Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Monday, April 30, 2007

Shame on Wendy Demonstration

Staged just prior to the court hearing on Wednesday -- I received the following from one of our readers:

A demonstration of community outrage will be held:
Wednesday, May 2, 2007, 8:45 to 9:15 a.m.
at Santa Barbara County Courthouse Arch on Anacapa Street

Contact for public:

Supporters of Jerry Roberts and everyone concerned about journalistic integrity are encouraged to gather during the half-hour prior to the court hearing (Superior Court room no. 4) at which Ampersand (the News-Press corporate owner) will ask the court for return of a computer hard disk containing porno images that could have originated by anyone. Law enforcement officials have stated that no case can be pursued because the chain of ownership for the computer hard disk is unknown.

Through a front-page article on Sunday, April 22, the Santa Barbara News-Press insinuated that illegal child pornography found on a computer once used by Jerry Roberts somehow involved him, even though the News-Press and its ownership and management knew, in statements last January if
not earlier, that others in the building had full access to the same computer for years and that the computer also was purchased used from unknown sources.

Many people believe that this so-called news article, with no author credited, was published by the News-Press to ruin Roberts’ reputation as part of a continuing lawsuit where the News-Press is suing him for $25 million. The News-Press demand for the computer hard disk, through a court action, appears simply to be a ruse and an insulting distraction because such images are illegal contraband and law enforcement authorities cannot allow them to be possessed by anyone. The FBI already is conducting an investigation, and the News-Press seems to think it would be a better detective than the Santa Barbara City Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

People who wish to show their support for Roberts and the principled journalists, and who wish to condemn these latest News-Press insults, are invited to demonstrate for a half-hour Wednesday morning, starting at 0845 outside the Courthouse on Anacapa St. Show them, yet again, that the greater Santa Barbara community will not be intimidated and will Not Back Down to threats and innuendo by Ampersand and the News-Press.

Signs are encouraged to display, as easy as bringing and holding up the cover of the most recent issue of Santa Barbara Independent ( ).

This sleazy situation has been described in detail in recent news articles and opinions, including these:,1,4714063.story

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NPO Ordinance Vote Tuesday

The Newsroom ran a story about how the Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance will be voted on by the Santa Barbara City Council Tuesday after three long years of debate, hearings and community meetings. The ordinance is designed to fight the mansionization of our neighborhoods. I bet the ordinance will pass...and any of you interested in being a member of the new committee that is formed can start applying on May 8th for meetings which would begin as early as July 16th. I guess our city government figures it will pass too :)


Saturday, April 28, 2007

So, What Happened?

Last week, an editorial didn't make it to the print edition and was only online for maybe 8.5 hours. In what was perhaps the News-Press's first online only publication, a Travis Armstrong editorial was clearly pulled. I think we can speculate that after legal review, the piece was pulled by 8:28 am the next morning.

So, what happened? Is there a content management system that published the story online and that story was pulled before it made it into the print edition? Was there no one to take it down until 8:28 the next morning because TKA didn't know how?

Whatever the case, his un-digg-able piece about "White Washing Child Pornography" hasn't seen print and he hasn't had anything published since.

Perhaps we will see it tomorrow in Sunday's the meantime, let's follow Craig Smith's lead and post The Santa Barbara Independent's cover on our window like Mulder in the X-Files. I'm getting my duct tape out now....

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Citizens Can Take Action Against the News-Press for Violating the Law

A Community Post from Mic DeNiro:

Numerous bloggers have indicated they continue to receive the News-Press despite having cancelled their subscriptions.

Continued delivery of the paper in that circumstance may violate the law, at least within the city of Santa Barbara. I provide the following analysis in case anyone out there in the blogosphere wants to take action. I myself cannot, alas, as I continue to subscribe to the paper, and it always lands on my property.

The following sections of the City of Santa Barbara Municipal Code would appear to be being violated when a News-Press employee throws a copy of the paper, which is refuse (defined at section 7.16.010 as "All types of solid wastes … ") and also qualifies as flammable material, onto the private property of someone who has not consented to such a trespass by subscribing to the paper.

7.16.150 Depositing Refuse for Non-Collection Purposes.
7.16.160 Adding to, Etc., Regular Refuse Accumulations.
8.08.060 Dumping Flammable Materials in Vacant Lots, Streets, Ditches.

According to 7.16.040 and 8.08.010, the Sanitation Code Enforcement Officer is responsible for enforcing violations of sections 7.16.150 and 7.16.160, while the Fire Department Chief is responsible for enforcing violations of 8.08.060.

