as to exactly where this "neutral" site is. I know BlogaBarbara isn't considered by many as "neutral" but I'd be happy to post his financial contributions to the dollar here if the Secord campaign were so inclined.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Measure D -- where do you stand and why?

FDS is right -- let's have a discussion about Measure D here.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Is Police Pay Responsible?

Disraeli once said "There are lies, damned lies and statistics". I'm not so sure that saying higher police pay would lessen crime is a lie but it is certainly playing with statistics. There are just too many factors involved. Maybe higher pay coupled with more officers on the streets?

This quote came from an article by Vladimir Kogan today in the News-Press about recent deaths and police pay:

"In less than a month, two murders have occurred in Santa Barbara, one should and most likely could have been avoided if the City Council would honor the police officers of this fine town (by) granting their request for a 28 percent increase," Wendy Gonzales wrote to Mayor Marty Blum and other members of the City Council in an e-mail forwarded to the News-Press Thursday.

It's really hard to believe that anyone would make a correlation between police pay and these recent deaths. With all due respect to the families involved, would there have been a police officer at the Rhino if they were paid more? Would a police officer had stopped the SUV before the tragic accident last week? Probably not...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

News-Press Salsipuedes Continues...Yet Again

I'm running out of ways to title these posts...

Santa Barbara News-Press sportswriter Leah Etling resigned Saturday morning after having worked at the paper for the last four years -- the story was reported here earlier today in a comment but is available at The Santa Barbara Daily Sound.

I believe we are up to 23 resignations which unfortunately means the fate of The Organized is getting mor precarious the longer the vote is delayed. How much of this is a dedicated strategy on the part of Wendy, Nipper and Travis -- I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but you have to wonder.

Day Fire Info and Links

Many thanks to one of our loyal readers who passed this info along for the rest of us -- I appreciate it as we need this news today rather than tomorrow. This was an email sent out by the Montecito Fire District.



Many of you woke up to a what looks like a snowstorm of ash. This is due to the fire activity at the Day Fire. Our dispatcher was overwhelmed from people calling for information all night long.

In an effort to help eliviate some of your questions, I am including a link to a fire information website for you to find the latest updated information if you are curious about what is happening. There is no threat to our community at this time. It is currently burning toward the city of Fillmore.

I am also including a link to a website that will let you view satallite imagery of fires. You must select the fire you want to view from the pull down menu. (Day Fire). As you click on the triangle indicating where the fire is, it will zoom in.

Once you get it to the way you'd like to see it, you can select the layers you want to include (i.e. cities, towns, roads, bodies of water etc.).

We will probably continue to experience this ash flow for some time, so keep your doors, windows and dampers closed. Stay indoors to minimize exposure -- especially if you have respiratory ailments. Here are some other things to consider when dealing with large amounts of ash fall:

• Wash ash off children’s toys before children play with them.

• Clean ash off house pets.

• Wear gloves, long sleeved shirts, and long pants and avoid skin contact.

• If you do get ash on your skin, wash it off as soon as possible.

• If you have a vegetable garden or fruit trees, wash the fruit or vegetables thoroughly before eating them.

• Avoid getting ash into the air as much as possible. Do not use leaf blowers or take other actions that will put ash into the air.

• Shop vacuums and other common vacuum cleaners do not filter out small particles, but rather blow such particles out the exhaust into the air where they can be breathed. The use of shop vacuums and other non-HEPA filter vacuums is not recommended. HEPA filter vacuums could be used, if available.

• Well fitting dust masks may provide some protection during cleanup. A mask rated N-95 or P-100 will be more effective than simpler dust or surgical masks in blocking particles from ash. In general, many ash particles are larger than those found in smoke; thus, wearing a dust mask can significantly reduce (but not completely eliminate) the amount of particles inhaled.

• Persons with heart or lung disease should consult their physician during ash fall.

• Gentle sweeping of indoor and outdoor hard surfaces followed by wet mopping is the best procedure in most cases. A damp cloth or wet mop may be all that is needed on lightly dusted areas.

• Avoid washing ash into storm drains whenever possible.

• If ash is wet down, use as little water as possible.

