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The Union-Tribune should be giving memory classes to its employees. Maybe an honesty class would help, too, but I don't want to pre-judge a case now going on in Superior Court. Background: Steve Kelley, former U-T editorial cartoonist, had once agreed to do a comic strip with the current editorial cartoonist, Steve Breen. But on the 2007 day on which Breen went to lunch with Karin Winner, editor, he called Kelley and backed out of the deal, according to Kelley's lawyer, Bob Gaglione. Kelley, whose earlier departure from the U-T had been a bitter one, sued the newspaper for interference with a contract, among other things.

On June 25 of this year, Breen gave a deposition. He stated under oath that he had told Bill Osborne, one of Winner's top lieutenants, twice about the arrangement with Kelley. And he stated, under oath, that one conference with Osborne had led, he thought, to a lunch with Winner.

Then, lo and behold, attorney Rebecca S. Roberts of Sheppard Mullin, the U-T's firm, wrote to Gaglione on August 5, a bit more than a month later, that Breen "does not recall telling Bill Osborne" about the contract. Then, on Oct. 2, Breen signed a statement, under penalty of perjury, that he did not recall informing Osborne about the contract at any time before he bailed out. Further, he did not recall informing Winner of the contract before he terminated it. Hmmmm.

Some other matters are relevant. A month after he had terminated the deal with Kelley, Breen wrote an email to John Glynn of the comic strip syndicate and stated, "I'm afraid I've got some bad news on my involvement with the strip. My paper is essentially telling me they don't want me working with Steve Kelley." Then, Glynn sent an email to a colleague within the syndicate, saying, "Steve Breen was given a nicely worded ultimatum by the San Diego Union-Tribune NOT to do the...strip with Steve Kelley." Superior Court Judge Jay M. Bloom initially ruled that these emails were hearsay and not admissible, but Glynn has since given a deposition in which he corroborates the essence of what Breen told him in the email -- that the U-T didn't want him working with Kelley. As the chorus master said when warming up his singers, "Hmmmm."

I sent an email to Breen asking if he has engaged in introspection over his purportedly faulty memory. I also asked him if anybody at the U-T or at Sheppard Mullin encouraged or coerced him to recant testimony made under oath. He would not comment. I also asked Osborne whether in fact he had talked with Breen, as Breen originally testified, and whether he has an explanation for Breen's supposed memory lapse. Osborne isn't talking. I asked Winner about what was said at that lunch, and whether Breen had spoken with Osborne before the termination. No talkee. Steve Kelley isn't talking, either.

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Comments

SurfPuppy619 Oct. 28, 2009 @ 11:34 a.m.

Steve Kelley was such a great cartoonist-it was hard to see him go. He got a bad deal IMO.

But I must say, Breen has certainly held his own.

The UT better settle this out of court now, because once it goes to trial and John Glynn introduces the email, then authenticates it and terstifys to it-it is curtains for the UT.

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Visduh Oct. 28, 2009 @ 12:12 p.m.

Winner and whomever was giving her orders sure seemed to want to keep a close adherence to the party line. If Breen and Kelley worked together, would that have contaminated Breen? Or was this all just vindictiveness? We'll never know just what transpired at the time of Kelley's departure, but it looks as if it was bitter. Really bitter.

Firing an employee is one thing, but trying to make his life miserable or at least harder after the termination is far worse. That's just what this looks like. And it would appear that the evidence supports his allegations. Then there's Breen who caved in to pressure that never should have been placed on him.

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Don Bauder Oct. 28, 2009 @ 12:22 p.m.

Response to post #1: Nothing is certain in Superior Court. If the case is dismissed by the judge, I certainly think the appellate court would be quite interested in the evidence presented here. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Oct. 28, 2009 @ 12:29 p.m.

Response to post #2: Breen doesn't come out well in any case. In June, he testified emphatically that he had spoken with Osborne twice before terminating the deal. Then a bit more than a month later, he doesn't remember. But is it Breen's fault? In recanting, was he just another U-T employee desperate to keep his job? That doesn't look good, either. And yes, Kelley's departure from the U-T was a fractious one on both sides. Both cartoonists are very talented. Breen and Kelley cartoons run regularly on page 2 of the Week in Review section of the Sunday NY Times. Best, Don Bauder

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CuddleFish Oct. 28, 2009 @ 12:40 p.m.