In those cases where the paper delivery person's aim is not true, and a paper lands in the street or on the sidewalk, whether or not delivery is being attempted to a subscriber, both

8.08.060 Dumping Flammable Materials in Vacant Lots, Streets, Ditches.
10.40.100 Throwing Articles on Street

would appear to be being violated.

The Fire Department Chief is responsible for enforcing violations of 8.08.060, while the Police Department is responsible for enforcing violations of 10.40.100, as per 8.08.010 and 10.08.080.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

$2.5 Million Cut from Schools

$2.5 million is a lot of music and art classes and a there will no longer be foreign language training in the Santa Barbara School District. Surprisingly, the school board members voted to cut their salary in half in a gesture of goodwill. Nancy Harter and other school board members took a "hard swallow" Tuesday night -- see the full story at The Santa Barbara Newsroom.


News-Press Continues to Digg Hole

Travis Armstrong seems to have written an editorial that appeared last night on the News-Press web site and was then taken down in favor of an editorial about schools. he purposely taking things they print and not putting them on the web site as he figures many of us have our ways?

The editorial, entitled "White Washing Child Pornography", was time-stamped at midnight last night and laid into child pornographers -- all well and good, but as usual failed to tell the whole story. Without even commenting about the perhaps unconscious racism exhibited in the title (turn about is fair play), Armstrong made a point of saying Jerry Roberts was the last person to have the computer and failed to mention that it was a used computer, had several users before Roberts and the fact that News-Press management held the computer for a week before sending it to DriveSavers. Why is he afraid to tell the truth to his readers?

Surprisingly, he even went after the Police Department for "blowing it" but failed to mention that both they and the District Attorney's Office chose not to prosecute the matter. His inability to tell the whole story and then go after former newsroom employees for bias borders on perhaps the criminal and at least the delusional...why can't he tell the whole truth? That is all we want. Tell us what really happened and let us decide for ourselves -- stop trying to poison our perception with your reality of the truth!

In the meantime, he tries to make the victims to be the children from the images. Yes, this is true in that the very existence of these images should make us all shudder. But the victim at the forefront of this charade is Jerry Roberts -- a victim of a sinking ship called the News-Press that thinks the only way they can swim to shore is to attack innocent former employees that they used to trust implicitly. What kind of person would make such accusations and not tell us the whole truth?

The question Travis needs to answer is WHO had the computer before Roberts? Be a real journalist rather than an opportunist! Are you in so deep that you can't get out? Do you wonder if you can ever get a job in journalism again? Exactly who had the computer before Jerry Roberts and WHO had the computer before that? Inquiring minds want to know...

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

After Hours "Journalism"

Craig Smith reports today that the Roberts story on Sunday was snuck in after hours and after all but one copy editor had gone home for the night.

The story was literally stuck into the paper after everyone else had been sent home. Yep, the copy editors, except for one, were allowed to go home on Saturday evening, while the other was told to stay behind because there would be one more story coming. That was the Robert's smear piece. It made it into the paper virtually unchecked by any editors, which also explains why it did not make it onto the News-Press website until very late on Sunday.

Clearly, this 'staff report' was more of a 'management report' -- and is yet another example of there being no wall between the newsroom, editorial and management.

For someone whose editor goes on and on about eliminating 'bias in the newsroom', McCaw's hand print is certainly all over the front page. What was their motivation? Do they think this is a political campaign and smear tactics will work? Unfortunately for Jerry Roberts, as with negative political campaigns, the label will be associated with him because it was in the newspaper. This kind of vindictiveness at the cost of journalistic integrity will eventually come home to roost. The question is when...

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A Black Day in Santa Barbara

For full video of ex-News-Press editor Jerry Roberts' press conference, see The Santa Barbara Newsroom article. Robert's wife, Linda Kiefer, should be his permanent spokesperson. In the video, the non-bylined Sunday article is described as "a black day in Santa Barbara".

As many of you probably guessed, the comment yesterday from a DriveSaver's employee was not real -- according to management at DriveSavers, who sent me an email. This is exactly why I said to take it with a grain or two of salt. Also, an anonymous commenter has been trying to push another local Blog as having the story first. Whether you are an imposter for DriveSavers or marketing another local "big-B" Blog -- put aside your quest and whatever your intentions may be...this story is too important to try to drive hits to your Blog or catch me in a liable position for your own or corporate benefit.

Ethics and morals are far more important than the story of the day -- especially when a clearly honorable man is being maligned with impunity. Take a deep breath and think about what it would be like if you were in the same position.

If you had any doubts as to Robert's role in this matter, see the video linked to above. After that, study up on what it takes to recover data from a used hard drive that is not protected by secure login, a locked door or a week at the News-Press in the hands of management. Make your own conclusions...and talk amongst yourselves.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Late Time Stamp on Roberts Story

For those of you wondering about the missing story on the online version of the News-Press -- I've been sent the following from a faithful reader:

News-Press seeks exam of computer used by ex-editor Roberts containing child porn
April 22, 2007 1:12 PM

This is the latest posting of a story in recent memory....

