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Claims Large and Small


Joy Is Gone, Mayor Marty Wants a Refund, and More

No Joy: Joy Wells lived up to her name beautifully during her nearly 34 years at the News-Press. If you work in an office, there are usually people you delight in seeing around the place and others you try to avoid. Joy was a joy, always a smile on her cherubic face, a wisecrack to match, and beat, yours.

And she was efficient. One of her many jobs was handling payroll for the newsroom. You don’t want anyone scatterbrained doing that job. I’d try her out with dumb jokes. ”If I turn in two payroll cards will I get two paychecks?” I’d ask Joy. She always had a comeback. During the last few years she was now-departed editor Jerry Robert’s secretary.

Joy was everyone’s friend. Well, not everyone’s it seems. They canned her just before Christmas, claiming she wasn’t “supportive” enough to the new regime. Offered her a job downstairs. On December 30, she turned it down.

“I hereby resign from the News-Press as I can no longer justify working in an atmosphere that has become rife with suspicion, distrust, secrecy, fear, and vindictiveness and I decline the offer to apply for any alternate position.” This raises the number of newsroom staff who have quit or been fired since July 6 to more than 30.

What’s a Mayor to Do? Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum says she’s going to make one last effort to get her $18 News-Press refund before she takes the paper to small claims court.

Seems that Marty claims the News-Press still owes her a refund after she canceled the paper more than three months ago. “I can’t figure out how to get a refund, and I am usually good at problem solving,” the mayor told me after I inquired about rumors. “After five phone calls, three from Joe (her husband) and two from me, over three months, with assurances from those who answer the phones, I now have all the paperwork for small claims court.” If she files it, Marty says, owner Wendy McCaw will be liable for the mayor’s court costs and service of the papers. “It doesn’t seem like a good business plan on her part.”

But then, Blum told me a couple of days later, “After much thought, too much for $18, I am going to write the NP a letter asking for a refund. I still have the paperwork for a small-claims court suit, but I will make one more effort first. Maybe this mayor gets special treatment or maybe others are having the same problem.”

N-P Hearing: Meanwhile, the National Labor Relations Board opened a hearing today in Santa Barbara to hear News-Press management claims that the election in which newsroom employees voted 33-6 to affiliate with the Teamsters was unfair and tainted. Owner Wendy McCaw has been fighting the unionization before and since. The unionizing employees made this statement:

”We anticipate victory in connection with these baseless objections which were clearly filed by the company with the sole intent of delaying SBNP co-publisher and owner Wendy McCaw’s obligation to sit down at the table and negotiate a fair contract with her employees which will restore integrity to the newsroom.

On September 27, the newsroom employees voted 85 percent in favor of the union. Since then, McCaw has refused to acknowledge her federal responsibility to recognize the union and begin negotiations with the staff. Instead, she has continued her campaign of intimidation, harassment, and threats, as spotlighted by the NLRB’s recent issuance of a complaint against the News-Press charging it with violating federal labor law in its discharge of senior writer Melinda Burns, its cancellation of Starshine Roshell’s column, its adoption of a repressive “conflicts of interest” policy, and its attempt to prevent and exact punishment for the employees’ concerted effort to deliver a demand and protest letter to McCaw. The hearing and its anticipated results will pave the way for the negotiation process to begin.”

Babies Wanted: Ronnie Mellen of Reel Talent needs lots of babies aged 11-36 months and their mothers too if they wish for a cover photo for a national magazine. Needs pictures no older than two weeks ago, plus height, weight, eye color .

E-mail photos and info to reeltalentreelkids@earthlink.net or bring it all to 1805-B E. Cabrillo Blvd. Phone: 969-2222. Ronnie also need kids 5-10 years old, and adults 25-50, “all nationalities,” for a car commercial. Must be Screen Actors Guild members or eligible.

Tele-Smarties: So the telemarketers are driving you batty. There’s something you can do to help foil them. First get on the national Do Not Call list at 888-382-1222. Or at donotcall.gov. It’s illegal for most telemarketers to call a number on the list. To file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, go to ftc.org or call toll free 877-382-4357. Now that I’m on the list I get few callers pestering me, and happily, no more illegal faxes.

Red Squire? Colleen Makray, a former Santa Barbaran now living in England, tells me that so much Russian investment is flooding into London that people are dubbing it “Londongrad.”

Vigilante Grannie: Julie Lopp, who calls herself Vigilante Grannie, was heading home from breakfast with friend Don Bushnell when she spotted graffiti on stop signs and light poles. stop.bmp “As the Neighborhood Self-Appointed Graffiti Vigilante, I said, ‘Don, let’s clean them off right away. It will only take a minute.’ Filled with holiday cheer, it was to be our gift to the community. We drove home, got the materials I had stashed from previous missions, and began to scrub, clean, and spray over the blights that had appeared in the last few months. Our final task was to clean a yellow diamond reflecting sign” in the State Street median at Constance Avenue.

“We attacked. With brillo pads, denatured alcohol, and rags flying, we were happily scrubbing our righteous little hearts out, with drivers on the busy intersection nodding approval, saying ‘good on you,’ ‘thank you!’ ‘way to go!’ ‘God bless!’

“As we finished, glowing with satisfaction, holding hands, and approaching our car, an official car pulled up.” (Julie isn’t sure what government agency.) “We’ve had several calls about two old people stranded on the boulevard at State and Constance,” the worker told me. “I was nearby, so we didn’t call the police.” Realizing what their noble task was, he added, “Keep up the good work.”

Ticket Tips: The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf shop on De la Vina sports an unusual tip jar: “Employee Parking Ticket Fund.” fakeparkingtickets.jpg There must be a shortage of parking in the area and no room for the workers in the shop’s teeny lot. One patron, finding refuge on Christmas Day, told me, “I go to the movies on New Year’s Day. The only people I see downtown are the homeless.”

She Walks the Line: If you’re wondering what the kids learn at UCSB, here’s one example: Elizabeth Gabler learned to read at 3, majored in English literature at UCSB, and now is president of Fox2000, turning out such hits as Mrs. Doubtfire, Walk the Line, and The Devil Wears Prada. Gabler, who is married and has a child, plans to move to their 15-acre ranch in the Santa Barbara area next year.

Barney can be reached at (805) 962-1156 or barney@independent.com. He writes a Tuesday online column for The Independent, a print column on Thursdays and a Barney’s Weekend Picks on Fridays.

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