News-Press Objects Union Approval

50 Pages of "Exceptions" to the Judge's Recommendation Are Filed on April 5 Deadline

They say it ain’t so.

That’s the gist of the 60-plus pages of objections to the union vote approval that were filed on Thursday, April 5, by lawyers for the Santa Barbara News-Press. These “exceptions” are essentially the only allowable format to appeal Judge William Schmidt’s March 8 recommendation to the National Labor Relations Board that the September 2006 union vote — which won by the overwhelming 33-6 count — be certified. The 97 individual exceptions, 51 cited federal cases, and 50 pages of explanatory briefs amount to a full weekend of reading, so we present them to you here: the 12-page PDF outlining the exceptions and the 59-page PDF of briefs explaining the details of said exceptions. (For a point of reference, you can read the judge’s decision here.)

A quick reading of the documents suggest that the exceptions are basically the same case that the News-Press’ attorneys Sandra McCandless and David Millstein threw at the judge during January’s NLRB hearings (see first part of day one, second half of day one, and wrap-up of day two) in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court on State Street. (That’s S.B.’s only federal courthouse, and it happens to be owned by News-Press owner Wendy McCaw.) The nature of the filing is that the “laboratory conditions” required for a clean union vote were not present due to the union and employees’ activity prior to the union vote. The additional legal spin presented by McCandless suggests that the Teamsters union — or more specifically, the Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters — is using this particular union drive to set precedent elsewhere. And, according to McCandless, such “intimidating, inflammatory, and misleading” tactics are a “hazardous” precendent to set.

A deeper reading by this reporter — who is admiitedly not a legal expert but has followed numerous court cases over the past decade and received accolades for his occasionally astute interpretations — shows that, while voluminous, there’s not much new information in these briefs. McCandless re-presents her case here while discounting the administrative law judge’s opinion. There was physical intimidation involved, she claims, as well as supervisor participation in unionization efforts, an attempt to portray the newspaper as supporting the union via a website, and an onslaught of personal attacks on the management (some of which came via the postings and comments on this website). The judge, McCandless posits, based his decision on individual actions rather than gauging the cumulative impacts of those assaults, so therefore his recommendation to approve the union vote should be discounted.

Specifically, she argues that Travis Armstrong and Scott Steepleton — who Judge Schmidt deemed untrustworthy and said they engaged in “extreme embellishments” — should have been believed because no one expressly refuted their testimony and the judge did not base his distaste for their testimony on their demeanor. (One might assume that a judge’s opinion is always somewhat based on demeanor, but that’s a minor quibble.) In her brief, McCandless even brings up the courtroom shocker where Armstrong realized that the man outside of his apartment window was Teamsters organizer Marty Keegan, a claim that the judge said “had no ring of truthfulness at all.”

McCandless also spends a great deal of paper laying out her descriptions of the marches around the offices of the News-Press. As a measurement of the mass, she explains that Armstrong claimed that the employees who entered his room “blocked” his window. (To this occasionally astute legal observer, it seems that such explanations of mass might backfire on the News-Press because they clearly suggest that the majority of employees were already in favor of the union before the vote ever took place.)

The briefs also plug some of the Santa Barbara Media Blog’s regular commenters, such as First District Streetfighter and Worker Bee, who they cite as examples of the personal attacks on management. The full “terrorist” threat from Blogabarbara that was a hefty part of the hearing is also included in the brief as is reference to a “Wendy-Press-Mess” website that was, in fact, new information to this reader.

Most ironic, it seems, is the allegation that the marches into Armstrong’s and toward McCaw’s offices should be considered more egregious because the paper was “normally a place of work where people freely and peacefully exchanged ideas.” No matter what your take is on this media mess, it’s quite clear that the free and peaceful exchange of ideas was something that was forcefully ejected from the News-Press last July. Since January’s hearings, the newspaper has not once covered its own labor problems, which many in Santa Barbara and beyond consider the biggest story in town.

The News-Press spokesperson Agnes Huff was contacted at noon on Friday, April 6, in a request for additional comments by the newspaper’s management. She responded that she would check with management and may be able to offer comments this evening.

As to the union’s position on these exceptions, attorney Ira Gottlieb explained, “It’s complete, utter delusional twaddle interposed solely for the purposes of delay.”


Comments from our previous website:

Wendy McCaw poses herself to be a crusader, supporter, and protector of animal rights. As a fellow animal rights supporter I can’t believe how she spends what has to be ungodly amounts of money lining the pockets of these lawyers, who everybody knows will do or say anything to justify her “bad behavior” as long as they’re paid to do so. Please Ms. McCaw, there’s lots of great causes you could instead spend your money on, such as The Gorilla Foundation’s Maui Ape Preserve, which desperately needs funds to complete their proposed gorilla sanctuary:

It’s such a shame that you continue to drag this battle on and on when all the money you made in your divorce could be used to “help” rather than “hurt”.

Posted by Koko | April 6, 2007 03:46 PM

So now I’m a “terrorist”?

I thought I was a freedom fighter for Santa Barbara.

