Gay & Lesbian Times Doesn't Make It to Print This Week

Gay & Lesbian Times, which is under investigation by the district attorney's office, did not make it into print this week (Oct. 7 edition). The online edition did not come out, either. Owner Mike Portantino is ailing. According to one rumor, employees have been told they have been laid off, but I could not pin that down. According to a recorded message on his phone, Portantino's mail box is full and can't accept more messages. I have more calls out and will report more when I get information. The publication has been in a battle with competitor Gay & Lesbian News. The district attorney is looking into whether Gay and Lesbian Times has been overstating circulation figures, along with possible financial irregularities. As earlier reported, Gay & Lesbian Times has had financial problems.

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Well according to my VERY reliable sources. Michael Portantino's brother (State Assemblyman) Anthony Portantino has been in town helping to asses the current situation with the newspaper.

I understand there are currently three options the Portantino family is considering. #1 An out of town publisher looking into purchasing the GLT, #2 there is the possibility of reorganization of the company, #3 the final option of course would be to cease publication forever.

My sources have also told me almost all the staff has been laid off, some only temporarily.

The million dollar question is what about Nicole? Well since hes been writing a column in San Diego since 1973 there is no doubt we will see his column in print very soon.. I hear he is already in talks with a "straight" publication in town as well as another gay & lesbian publication.

Response to post #1: The question is whether Bonnie Dumanis's investigation is politically motivated. She may want to close down the gay liberal publication. That would leave one gay publication that happens to be conservative, run by DeMaio's boyfriend. This is not healthy if true, although typically San Diego, and I suspect it may be true. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #2: Yes, Michael's brother Anthony, a member of the state legislature from La Canada, is reliably reported to be in San Diego to see his brother. However, it is my understanding that Anthony has no intention of taking over the Gay & Lesbian Times. Best, Don Bauder

Worth noting is a very strong NEW contender in the local LGBT newspaper market, the bi-weekly Gay San Diego paper, published by the same crew behind the (also excellent) San Diego Uptown News.

UNlike Gay & Lesbian Times, Gay San Diego does not pad with sexually oriented advertising content - rather, it's a NEWSpaper, with news of interest to both the LGBT community and to anyone living in San Diego who cares what's happening in city government and with other matters of concern to most all San Diegans.

And unlike Gay & Lesbian News, GSD (launched in August, I think) covers a very wide spectrum of actual NEWS, as well as offering generous samplings of editorial opinion pieces. Not to mention an hysterical humor column, Advice From Beyond, hosted each edition by dead celebs like Liberace and Mama Cass ---

Check out the digital version at

"Not that there's anything WRONG with that...."

Response to post #5: Yours is a very interesting post -- one worth looking into. Best, Don Bauder

GAY & LESBIAN TIMES STAFF HAS BEEN LAID OFF. I have been able to confirm that the staff of the Gay & Lesbian Times has been laid off, and there is not money to pay them. Best, Don Bauder

Always troubling when another newspaper bites the dust - perhaps some of the staffers and contribs at Gay & Lesbian Times can find a home at Gay & Lesbian News and Gay San Diego --

BTW, Gay San Diego launched in July rather than August - editor Pat Sherman was a Reader staffer and contributor for some time. The paper publishes every other week, alternating with their sister pub Uptown San Diego.

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

The demise of the Gay & Lesbian Times might be politically motivated or it might be the natural, logical consequence of an e-conomy that is killing one print publication after another.

More likely the GLT is collapsing under the weight of one too many internal burdens all of them caused by one thing: Michael Portanino’s hubris. Mr Portantino’s “excessive self-confidence and arrogance” has gathered over the decades to a point where he truly believes he can do no wrong, that he is above the law and that we should all rally to his support no matter what. I am one of those former freelance contributors who was not paid for many months, who was told 18 months ago that there was a light at the end of the tunnel but who is still waiting to be paid. I am also close enough to this train-wreck of a business to know that while staff and contributors have stepped up and worked for free giving Mr Portantino the benefit of the doubt he has actually been throwing buckets of money into expensive personal vendettas and lawsuits that have drained the company of all profit and good-will. Who knows how else he has spent income that could have reshaped his publication. Like Bernie Madoff Mr Portantino has perpetuated his own kind of Ponzi scheme where loyalties and sympathies, excuses and outright lies are shifted from Peter to Paul until everyone is left empty-handed.