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The Glove Doesn't Fit!

With all due respect to the famous lawyer, wouldn't Johnny Cochrane say that from the grave? Today we saw a non by-lined story on the front page of the News-Press seeking ex-editor Jerry Robert's hard drive which (not even alledgedly in their report) contains 15,000 images of pornography. Here are the facts thus far:

1) The article actually admits that the District Attorney's Office was unable to prosecute this matter because it would be impossible to tell who put the images on the drive.

2) Roberts passed a lie detector test on the matter.

3) The suspect Macintosh G4 hard drive was a from a used computer used by other editors before Roberts.

4) The News-Press did not contact Roberts for a comment. Bias in the newsroom? At the very least, it is what The Indpendent Media Blog is calling "the biggest no-no in journalism".

5) As Roberts attorney pointed out, "You'd have to be working at it for three years to accumulate this much info". What he really means is who has that much hard drive space on a used G4?

Let's do the math. 15,000 images at let's say a megabyte each....that's 15 gigabytes of images on a used G4. A G4 that is maybe 6 years old shipped with a 27 gigabyte hard drive. A little more recent G4 powerbook would have shipped with a 60 gigabyte hard drive. Why would someone have more than half to a just under a third of their hard drive in images like this and think they could get away with it on a company computer? It would also severely affect performance....

Yes -- let's see what they come up with at Ampersand. But they better come up with a whole lot more. A few months ago I questioned whether they could get any lower. They have. There are no longer any journalists that are also management at De La Guerra Plaza. They've been trying to push this story for months even here at BlogaBarbara and I kept declining the comments. Are they doing this because no one else would? McCaw and Company should be ashamed of themselves....

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News-Press Attacks Roberts

The Daily Sound has an early story on the reference in the News-Press today about supposed child pornography found on Jerry Robert's computer...from what I know about News-Press IT practices, however, it could have just as easily been planted by anyone. Opposing counsel only needs to ask if reporters had a login required for their work station -- my understanding unless one of you corrects me is that they did not. If this is the case, the night janitor could have put the files on his computer. If McCaw and Company have known about this hard drive for so long -- why the court action now? Their suit against Roberts is more than a few months old. I guess the hard drive recovery company didn't want to be in the middle of this kind of mess....

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Baseball Park at Pershing Park

Harping suggested we do a post on the baseball park and pointed to an article in the Indie last week that I can't find now that it has had a makeover! Still, this topic takes me back to the days when we called Mayor Blum "The Slugger" as it has been on the books since BlogaBarbara began two years ago...

What are the pros and cons? We have a world champion baseball team right here in Santa Barbara! Too much stress on that West Beach neighborhood? or does it make sense?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Earth Day and More....

Earth Day at the Sunken Gardens -- It's This Sunday!
The Community Environmental Council web site has a festival guide and list of activities for Sunday's event.

Media and Global Warming
On Saturday, April 28, a diverse group of international experts will join members of the public at the University of California Santa Barbara to explore media coverage of global warming and other critical environmental issues of our time. The Arthur N. Rupe Conference on Media and the Environment will run from 12:00-6:00 p.m. at Corwin Pavilion.

The conference will showcase examples of environmental media programming created for traditional and new media formats, including web video, documentary films, newspapers, digital news sites, and commercial advertisements. Presenters include leading environmental journalists, filmmakers, scientists, media analysts, and international agency coordinators. For more information, see their website.

Volunteers Needed for Food Drive
Volunteers are needed to help sort food for the Postal Carriers Annual Spring Food Drive on Saturday, May the 12th starting at 4pm. Pacific Pride Foundation has been chosen, along with other non-profits in Santa Barbara County, to receive food for it’s food pantry. The food drive will be held at 126 E. Haley Street, in the parking lot. Individuals who are interested in volunteering can call John “JB” Bowlin, Director of Volunteer Services at Pacific Pride Foundation, 963-3636 ext. #101.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Trolls for Radio and TV?

We have clearly had our share of trolls on BlogaBarbara. There have also been quite a few articles in the media which try to instill fear about the effect of blogs, but to many people blogs are new and are something they don't understand. And, we fear what we don't understand. I've been a proponent of the theory that blogs aren't much different than traditional media but for speed and if there is a lack of moderation -- content.

