Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin are giving $2 million to establish a Chair in Borderlands Issues at Arizona State University.
The ruling overturns a lower court ruling granting Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio qualified immunity.
New Times, which got its start in 1970 as a reaction to the Kent State shootings, hosted a party over the weekend to celebrate 40 years in existence. Native Arizonan and former alt-weekly writer and NPR editor Bill Wyman takes the anniversary occasion to look back and take stock of what New Times has built; it was the first paper started by Michael Lacey, who now oversees the Village Voice Media chain with business partner Jim Larkin. After saying he has "no reason to suck up" to Lacey and Larkin, Wyman concludes: "Aren't they everything we supposedly value about the press in the U.S.? They are idiosyncratic and uncorruptible, uncompromising and fearless; unlike a lot of places that adopt the motto, Lacey and Larkin really do print the news and raise hell. And as this troubled time for a troubled industry continues, they just may end up being the last men standing."
In a note to readers published last week in Phoenix New Times, Village Voice Media executive editor Michael Lacey and CEO Jim Larkin say that VVM is underwriting the cost of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona's forthcoming litigation against the state's new and controversial immigration law, would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant. "Arizona has chosen to insist that all law enforcement in the state adopt the police-state tactics of infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio," write Lacey and Larkin, who both have been the target of Arpaio, before inviting New Times readers to chip in to help the ACLU fight the new law. "We would like to extend an invitation to you, our readers, to join in this struggle against the cracker policies of Arizona politicians and certain elements within law enforcement typified by Sheriff Arapio."
In a message to all Village Voice Media employees sent out today, VVM CEO Jim Larkin and executive editor Michael Lacey say the ramifications of last week's court order that suggested the San Francisco Bay Guardian could seize assets from papers other than SF Weekly has been widely misunderstood. "[The order] simply says the Guardian can try and go after cash distributions New Times receives from its publications as a limited partner or member of the company," they say, pointing out that "the amount of those monies is zero," since the company's publications are "separately organized limited liability companies or limited partnerships that own, operate and publish in their respective communities." They say that as they continue their appeal of the original judgment, "our publications will continue to publish and conduct business as they have all along."
Village Voice Media CEO Jim Larkin tells Forbes that for web revenues, the company is continuing to focus on its "Voice Local Network," which sells ads on niche websites that partner with VVM. Larkin also says that VVM is on track to pull in $120 million in ad revenue this year (down from $141 million last year), and that the company is running at a profit.
The State Bar has dismissed the final two complaints pending against Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, including one about his handling of the 2007 investigation of Phoenix New Times that ended with the arrests of Village Voice Media executive editor Michael Lacey and CEO Jim Larkin. "No one in their right mind has ever looked to the Arizona Bar as a beacon of courage, and it has certainly upheld its longstanding reputation with this dismissal today," Larkin says.
Tim Nelson, the Democrat challenging Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, is running a radio ad accusing Thomas of ordering the October 2007 arrests of Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey because they reported in Phoenix New Times that they had been served a sweeping subpoena from a special prosecutor demanding information about the paper's online readers, Editor & Publisher reports. The ad says Thomas is responsible for "arresting journalists in the dark of night in front of their families because of what they published," and accuses Thomas of using KGB tactics. (New Times reports that Thomas tried to get the commercial pulled from local airwaves.) "Make no mistake about it: the New Times subpoenas and arrests were a massive abuse of power and the public trust," Nelson said at a press conference yesterday. "They have brought ridicule to our county and its justice system."
U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton this week dismissed some, but not all, of a suit filed in April over the arrests of New Times founders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin last year. Bolton dismissed the allegations of racketeering and negligence against special prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, in addition to dismissing County Attorney Andrew Thomas entirely as a defendant, New Times reports. However, she left claims of gross negligence, malicious prosecution, and false arrest and imprisonment to be handled by Superior Court, unless facts presented in an amended complaint persuade her otherwise (New Times has until Oct. 31 to file such a complaint). Saying that Bolton's ruling "is not a surprise," Lacey writes in a blog post that "her ruling in the current case is consistent with her scant regard for the First Amendment and the rights of a free press."