Friday, September 14, 2007

No Favors At The News-Press

I begin the Friday mid-day report with news of the latest resignation from the News-Press. Kim Favors, the longest current news desk copy editor at the paper has reportedly quit. I'm told that she returned from vacation and offered a week's notice. Management said that wasn't enough time and that she was done immediately.

Meanwhile back at the NLRB hearing, News-Press attorney Barry Cappello began the first full day of presenting evidence in the paper's defense of the various unfair labor practice charges brought against it.

He hasn't gotten off to a smooth start. He started the day by recalling Starshine Roshell to the stand and attempted to ask questions about her participation in this year's Summer Solstice parade where she was part of the cast of The Independent's float which depicted an "Angry Poodle Barbecue" complete with a barbecue grill that had copies of the News-Press on it to start the fire. A picture of the float and Starshine walking alongside it was projected on the screen in the courtroom. NLRB attorney Brian Gee objected to the line of questioning on the grounds of relevance, to which Cappello quickly replied "credibility." Nearly just as quickly Judge Kocol turned to Cappello and responded; "That won't do." The objection was sustained as were several others and Roshell was eventually excused as a witness without having been asked any substantive questions.

Fired reporter Rob Kuznia was called to the stand and among others things confirmed that he received a bonus for 2006 despite the fact that he was a union supporter. He also answered questions about the freeway overpass demonstration.

Next, Cappello's associate Matthew Clarke called Dan Sullivan, a former L.A.P.D. Deputy Chief of Police, to the stand and attempted to qualify him as an expert on the subject of the illegality of hanging banners on a freeway overpass, or as Clarke worded it; "What is the appropriate law enforcement response to a banner affixed on an overpass." The fact that Sullivan was clearly over-qualified to testify on this subject didn't seem to help. After 45 minutes of trying to establish his credentials and his expertise the judge ruled that he was not qualified as an expert on this niche issue. With that Clarke and Cappello indicated that they needed to pow-wow on whether there were other areas Sullivan might be able to testify on and the judge followed Cappello's suggestion to take the lunch break a few minutes early.

The morning session began with union attorney Ira Gottlieb standing before the court in the proverbial sackcloth and ashes explaining and apologizing for not handing over to the News-Press attorneys a copy of the "Rock the House" e-mail that he received from Kuznia as early as August 13th. The existence and the production of the e-mail has been the topic of controversy in the hearing as a number of former employees were given subpoenas asking for a category of evidence within which it would fall. Cappello has asked that the matter be looked into at a later time at a separate hearing on sanctions for failing to respond properly to his subpoenas.

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