It’s been eight months since a group of rich people from Orange County bought L.A. Weekly and ritually sacrificed the paper’s entire award-winning staff in an altogether embarrassing attempt to peel off a chunk of media power for themselves without having to understand the industry or care about it beyond putting a little cash up. Things have only gotten more embarrassing since.
This is because one of the paper’s new owners, weed lawyer David Welch, has sued all the other owners, and called out head honcho Brian Calle for his “breathtaking incompetence, self-dealing and fraudulent intentions” in his new role as L.A. Weekly boss. The lawsuit, first reported on by the Los Angeles Times, essentially accuses Calle and his cronies of all the same excesses and missteps, including ethical violations in the name of “pillaging the LA Weekly’s corporate opportunities for Defendants’ own separate gain.” Welch’s suit asks for the dissolution of the company that owns the paper, which, confusingly, is identified as Street Media, whose sole asset is Semanal Media LLC, whose sole asset is L.A. Weekly. Welch refers to Street Media and Semanal Media as “alter egos of each other.”
Welch refers to the massive layoffs that took place immediately after the sale as a “gutting” and an “evisceration,” even agreeing with former editor in chief Mara Shalhoup’s comparison of the layoffs to Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding. Many critiques of the Weekly’s new ownership group have centered on their startling lack of concern for journalistic ethics, and according to the lawsuit, that started right after the acquisition.
Welch says he told Calle to cool it with his trolling of the boycott movement against the new owners, and also not to be so secretive about the paper’s ownership group, but he was apparently ignored. According to the suit, Calle not only paid himself a salary of $270,000, but he also made another $120,000 as the Chief Marketing Officer of cannabis company Kurvana, which he never disclosed even as his paper ran a glowing review (sans a byline) of a Kurvana product and sold them ad space on the cheap.
Interestingly, the lawsuit reveals that skateboarder Nyjah Huston now owns two percent of L.A. Weekly, a fact that was not disclosed when they profiled him in March.
Welch says that he was kicked off the paper’s management team in May because of his concerns with “‘ethics’ and ‘the law,’” and while he still owns 13 percent of the paper, he says that Calle and the rest of the management team are so thoroughly mismanaging the Weekly that the courts should forcibly dissolve Street Media. You can read the complaint below.