THOMPSON WINS POLK AWARD
Guardian senior writer A.C. Thompson has won the George Polk Award for Local Reporting, it was announced Feb. 20.
The Polk award, named after a CBS correspondent who was murdered while covering the civil war in Greece in 1948, is one of the most prestigious awards in journalism.
Thompson was honored for his series "Forgotten City," which exposed the subhuman conditions in San Francisco's public housing projects and has sparked outrage, public hearings, and a promise by city officials to crack down on delayed repairs, broken sewage pipes, toxic mold, and other dangerous conditions.
"The weekly newspaper's limited resources did not stop Thompson from generating a huge story," the Polk Awards judges said.
The Polk Awards have no separate category for weekly or smaller-circulation papers, so Thompson's series was competing with stories generated by major dailies and television stations nationwide. No other weekly or alternative newspaper writer was among the Polk winners, which included the New York Times, the Washington Post, and ABC News. (Tim Redmond)
SF WEEKLY LOSES WARFIELD SIGNAGE
The SF Weekly name will no longer be displayed on the marquee of the historic Warfield theater building, according to the terms of a lawsuit settlement.
David Addington, the owner of the building, filed suit Oct. l3 to have the SF Weekly logo removed, claiming the San Francisco institution was devalued by the name of a paper that was owned by the New Times chain, headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz. "The name of the building returns to the Warfield, where it has been for 85 years now," he told us. Further, he said, the agreement "acknowledges that the building owner gets to determine what the building is called."
The Warfield victory "has resonated in a city known for its anticorporate sentiment," the San Francisco Daily Journal reported in a Feb. 15 story breaking the news of the agreement.
The suit stems from a deal struck in June 2005 that gave SF Weekly naming rights to the Warfield and made SF Weekly the exclusive advertiser for Bill Graham Presents (BGP), a concert promotion company owned by Clear Channel Communications. Clear Channel, based in San Antonio, Texas, rents and operates the Warfield. The agreement cut the locally owned Guardian out of a big chunk of the lucrative concert-advertising market.
New Times has recently merged with the Village Voice Media chain, based in New York City, that creates a 17-paper chain in major markets throughout the country. The chain dropped the New Times name and is now called Village Voice Media.
The SF Weekly Warfield sign has been taken down from the building. Addington said that a new sign will go up "by mutual agreement" with no SF Weekly logo and that the name will appear only as part of its role in sponsoring events.
Addington was represented by Rita Hao, an attorney with the San Francisco firm Gonzalez and Leigh.
Neither SF Weekly nor New Times executives in Phoenix returned phone calls for comment. BGP president Lee Smith did not return phone calls. (SFBG staff)
NONPROFIT BILKS CITY
A 23-page audit issued earlier this month by city controller Ed Harrington concluded Women Organized to Make Abuse Nonexistent, a.k.a. WOMAN, in 2003 "overcharged" the city more than $73,000 for antidomestic violence services, misled city officials about the group's expenses, and didn't maintain accurate tax records.
At the time, WOMAN was under contract with the Department on the Status of Women to run a 24-hour crisis line for women who'd been battered and another phone line for domestic abuse cases involving children. The outfit, which has pulled in more than $1.1 million in city dough over the past four years, continues to receive funding from the department nearly $300,000 in grants and contracts.
In a letter responding to the audit, WOMAN didn't dispute the allegations. Department executive director Emily Murase says the management team that mired WOMAN in deep fiscal doo-doo has since left, and the current leadership "has really turned the organization around." Let's hope. (A.C. Thompson)