A year after a San Francisco jury found in favor of the Bay Guardian in its predatory pricing lawsuit against the SF Weekly and its parent Village Voice Media, editors at the papers are as spitting angry at each other as ever.
The most recent flare up occurred when the Guardian’s editor, Tim Redmond, wanted to know if VVM ever planned to pay the verdict, which is approaching $20 million including interest. VVM is appealing but hasn’t paid the money nor posted an appeal bond that would ensure payment, Redmond said.
Moreover, Redmond said he’s learned from sources that the owners of VVM have transferred $15 million in company funds to their personal accounts in case the appeals court upholds the jury verdict.
Redmond asked VVM executive editor and partner Michael Lacey about it in an e-mail. Lacey exploded in an e-mail he sent back to Redmond, flatly denying the transfer of any funds:
- You claim you have sources, plural. Now you have a crystal-clear repudiation. Put your sources on the record. Let the world examine your “evidence.”
Then, later in the e-mail, Lacey says:
- Were we supposed to stop running our business, stop paying employees, stop making a profit, because (Guardian owner) Bruce Brugmann hired a lawyer?
Are the assets of our business protected? Of course they are. Are you suggesting that the assets of the San Francisco Bay Guardian Inc. are not?
Lacey goes on to say:
- You’re frustrated. You want us to give you money, and we won’t. You accuse us of having money, while you don’t. That has always been your problem. It is the foundation of your lawsuit.
Is it simply class bitterness that causes you to make things up, to envision conspiracies in which someone, somewhere, is having a good time on a nickel they should have thrown into your paper cup? Is this what motivates you to rant with the logic of a desperate street beggar?
After firing off his response, Lacey posted both Redmond’s questions and his response on the SF Weekly’s site before Redmond had a chance to write his column about the lawsuit. When Redmond posted his column it carried the headline “SF Weekly’s deadbeat dad,” and included this:
- The guy’s got a thing for “brain vomit,” which seems to be his standard comment on anything he doesn’t like.
I particularly like the comment about “class bitterness,” which works so well these days. And of course, he ducks the point: VVM owes us a bunch of money. If Lacey wanted to wait until after the appeal, he could have posted an appeal bond — but if he did that, then we’d be guaranteed payment if we won the appeal.
This way, even if we win (which I think we will) he can try to slime away without paying.
The exchange between Lacey and Redmond was reminiscent of last year’s trial, which each publication covered on an almost daily basis on their Web sites. In March 2008, a jury found that the SF Weekly sold ads at below cost for 12 years in an attempt to run the locally owned Guardian out of business, in violation of California’s predatory pricing law. (Photo credits: Lacey, Phoenix New Times; Redmond, SF Weekly)