Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Watchin' the Paint Dry at DLG Plaza

A busy week and I am a bit embarrassed not to have gotten to this story yet! Former News-Press reporters called it a speed bump at The Santa Barbara Independent and here's the basics about the judge's decision which supported News-Press management this week:

Judges tend to be reluctant to issue injunctions under these circumstances, but some found it disconcerting that a judge would find that an employer’s rights outweighed those of workers after another court found the same employer to have broken the law by illegally firing workers for protected union activity. Nor was it clear why Federal Judge Stephen Wilson gave First Amendment refuge to owner Wendy McCaw. Judge Wilson apparently bought the paper’s argument that the union was trying to limit the paper’s “editorial discretion” rather than just exercising its legal right to a fair contract.

"Our request for temporary reinstatement was denied, but we still won the trial,” Hobbs said, referring to a Dec. 26, 2007 ruling by administrative law judge William G. Kocol that eight reporters had been wrongfully terminated and ordered that they be reinstated with back pay. “This doesn't dampen our spirits in the slightest.

Over at Craig Smith's Blog -- he put it this way:

... Judge Wilson's reasoning that requiring McCaw to hire back the fired reporters would interfere with her editorial discretion still doesn't wash with me. Only two of the eight reporters (Melinda Burns and Anna Davison) were fired on the grounds that McCaw didn't like what they were writing. And an administrative law judge determined that those allegations were trumped up. The other six weren't fired for what they wrote but rather were fired because they were "disloyal" in taking part in the demonstration on the freeway overpass urging people to cancel their subscriptions to the paper.

Craig also points out that this is still a long way from over....the News-Press' pending appeal of the NLRB decision could very well be denied and as we know from past experience, waiting for court decisions can be as fun as watching paint dry.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/30/2008 12:33 AM  
Anonymous Snow Job said...

The Duck Tape Chicks and Chuck's anger at the NewsPress is a dish best served cold. Watching paint dry is a good thing to do instead of letting a miscarriage of justice emerge from momentary passions.

Those employees totally refuse to acknowledge private property rights. They continually claimed the NP was a public trust. It is not, never was, and never will be.

It is a business and Wendy as 100% owner has a right to run that business into the ground, be a harridan, and never have to work with people who hate her.

Why is this so hard for them to understand? Sure hope that stupid movie updates itself as this moves through the legal resolution process.

5/30/2008 6:35 AM  
Anonymous Folo da money said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/30/2008 6:52 AM  
Anonymous nero ii said...

While Wendy McCaw fiddles in the courts, her paper is in flames as readers and advertisers flee.

5/30/2008 11:24 AM  
Anonymous the timekeeper said...

I'm back,

Only 3500 days until the news press reporters get their job back----if ever!

My advice to them is: "don't hold your breath".

Congratulatiuon's to Wendy

5/30/2008 11:50 AM  
Anonymous slander much? said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/30/2008 11:54 AM  
Anonymous Sorry for the selfish said...

I won't respect those who value property rights above absolutely everything else. No one is remembered for all the junk they owned and all the public trusts they buried.

And those who don't consider a community paper a public trust are simply unable to grasp complicated concepts. Must you live in black and white?

What we have here is a woman who would rather play alone in her sandbox than share the toys. If you respect that mentality above all else, I'm truly sorry for you.

5/30/2008 2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/30/2008 3:18 PM  
Anonymous not too bright, that one said...

What has the Publisher really won? The collateral damage from her fight with the union is wasting the News-Press.

5/30/2008 3:35 PM  
Anonymous Snow Job said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/30/2008 6:15 PM  
Anonymous Marie Antoinette said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/30/2008 7:35 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

snow job -- you are right. That one passed me by before my first coffee this morning. Please don't be afraid of pointing those things out. Deleted, not appropriate. Thanks.

5/30/2008 7:36 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Sorry Marie -- great points but I don't even want to mention the above comment again.

5/30/2008 8:29 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

The more I thought about it -- the more I wanted to take that conversation out of this -- sorry. I don't do this often at all -- but felt it necessary here.

5/30/2008 8:32 PM  
Anonymous Mr Smith Goes to Washingon said...

Private property is a public trust.

We, the public, expect the government not to take all private property rights away. There is constant tension between the welfare state and the individual.

The sliding scale moves backwards and forwards. And that is why we have courts of law with an appeals procedure to determine where that sliding scale exists at any particular moment in time.

I trust this system still works. Some you win; and some you lose.

And if the pendulum swings too far one way; we throw the bums out until the newests bums get too greedy too.

5/30/2008 11:33 PM  
Anonymous I can see clearly now... said...