• Collected ash may be disposed of in the regular trash. Ash may be stored in plastic bags or other containers that will prevent it from being disturbed.

The community of Fillmore and residents along the 150 corridorbetween Santa Paula and Ojai, as well as Wheeler Gorge and Matilija have been asked to evacuate.

Take this opportunity to check YOUR evacuation/disaster kits. If you are unsure what you should have, check out the MERRAG website for more information.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Rally for Organized NP Workers


The Rally:
3-4 p.m. Sunday, September 24
De la Guerra Plaza
Prominent speakers will be invited. More details to come.

The Fundraiser:
4-6 p.m. at Ruby’s Café
De la Guerra Plaza
Hors d’oeuvres and music
Suggested Donation: $20.00
Proceeds will be donated to the Journalist Loan Fund to help current and former News-Press employees who have been forced out, fired or suspended without pay.

Please join the organized newsroom of the Santa Barbara News-Press in a show of support for journalistic integrity and a fair employment contract. In recent weeks, 22 top journalists have left the newsroom because Wendy McCaw, the owner and co-publisher, was interfering in the news. An atmosphere of intimidation and surveillance has replaced the openness that a free press requires.

This month, 11 newsroom employees received notice that they would be suspended for two days without pay for the “offense” of attempting to deliver a letter to McCaw. The letter asked her to stop harrassing employees who were seeking union representation.

The No. 1 priority of these employees, some of whom have worked at the paper for decades, is to restore ethical standards at the News- Press. They expect to win their union election by a large margin on Sept. 27. Until their demands for a fair contract have been met, they are asking subscribers to CANCEL THE NEWS-PRESS TODAY.

The Sept. 24 rally is organized by newsroom employees and the Graphic Communications Union of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Please help us send a message to McCaw that SANTA BARBARA DEMANDS A FREE PRESS.


Seabaugh's Story Now Online

It all began for Dr. Michael Seabaugh when Jerry Roberts left the Santa Barbara News-Press and he felt like he was "home alone" working for no one -- as there is no one home at the News-Press. Here's what he had to say about the unprecedented step of apologizing to Dr. Laura in a "Letter to Readers" about his September 5th column:

I was never contacted by the “deciders” on this matter. The only contact I ever had was a kind and apologetic call from my immediate editor, Andrea Huebner, on the morning the NewsPress apology was published.

Four days later, Andrea Huebner was fired. The reason? Officially, it was something about the poor quality of her work. Anyone who knows Andrea or has worked with her, as I have, knows this is utter bullshit; she is a very competent professional. The real reason? Because she allowed my September 5th “Birthday” column to be run as it was written, respecting my rights as a columnist (and as an American?) to speak my mind and express it in the way I saw fit.

He goes on to say that Huebner's firing "highlights the fallacy of pride as a platform for moral decisions". In essence, Huebner "took a bullet" for him and he felt no choice but to leave the paper.

See for yourself at the Healthspan Blog. EdHat, BlogaBarbara or anyone can link to it as far as I know....

Friday, September 15, 2006

Cottage Workforce of Assisi Project Delayed

It's hard to not call the "Cottage Workforce" project St. Francis...maybe they could have given the patron saint of animals and our long time hospital a nod and called it the Assisi Project rather than the generic workforce name that we all must use if we want something approved. Politicians,developers, school districts and even the SBPOA talk about workforce housing like it will solve all are problems. Is it the only way to get projects approved these days?

After a 6 hour meeting, the decision was delayed a week. The News-Press created images of "political chicanery" and Cottage CEO Ron Werft appearing unhappy and John "The Trailmaster" McKinney shaking his head. No one was satisfied with the outcome....even Marshall Rose got a chance to complain about construction costs. There was even a conspiracy with staff emails in the city. Is making this into a soap opera a necessity? Isn't sensationalizing the news showing bias in the newsroom? I guess Brian Cearnal started all this by calling the hearings "emotional"....

Boycott SBNP Advertisers? Here's the other side...

