At the same time newspaper unions are hoping billionaire supermarket magnate Ron Burkle (pictured) will help them buy Knight Ridder’s Bay Area newspapers, the California Newspaper Publishers Association (CNPA) is asking newspapers to fight legislation supported by Burkle that would reduce access to courts. Today (March 15), CNPA issued a Legislative Bulletin asking newspapers to alert the public about Senate Bill 1015, introduced by Kevin Murray, D-Los Angeles, that would overturn The Los Angeles Times’, AP’s and CNPA’s hard-fought appellate court victory in Burkle v. Burkle. Burkle, in his messy divorce, convinced a judge to seal much of the records in the case. An appeals court reversed the judge. Now Murray’s bill would make divorce files, including Burkle’s, secret. Meanwhile, the Newspaper Guild is continuing to talk up its proposal to use Burkle’s money to buy the 12 Knight Ridder newspapers that McClatchy didn’t want to keep, including the San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Times. Burkle’s supermarkets include Food4Less and Ralph’s. He amassed much of his $2.3 billion net worth through leveraged buyouts of supermarket chains. He’s a longtime Democrat fundraiser and a close associate of former President Bill Clinton, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and entertainer Michael Jackson. [LA Times: Backdoor bill would seal data on divorce] [San Diego Union-Tribune: Divorce secrecy bill spurs dispute]

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