This article from Newsweek on the Don Imus scandal talks about a young man who taped Imus' show everyday to catch him saying something stupid -- which he clearly did. He was doing it on behalf of a liberal group called Media Matters for America. I'm sure this must happen with the other side of the aisle, too. Looks like a troll to me. As for Imus -- he wouldn't get away with saying what he said in the blogosphere either, don't you think?

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Teamsters File Objection to 97 Theses

The 97 objections that the News-Press nailed to the wall, like so many theses from Martin Luther, has received a formal objection from the Teamsters. In an article on the Indy Media Blog, Matt Kettman reports that the objections were filed on April 11. Many thanks to the SBIMB for publishing the PDF listed above.

BlogaBarbara is mentioned on quite a few of the legal filing pages. A citizen stringer who passed this information along pointed out that Teamster attorney Ira Gottlieb may have invented a new term in saying the infamous 9/11 comment was "depublished". In any event, Gottlieb did a good job at pointing out the obvious -- the News-Press objections to the union election lacked merit for many reasons already mentioned here, in the hearing and in the press.

I've been sensing a bit of News-Press Mess fatigue in the ether of late and hope that although we need to move on in some ways -- the findings of the NLRB are a serious matter to which we have seen no indication from Ampersand of having any intention to following. They've proven this by saying they have a commitment to local news and then making their first post-NLRB hearing hire a gossip columnist -- rather than the eight reporters who were illegally fired. McCaw and Company are hoping we do not notice or are so tired of the mess that we begin to ignore it.

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Claudia Madsen: 1929 - 2007

A faithful reader and citizen stringer passed along some sad news today. Community activist Claudia Madsen passed away on Sunday morning after a short battle with liver and pancreatic cancer. I am told that even in the last week when she realized her life was coming to an end -- she insisted on talking about matters close to her heart: the General Plan Update, building height limits and view preservation. Claudia has been an active board member of Citizens Planning Association for longer than anyone can remember and although I do not know -- would not be surprised if she had been a founding member of the organization. I am told that donations can be made in her name.

Claudia is one of the reasons Santa Barbara is such a beautiful city and has that sense of place which makes us all want to stay here despite the challenges. She was a wonderful woman and will be missed.

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Congrats to EdHat and Other News...

Congratulations go out to Peter Sklar over at EdHat. He will be receiving a commendation from the Board of Supervisors today.

Also, congratulations go out to the Santa Barbara Breakers basketball team who had there first home victory this last weekend. Santa Barbara News Room's John Zant has the story....

Craig Smith reports that the News-Press has a new gossip columnist...just what the News-Press needs, hunh? Real commitment to local news over there at DLG Plaza.

Finally, SB Newsroom reported that opening statements begin today in the vehicular manslaughter case involving the death of 12-year old Jake Boysel.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Tragedy in Virginia

I usually do not do posts on news outside of Santa Barbara County but today's tragic news uncovers wounds locally that may have just begun to heal....

CNN has some good coverage and video of what happened today. I am sure I speak for all of us in extending our sympathies to the families of the fallen.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Progressives, Liberal Feminists and The Pill

A little over a week ago, COLAB's Andy Caldwell published an opinion piece in the Santa Maria Times about the Building Blocks of a Moral Society. he made a few assertions but this one might have been the most provocative:

...many progressive organizations and communities are dominated by liberal feminists.

He goes on to talk about the emasculation of men which many of us feminists don't think possible considering that men still make more money than women and hold more power -- despite the incredible gains made over the last 20 years. If that didn't turn feminists off to his message, the following probably did:

My impression of progressives is to categorize them as liberals who think the ‘60s revolution was the greatest thing created since the pill. But since the pill was created in the 1960s, that may not be the best analogy, but hey, you get the picture!

The Santa Maria Times, to their credit, allowed a retort to their weekly columnist from Deborah Brasket. She's one of those feminists with SBCAN that are a bit too uppity for Caldwell's North County. Here's part of what she had to say:

Yet look at the example this “male leader” is setting for our young men - marking his territory, the North County, and challenging those who dare enter his turf, personally attacking those who are not part of his conservative group, continually harassing a woman - me - to debate him in public when I have politely and firmly told him I'm not interested, unwillingness to take “no” as an answer, going after his opponents' funders when he can't get what he wants, resorting to insults, name-calling and divisive words when he doesn't get his way.

I think there is plenty of room under the tent for both conservatives and liberals in Santa Barbara County. If Caldwell wanted to grow his organization at all -- he might have considered that. Brasket, for her part, did much to create new members for SBCAN in North County. Good for her for seeing the opportunity and running with it. Why are conservatives so afraid of people that aren't afraid to use the L-word?

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Community Post: Housing, Not Height Is the Issue

by Lanny Ebenstein

The recent proposal to lower height maximums in El Pueblo Viejo--which should be supported--is by no means the whole picture when it comes to regulating growth and development in Santa Barbara. What should also be done is to lower height maximums in business zoning areas throughout the city, and, importantly, to reduce density.

