Mark Zusman, Willamette Week, Wweek / Libel, Slander, Defamation
In 2005, Mark Zusman and Willamette Week Newspaper of Portland, Oregon published a spurious article about Stylus Shows’ President with regard to The Shakedown Campout & Music Festival. They continue to publish this destructive and misleading article and continue to invite and publish disgraceful and highly malicious comments attacking me every day since. This is the way Willamette Week treats a loyal paying customer. Mark Zusman, Willamette Week, and the owner of wweek.com, City of Roses Newspapers and Russ Martineau are guilty of slander, libel, defamation, unethical and reckless business practices.
The article’s basis unfairly proclaims that Stylus Shows President was “a Rogue”, unfairly holding him personally responsible for Lowell MacGregor’s illegal and premature cancellation of the Shakedown Campout and Music Festival just before gates were to open on August 25, 2005. This article and subsequent comments have caused Stylus President loss of income and severe damage to his career and reputation, inflicting pain and suffering whether intentional or through gross negligence. Mark Zusman is corrupt and does not care about the truth.
Willamette Week and its Editor Mark Zusman has allowed this malicious and destructive article to be republished every day for the last 4 ½ years, refusing to remove it despite demands from Stylus’ President and his attorney. Instead of using common sense, displaying any sense of decency or showing professional journalistic investigation skills, Zusman chooses to site previous case law as a theory to avoid liability and ignore Stylus President’s repeated demand to remove the article and slanderous accompanying comments.
Even though the facts have become obvious with MacGregor’s constant change of stories and Stylus’ complete disclosure of facts at www.shakdownfest.com, the original article states about Stylus Shows’ President: “the murky situation worsened when Hal Abramson, the festival's Florida-based promoter, went off the radar for four days…. the Rogue Desk has no idea who's lying…. But Abramson did himself no favors by skipping town and going incommunicado between Thursday's cancellation and Monday's Internet screed.” This information is totally inaccurate and misleading.
To add insult to injury, Zusman and the Willamette Week allowed one commenter to state:
(Stylus President) “was the promoter of Stompin 79 in Blaine WV who skipped out the day before with all the money. I worked my ### off for 3 weeks and didn't paid a dime!”, which is an absolute lie. Stylus President never skipped out of any festival early and never “left with all of the money”. He never promoted anything in Blaine, WV.
The same commenter was allowed unrestricted to say “HE CAN TEACH YOU HOW TO BE A CROOK!”. This unprofessional newspaper allowed another “anonymous entry to say “He's a fake, liar, cheat, and ### of the earth if you ask me.” Stylus’ President has been promoting since 1975 and has always taken great care to conduct business honestly and transparently. Allowing these kind of unchecked, slanderous comments clearly shows Zusman and Willamette Week’s prejudice.
The paper’s malicious intent is clear in refusing to post positive comments, showing intent to defame.
All of this destructive, damaging information resides on Willamette Week’s web site. They are in total control of the content allowed there.
Stylus Shows spent $7, 095. for 16 advertisements in 2005, all paid for in advance and executed professionally building good faith with the paper. This perfect track record meant nothing to Willamette Week and Mark Zusman.
Stylus Shows paid for the entire $76, 000. Festival ad campaign including other Portland area media in advance and owed nothing to any media once the show was cancelled. This was also not mentioned in the article, nor was the $35, 000. paid to Lowell MacGregor for venue rent on a festival that never was allowed to happen, including payment for sponsor procurement that never materialized by MacGregor’s Group, which the Willamette week conveniently did not even mention.
MacGregor did not pay back any of the money Stylus paid to them for venue rent, even though MacGregor cancelled the festival. He then lied to the media and pubic stating that I canceled the event. Now he states that I never showed up for my own festival and left him m to deal with the aftermath. All lies. None of these details were mentioned in the article.
As a result of this disaster, our company lost everything, more than $250, 000. invested. Our President suffered an emotional breakdown and then lost relationships, his home and a travel company he was a partner in. His name and reputation trashed and thousands of people wrote and complained to him personally. All of this due to trusting a few business people in Portland.
The Stylus Shows contract with MacGregor clearly states there were no more payments due until midnight August 25, 2005. MacGregor was increasingly changing terms and make increasingly unreasonable demands despite the fact that Stylus made all payments to all contractors on time. As soon as MacGregor cancelled the festival, it was his event, not Stylus. We were no longer in control.
WWeek also failed to state that MacGregor erected an electric sign at the entrance stating “FOR REFUNDS CONTACT… and stated Stylus’ President’s name and cell phone number knowing this would tie up his phone, making any damage control difficult . This hateful and intentionally damaging behavior was never reported. There were no creditors unpaid up to that moment.
WWeek did not report that Stylus had reported that MacGregor was uncooperative from the beginning taking 6 weeks to furnish a proper contract in an emergency situation, denying Stylus the ability to even speak to contracted security and not calling a site production meeting until 12 days before the show, among other acts of incompetence and negligence. MacGregor was threatening to cancel for weeks because he couldn’t take the criticism of his deplorable work.
WWeek not reporting any of this, even though it was stated in detail by Stylus by Monday August 29, is grossly negligent, shows their reporting is amateur and intentionally misleading.
Stylus Shows worked tirelessly since February of 2005 to bring quality music festival to the Portland area, overcoming major barriers repeatedly. It has turned out to be a hostile place to promote a music festival. Other out-of-area promoters should be on notice. There are many better places to promote.
There is no mention in the article that earlier that year in May, 2005, after 10 weeks of promotion, Washington County demanded Horning’s Hideout cancel any already existing festivals putting the original venue in Breach Of Contract. It is now known that Horning had fair warning from the County of the impending doom and still signed a contract with Stylus knowing of the problem. Willamette Week’s irresponsible and abbreviated reporting said nothing about any of this.
In this breach, Stylus received poor treatment and severe losses from Horning’s Hideout, then experiencing more than 10 weeks of incompetent treatment form The Lowell MacGregor Group and subsequent poor treatment form Willamette Week and now Zusman. This is the way these companies treated an out of town company knowing that with this kind of tragic end, Stylus would never be back.
There is no “moving on”, “no closure”. “no remedy” to the damage that Mark Zusman and Willamette Week has caused to Stylus’ President. They still refuse to remove the article and commentary. Zusman can attempt to defend his case to the courts.
With such disastrous operators in the region, there is no wonder why Oregon’s economy is in such a shambles. Stylus Shows could have chosen anywhere in the US to do business and it appears that they picked the one place that destroyed their company, the Portland area. Stylus Shows President has taken legal action against one party to recover damages incurred, and intends more soon.
Recently in 2010, Stylus Shows, Inc. received The SBCA Best of Business Award Program which recognizes the best of small businesses throughout the country.