I truly feel sorry for those individuals who have so fully subscribed to the Wendy philosophy they are no longer individuals. I'm not surprised though; society gives us so many frightening examples of this "piling on" behaviour by blind followers: school bullies; neighborhood gangs; the line for Jim Jones Kool-Aid stand.

The sadness of what Wendy has and is doing to the spirit of journalism in Santa Barbara is painful to watch; the glee in which her rabid supporters revel over good people losing their jobs and drool over TA's mean-spirited sputterings is nauseating. So it's no surprise "public trust" doesn't compute with these folks. We should all get rabies shots to avoid contamination.

I don't care about the union issue, I'm not a union fan. But she brought the union here by flaunting her frightening lack of journalistic knowledge and ethics. Not to mention her supreme disregard for even basic common decency...who else perp-walks a 20 year employee out the door?

It's likely too late to save the NP before it completes its transition from real news to a PR rag for her pet projects; but it is a localized infection. It's confined to DGLP and a shrinking pool of blind faithful succumbing to dementia. Truth-seekers are looking elswhere.

PS: Sara...first blog here is anonymous; wassup with the anon policy?

5/31/2008 11:59 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

It was an anon -- sometimes I get ten or fifteen comments to moderate and I miss one or a comment that shouldn't be published when I am in a hurry running out the door. Clearly I had a bad day with that yesterday -- thanks for pointing it out.

5/31/2008 3:05 PM  
Anonymous Snow Job said...

The NewsPress could have been bought by someone so much worse. At least it remained in local hands. Dirty as you may find them.

Most likely there would have been mass firings if some other media corporate giant had been the high bidder and it turned into some generic tabloid rag. Count your blessings.

All print newspapers are under stress. Stop hyper-ventilating about Wendy. You are ruining your own case with your own behavior.

5/31/2008 5:11 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Anon 3:41 -- you lost your bet NOT because I'm not publishing your comment but because you didn't use a name...try again if you dare and try to take it easy :)

5/31/2008 7:28 PM  
Anonymous I can see clearly now said...

Sara..didn't mean to impune your work; you're pretty good at it. I've often wondered how you manage to pack all this in around the paying job. Your blog not only helps fill the local news void left by the NP but gives us a free peek into some pretty entertaining minds; play a little maybe. Sort of peek and tweak?

Who knows? Do you think maybe that all Wendy has done is hasten an inevitable demise of local print media? Or the the inevitable demise of badly done local print media? Regardless, the result has been the reappearance of integrity in local virtual media like Blogabarbara. Ineptitude may sum up the mission statement at the NP right now Sara, but clearly not where you sit. Thanks.

5/31/2008 9:36 PM  
Anonymous dear mr. fantasy said...

Yes, snow job, Attila the Hun or George W. Bush or Kenny Lay or some other barbarian and/or liar/fraudster might have been worse, but it's a bit hard to "count one's blessings", since the only one you can muster is that Mrs. McCaw is "local". So, it's great to read about local yachting and local parties for the rich and local sightings of "Dr." Laura (when she's not on her boat) at various emporia, but we've already figured out Travis' next 10 columns: (trash Mayor Blum, Brian Barnwell and wife, Janet Wolf, Teamsters, Chumash adversaries, City Council, maybe another shot at Jerry Roberts for old times' sake, and in general, assume the worst of those you have grown to dislike without being burdened by facts or even-handedness), so let's see if Wendy can move in any direction toward the "collaborative, collective (yes, her word)" process she promised us almost two years ago, in a pitch to "staff and friends" that is still publicly accessible among the few screed/commentaries at the SBNP online. BTW, why is it that most of the few items that are accessible online are anti-union?

5/31/2008 10:35 PM  
Anonymous wendy's law vs. wendy's reality said...

Of course Wendy McCaw has the legal right to run her newspaper into the ground if she desires. It's a legal right she is exercising. "Public trust" or "journalistic integrity" are just moral (versus legal) concepts that happen to sell newspapers.

6/01/2008 6:57 AM  
Anonymous Could it be the publisher? said...

Here is Maureen Dowd writing in today's New York Times about George Bush the younger:

"It seems that if you trust your gut without ever feeding your gut any facts or news or contrary opinions, if you keep your gut on a steady diet of grandiosity, ignorance, sycophants, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, those snap decisions can be ruinous."

Sound like anyone we know locally?

6/01/2008 6:59 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

see clearly -- thanks, I didn't take offense but you point to the main challenge which is keeping on top of things! I do think it's about the inevitable demise of badly done local print media -- but even that is relative I think at this point.

There's a time issue in that it will still be some time before people are comfortable getting their news online and it is the fact that many will get the SBNP simply because it is the daily paper available.