The Santa Barbara City Council, likely to a person, would like to see thousands of more condos and other congregate residential units in business zoning areas. Is this the future that most Santa Barbarans wish to see? I don't think so.

My guess is that any serious attempt to restrain development in Santa Barbara will have to come from the people via the initiative route. The City Council is unlikely to put anything on the ballot that would restrain residential growth and development in business zoning areas--they all favor it.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Stopping SBNP Advertising Circulars

This community post is from a faithful reader:

As you know, many people have decided to cancel the News-Press. Some have done this to protest the union busting tactics, some to protest NP promoting editorial bias in what should be reporting of the news, and some to oppose editorial style and content on the editorial page itself. Of course some may have stopped because they have decided that quality and content of the newspaper has declined.

However, regardless of cancellations News-Press has still been mailing a weekly advertising circular to a large number of households, without anyone asking for it. Some speculate that this is an effort by News-Press management to shore up the circulation numbers they show advertisers.

While some may want to support the News-Press, others may not. For those who don’t want to support the News-Press, there is a simple method of stopping this unsolicited advertising circular, (and save some trees in the bargain.) All you have to do is dial the News-Press main number 564-5200. When the message comes on just punch in extension 232. Tell the person who answers (or leave a message) that you don’t want to receive their advertising circulars, and leave your address and zip code.

While no one wants to hurt advertisers, many don’t want to give News-Press management a round-about way to try to bolster their falling circulation.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

SBNP Correction Begs Question

A recent article by Maria Zate on two firings of Circuit City employees who made too much money has been the subject of an interesting correction from The Santa Barbara News-Press:

Sunday's News-Press reported on two Circuit City workers who are no longer employed by the company. The News-Press, along with most reputable members of the media, has a policy of always attempting to speak to both sides of any story. We tried in this case, but were not successful. The story, however, did not reflect those efforts as it should have.

A citizen stringer who passed this along to me questions why the correction says the two employees are unemployed rather than what the original article was about -- that experienced salespeople there were paid too much. For all we know, the typical Circuit City 'declined to comment' was excised from the article. Was this correction generated by Circuit City management or by News-Press management? It's an important aspect of the correction that should have been made clear. Our citizen stringer wonders whether Zate's original article was edited and now she will be accussed of "newsroom bias" -- was she set up for failure? Why didn't the copy editor think about this before the article was published?

I guess the answer is so obvious that there is no reason to talk about it :)

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State Street Update: Italian & Greek Deli to Close on Saturday

It is with great sadness that I report that the Italian & Greek Deli will be closing on Saturday. What will go in it's place? Word is that a cellular phone store will be moving in. Just what we need on State Street....


SB School Board Delays Charter School Vote

The school board voted 4-1 to continue discussion of the American Charter High School after four hours of discussion. The sticking point? The school's education plan hasn't been presented. It seems that school board member Bob Noel's baby has until May 12th to be approved or the school district would lose funding. As the other board members pointed out in the Daily Sound this morning, this is a big decision for the school district and a tight deadline. For his part, Noel has rid himself of any financial ties to the school just so he could vote on the issue.

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Miramar Project Plan Unveiled

The Daily Sound reported today that Rick Caruso unveiled new plans for the Miramar property and that it will be a 210 room hotel, banquet, restaurant and lounge facility -- three rooms less than Ian Schraeger's plan. Parking will be underground. The price for the property is assumed to top the $43 million Ty Warner paid for it in 2005.

Additional Resources:
SB Newsroom Story


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Blogging Begins to Come of Age

Faithful reader Don Lubach* sent along an article from the New York Times on civility and blogging which describes a proposal from tech guru Tim O'Reilly and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. One of their proposals suggest a "badge" be placed on blogs which indicate what level of conversation is acceptable. The article is definitely worth review and I will be going over their proposals for help on our very own guidelines which I will be editing soon for official placement on the left navigation bar.

There have been a few articles on blogging of late that show old media's reluctance to accept blogging for what it is. Unfortunately, many of these articles do not compare the effects of blog posts with the effects of old media on other people's lives. What happens to the reputation of a priest who is interested in what happens in their community, for instance, when a local newspaper editor says something she did was "snarky"? The difference is right now versus tomorrow morning. Speed. Blogs have similar effect as newspapers but bloggers don't have the experience most journalists have in reigning it in, getting second and third sources and considering what their writing does to the conversations people have about others. This makes guidelines for blogs important and they should also be considered for old media. Another difference is reach -- old media types may be afraid of us but they still have a much farther reach and distribution. It shouldn't be so easy for them to exagerate the influence on a little blog like ours on, for instance, a union election.