Word of the day: TWADDLE

Posted by First District Streetfighter | April 6, 2007 04:37 PM

The “exceptions”, as Kettman accurately renders them, are a rehash of the b.s. the News-Press presented to Judge Schmidt, which he disposed of with aplomb. What the McCawthyites would like to see is a ruling that the cacophony from the blogosphere and other media that surrounded the election campaign and related events — some of which Judge Schmidt aptly observed would have occurred without a union campaign — tainted the election. If the NLRB were to make such a ruling — which would be virtually unprecedented — then no election could take place in what has become a fishbowl. Much as the NP would like that outcome, it ain’t in the cards.

And not only did McCandless refry all of the beans she served up to Schmidt, she persisted with much of the dishonest, “unreliable, wildly inflated incendiary rhetoric” that Schmidt was so not enamored of in the first go-round. The Schmidt decision will stand; on that you can rely.

Posted by Anonymous | April 6, 2007 05:05 PM

I second Koko – I can’t believe this woman pays lawyers to read the Independent blog. What a waste. Go do something good for the world, McCaw – post haste. Chop Chop!

Posted by Worker Bee | April 6, 2007 05:11 PM

The brief is an embarrassing rant from a once solid and respected community newspaper.

The NLRB, even under Bush, should be able to see through McCaw’s simplistic tactics. She wants to set aside her first election, where she lost big, fair and square, and hold another one, since many of the voters have since been fired or have walked in revulsion of her and a “Nipper”.

Filed right before Easter. Nice.

I third Koko — Wendy, give your money to real sharks instead of to those in pinstripes. It’s a better spend for what’s left of your karma.

Posted by Disgusted | April 6, 2007 05:54 PM

I read through the briefs linked here. The anonymous comment above is a correct synopsis. Especially perverted is the argument, on behalf of Newspress, made many times in these briefs that anything remotely hostile said or written on the date September 11 must be intended to be intimidating. Of course, that is a high insult by the representatives of the Newspress to cheapen and disrespect the true victims of organized terrorism on that date in 2001.

Among my many comments at Indy Media and Blogabarbara blogs, the ones partially quoted in these briefs by Newspress are hardly my best work and are some of the most benign and tepid comments I have made, and seemingly are taken out of context, not that I can remember all the details nor find them because of no search function. I am truly disappointed and thought I had a more worth opponent in this pissing match that these legal briefs have become: The Wendy versus the Anonymous Blogosphere. Quite a cabal indeed!

Posted by First District Streetfighter | April 6, 2007 06:01 PM

Wendy’s-self-inflicted-wound-of-the-week. Again.

Posted by How low can she go? | April 6, 2007 06:21 PM

the newsPress objects to the judge’s conclusion that Armstrong “evinced a strong, visceral bias toward this organizing campaign” ?? geez, Travis..maybe all those anti-union editorials over the years should have been a clue!

Posted by doghouse | April 6, 2007 09:01 PM

I read these legal filings and, yet again, You Cannot Make Up This Shit!

Posted by Cabalist | April 6, 2007 09:17 PM

Hard to believe how the Ampersand attorney’s twisted my words about Travis. Travis wrote about boutiquing in the Castro with Greg by choice, and good on both of them… but goodness, I don’t see how I could have `outed’ someone who had written openly about his life in a column in the San Jose Mercury News.

They say the use of Harvey Milk’s name is some kind of lurid threat. It is not. Harvey Milk is a hero of mine, whom I admire and respect. But to see Ampersand twist my intent is disgusting.

Posted by Harvey Milk | April 6, 2007 10:48 PM

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, here’s an update about the Daily Sound,

Posted by All the news | April 7, 2007 08:06 AM

I don’t get why is the News-Press bringing First District Streetfighter and Worker Bee into their objections? Is this away to silence them? Won’t any judge see that as weak and frivolous? I’ve read some of their comments. So they counter the papers bias? And N-P is still on Blogabarbara? How long for this delay tactic? At what point are they obstructing? This is a pitiful misuse of the system. I guess that’s their intent, they sure aren’t seeking solutions.

Posted by anonymous | April 7, 2007 09:04 AM


And then monkeys flew out of my butt.

Regarding the All the News comment above, that link to a blog about free newspapers does not take comments and incorrectly wrote this about the “defectors” from Newspress:

“Gordon has also been helped by the fact that the town’s main daily newspaper, the Santa Barbara News-Press, has imploded in the past year. That paper’s owner, a woman who got billions in a divorce, was caught meddling in the newsroom. Many of her staffers have quit. And some of those defectors have joined Gordon’s staff.”

Posted by First District Streetfighter | April 7, 2007 09:55 AM

So, these people paid thousands of dollars and invested years of time and effort to get advanced degrees in law, studied to pass the bar, got fitted for suits to wear everyday and play their dutiful corporate role to the Nth all for what? To have rich idiots pay them $325 an hour to ponder the musings of a jackass like me who is sitting in his bathrob with a used laptop on Saturday mornings ranting about some rich bitch who fired his friends. HAHAHAHAHAHA. What a joke. How do these people have any respect for themselves?