The Sound has done a good job and is ramping up -- but will likely take awhile before they have the opportunity for ubiquity.

As for online efforts -- if we can't truly monetize our efforts, how could Ed, Craig or I (not to mention NoozHawk) ever compete? We are basically public service types right now!

A tome for a thesis paper....but interesting stuff.

6/01/2008 7:14 AM  
Anonymous missing the point said...

Everyone is missing the point here.

The point is that the News Press won a legal decision and does not have to rehire the terminated reporters.

Those who hate the News Press are not facing the reality and significance of this decision and are instead living in a dream world where they somehow think that their hatred of the News Press is somehow going to change things. Their hatred is not going to change things one iota and most of us couldn't care less one way or the other.

But the News Press haters are sure creating a backlash of folks getting tired of hearing the same old crap. And I do mean old. This is last years news. Get over it already and GET A LIFE.

6/01/2008 11:13 AM  
Anonymous an edit said...

Everyone (BUT A FEW ARE GETTING) the point here.


Those who (SUPPORT) the News Press (IN ITS CURRENT INCARNATION) are not facing the reality . . .

6/01/2008 12:52 PM  
Anonymous Missing the big picture said...

Missing the point,

Wrong - the reporters have not lost the case. This immediate reinstatement case was never a slam dunk. The overarching reinstatement case itself is alive and well. It will take some time to resolve, but the expert view one combs from local blogs and professional news sources indicate that reinstatement is very likely.

And if one lacks the attention span to stick with an issue as long as it takes the legal system to resolve it, I suspect - should one ever find oneself on the receiving end of a bogus suit filed by an individual with much greater amounts of power and bottomless resources - that one will simply roll over and, shall we say in a parlance suitable for this civil blog, readily offer up ones perineum?

6/01/2008 2:44 PM  
Anonymous getting the point said...

The fired reporters still have a great shot of getting in the door against Wendy's orders, since, odds are, Judge Kocol's opinion in their favor will be upheld by the NLRB. Another bite at a BIG apple.

By the time that happens, though, there may not be much of a paper left.

6/01/2008 2:55 PM  
Anonymous In our own backyard said...

Sara--there is a HUGE story brewing right now, that involves the Miramar project, the County planner who "resigned" under great pressure, and much more.....look to Noozhawk for a recent story:

6/01/2008 4:04 PM  
Anonymous Rocket Scientist said...

Maybe the fired reporters should start bending over backwards to save the paper so there is something there when they allegedly slam dunk sure thing .....get their jobs back.

Maybe if they dropped all the hatred and hostility and saw the endemic error in their ways, they might make themselves desireable employees.

Not sure what the value of their continued slash and burn take no prisoners attitude is when they are trying to bring down the very entity they claim they still want to work for.

Maybe their endemic errors in judgment is why they got fired in the first place?

It is refreshing to pick up the NewsPress today and not get their same old predictible slant on every "news" story they wrote: (1) homeless people are wonderful,(2) affordable housing for everyone, (3) police are terrible, (4) city council is virtuous, infallible and prudent (5) growth is good, (6) feel good social schemes are good, (7) private property is bad, (8) business and corporations are bad, (9) welfare state is good, (10) subsidized housing is good, (11) soaking the rich is good, (12) graffiti is art, (13) blight supports cheap housing, (14) gentrification is bad, (15) feeding endless tax dollars to unaccountable non-profits is good, (16) etc, etc, etc. .......


6/01/2008 5:32 PM  
Anonymous millions, and nothing said...

Anyone have a guess how much the News-Press has spent on legal fees during the past couple of years?

And what McCaw has to show for it??

6/01/2008 7:12 PM  
Anonymous Live Free or Die said...

McCaw has fought for private property principles. It is shameful she has had to spend so much to defend what should be a basic freedom. Thank you Wendy for doing this for all of us.

6/01/2008 7:57 PM  
Anonymous not so sharp, that one said...

The waterboy was reportedly opening some bubbly to share with those still on the job to celebrate this "win" over the Teamsters. What's he going to be drinking in a year or so when the NLRB forces his girlfriend to take back those illegally fired employees?

Thank you Wendy for doing this to all of us.

6/01/2008 11:35 PM  
Anonymous Think beyond yourself said...

Live free or die,

Whatever. Libertarianism is big talk, but I dare you to start counting all of the benefits you've gained by virtue of living in a society of laws and regulations.

As for McCaw, she amassed a fortune (well, her husband's fortune) in the very same society in which you are so ready to declare unfit. Our system hasn't been too bad for McCaw, so when the system calls her on her b.s., I applaud while you waste your time being a hypocrite. If we follow your mentality back to the source, Mr. McCaw should have been able to keep all his dough, right? So she isn't even entitled to her position, right?