The flip side of all of the angst going on in the media about blogging is that some companies are beginning to get that transparency can help their reputation and combat their worst nightmares about blogging. Microsoft -- even with uneven sales of Vista, a lagging XBox and a five-years-too-late Zune player -- allows their employees to video blog on Channel 9. For a good article on this new transparency in Redmond, see this month's Wired Magazine article. Imagine transparency in De La Guerra would go along way towards regaining the trust the News-Press once had from our community.

* Mr. Lubach gave permission for his name to be used in this post.

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Two More Complaints at NLRB v. News-Press

After weeks of silence, the News-Press Mess has made the news for a few days running. Typical of damage control public relations, it all began just prior to Easter weekend when many were out of town. I guess the 97 theses the News-Press nailed to the wall last Thursday weren't worth public scrutiny.

The Independent's Santa Barbara Media Blog (SBMB) reports that two more complaints will be added to unfair labor practice charges against the News-Press at the National Labor Relations Board. The first complaint is that News-Press lawyer David Millstein and accountant Norman Colavincenzo disrupted a meeting between former reporters and advertisers at the public library. It seems Millstein took the "public" part literally and thought it was okay to bust in -- although I wonder if he has a point that the library application form states that meetings are open to the public. Still, he didn't show good form and if "public" also means "right to intimidate" in the dictionary he would have a case. As Teamster attorney Ira Gottlieb told the SBMB, the News-Press seems to "trample first, and ask questions, if at all, later". Indeed, Millstein intimated that the News-Press hasn't even begun to fight. I say they've had their chance and it is time for them to make amends and move on.

The second complaint is based on videotaping of labor rallies -- a prime way to ascertain just who your enemies are. A News-Press stalwart continues to ask in our comments section about the "purpose" of this blog. As long as the News-Press insists on making news that they themselves refuse to cover, BlogaBarbara will continue to report it next to controversies over office space in Goleta, the plight of the steelhead, etc. Nothing would make me happier than to report that a resolution to The Mess is at hand....

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Clergy Responds to TKA's 'Snarky' Hit

Over at Craig Smith's Blog, Rev. Teena Grant responds to Travis Armstrong's characterization that she wrote a "snarky" email...pointing out that Armstrong has never given her a call, attended one of their many meetings on youth or the service the other night.

A common complaint about Armstrong over the last five plus years is that he specializes in "hit and run" editorials -- failing to contact those he attacks for their side of the story. He and Ms. McCaw might buy ink by the barrel -- but what happens when our local newspaper goes after people of the cloth? I suppose religion is the last institution that Armstrong hasn't taken on -- Rev. Grant now joins a long list of other "cabalists" that will soon engulf our whole community because of their conspiracy with the Teamsters. Run away!

Update: See Reverend Donkin's Thin Places blog for more response from clergy.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Worker Bee Shuts Down Sunday Funnies

This showed up in a comment in case any of you were wondering what happened to Worker Bee's blog on Dr. Laura (a small yabbadabbadoo edit is included -- sorry about that WB!):

I took down the Sunday Funnies because truthfully I just don't want to read Laura Shlessinger's column ever again or ever think about her. It was fun while it lasted, and I wish there were 25 hours in the day to make fun of Laura, but to make fun of her you actual have to absorb and consider her mind numbing thoughts.

I took it down entirely to take away the temptation of giving that woman the time of day just to crack some jokes. It's not worth it. Obviously she says outrageous things because she knows it will tick some people off and she welcomes the rumbling because it helps her book sales, etc. I just don't want to contribute.

That said, in the privacy of my own home, I will continue to persue my new hobby of pasting Mr. Yuck stickers over pictures of YABBADABBADOO. Thank you.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

SBNP Files 97 Exceptions

Wow. 97 exceptions to the NLRB decision were made by the Santa Barbara News-Press on Thursday according to the Santa Barbara Independent Media Blog. Here's the full 59 page text if you have a bit of time to read the tome. Many thanks to the Independent for publishing these PDFs.

To the point, the News-Press basically filed an exception for everything that was said by Ira Gottlieb, The Organized and Judge Schmidt. During the hearing, Judge Schmidt wondered out loud why McCandless and company didn't do more to prove their case. They certainly have the right to appeal and protest the ruling -- but perhaps they could have done more to help their case during the hearing. They also could have done more to accept what is so. Amid the exceptions is a great deal of talk about SBNP employees "physical and emotional well being"; as well as, something about "core values" of their employee unit. What "core values" are they exhibiting at the News-Press? Democracy? Integrity? Honesty?

