McCaw Signs: In the wake of Wendy
’s Christmastime lawsuits and legal threats, a wry
joke is going around town: Who would Jesus sue?

Wendy McCaw
Paul Wellman (file)

Not many targets remain, as McCaw attorney Barry
has fired off threatening letters to a handful of
small businesses that dared to post copies of the “McCaw
Obey the Law”
signs. Charged Cappello: “The sign implies
that Ms. McCaw is violating the law, which is not true and

Countered Ira Gottlieb, attorney for the
Teamsters union representing News-Press
newsroom employees: “It is unfathomable that a court of law would
find the posting of this slogan in shop windows (or in people’s
vehicles or anywhere else) to be the basis for a valid libel

Call it bullying, but most of the places I visited Monday had
fearfully removed the offending signs. mccaw%20obey%20law.jpg However, at Highlights Hair Salon,
160 W. Alamar Street, owner Eric Zahm confessed on
KSBY-TV that the letter “scared me a little bit. It intimidated me.
And I don’t think it was necessary.” So he taped a copy of
Cappello’s letter to the front window. And, if you craned your neck
from the sidewalk and looked hard enough, you could see the poster
stuck to the salon’s ceiling. Java Station, a
coffee spot at Hollister Avenue and Modoc Road, still had the sign
up. At the Italian and Greek Deli, at State and
Ortega streets, the family owners took down the sign but are
seeking advice about whether to put it back up. Cappello recently
sent letters to members of the Santa Barbara Lawyers
Alliance for Free Speech
, attorneys supporting the
journalists, strongly suggesting that they reconsider their

Meanwhile, McCaw has sued the author of a recent American Journalism Review story about the
News-Press’ problems, claiming defamation and libel. On
another front, the News-Press is apparently upset that a
McCaw memo, warning that employees face discipline for “public
disparagement/disloyalty” toward the paper and management, showed
up in blogger Craig Smith’s column. According to
Gottlieb, last Friday Associate Editor Scott
went around the newsroom asking journalists to
sign an affidavit attesting that they hadn’t leaked the memo. One
journalist said that when she asked what would happen if she didn’t
sign, she was told that there would be “consequences.” Gottlieb
told me he got that stopped. He also asked News-Press reps
that Steepleton apologize, admit the error, promise not to do it
again, and that all copies be shredded. So far, Gottlieb said
Monday afternoon, he’s not heard back about that.

So far, the January 9 National Labor Relations
hearing on the newsroom unionization is still on and
still set in Santa Barbara, at a location still undetermined as of
Monday afternoon. The issue is the News-Press challenge
about whether the employee vote in favor of the Teamsters was fair
and free of misconduct.

Woody Knows Jazz: The Woodman and his New
Orleans Jazz Band filled the Lobero Sunday night with music lovers,
with Allen tooting a strangely funky clarinet sound. But the band
sounded great, especially trumpeter Simon
, whose playing reminded some of both Louis
Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke. Woody modestly took his turn with the
other soloists, looked serious, and kept his eyes mostly fixed away
from the audience except when making a few comments. “We love to
play,” he said, proving it by making music for more than 90 minutes
straight, plus a lovely encore of modern standards. “We play in our
living rooms,” he said. “It’s a bonus to have an audience.”

Empty Bowls: The recent Empty
fundraiser raised an astounding $85,000 for the
Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, I’m told. A big thanks to the
potters who created the bowls diners took home after the
soup-slurping — and the local restaurants that donated the great


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