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Posted by Bob Gamboa on 10/03/2007 at 1:02 AM

Re: “Trashing the Union

Robert D.— Your claim that it's a "long-established anti-union tactic" to treat employees nice during an organizaing drive is certainly true in many cases. But it may be a little different in this case. Singleton bought the Contra Costa Times 13 months and, during that time, hasn't moved to cut wages in the newsroom even though he could have gotten away with it. If there is a campaign to be nice to these employees, it has lasted 13 months and will go on indefinitely because those workers are always free to circulate cards and get a union election going. Everybody knows that threat hangs in the air. He needs the Times to remain non-union in order to bust the ANG union. So he's not going to cut the pay of any current Times employees who could throw a monkey wrench into his ANG union busting plans. (The pay of new hires is a different story, of course.) My guess is that Singleton will punish the unionized workers at ANG and the Merc any way possible, including layoffs targeted at them. As for the comment by "unionize?" ask the Guild people how many years it took to get a contract at ANG — and when they did, the wages were pitiful. They're probably the lowest paid news people in the Bay Area today because of that fight. They would have been much better off if they had not unionized, but hindsight is 20/20 and I probably would have done the same thing at the time, too. Who knew how that would turn out!

Posted by Bob Gamboa on 09/06/2007 at 12:40 PM

Re: “Trashing the Union

I want to demonize Singleton and MediaNews too, but your argument doesn't make sense. You're saying they are treating Contra Costa Times workers well so that they don't unionize. Well then, what's the problem? They're being treated well. Isn't that the goal? (P.S. -- this story would be a lot stronger if you gave actual amounts people were paid rather than just saying they're being paid well or not being paid well. By whose standards? I'm sure the Guild contract is available to you, since you are a former union official. It's hard to feel any sympathy for a person making more money than you, but it's easy to feel sorry for one who is making less.)

Posted by Bob Gamboa on 09/04/2007 at 11:40 PM

Re: “Editor's Note: Bringing the Express Back Home

Stephen, thanks for the disclosure. I've been a reader of the EBX for years and I'm not doing this to criticize your paper or make you uncomfortable, but your answer is incomplete. You'd flame Dean Singleton if he told you that he wasn't going to reveal some material fact that you thought was important. So I've got to ask these questions: 1. Who are the silent partners? They can remain silent (that is, not bothering you), but still have their names disclosed. Every day of the week, newspapers demand that the players in business stories be identified. Newspapers, which demand transparanency from others, need to be transparent themselves. 2. You say they don't have East Bay business interests, but do they live here? If you live here, you have a "dog in the fight" in most controversies. 3. Do you have a non-interference agreement? Something that says the newsroom won't be told what do by these "silent partners"? Look at that kooky owner in Santa Barbara and what she did? What if your partners become like her? 4. How do you settle a 50-50 standoff? Coin flip? 5. How much did the paper cost? 6. Does Village Voice Media hold the note, or still have any control? Is there a non-compete? Is there a joint venture agreement? What's to stop Village Voice Media from opening up a paper in your backyard? 7. Did you make any agreements with Village Voice Media regarding Brugmann's anttrust suit against them? 7a. So if you're asked under oath who is a bigger scum bag, Village Voice Media or Brugmann, who will you pick? (That's a joke, you don't need to answer.) 8. Are any of your silent partners associated with Village Voice Media? 9. When you say the two partnership groups own the paper 50-50, are you talking about equity, voting shares or both? Maybe another way to say it is: Who put up the money? 10. If you don't answer these questions, can we assume that you'll also avoid asking tough questions of local businesses in the future?

Posted by Bob Gamboa on 06/01/2007 at 2:25 AM

Re: “Editor's Note: Bringing the Express Back Home

Stephen, thanks for the disclosure. I've been a reader of the EBX for years and I'm not doing this to criticize your paper or make you uncomfortable, but your answer is incomplete. You'd flame Dean Singleton if he told you that he wasn't going to reveal some material fact that you thought was important. So I've got to ask these questions: 1. Who are the silent partners? They can remain silent (that is, not bothering you), but still have their names disclosed. Every day of the week, newspapers demand that the players in business stories be identified. Newspapers, which demand transparanency from others, need to be transparent themselves. 2. You say they don't have East Bay business interests, but do they live here? If you live here, you have a "dog in the fight" in most controversies. 3. Do you have a non-interference agreement? Something that says the newsroom won't be told what do by these "silent partners"? Look at that kooky owner in Santa Barbara and what she did? What if your partners become like her? 4. How do you settle a 50-50 standoff? Coin flip? 5. How much did the paper cost? 6. Does Village Voice Media hold the note, or still have any control? Is there a non-compete? Is there a joint venture agreement? What's to stop Village Voice Media from opening up a paper in your backyard? 7. Did you make any agreements with Village Voice Media regarding Brugmann's anttrust suit against them? 7a. So if you're asked under oath who is a bigger scum bag, Village Voice Media or Brugmann, who will you pick? (That's a joke, you don't need to answer.) 8. Are any of your silent partners associated with Village Voice Media? 9. When you say the two partnership groups own the paper 50-50, are you talking about equity, voting shares or both? Maybe another way to say it is: Who put up the money? 10. If you don't answer these questions, can we assume that you'll also avoid asking tough questions of local businesses in the future?

Posted by Bob Gamboa on 05/31/2007 at 12:15 AM

Re: “Editor's Note: Bringing the Express Back Home

Thanks for answering part of my question about who owns the EBX now, but it seems you're not listing everybody for some reason. You identify the owners as Stephen Buel, Hal Brody, Jody Colley and Kelly Vance. But you use the phrase "Among our other owners is ..." Who else?

Posted by Bob Gamboa on 05/24/2007 at 12:20 PM

Re: “The East Bay Express Under New Independent Ownership

You can't say who owns the paper? Seriously? I gather that you (Mr. Buel) are a partner but perhaps do not own a majority interest. Who are the others? A local developer? Maybe a politician? Maybe somebody who has something to gain with positive news coverage?

Posted by Bob Gamboa on 05/24/2007 at 9:17 AM

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