This war of attrition continues as these 97 exceptions mainly serve to line lawyers pockets in hopes that the News-Press 8 will give up and find work elsewhere. It's got to be more expensive to pay Sonnenschein, Nath and Rosenthal than it is to capitulate and make amends with back pay and current employment. Isn't it far more financially prudent to sit across the table at this point?

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Transparency at the Daily Nexus

I followed a link form Craig Smith to a great piece by Jerry Roberts about how the Daily Nexus is operated and the financial challenges they are facing. How refreshing to see such transparency!

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Dr. Laura Mirrors TKA on Teamster Hit Piece

First of all, this post marks over 500 posts on BlogaBarbara since we began just a few years ago. Another milestone! As always, I appreciate all of your support and readership.

In Dr. Laura's column this morning, she said she was waiting by the phone for Santa Barbara Newsroom to call her about syndicating her column so THEY could demonstrate a lack of bias. She has had an open invitation to do that with me for over a month and has failed to take action! I've been hitting refresh on my email client for weeks! As always, you are free to a post at any time Dr. Laura -- and for that matter so are your friends at De la Guerra Plaza.

She then says she is opposed to unions. Again, she made the same rather intentional mistake Travis Armstrong did and tried to turn the United Food and Commercial Workers at our grocery stores into the big bad Teamsters when they are a really different union. Just like Armstrong, she invoked the image of a union eating up all they could. Here's an excerpt -- does anyone have an original thought or do any fact checking over there?

Union demands and threats to destroy business functions is bullying at best, extortion at worst.

So, starting a new "newspaper" is a reasonable solution for the group of folks who quit over claims of bias or were fired for allegedly undermining the workings of the News-Press. However, complaining about "bias" and then being virtually owned by a union is so blatantly hypocritical that I don't have to comment further.

Doesn't that sound like an editorial from a few weeks ago -- I guess their PR folks have had their "One Voice" speech with them and this does not indicate bias. Hmmmm. The News-Press is acting much more like Big Brother than the Teamsters, Dr. Laura! Finally, isn't it extortion to refuse to give someone their job and back pay after a court decision just because you think they were wrong?

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Office Space at the County

Bring me my red stapler! A County staff TPS-style report suggests that South County office space needs will exceed 1.2 million square feet according to The Daily Sound today. The North County estimate falls a bit lower to 715,973 square feet. Supervisors Centeno and Firestone thought that was unfair and did not vote to adopt the plan saying population differences should be taken into account. They did "receive" the that some kind of 1984ism?

Apparently the plan does not take into account the possibility of a new jail which would be placed in North County. Construction and payroll associated with a new jail should more than make up for the several hundred thousand square foot difference.

For Office Space fans , here's a link so you can make your very own TPS Report.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Who's Scoopin' Who?

Let's move the ATM vandal photo which fell into the News-Press' lap discussion's hard for me to believe that there is even a "scoop" discussion with how little local news has been covered by the News-Press of late! Good for them but The Sound has been days ahead of the News-Press on so many issues. Now the Newsroom will be joining them in scooping the our paper of disrecord as well.


Old Town: San Jose Creek and Steelheads

parkparkpark offered the following for discussion...


I think Tom Schultz covered a really important issue in today's Santa Barbara Newsroom.

The ugly concrete channel right in front of the News-Press Goleta Printing Plant is going to be enlarged by digging out and then *pouring new concrete* over the existing aprons of the channel. Here is a cross sectional diagram of the new plan.

In the enlargement nothing will be done to improve steelheads' ability to migrate up San Jose Creek! In earlier incarnations there was going to be a small channel with a natural bottom for steelhead, but that was removed. But now the concrete bottom will be left as is all along South Kellogg, which forms an impenetrable barrier to steelhead.

The project as about to be approved is right out of 1965. 35 years of South Coast environmentalism is being ignored by this undertaking, and the steelhead will suffer.

Further, the City of Goleta has only done a Negative Declaration, not a full EIR on the project. The comment period ends tomorrow... more info is on their April 2, 2007 agenda. The comment period ends tomorrow!

Flood control in Goleta Old Town is important, but this is a retrograde and unacceptable solution. I wonder if the News-Press has ignored the issue because they benefit... the Printing Plant needs the channel enlargement to keep from flooding.

The old council was just as supportive of this travesty as the old one... something about Goleta Old Town... out of sight, out of mind.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Burns Covers NP for LA Times

I couldn't find the link on the LA Times website but here is the article former News-Press reporter melinda Burns wrote for the LA Times....sorry for the length but it is an interesting read.....
Unionizing to save the Santa Barbara News-Press
How the proposed Employee Free Choice Act could have rescued the newsroom from its owner.