At the risk of being called a "pro-union rag" again, let's take a look at the SBNP advertisers point of view. This came in as a comment this morning and is worth discussing. I appreciate hearing from one of the advertisers...thank you.
I am an advertiser in the SBNP. I do not like what is going on at the paper. It is terrible and regrettable. However, the only way to reach the greater SB audience is through this paper and its sad ownership.

But having someone create lists of advertisers is threatening. This is obviously the intent. Frankly, having someone threaten me for my advertisement in any paper, smacks of the kind of coercion that occurred and occurs in societies that have some pretty terrible names of their own.

The press is free in this country. If you don't want to subscribe, do so. If you don't want to patronize, do so. If you want to organize, do so. But if you threaten those who choose to advertise in an American newspaper then you must realize the consequence is a minor scrimish, but the loss of those voices that are not your own. This is exactly what Wendy has done to her own newspaper and now you have been brave enough to do it to your community.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

News-Press Salsipuedes Continues...Again

I'm losing track really quickly here. EdHat reported that Dr. Michael Seabuagh has resigned from the News-Ptess and he will continue his column on his blog and with the Southwest Missourian.

The best and the brightest continue to leave this once venerable paper -- my prediction is that it will sell within the next month or so. How else can Wendy, Nipper and Travis rebuild the trust the paper once had with the community?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

News-Press Salsipuedes Continues...

We have an unconfirmed report of another major resignation from the News-Press -- this in from an anonymous:

Len Wood Photo Editor for 25+ Years gave notice of 2 weeks, but after Andrea Huebner, Life Sections Editor was Dismissed for "Poor Quality" Work (read Union Symphasizer )-Len Immediately Left the Building! Also, Newsroon Editor Colby [LastNameUnknown].

Yikes. Len is a great photographer and has a lot of history in our town. If there is no one left, how can there be a union?

The DailyKos, one of the most respected and largest blogs in the country now has a thread on the NewsPress Mess.

Monday, September 11, 2006

EdHat Cease and Desist

Friend of Ed let us know that David Millstein has asked not to link to their obituaries....a little strange since it is a non-subscription part of their web site at the News-Press. Here's a quote from the EdHat Story:

On Monday, Edhat received a CEASE and DESIST notice from David J. Millstein, an attorney for the Santa Barbara News-Press, with instructions to remove any unauthorized links to the website from the website; specifically the obituaries.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Personal Attack?

A comment from FDS is worthy of of a post -- readon it is interesting stuff. Is the new star demanding the "For the Record"?....

More publisher pandering to "Dr. Laura" [sic] Schlessinger...

Here is the statement in News-Press today:

September 8, 2006
On Tuesday, Santa Barbara News-Press columnist Dr. Michael O.L. Seabaugh wrote an inappropriate personal attack about fellow columnist Dr. Laura Schlessinger. The News-Press asked Dr. Laura to offer her opinions, views and expertise in our newspaper knowing that not all of our readers will agree with her opinions. We also know our readers don't always agree with the opinions or views of all of our other columnists or writers. The Santa Barbara News-Press wants to apologize fully for Dr. Seabaugh's comment. We have apologized to Dr. Laura Schlessinger privately and we also wanted to do so publicly. Sincerely, the publisher and associate editor of the Santa Barbara News-Press."

And here was the original text from the weekly medical columnist Michael Seabaugh:

"Dr. Laura may have the cajones to preach against tolerating diversity, but personally, I will not spend one more minute of this precious time I have intolerant of the wonderful diversity of my fellow humans.
Sitting in judgment of others is a waste of time, and I have none to waste. That overweight man in the too-tight T-shirt, the loud woman talking on her cell phone, the one in the comically bright orange wig, the homeless person speaking animatedly to the air . . . with the valuable time I have left, I would rather spend it trying to understand the uniquely beautiful way all of them are trying to make themselves known to the world.
And because I am acutely aware that time is on the lam, I will spend it with people whom I respect and who are respectful to those I respect. I will avoid those who are arrogant in their disregard for the culture within which they have the good fortune to live. I will avoid those who misuse the power and position they have acquired, perhaps through merit, but most likely through a whole lot of random luck. I will spend my last day in conversation with those who are curious about life, themselves and others, avoiding those who cloak themselves in dogma, only preaching what is familiar and self-serving."