There's no comparison, IMO. Kelley is by far the better cartoonist.

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Don Bauder Oct. 28, 2009 @ 1:18 p.m.

Response to post #5: In my opinion, Kelley is by far the wittiest; Breen is the better artist. They are both very good. But that is not the point: it's the duty of the court to determine whether the U-T interfered, and deliberately interfered, with the contract. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 28, 2009 @ 3:54 p.m.

There's no comparison, IMO. Kelley is by far the better cartoonist.

By CuddleFish

I agree Kelley is better, but not "by far", it is close.

I personally really like Kelley's art, but it is his wit that seals the deal.

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CuddleFish Oct. 28, 2009 @ 4:16 p.m.

Exactly. I don't get how Breen won those awards. Half the time I don't get his cartoons, if it weren't for the explanatory captions on the rest I wouldn't get those either.

Kelley was brilliant. His cartoons always conveyed the message he meant to illustrate, captions were hardly necessary. He was funny, where Breen isn't.

And his comic strip is the pits, they could get rid of it and it would be no loss to the SD U-T.

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Don Bauder Oct. 28, 2009 @ 4:24 p.m.

Response to post #7: In addition to being a cartoonist, Kelley is a professional standup comedian. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Oct. 28, 2009 @ 4:27 p.m.

Response to post #8: As I recall, Breen won a Pulitzer while with a small paper in New Jersey. Small papers are in a category that is different from the one that the metro dailies are in. Presumably, it's easier to win. Best, Don Bauder

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CuddleFish Oct. 28, 2009 @ 4:32 p.m.

Breen just won a Pulitzer this year for editorial cartooning.

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Don Bauder Oct. 28, 2009 @ 5:35 p.m.

Response to post #11: Yes he did win a Pulitzer in 2009 for editorial cartooning. Best, Don Bauder

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Burwell Oct. 28, 2009 @ 8:22 p.m.

Who will pay the judgement if Kelley wins? Will the U-T's former owner, Copley Press, have to pay the judgement, or will the new owner be on the hook?

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Don Bauder Oct. 28, 2009 @ 8:33 p.m.

Response to post #13: Who will pay the judgment? I suppose that when Copley paid Platinum to take the paper by selling it real estate at a steep discount, there was an agreement made on who would assume any possible liability from pending lawsuits. I don't think there is any way to find that out. Both Copley Press and the Union-Tribune are named as defendants in the suit. Best, Don Bauder

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Burwell Oct. 28, 2009 @ 10:16 p.m.

I don't think Kelley has much of a case. The Court will likely rule that it was reasonable for the U-T to stop an employee like Breen from entering into a business venture that might interfere with his duties at the paper. Winner should argue that she directed Breen not to work with Kelley because she feared such an association would interfere with his duties at the U-T. Employers have this right. For example, the Reader has the right to prevent Bauder from ghost writing columns for Paul Krugman while he's on the Reader payroll. The issue of whether Breen told Osborne or Winner about the contract is irrelevant. It seems to me that Kelley sued the wrong party.

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Duhbya Oct. 29, 2009 @ 5:37 a.m.

Don is ghost-writing for Krugman?

"Hmmmm."

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Don Bauder Oct. 29, 2009 @ 7:45 a.m.

Response to post #15: Your analysis may be correct, but the U-T is denying that it told Breen that he couldn't work with Kelley. I have made no comment on whether Kelley's case is sound or not. I just find the following extremely curious: 1. In a deposition June 25, Breen is asked, "Did you inform the newsaper at some point in time that you had signed a contract?" Breen replies. "Yeah...I waited a little while. Maybe a month or two." Then he says, "I informed Osborne" that he had signed a contract with Universal Press Syndicate

On the next page of the deposition, Breen swears under oath that he told Osborne "the second time that we had signed the comic strip deal. I think that's when that lunch was set up with Karin Winner."

Then on Aug. 5 the U-T lawyer says, "Steve Breen does not recall telling Bill Osborne about the Press Syndicate contract..." And on Oct. 2 Breen swears under penalty of perjury, "I do not recall informing Bill Osborne about the Universal Press Syndicate contract....I also do not recall informing Ms. Winner about the UPS contract...."