By Melinda Burns, MELINDA BURNS was a regional reporter for the Santa Barbara News-Press. She and her fired colleagues plan to launch a local news site,, today. April 2, 2007

Santa Barbara — At the Santa Barbara News-Press, where the newsroom has unraveled under attack from a wealthy owner, a law like the proposed Employee Free Choice Act could have made all the difference.

Reporters, copy editors and photographers voted 33 to 6 in September to join the Graphic Communications Conference, a union that is an affiliate of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. But six months later, contract negotiations have yet to begin. Wendy P. McCaw, the News-Press' owner and co-publisher, filed a challenge to the union vote with the National Labor Relations Board and then fired eight reporters — all union activists, including me, a senior writer with 21 years at the paper.

The conflict began last summer when six top editors, a columnist and a reporter resigned to protest McCaw's interference in news coverage. A raft of other journalists, most of them union supporters, have quit since then. Now, because of the union-related firings, those left in the newsroom won't join our protests for fear of losing their jobs.

It's illegal in this country to fire workers for participating in a union campaign, but an employer can delay justice for years by filing legal challenges. The Employee Free Choice Act cuts out this tactic by streamlining the process of unionizing. From bitter experience, we'd advise every worker in America to demand a "yes" vote on the bill from Congress. Think of it as an insurance policy against a really bad boss.

The Employee Free Choice Act has been approved by the House but faces an uncertain fate in the Senate. It would certify a union as soon as the majority of employees in a bargaining unit signed union cards. Negotiations for the first contract would begin within 10 days. After four months, if the parties were unable to reach an agreement, an arbitrator would intervene.

Contrast that speedy timetable with the excruciating waiting game at the News-Press. Believing that a union contract was the best way to protect our jobs and restore integrity to the paper, most journalists signed cards to join the Teamsters in July. We asked McCaw to recognize our union based on those cards, a step encouraged by the labor relations board, but she refused. So we conducted an election campaign, overcoming an onslaught of propaganda from hired union-busters, and won.

But then McCaw challenged the validity of the vote, claiming without evidence that some of our editors had coerced us into voting for the Teamsters. A judge finally upheld the union victory — but not until early March.

So the union won. But what does winning mean if many of your supporters quit before negotiations even start? Or if you still don't have your job back after months and months? In all, 40 people have left the newsroom since early July. The News-Press has only three news reporters today, down from 15 in June.

I was escorted out of the building in late October, a month after the union vote. I had been hired in 1985 by the New York Times Co., the previous News-Press owner. My colleague John Zant, a senior sportswriter, was fired two months ago by McCaw after 38 years at the paper.

The National Labor Relations Board's general counsel has announced it will prosecute the News-Press for firing us and six others. We will be represented by federal lawyers at a hearing this spring. But when will we get our jobs back, with back pay? Next year?

Under the Bush administration, the labor relations board has rarely sought injunctions ordering employers to immediately reinstate workers who were fired for organizing. The Employee Free Choice Act would require the board to do so. And it would assess fines of up to $20,000 every time a company violated a worker's rights during a campaign to start a union or negotiate an initial contract.

Those of us who were fired don't know how long we can hold out in Santa Barbara, one of the most expensive cities in America. I'm putting my house up for rent. Others are borrowing money to pay their bills. You can lose a lot of sleep when you lose your job, and we're a pretty exhausted bunch. That's what McCaw is counting on.

McCaw, a multimillionaire, has hired seven law firms and a public relations firm to defeat our union drive. Our legal costs, well into six figures, are coming out of the union dues of Teamster truck drivers, warehouse employees, construction workers and pressmen.

We've told our colleagues inside the newsroom that it's OK not to join our picket lines in front of the News-Press. The union can't afford to lose another person to the black hole of litigation. This is a fight for the soul of our newspaper. We just wish the law could have saved us from the worst of it.

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Santa Barbara Newsroom Launched!

Santa Barbara Newsroom ( is now live. The efforts of eight former News-Press reporters waiting to return to their jobs following the NLRB decision a few weeks ago are commendable. The site, supported by the Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, is well thought-out, decently designed and professional.

Congratulations! I realize even more now how much I miss their work at the News-Press.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

UCSB To Add Another Building/Lego Block

Recently, we had a heated discussion about UCSB and growth. Another lego block is set to go up in front of Robertson Gym. Project Manager Karl Burrelsman told the Valley Voice the following about the project:

“Classrooms and offices for the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education and the Koegel Autism Center will occupy one of the buildings. Classrooms and offices for the College of Letters and Science will occupy another. The third building, named the Pollock Theater, will be used by the Carsey-Wolf Center for Film Television and New Media,” he said. Pollock Theater will seat about 300 people.

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