The farther from the initial "Dr. Laura" mention, the more his writing drifted from that subject. But, still, News-Press "publisher and associate editor" saw the need for an ass-covering apology to readers and calling the benign writing by Seabaugh a "personal attack". PERSONAL ATTACK?!?!

I doubt that Associate Editor Steepleton ever reads the weekly medical column (or if he did, would not identify any "attack"), and the Editorial Page Editor Armstrong is not here this week, so no doubt the order to run this For The Record piece came from a Publisher, another example of more real hypocricy and bias from the pathetic people in their glass houses.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Vanity Fair Tell It Like It Is...

The Vanity Fair article came out yesterday and I urge you all to buy it -- it's a good piece and an interesting synopsis of the News-Press Mess. The article addressed the strains between the newsroom and Travis Armstrong and did a good job at describing what happened. It then went into a bit of what you might say "color" by describing Ty Warner and Oprah's relationship to Santa Barbara and then Wendy's divorce agreement with Craig McCaw. Rounding off this section was a description of her Coastal Commission fight over beach access that the writer rightly termed "bizarre" as there is no direct beach access from her estate.

It then goes into the hiring of Travis Armstrong and describes the "mocking nicknames thrown in for good measure", the "twisted sisters" as all Democrats and women (sexism, Anon?) and how Armstrong refused to run letters to the editor which offered counter-opinions. Armstrong says the letters were over the word limits and maybe didn't have names and phone numbers --- or they also were sent to other papers. Excuse me? Letters from County Supervisors and Mayors don't have names and phone numbers?

Armstrong then admits to the reporter to correcting "errors" in some letters to the editor and sending them back for revision. If they weren't corrected, he says he wouldn't publish them or would point out the "error". Banish what bias?

Vanity Fair then goes into the DUI arrest of TKA and how Dawn Hobbes ran across the item in the police log...what to do? Jerry Roberts, the story says, felt he had no choice but to run the story as TKA is a public figure and that was the paper's policy. Apparently when Hobbes wanted to do a follow up a month later after the hearing -- TKA complained and the lawyers were brought in to speak with Roberts. The story was killed.

This was about the time Nipper came on the scene and the article describes a past business deal with Ampersand Holdings and an ex-boyfriend of Wendy's named Gregory Parker. Next the story quotes Nipper saying of McCaw "I've yet to be bored and I've been around a lot of women."

A large part of the article continues about the Rob Lowe issues which I feel has been covered here and at The Indpendent very well. Next, a description of the Duct Tape Gang ensues and the question of whether confidentiality was broken by Roberts and Brantingham. The forum then is explained and the other side is given in more detail.

Interestingly, the article explains more than we have known in the past about what happened with Camilla Cohee -- saying she was questioned about "misrepresentations" on her time card shortly before she resigned.

In a great ending -- it quotes a former intimate of McCaw's that says "Everything is someone else's fault" in her world.

Interesting facts not reported or not widely known:

  • McCaw and Nipper were with Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones on the Calise when the News-Press Mess began.
  • McCaw is a registered Libertarian -- has any of us ever bothered to look as it was so obvious?
  • McCaw had capped salaries, discontinued the pension plan and killed 401(k) matching contributions for employees.
  • Armstrong admits to correcting "errors" in some letters to the editor and sending them back for revision. If they weren't corrected, he says he wouldn't publish them or point out the "error".
  • The owner of KZSB is Dennis Weibling is a friend of McCaw's and owns Eagle River Investments.
  • Joe Guzzardi comes to Wendy's defense sticking with the TKA line that all of the no growthers are actually high density pro growthers.

Goleta Names Planning Commission

Important news this week that has kind of been under the radar...Goleta Council named the following people (source: SBNP)

Named to the panel were Ken Knight, appointed by Councilwoman Jean Blois; Bill Shelor, appointed by Councilwoman Cynthia Brock; Karen Lovelace, appointed by Councilman Jack Hawxhurst; Barbara Massey, appointed by Councilwoman Margaret Connell; and Ed Easton, appointed by Mayor Jonny Wallis.