I find these switcheroos, made under oath, extremely fascinating, particularly since they come over such a short period of time. That's what this blog item is all about.

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Don Bauder Oct. 29, 2009 @ 8:20 a.m.

Response to post #16: Ghost-writing Krugman's column? You write "Hmmm." You should have written "Shhhh." (Actually, the whole idea is an insult to Krugman.) Best, Don Bauder

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Duhbya Oct. 29, 2009 @ 10:10 a.m.

Re #18: I forgot to add the silly ;>) thingy to # 16. Seems the "Convenient Amnesia" syndrome is still in vogue at the U-T.

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Don Bauder Oct. 29, 2009 @ 10:41 a.m.

Response to post #19: This is what bothers me the most about this episode. Breen's sudden switch -- testifying strongly under oath to one thing, then suddenly saying under oath that he doesn't remember facts that he had related clearly only a few weeks earlier -- is difficult to categorize as a case of amnesia. I reluctantly conclude that this is still another incident that reflects very badly on the integrity of the U-T's top management and/or its law firm. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 29, 2009 @ 12:01 p.m.

I don't think Kelley has much of a case. The Court will likely rule that it was reasonable for the U-T to stop an employee like Breen from entering into a business venture that might interfere with his duties at the paper.

They are both mutually exclusive and have nothing to do with one another Why do you think is would be reasonable for the UT to interfere with a private transaction that has no relationship to the UT, explain how that will interfere with UT job.

Winner should argue that she directed Breen not to work with Kelley because she feared such an association would interfere with his duties at the U-T. Employers have this right.

Again, explain how a private transaction with UPS would itnerfer with his UT duties.

The UT has no right to stop a person from legal, activities outside employment (Chula Vista PD is being sued over this very iusse right now over the firing of a female peace officer who entered a beauty pageant)-and Breen didn't even have to tell them about it.

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SanDiegoParrothead Oct. 29, 2009 @ 12:38 p.m.

Don:

Will this be ruled on by just a judge, or will it go to a jury?

Kelley sure better hope for a jury, cause all the judges in this town are crooked.

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Don Bauder Oct. 29, 2009 @ 2:18 p.m.

Response to post #21: Again, the company claims it did not tell Breen to NOT do a comic strip with Kelley. The paper trail and depositions clearly belie that claim. The judge earlier that one crucial part of the paper trail was inadmissible, but could possibly change his mind since an email message has now been corroborated in a deposition. I intend to watch this aspect very carefully. When I was with the company, I would get permission when I was doing TV or radio for money, or giving a speech for compensation, or stringing for publication such as Barron's or Forbes. Breen has had his own comic strip. Kelley did a lot of things, such as radio and TV and standup comedy, while he was at the U-T. After I took positions against the 60,000 seat guarantee, the Qualcomm Stadium football-only makeover and the subsidized ballpark, I was told that in any speech or appearance I had to state that my position was not the position of the paper. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Oct. 29, 2009 @ 2:21 p.m.

Response to post #23: The judge will decide whether the case goes forward. Many times with the Reader I have expressed my strong reservations about the San Diego judiciary, but I would not say that ALL the judges are crooked. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 29, 2009 @ 4:52 p.m.

Will this be ruled on by just a judge, or will it go to a jury?

By SanDiegoParrothead

First off, anyone with half a brain will request a trial by jury-and it must be requested in the complaint. I have never seen a compliant that did not make the request. A jury request can be waived later, but if not invoked in the begining cannot be invoked later.

Second, 98.8% of ALL cases do not go to trial today, at least not in the federal system, which is where I would have filed this case since the amount is probably over $75K and Kelley now lives outside of CA.

Judges today make the determination on whether a party is liable or not. Not juries. The judge will, in their great, all knowing wisdom (or is it know it all wisdom??), determine how 12 jurors will vote, and they will rule for or against the plaintiff on a motion for summary judgment. If the case survives summary judgement, then the plaintiff is entitled to go to trial-but at this point the defendant will get very serious about settling because a court trial is a roll of the dice and can have potenially disasterous consequences for defendants.

The recent example of this is the Betty Rexford case in Poway-where Rexford (as a sitting clowncil member) and the City of Poway lost a motion to have the case tossed on SJ grounds, so they entered serious damage control/settlement talks-to the tune of $500K to end the case. If the case went to trial I could see PO'd jurors awarding 10 times that amount (as could Poway/Rexford's lawyers).