6/02/2008 11:00 AM  
Anonymous you guys don't get it said...

The fired reporters were desirable employees, before their abilities to do their jobs fairly and accurately were bulldozed by "editors" with no knowledge of workable, ethical journalism practices.

This string of comments just makes my blood boil. How disrespectful to condemn folks who were just trying to do the right thing. What a concept - to stand up for what's good and honest and longstanding practice in Santa Barbara journalism: to report the news, without fear or favor or friend or foe. (credit T.M. Storke)

When was the last time you put your own livelihood at risk to stand up for something that was right? For me, it's been about 2 years now. And my heart aches for my former colleagues who didn't get their jobs back .. yet.

6/02/2008 1:42 PM  
Anonymous Bacchanal said...

If I were Wendy, I would drink hemlock if I had to take those people back. Hee, hee.

6/02/2008 7:11 PM  
Anonymous Sadly Uncivil said...

Live free or die, there haven't been -- and shouldn't be -- the kind of "property rights" you apparently espouse in this country for eons. We have laws that prohibit discrimination, anti-union punishment, pollution, safety violations that endanger employees and the public, defamation laws and so on. That's because what someone does with their property can unjustly harm others, and the "market" doesn't work very well in those cases. That's because the market only works well when people operating their "property" aren't bigoted incompetent self-absorbed imbeciles who don't know what they're doing. The laws restricting such bad behavior are market correctors, perhaps, and are supposed to prevent a fool and her money from harming anyone other than herself. But the law grinds slowly in the direction of justice, and so far Mrs. McCaw has learned nothing about how to behave in a civil society other than "them that's got the gold think they make the rules."

6/03/2008 6:09 AM  
Anonymous Oragami said...

Lighten up, Uncivil. No one person can cause you that much grief. Here is a little trick that you might find helpful.

Take a piece of paper and fold it into 16 squares and fill each of them with things that are important to you. If you only fold the paper in half and put Wendy on one side and the rest of your life on the other, you have a very limited life view .

Expand it, and put Wendy in only 1/16th of your life's squares and start appreciating the other 15 more meaningful ones or start rebuilding your life so there are 15 other things to balance all the displeasure you assign to Wendy. It works!

6/03/2008 5:45 PM  
Anonymous Not Al E. Newman said...

oragami, I'm glad to see you can dismiss or dispel life's injustices by simply folding paper, but when you return to reality, the misery and heartbreak Wendy has inflicted on so many will persist. I suggest you put away your folding foolishness and see if you can find a way to improve the lot of others, figure out what's right and what's wrong, and weigh in on one side or the other.

6/03/2008 8:37 PM  
Anonymous Glass is half full said...

Not AEN...

Oragami almost has a point when saying no one person "can cause that much grief." It would be better said as "no one person should..." Sadly, Wendy has already proven most willing and capable of dishing out great gobs of grief. Sadder yet are the goofs who fawn over her: Wendy's Pod People.

It ain't about the money, Poddys, it's about the people. It's about character and human spirit; the kind of values Wendy's money can't buy and you apparently can't understand. It truly is a sad thing to witness.

6/03/2008 11:57 PM  
Anonymous Stand for justice said...

Glass is half, well said. Life isn't for spectators, there are judgments to be made, there are consequences to actions, there are sides to be chosen. Should society let murderers go free, frauds persist, charlatans run their scams and prey on people? I think not. To restate the cliche, evil triumphs when good people do nothing in the face of it.

Or, to quote Bob Marley, "Stand up for your rights!"

6/04/2008 8:22 AM  
Anonymous Miramar said...

Hey Sara,
Its time for you to post a blog about the Miramar Hotel.
It currently the number one hot issue.

6/04/2008 11:16 AM  
Anonymous the timekeeper said...

Only 3498 days left until the fired reporters get their jobs back.

This is the reality of the situation.

Accept it.

Face it.

Deal with it.

Suck it up.

Move on.

Get a life!

6/05/2008 5:27 PM  
Anonymous glass is half full said...

Timekeeper, et al:

Accept it? In your dreams.

Face it? We see you guys, it's a freak show.

Deal with it? Sure; I'll order your lobotomy (or am I too late?).

Suck it up? Spat it out; BS is on your menu, not mine.

Move on? Can't afford the gas. You're stuck with us.

Get a life? Look in a mirror (not the circus one that makes your head look skinny).

Your timpiece is faulty Timekeeper; got you stuck in a pre-democractic era. I'll stay where the company is kinder and open-minded.

6/05/2008 10:40 PM  
Anonymous the zookeeper said...

We need more animal stories in the NewsPress!

6/05/2008 11:14 PM  

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