The GLT has a long history and a reputation that can be salvaged. It can weather the economy and successfully participate online and in print (for all those individuals who rely on the local Classifieds if nothing else!). It is my hope that a consortium of local investors, clear-eyed business people, writers and activists might offer to buy this battered and debt-ridden business, re-hire its admirably loyal staff (the ones who just lost their jobs and their healthcare as well as those who have stood up to Mr. Portantino over the years only to be fired, silenced and relentlessly pursued).

There is enough local talent to make the GLT matter again. I believe it can work. I hope someone tries.

How long were they in business, I know at LEAST 20 years, but have no idea when they first started....anyone knwo the answer?

Response to post #8: OK, the launch date was July, not August. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #9: Yes, the staff has been laid off, as I reported above. I haven't been able to pin down whether there have been NSF checks, although I have heard that. Ditto for employee contributions for health insurance, etc.: I have heard rumors but I don't have enough to post anything. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #10: A purchase by investors might be the best way to resolve this problem. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #11: I am pretty sure I have posted this, but I couldn't find it. To the best of my recollection, it is 24 or 25 years old. Best, Don Bauder

I gave u the info first hand and I was the senior in the office. Hearing from anyone else would be a rumor as no one else would know but a staff member. And the company is 23 years old founded jan 1 1988

Response to post #16: Others have said that checks have bounced and health coverage has been canceled, among other things. I believe I can confirm that Mike Portantino has been hospitalized. Initially, I said he was "ailing." I hope to have more today. I appreciate your input. Best, Don Bauder

And the company is 23 years old founded jan 1 1988

Thanks for the 411.

Would-be investors must balance assets against liabilities. It seems rather unlikely that the remaining assets (formal and informal) of the GLT out-weigh the accumulated liabilities (formal and informal).

Those who long for a paper to fill the niche previously occupied by the GLT would almost certainly be wiser to gather former staff of the GLT to create a new paper.

But instead I'll expect to see good money thrown after bad, and time that could be better spent wasted on trying to get the GLT back on its feet.

This isn't politically motivated.. this is just a case of business that couldn't make it. Yes there's another gay paper in town , that's called competition.. competition makes people either step it up or close down. In this case it looks like close down. As an advertiser that paid for 1 year of advertising up front, i feel bad the paper is done. That said .. somebody tell what line do I get in to to file my lawsuit:) that money is gone. Sad the employees got the shaft, especially no insurance.. that's not just bad business... that's on the verge of evil. Perhaps Gay San Diego should buy it for $1.00... heck I'll give them the $1.00!

Response to post #19: It depends on the shape of the books. We know there are big problems. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #20: It looks bad, but don't jump to conclusions until more is known. Your suspicions may be on the mark, however. Best, Don Bauder

I want to make one additional comment and state the support of the community towards our staff has been overly gracious and much appreciated. I for one had no idea the impact and influence I made in so many lives and businesses. I am very humbled and honored and the staff thanks you from the bottom of our hearts. Each person on staff was a talent and I can't think of a more dedicated group of people. I wanted to clarify we still do not know anything and the staff has been bombarded with phone calls. We would kindly ask for space at this time to heal and if phone calls of questions could be directed to ownership it would be appreciated as we cannot speak on behalf of the company. I am having a very difficult time with closure as I knew each client and they knew me. Saying goodbye in this manner was undeniably the hardest thing I've ever done and I deeply apologize for any disruption this caused a terrific group of clients. Thank you. Brent

Response to post #23: Somebody from the staff was expected to make an official statement three days ago. I am on the list to receive the statement. I have not received it. Best, Don Bauder

PUBLICATION MISSES ANOTHER WEEK. STAFF GONE. Gay & Lesbian Times has not published for a second straight week. From what I can determine, owner Mike Portantino is still hospitalized, and there is no staff left. I have calls and emails out and will update if anybody responds. Best, Don Bauder

The beginning of the end for GLT was when they got an eviction notice (unlawful detainer) several months back for unpaid rent, and had to vacate their offices on Monroe Ave.