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Don Bauder Oct. 29, 2009 @ 5:27 p.m.

Response to post #25: This case is in Superior Court, but Kelley says that damages are far greater than $75,000 -- in the millions. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 29, 2009 @ 6:44 p.m.

Does Kelley still live in CA? I just assumed he moved.

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Burwell Oct. 29, 2009 @ 8:15 p.m.

They are both mutually exclusive and have nothing to do with one another Why do you think is would be reasonable for the UT to interfere with a private transaction that has no relationship to the UT, explain how that will interfere with UT job.

I disagree. The U-T would not want Breen working for a competitor or producing work product that could appear in competing publications. The U-T would want exclusive rights to Breen's work, it would not want Breen spreading his name around in various publications. Would the U-T want Breen's name on a comic strip that was published in the LA Times? Of course not. Employers have the right under California law to restrict and regulate their employees' outside business activities. The U-T could have legally fired Breen had he gone into business with Kelley. Kelley is suing the wrong party. He had a contact with Breen. Kelley should sue Breen for breach of contract and force him to either comply with the contract or pay damages. In my opinion, Kelley's lawyer is chasing a red herring in his efforts to prove management lied. This issue is irrelevant. The legal issue is whether the U-T had the legal right to fire Breen in the event he went into business with Kelley. If the U-T had that right, then Kelley has no case.

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 29, 2009 @ 9:15 p.m.

I disagree. The U-T would not want Breen working for a competitor or producing work product that could appear in competing publications.

Hmmmm.......the question then becomes a matter of;

1) was the project with Kelley a "competitor", and 2)

2) would it be in competing publications?

I agree that this would pose a problem if true, but I don't think the new strip was going top be a competitor, but that is just a guess.

The U-T would want exclusive rights to Breen's work, it would not want Breen spreading his name around in various publications.

That would be true for POLITICAL cartoons, which is what Breen was hired for, the question then becomes what did Kelley and Breen have in mind in the new venture.

Employers have the right under California law to restrict and regulate their employees' outside business activities.

B, this is 100% false, employers do NOT have the right to regulate their employees lrgal and lawful lives outside of business-who told you that lie?

An employer may have standards in an employment contract (very few employees actually have employment contracts), such as the infamous "good morals" clauses inserted into entertainment and athletic employees contracts(and other high profile jobs), but 99.99999% of CA employees are hired as "at will" employees without any type of formal employment contract.

No employer has the right to tell their employees they cannot pursue legal activities outside of the work place. And even if there were a "morals" clause, nothing short of a criminal charge AND conviction would be subject to trigger it.

The UT DID have the right to fire Breen if he was an "at will" employee-for anything or nothing. If Breen had a contract then the contract's terms would dictate. Otherwise the UT cannot interfer with the prospective economic advantages of Kelley.

Kelley is the one with the claim here, not Breen. All Kelley has to do is show the UT intentionally interferred, without legal cause, with the contract he had with Breen.

Your argument B is this-that the UT had a reason to interfer with the Kelley contract. The jury will be the ones to decide if the UT had a legitimate reason to interfer. You may be right IF (a big if) the Kelley/Breen contract may have infringed on the Breen's cartoons with the UT's political commentary-but I highly doubt it.

In any event B, I would not want ot be rolling the dice if I were the UT, a mutli million dollar verdict could force them into BK, maybe even a 6 figure verdict could.

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Don Bauder Oct. 29, 2009 @ 9:24 p.m.

Response to post #27: I assume Kelley is in New Orleans, because he is a cartoonist for the Times-Picayune. A few years ago, he was spending a lot of time in San Diego. I don't know if that's still true. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Oct. 29, 2009 @ 9:29 p.m.

Response to post #28: Breen's work already appears in other publications. He is syndicated. Also, Breen and Kelley had signed a contract with Universal Press Syndicate. That is the contract that Kelley says the U-T interfered with. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Oct. 29, 2009 @ 9:36 p.m.

Response to post #29: The jury will decide IF the case gets to a jury. Best, Don Bauder

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Duhbya Oct. 30, 2009 @ 5:57 a.m.