Maybe it’s just because I do honest work, but I certainly would get fired if I billed my boss for reading the Indy blog. Good gravy these people are pathetic…

Fake “Doctor’s” Sunday Funnies

Posted by Worker Bee | April 7, 2007 10:23 AM

Hey, if Wendy is willing to waste cash on lawyers for losing causes and throw money at guys like Steepleton to whom she can dictate the news for public consumption, there is always someone around willing to take her scratch. It’s not like she earned it in the first place. Maybe to her it is like shopping is for some — it makes her feel better.

Posted by Anonymous | April 7, 2007 11:11 AM

The Rally at the Plaza that was organized by the Teamsters Union 2 weeks ago (24 March 2007) is now showing on SBChannels-TV17 at this moment and per this schedule so far:

April 10, 2007 9:00 am

April 10, 2007 5:30 pm

April 12, 2007 11:00 am

April 14, 2007 11:00 am

Also, the rally full video and some news stories:

Posted by David Pritchett | April 7, 2007 11:15 AM

Now why would a PUBLIC TV station devote so much attention to a union rally? Hmmmmm..

Posted by Sniper | April 7, 2007 04:27 PM

The sniper missed.

Santa Barbara Channels is a non-profit organization.

These fact-less jabs are tiring, and only indicate a bankrupt argument.

Try again, Agnes.

Posted by valerio | April 7, 2007 07:04 PM

Snipe, Just off the turnip truck? yup,hee,hee! This blond came to town and turned the public union. Only a few hacks try to pass off revisionist history on the subject. It’s the week end, take someone out to dinner. I’ll be watchin public TV later.

Posted by Zorro | April 7, 2007 07:21 PM

That last Zorro post is an imposter. Everyone knows the real Zorro is actually McCaw.

Posted by Zorro | April 7, 2007 07:31 PM

Hey Valerio. In general, non-profit = left wing = pro-union. Why? Because non-profit TV gets its $ by sucking at the public trough, not by actually running a real business. How’s that for a blogworthy generalization?

Posted by Sniper | April 7, 2007 07:34 PM

Public TV is like a stimulating blog with a good monitor. No pests. People like it. If not, don’t watch. The union is a part of the community, too.

Posted by anonymous | April 7, 2007 08:38 PM

Yeah..PUBLIC TV is for losers! I got my money the old fashioned way..I stole it from my wealthy ex-hubby in a property law..that’s where the cash is, gals! You can become an astute business woman,too!

Posted by Wendy | April 8, 2007 06:47 AM

Worker Bee April 7, 2007 10:23 AM said:

“: musings of a jackass like me who is sitting in his bathrob (sic) with a used laptop on Saturday mornings : “

I hope you’re still sitting down, my friend, because I have some news for you.

You might want to check inside the bathrobe to confirm this, Worker Bee, if that’s what you really are, because you’re a female, as are all worker bees.

Your confusion as to whether or not you have a backbone a jackass is a vertebrate, while bees aren’t might require professional help.

Maybe you can call Dr. Laura Monday. I know how much you admire her work.

Posted by Mic DeNiro | April 8, 2007 07:40 AM


I can’t do it…no more Sunday Funnies. I took it down. It was a lark, but in the end the “doctor” says stupid things because she knows it will get a rise out of people and all ink is good for book sales, etc. I just can’t contribute. I just can’t read another one of her awful, awful columns. My body wants to reject her words like a transplanted liver.

Plus, given the topical court document containing the lovingly reproduced posts from this vary blog, it’s clear that the swarm of hornets are eyeing the swarm of bees. We’ll probably all be sued for something eventually…

Posted by Worker Bee | April 8, 2007 10:17 AM

Yeah! Public T V is next !

Posted by Harpo | April 8, 2007 12:36 PM

Is Sniper a parody of a profoundly stupid person, or an actual profoundly stupid person?

Posted by jqb | April 8, 2007 11:56 PM

I don’t get it? Ampersand mentions 2 bloggers in ersatz objections and that means what? Do we all need to just shut up? Be terrified? Neither? Both?

Posted by anonymous | April 9, 2007 10:06 AM

Travesty struck again yesterday by attacking Teena Grant, a local pastor who helped organize the discussion about the News-Press a couple weeks ago. Travesty, in his column on Sunday, called an email by her “snarky.” Remember he criticized the clergy for not addressing the gang problem on the same day that the Daily Sound ran a frontpage story on how the clergy was in fact addressing the problem?

Anyway, Travesty does not cite any lines from this email, and then claims that he’s standing up for his journalistic rights by not caving to coercion. Unfortunately, anyone who knows anything about journalism knows that divergent opinions are welcome in any newspaper that takes itself seriously. Travesty, who refuses to run Grant’s letter, is doing the exact opposite of what journalism is supposed to do. He’s fallen way down into the rabbit hole these days.

It seems that someone in the local clergy is coming to Teena Grant’s defense. I found this blog this morning:

It defends Teena as the righteous, caring, and community-minded person she is. Too bad nothing of the sort can be said about Travesty, who wouldn’t know kindness, compassion, or healthy community discourse if it landed on his head.

Posted by travesties of journalism | April 9, 2007 10:10 AM


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