The Jan. 12 issue of New Times' flagship paper summarizes a report by Douglas Jones on "widespread problems within the Maricopa County [Ariz.] Elections Department." Jones, a University of Iowa computer science professor, has been a subject of controversy ever since state Sen. Jack Harper issued a subpoena allowing him to examine the county's voting machines. Both Harper and New Times, which paid for Jones' report, have been strongly criticized in the local press. New Times Editor Rick Barrs said local politicians and press have drummed up controversy over the subpoena to obscure the real story: local elections are ripe for error and fraud.
The business partners responsible for Bellingham Weekly, Publisher Douglas Tolchin and Editor Tim Johnson, recently had a dispute that resulted in Johnson's termination and the ownership of the paper being argued in court. Tolchin now has released a Winter 2006 "hibernation issue," comprising: a short fable indicating that the paper's recent troubles may be a blessing in disguise; a help-wanted ad for a new managing editor; a "hamster index" contrasting BW facts with facts about the black bear; a "tribute to local print media"; a reader survey asking advice on future issues; and a letter from the publisher, in which Tolchin recaps his view on the events of the last few months, sets goals to move BW toward a "sustainable and sensible business model," and projects a spring 2006 date for the next issue.
Business partners Tim Johnson and Doug Tolchin are fighting in court over the future of Bellingham Weekly. The Bellingham Herald reports that after Tolchin allegedly fired Johnson and his staff on Tuesday, Johnson sought a restraining order against Tolchin to ensure that this week's edition of the Weekly would be printed. Johnson was the editor of Bellingham Weekly and Tolchin was the publisher; both men owned a percentage of the paper, but the percentages are in dispute. The court decided that this week's edition would be printed if Johnson posted a $22,000 bond, which he said he had no intention of paying. Tolchin told the Herald that he plans to relaunch the paper, "better than ever," with a new staff. Bellingham Weekly was just voted in as an AAN member at the 2005 convention, after being denied membership in 2004.