Council member Hawzhurst then went on to say that he doesn't know what the council is going to do next year without their planning duties....this is really something they should have given up long ago. It's one thing to have a general plan to follow and it's another to not create a planning commission of citizens to help the process along and achieve total buy-in. Yes, it might have lengthened the process but it seems to me it would have been a stronger one.

Labor Day Negative Campaign Extended

In an extension of Travis Armstrong's labor day attack on his fellow employees and former employees, today's editorial co-opted the "Banish the Bias" theme used by the organized workers of the News-Press and turned it against them with a blistering attack on former business editor Michael Todd, an unnamed writer on planning issues and columnist Barney Brantingham.

Placing doubt in organized labor's camp is a typical tool of management. Saul Alinksy wrote that "ridicule is man's most potent weapon". How is anyone supposed to answer these allegations and have the same audience of 10s of thousands of people? How are SBNP readers supposed to know any better if there isn't a forum for the accussed?

It's hard to accept or consider these allegations as being any more than a union-nusting activity...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Pulling the Mafia Card

Travis Armstrong's use of Jimmy Hoffa, mafia ties and the FBI in tieing union organization efforts to organized crime on Labor Day itself is unconscionable.

I've been accused of misusing the "organized crime" label on these pages in describing Secord's "laundering" charge against Wolf and in my effort to provide levity --- misjudged the use of such words (and corrected them). The usage in the NP editorial is plain mean, directive and yet again fails to tell the whole story.

Great leaps in credibility for the News-Press could happen on the editorial pages if TKA would begin to write more editorials like he did last week on several subjects which were done in a civil, organized way (even if I didn't agree!) -- this one is even more than disappointing, it's an embarassment to our community.

For more on this subject -- see Craig Smith's post today as well.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Intimidation by the Big, Bad Union

Travis Armstrong told us the other day that all that nasty newsroom bias from reporters would be explained today and all we got was vague references to signs on trees?

Looks more like an attempt to discredit the unionization typical TKA style he refers to union intimidation but doesn't explain it or point out SBNP management's own union-busting efforts in recent days. He takes the argument we here at BlogaBarbara have had against his editorials and turned it on its head. If he says it enough times -- he really thinks the public will believe it.

The truth is most people haven't had many problems with newsroom versus editorial bias in this community -- but Joe Six-Pack may not know the difference between the newsroom and the editorial office. It depends on how the question is asked, doesn't it?

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.

SBNP Staffers Suspended

An anonymous comment came through which is clearly a Teamster press release....this is unconfirmed but certainly believable....


In a clear escalation of the labor dispute at the Santa Barbara News-Press, yesterday management unlawfully announced the suspension of a large number of newsroom employees for engaging in activity clearly protected under federal labor law, and threatened its entire staff with discharge if they engaged in any further such protected activity.

Newsroom staffers at the News-Press have been seeking to be represented by the Graphics Communications Conference of the Teamsters Union since mid-July, but the News-Press has engaged in obstructionist and intimidation tactics to try to prevent the employees from gaining the Union representation a clear employee majority desires, and has delayed and obstructed the National Labor Relations Board proceedings by engaging in tactics such as filing bogus "blocking" charges and playing "musical lawyers".

On August 24, a group of newsroom employees who support the Union and have been demanding that management ecognize and bargain with that Union over their terms and conditions of employment, peacefully delivered a letter on their break time to the office of News-Press owner Wendy McCaw. McCaw was apparently not present at the time, and there was no disruption of the operation of the paper. One week later, apparently still fuming at the audacity of its employees'
willingness to stand up in even the most innocuous way in the face of management's coercive and obstructionist tactics, News-Press management announced that it was imposing a two-day suspension on the group of employees for their conduct in delivering the letter, and threatened the entire newsroom staff with more severe discipline if they engaged in any "similar" conduct.

The Union has today therefore filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, protesting this atest violation of the law by the News-Press, and has asked the Board once again to expeditiously investigate this and its previous charges, and to seek injunctive relief in federal district court to reverse the suspensions and the other coercive, intimidating conduct perpetrated by management to date, all in an effort to deter and inhibit the employees from exercising heir rights to support a union, and support each other at the workplace.