Response to post #26: There is a lawsuit on that matter. Best, Don Bauder

GLT has this deceptive statement on their website, about moving to Mission Valley: "The new location boasts a modern new look and improved layout for the inner office workings of the media company. The new space offers upgraded surroundings and a new and fresh start for San Diego's premiere GLBT news source." That was a crock, as the company could no longer afford regular office space. We can expect more derogatory information about Mike Portantino and his company to emerge in the coming days and weeks.

The beginning of the end was 20 years ago when the GLT went through this same thing with IRS tax liens and levys. There's never been an interest or concern for journalism or actually operating a viable business. Just as with the defunct Uptown newspaper, The GLT was purchased as a promotional vehicle for the publisher's soon to be dashed political aspirations. I am suprised he'd be stupid enough to print fewer copies than claimed, but this collapse has been inevitable from the very beginning. While the "hospitalization" sounds suspect, whatever the publisher's current state he had complete control to be ethical or not and was not forced into any situations but driven by his own hubris. My heart goes out to the publisher's family and employees who are facing shame, sorrow, and regret for having been part of this self-serving train wreck. I was in the same position many years ago and it took years to forgive myself for my own bad decisions.

Response to post #28: Portantino is being investigated by the DA. That case could be ready, although it seems a little late to drop the bomb. In turn, people should ask why Dumanis pursued this case when she ignored so many others, such as the Li Mandri/Mannino matter. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #29: Yes, it's stupid to print fewer copies than claimed, but media in San Diego and elsewhere pull similar stunt all the time. That's one question to ask Dumanis: did you investigate other media that make false audience claims? Best, Don Bauder

More specifically, I meant that knowing this particular publisher it was stupid to pull such an obvious misrepresentation, one so easily refuted if investigated. He used to be way more talented at being dishonest.

I wonder how Dumanis could possibly prove that Portantino inflated circulation. Circulation has nothing to do with the numbers of papers that are printed. The key issue is how many people read each issue of the paper. If a single issue of the GLT was dropped off at a laundromat, or hair salon, dozens of people could have read that single issue. Dumbmanis is never going to be able to prove to a jury that Portantino inflated circulation. She probably will not be able to find an expert who could even describe circulation to a jury, or how to estimate it.

Response to post #32: Maybe he's getting old like so many of us. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #33: She had her investigators interview Gay & Lesbian Times advertisers. Whether she had an honest case or she was just harassing Portantino is something we will have to figure out later. There is no question, however, that Portantino's finances collapsed. Maybe the DA is looking into that, too. Best, Don Bauder

The only thing that can be proven is how many copies were printed from the printing invoices vs. how many advertisers were told were printed. There's no way to prove circulation and that's a PR game and it's always way over-hyped. Hardly seems worth a criminal investigation and sounds like somebody was probably cashing in a favor with Dumanis to have her do a cursory review. Probably Nicole playing both sides! As a taxpayer I'd rather they deal with bigger fish, and the local businesses should know better than to believe anything they're told by a gay rag about circulation. Buyer beware.

Publications (of all kinds) have exaggerated about circulation for decades. Far worse is employees receiving bad checks, health benefits not being paid, freelancers getting stiffed, and the landord not being paid for office rent. This is a textbook example of how NOT to run a publication.

The whole community saw this coming. This newspaper was becoming more and more of bird cage lining than a newspaper with any relevent content.

The best thing about this "newspaper" dying, is the fact that the Nicole Murray-Ramirez (aka Robert Ramirez) no longer has a voice to spew its hate!

The Hillcrest community is much better for this paper dying off as it was becoming more divisive in its articles, its columnist.

No wonder its readership was down dramatically.

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