Re #20: Don, you typed, "I reluctantly conclude that this is still another incident that reflects very badly on the integrity of the U-T's top management....." I agree, and this is from one whose budding career there was thwarted by that same mindset evident in 1973, just after "the move", when I was "asked" to alter a statement I had written in which I was supposed to have stated that a fired employee had been warned by me previously admonishing him for the same action that had resulted in his dismissal. I recited it the way I knew it had occurred, in that it didn't. I was then told by a senior manager "This is not what we had in mind. Mull it over and see what you can come up with." Exact quote. I left it as originally written, in the process launching the beginning of my end at the U-T.

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Don Bauder Oct. 30, 2009 @ 7:35 a.m.

Response to post #33: Quite a story. It doesn't surprise me. I would be interested in knowing if you were fired (perhaps after a period of six months or so) or whether you were given such a hard time you decided to leave. Incidentally, in my post #32, I said the jury will decide if the case gets to a jury. Typo. Obviously, I meant the judge will decide if it gets to a jury. Best, Don Bauder

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Duhbya Oct. 30, 2009 @ 9:13 a.m.

Re #34: Let's just say I was moved to the "down" escalator, so it was the latter. The employee in question was reinstated, by the way, much to management's chagrin.

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Don Bauder Oct. 30, 2009 @ 11:26 a.m.

Response to post #35: A lot of Union-Tribune people knew what that down escalator was like. And it was all done so quietly. It was a little like Murder in the Cathedral. Best, Don Bauder

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Duhbya Oct. 30, 2009 @ 12:18 p.m.

Re #35: And replete with its own Mother Figure!

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Don Bauder Oct. 30, 2009 @ 2:21 p.m.

Response to post #37: It was a maternalistic environment, to be sure. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 30, 2009 @ 4:40 p.m.

Duhbya-tell us some of your UT stories-and make them good ones.

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Don Bauder Oct. 31, 2009 @ 8:12 a.m.

Response to post #39: We could use some more stories from Hellcat Copley, too. Best, Don Bauder

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Duhbya Nov. 1, 2009 @ 3:50 a.m.

Re #39: I don't have a plethora of stories worth mentioning, but here's one I that is of some personal interest. Much energy was spent trying to eradicate any trace of Helen's plebian upbringing. It just so happened that my father had known her when they were kids growing up in the same town in Iowa. One fine morning, after my realization that I was on my way to becoming officially persona non grata, the elevator opened on the first floor and I was met with the grim countenances of the usual band of lackeys who tended to Helen during all of her rare visitations, think along the lines of the Vatican cardinals doting on the Pope. They were surrounding Helen, giving the impression of shielding her from the unwashed as she ascended from the parking garage to her office. I casually mentioned that she had known my father, much to the apple-polishers' alarm. "Oh, really, who is that?", she asked as the elevator paused on my floor. I tossed out my Dad's name over my shoulder as I was exiting, adding, "You knew him when you were both kids in Cedar Rapids". I still chortle over that one.

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Don Bauder Nov. 1, 2009 @ 7:22 a.m.

Response to post #41: But what was Helen's reaction? Or didn't you turn around to see? And how did her bodyguards react? As I recall, she did not hide her Iowa roots. Her brother was on the board for years, as was an Iowa lawyer who had worked with the family. Best, Don Bauder

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Duhbya Nov. 1, 2009 @ 8:35 a.m.

Re #42: As the elevators doors were closing, I did take a quick look and my observation was that she looked stunned, or perhaps caught off guard by the mention of someone who could give a first-hand accounting of her earlier years. Pure conjecture, of course. I should also mention that the "bodyguards" were the GM at the time, DeBakcsy, the personnel chief, Vikander, and her personal chauffeur/valet, Henry Ford. I can but guess at the reaction, but I believe it's an educated guess. I also did not mean to imply that she made any attempts to hide her Iowa origins. I suppose I might also include the fact that my father, who was a highly-regarded U-T employee for nearly fifteen years, passed away suddenly and at an early age, seven days shy of receiving his pension. My mother appealed and the pension was denied by one of the men mentioned above.

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 1, 2009 @ 11:36 a.m.

I might also include the fact that my father, who was a highly-regarded U-T employee for nearly fifteen years, passed away suddenly and at an early age, seven days shy of receiving his pension. My mother appealed and the pension was denied by one of the men mentioned above.