Credibility of TKA's Argument Slim

I couldn't have said it better -- worthy of a thread, here's Eckermann's take on today's editorial.
Today's editorial in the News-Press once again fails to convince by violating the basic requirements of 7th grade essay writing. Mr. Armstrong presents a thesis but then fails to provide any examples to prove his point. His one quasi-example includes the results of a national poll that shows that people generally believe there is bias in all newsrooms in the nation; but he does not relate the poll to the News-Press newsroom with any concrete facts. Following his logic, the newsroom staff of every newspaper in the nation should be fired (or at least hounded from their jobs).

It would have been so easy for Mr. Armstrong to make a coherant argument. All he had to do was state his thesis about alleged newsroom bias then provide two or three quotes from past articles that illustrate bias. Instead, allegations are made but no proof is given. We can only conclude that either Mr. Armstrong flunked 7th grade English or he has no evidence to support his thesis. In either case, his credibility as a writer and editor suffers.

The Dog Did it -- Blame the Poodle!

Interesting Daily Sound article provided by First District Streefighter:

When in doubt, "Dr." Agnes, blame Nick Welsh.
Editor’s attorneys fire back at paper’s allegations


Attorneys for former Santa Barbara News-Press editor Jerry Roberts fired back at newspaper management yesterday, saying that it was not them who leaked details about a $500,000 lawsuit the paper had brought against Roberts, but the paper.
The Los Angeles Times, citing sources at the newspaper, reported last Friday that News-Press owner Wendy McCaw had filed a $500,000 lawsuit against Roberts for a breach of contract and for causing damage to the paper.

But the News-Press released a statement the same day saying that the paper “suspects that details may have been leaked by Mr. Roberts or his representatives since the News-Press did not make any public disclosures about the case.”

“You can’t just trust something because it’s published,” News-Press spokeswoman Agnes Huff said.

In a letter dated Monday and addressed to News-Press counsel David Millstein, Andrine Smith of Stimmel, Stimmel & Smith “demanded retraction based upon evidence in her possession that it was Mr. Millstein himself who had a copy of the arbitration demand delivered to a News-Press reporter,” according to a statement from the law firm.

The statements were “untrue, irresponsible and, unfortunately, consistent with the type of slanderous attacks we have come to expect from the News-Press and its ownership,” the letter said.

News-Press reporter Vladimir Kogan, who is a new reporter hired over the summer in light of the mass resignations at the newspaper, wrote a draft article in the event that news of the arbitration broke elsewhere.

But Agnes said that while it was true Millstein provided Kogan with a copy of the arbitration demand, there was no breach of confidentiality to allow the client or its employees to have access to the suit.

“The notion that the News-Press was legally obliged under a confidentiality provision is untrue,” Huff said. “The News-Press respected and wanted to keep the proceeding private and confidential.”

The breach, Huff said, came elsewhere, and the paper is currently investigating if it might have come from someone in its newsroom.

She said she and Kogan were the only people called by the Times, and that they both didn’t comment on the situation.
According to Smith, as Kogan was conducting his reporting for the article, a conversation between Kogan and Roberts was “overheard by ‘numerous people in the newsroom’ and from there made its way into the media.”
But Huff said she was “assured” that all of the conversations regarding the arbitration article were done in a separate and private place.

“We exercised great care that this was a sensitive and private matter,” she said.

Among other things, the newspaper also alleged that Nick Welsh, the executive editor and popular columnist at The Santa Barbara Independent newspaper, called the News-Press newsroom and stated, “I have a copy of your article on the arbitration.”

But Welsh was confused when contacted by the Daily Sound last night, and wasn’t sure the quote is accurate.
And even if he made it sound like he did have a copy when he talked to Kogan, he said he does not have a copy of the article written.

“If they have it on tape I guess I said it,” Welsh said. “But I don’t remember it like that at all.
“I wish I had a copy but I don’t.”

Welsh said he had heard about the story a few weeks ago, and knows there are “copies of the story out there” but he has yet to see one.

The only way Welsh, or anyone outside the newsroom, would have seen the copy of an “internal company privileged draft” was if it was stolen, Huff said.