News-Press reporter Melinda Burns was fired late Friday
afternoon after 21 years on the job. Burns filed a complaint with
the National Labor Relations Board, claiming she was fired because
of her pro-union activities. Burns has been actively involved in
union efforts that culminated several weeks ago with a 33-6 vote in
favor of having the Teamsters represent newsroom workers. “As far
as I’m concerned, I’m still an employee,” Burns insisted. “I want
my job back.” She said News-Press owner Wendy McCaw’s anti-union
passions are well-known. “She doesn’t want to relinquish an iota of
her dictatorial control over the newsroom,” Burns said.
In a case of dog bites dog, Independent publisher Randy Campbell
was served with a legal complaint by the Santa Barbara News-Press,
alleging the weekly infringed on the News-Press’s copyrighted
material by posting an article spiked by the News-Press on the
Independent Web site. The News-Press also alleged The Independent
was in possession of other leaked documents that belonged to the
daily. The Independent has denied the latter charge, but
acknowledged posting an article detailing the resignations of five
editors this July. That article never appeared in the News-Press.
When attorneys for the News-Press demanded it be removed, The
Independent complied upon the advice of two attorneys. “It’s too
bad the News-Press doesn’t put as much effort into improving their
newspaper as they do into litigation,” said Campbell.
The nation’s leading entertainment industry magazine, Variety,
announced last week that it will be producing a special issue
devoted to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, placing
the festival alongside Sundance and Telluride as one of the few
film events given an annual special issue.
The battle of pretrial motions took yet another turn this week
in the Jesse James Hollywood murder trial, with motions being filed
by both the prosecution and the defense. The prosecution filed
papers arguing that the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office
should not be prevented from prosecuting the case; this was a
direct response to defense attorney James Blatt’s request that
appellate justices – who removed Santa Barbara prosecutor Ron Zonen
from the case last month – bar the entire office from prosecuting
the death penalty case. Additionally, Blatt requested that the
court move to delay the release of Alpha Dog, a motion picture
based on the life of Hollywood and the murder of Nicholas
Markowitz, set to hit theaters in early January.