By Duhbya

Dispicable conduct.

Should have sued if possible.

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 1, 2009 @ 11:41 a.m.

PS, the UT busted out their new web design this morning, and you would think they could have gotten the most obvious problems out of the way, but no, that was too easy.

Try reading the bylines on the main stories, which are printed in white and blend in amazingly well into the background pics, to the point that you cannot read them.....;

http://www.signonsandiego.com/

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Don Bauder Nov. 1, 2009 @ 12:10 p.m.

Response to post #43: Helen was a lady. She also was not ashamed of her humble Iowa roots. I doubt if she was as shocked as you think. Best, Don Bauder

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Duhbya Nov. 1, 2009 @ 12:40 p.m.

Re #46: I'm sure you knew her better than I. Perhaps that is the reaction I was expecting to see. Thanks for your input.

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Don Bauder Nov. 1, 2009 @ 1:54 p.m.

Response to post #44: I would not be surprised if most companies play that one as the U-T did. What's reprehensible is a company firing someone just before they qualify for a pension. That happened while I was with McGraw-Hill, but I don't remember it happening while I was at the U-T. But if I am wrong, please correct me. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 1, 2009 @ 1:57 p.m.

Response to post #45: I had trouble with the new U-T online edition, too. Somebody else called me to say he couldn't negotiate it. But that is always the response when the online edition is changed. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 1, 2009 @ 2:18 p.m.

Response to post #47: Helen had her faults, such as her viscerally negative reactions to labor unions, and poor judgment in some of her management selections, but by and large she was a very good person. At least, that's my opinion. Best, Don Bauder

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Burwell Nov. 1, 2009 @ 10:55 p.m.

What's reprehensible is a company firing someone just before they qualify for a pension. That happened while I was with McGraw-Hill, but I don't remember it happening while I was at the U-T.

Congress outlawed this practice after 60 Minutes did a piece in 1974 about about Standard Oil employee Clyde Shearer. He was fired for no reason shortly before he was eligible to collect a pension from Standard Oil, and was left virtually destitute. Standard Oil routinely fired most rank and file employees shortly before they became eligible to collect pensions leaving them with no legal recourse. The public outcry was enormous. Congress enacted pension vesting laws to protect employees from this type of abuse.

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Don Bauder Nov. 2, 2009 @ 6:30 a.m.

Respose to post #51: That had slipped my mind. Thanks for enlightenment. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 2, 2009 @ 1:39 p.m.

Pension vesting was a good idea. I have to fault public agencies though for making the period too short-local, county, state, and federal- for allowing short pension vesting periods, 5 years in most cases. This is one of the reasons for such a high escalation in pay and benefits, to the tune of paying "public safety" employees $200K per year.

if the vesting epriord were more modest-15 years, you would have the leap frogging that goes on today.

And allowing lifetime medical benefits to vest after just 5 years is preposterous. That is a benefit that can be worth as much as $25K per year, and more, on the open market for someone who is over 35, and even for younger people can still have a value of $10K-$15K per year on the open market. Add that up over the lifetime of a 23-25 year old, and see what it totals (millions).

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Don Bauder Nov. 2, 2009 @ 2:10 p.m.

Response to post #53: Yes, vesting excessively generous benefits has had a negative effect -- particularly on the City of San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 3, 2009 @ 2:44 p.m.

NOTE: JUDGE THROWS OUT KELLEY SUIT. Superior Court Jay Bloom has dismissed Steve Kelley's suit against the Union-Tribune. As related above, Kelley sued the newspaper, claiming that it interfered with a contract he had with U-T cartoonist Steve Breen to do a comic strip. Bloom decreed that Kelley "has not shown by admissible evidence any intentional act by defendant designed to purposefully disrupt the contractual relationship." Bloom said that Breen dropped out "because he did not see the 'magic' in the strip, because of his workload and because he did not want to upset his employer. However, he was never told he could not work on the comic strip."

As noted above, Breen testified under oath in June of this year that he had spoken twice with his immediate supervisor, Bill Osborne, about the strip, and the second such conversation led to a lunch with Karin Winner, editor. At the lunch, the strip was discussed, Breen initially testified. Barely a month later, the U-T lawyer claimed that Breen actually did not REMEMBER whether he had spoken to Osborne. Then, Breen made a declaration under oath that he did not remember the Osborne conversation about the contract -- nor did he remember having such a conversation with Winner. Judge Bloom does not address this purported case of amnesia in his decision.

