Thursday, July 22, 2010

News-Press Looks To Pick Another Fight With City

On a day when other local news outlets chose to cover the controversy over transportation issues in the City of Santa Barbara's General Plan, what did the News-Press go with as its above-the-fold headline story?

How about an allegation that the city may have violated the open meeting the provisions of the Brown Act in deciding not to enter into a lease with the retailer Target. And yes, the operative word in that headline is "may."

The motive for covering this story and its prominent placement lies not in the newsworthiness of the allegation but instead in the prospect of an excuse for the News-Press to do another end zone dance celebration in its running battle with the City Council.

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You might recall that not quite two-years ago the News-Press and the City settled a lawsuit, brought by the paper, over a previous Brown Act violation.

To make its case this time around, the article, which carries Scott Steepleton's by-line, relies on the opinions of the News-Press' attorney, Barry Cappello and of a lawyer for the California Newspaper Publisher's Association to argue that a Brown Act violation occurred.

Conspicuous in its absence is any response to the allegation from City Attorney Steve Wiley. However, Wiley did tell KEYT: "This is not a Brown Act violation. A city council can answer the fundamental threshold question - do you even want to negotiate with target? And that was the fundamental threshold question for our closed session."

Let's see if the News-Press puts its money where its printer's ink is and takes this case to court as well.

Updated at 10 am July 22. This morning's News-Press had a front page story where City Attorney Steve Wiley defended the meeting and vote as not running afoul of the Brown Act.

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How far does an advertising dollar go at the News-Press? Well, if you're former county supervisor candidate Dan Secord, the answer would seem to be pretty far.

It's been nearly six weeks since the June 8 election where Secord lost his bid to unseat incumbent Janet Wolf. Yet, as recently as yesterday, Secord's ads are still appearing on the News-Press' website.

With many people thinking that Secord jumped into this last race too late, maybe he's just getting a head start for 2014?

© 2010 by Craig Smith and