Bob Gaglione, Kelley's attorney, says he will file a motion of reconsideration so that the judge will have to explain his evidentiary objections. Kelley says the decision is "staggering and inexplicable," and he intends to appeal.

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 4, 2009 @ 12:44 a.m.

Wow, I wonder how the appeal will work out?

I hate going to appeals, the appeals court will usually just rubber stamp the trial judge.... at least that is how it always works out with me.

BTW-the UT's "new" website has been done for the past 24 hours, and has been down off and on the last 48 hours.

They must be having some major problems.

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Don Bauder Nov. 4, 2009 @ 6:37 a.m.

Response to post #56: There are always problems when a company is making a switch of this magnitude. Give the U-T seveal more days to get the bugs out. Best, Don Bauder

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WhatGoesAround Nov. 4, 2009 @ 2:52 p.m.

Comment on post #57.

In this instance, it looks like the online readers are doing the Quality Assurance (QA) work "to get the bugs out" for the U-T.

That saves time and money for the newspaper and for any vendors involved, and it takes advantage of an army of unwitting and occasionally willing volunteer testers.

Fair enough, but I don't believe it's necessary for a website rollout of any magnitude to always have problems. From my professional experience, it's just a matter of how much money the U-T wanted to throw at the project before debuting it to the public.

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Don Bauder Nov. 4, 2009 @ 4:24 p.m.

Response to post #59: You suggest the U-T may be going on the cheap in this. You are not the first to say this. Others have suggested that since the owner, Platinum Equity, is a private equity firm that usually flips an asset it purchases in 3 to 5 years (some say 5 to 7 years), it is reluctant to put sufficient funds into the changeover. It wants to take money out by charging for content, but doesn't want to put money in to perfect the product -- at least, that is some people's opinion. Best, Don Bauder

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Shadow Nov. 6, 2009 @ 1:51 p.m.

Speaking of Steve Kelley, remember this juicy tidbit (courtesy of Matt Potter's column in the Reader, 2002)?

Ex-Union-Tribune political cartoonist Steve Kelley, fired in May of last year after a run-in with editorial page editor Robert A. Kittle, has been named editorial cartoonist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune. As Kelley later described it, the dust-up began after Kittle objected to a proposed cartoon showing the "butt cracks" of two teenagers. The next day, according to Kelley, senior editor Bill Osborne got into the act, accusing Kelley of trying to sneak the cartoon into the paper and lying about it. After TV stations picked up the story, the U-T finally reported that Kelley had been dumped. The cartoonist attributed his firing to the paper's leftward editorial drift, but others speculated that it had something to do with Kelley's tryst with Shelia Lawrence, widow of hotel magnate and Clinton crony M. Larry Lawrence. The relationship resulted in an embarrassing custody dispute over an out-of-wedlock child.

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Don Bauder Nov. 6, 2009 @ 8:22 p.m.

Response to post #60: Yes, I remember that well. The U-T handled it abysmally, just as it later handled the Neil Morgan firing abysmally. Kelley lives in New Orleans but spends a lot of time in San Diego, where his girlfriend resides. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 7, 2009 @ 11:40 a.m.

The cartoonist attributed his firing to the paper's leftward editorial drift, but others speculated that it had something to do with Kelley's tryst with Shelia Lawrence, widow of hotel magnate and Clinton crony M. Larry Lawrence. The relationship resulted in an embarrassing custody dispute over an out-of-wedlock child.

By Shadow

I didn't know Shelia Lawrence had Kelley's love child!

I thought Kelley's romance with her was THE reason for him getting canned.

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Don Bauder Nov. 7, 2009 @ 1:08 p.m.

Response to post #64: The flap over the cartoon, and Kelley's alleged reaction to his supervisors' decision to not let it run, led to the firing. I doubt that his relationship with Shelia had anything to do with it, although it's possible that this was secretly the real reason and the blowup was the stated reason. There were people in management who were jealous of Kelley because of his good looks; his radio, TV, and standup comic gigs; his charisma, and his standing in the community. The whole thing was badly handled. Best, Don Bauder

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