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WestView News publisher furious at surprise takeover: ‘We are talking to a lot of lawyers’

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | George Capsis had just been asked how he felt about a new newspaper, the New WestView News, having been published by the former staff of his own paper, WestView News, and being led by one of his former contributing columnists, local District Leader Arthur Schwartz.

“Ha! Ha! Ha!” Capsis laughed into the telephone. “That would take about an hour and a half to respond to.

“You know, in a battle, when you’re attacked, you suddenly set up several different strategies,” he said, “and we’re working at all of those.”

Capsis, who turns 95 this month, didn’t go into detail about any of those strategies. But he did note that he has been meeting with multiple lawyers. In fact, he was set to meet with two attorneys in separate appointments Thursday afternoon.

“I’m waiting now for a lawyer to show up,” he noted, speaking from his Charles Street townhouse. “This is not the first time; we had one yesterday.

“What do I think of it?” he asked The Village Sun of the brazen breakaway newspaper move. “What if he had done it to you?”

The New WestView News — with a design nearly exactly mirroring WestView News — published its first issue on Dec. 2.

Schwartz claims he had a legal agreement with Capsis that, under certain conditions, allowed Schwartz to assume control of the corporate entity that is WestView. However, Capsis said that, after spending several hours studying the agreement, he feels that Schwartz “no longer has a legal right” to assume control of the newspaper. Though, he did add, “He did have it at one point.”

Asked if it was really true — as reported by The Village Sun, which heard it from a friend of Capsis’s — that he planned to go to the 6th Precinct to report a criminal theft of the Village monthly newspaper, Capsis confirmed, “Yeah, that was my first instinct.”

However, he apparently actually did not do that.

“But we are talking to a lot of lawyers now,” he assured. “We’re trying to do this intelligently.”

Nevertheless, the situation has made him very emotional. In a front-page note to readers, the New WestView News staff has asked Capsis “to join his old staff once again” — at the new newspaper. But Capsis isn’t interested.

“If Arthur came in here, I’d punch him in the nose,” he declared.

Others, too, are angry about the community newspaper “coup,” he said.

“We have a lot of important people,” he said. “Sarah Jessica Parker is outraged!”

WestView News’s last published print issue came out in November, left. The New WestView News has published a December issue, right. (Photo by The Village Sun)

At this point in the conversation, Capsis said Dusty Berke, WestView’s new managing editor, was advising him not to say too much. But Capsis continued on.

“Well, I’m in charge of the paper,” he said, firmly. “She put her name on it,” he said of Berke, who last month assumed her current position on the masthead.

Asked if WestView News will publish a December print issue, he said, “Yes, of course we are. Obviously, it’s late.”

Capsis spoke proudly of WestView, which he launched around 20 years ago and which has become a staple for many loyal readers in the Village area.

“It is a very good paper,” he declared. “It got to be pretty good because we had some good people writing very good and factual articles. The paper is successful and it gets advertising, and people love it, and it could get better.

“I’ve been at this business longer than you’ve been alive,” he continued. “I spent 11 years in public relations at IBM. I worked for Chase and a lot of corporations, and I had my own company for years. I have worked in public relations all over the world.

“God willing, on the 20th of the month, I will be 95 years old. And I feel perfectly confident to continue to turn out a very good paper.”

Capsis then shifted back to Schwartz. He noted how the activist Village attorney had represented the publisher in his high-profile run-in 10 years ago with a 6th Precinct cop who punched him in the face in the Bleecker Street bike lane.

As Capsis recalled it, he was biking and was cut off by a police van.

“Then we stopped,” he said. “I was taking my bike past the passenger window, and I said, ‘You know, you cut me off. You could have killed me.’”

As Capsis tells it, one of the officers then ordered him, “Get off the bike.” Capsis, however, said he was offended that the officer was not looking at him as he gave the command.

“He still didn’t look at me, and he said, ‘Step away from the bike.’”

But Capsis said he was trapped between the van and the bike and was unable to move.

“I said, ‘I can’t step away from the bike,’ and I got furious, and I stepped forward and I slapped him,” he said. “I slapped a policeman. And he finally looked at me. And he hauled back with all his force and hit me, and he broke my glasses.”

Capsis noted that, ironically, just a few days earlier he had met in his garden over wine with Brandon del Pozo, the then-commanding officer of the 6th Precinct.

“And he was very intellectual and he wanted to be police commissioner,” he recalled. “He called me and said, ‘George, you can’t slap policemen.’”

Capsis also once slapped state Senator Brad Hoylman in the face at a rally to save St. Vincent’s Hospital. The publisher felt local politicians weren’t fighting hard enough to save the debt-ridden hospital from closure. Restoring a full-service hospital to Greenwich Village has been one of Capsis’s top issues at WestView.

Long story short, Schwartz represented Capsis in suing the New York Police Department over the bike lane incident. At court, Schwartz stepped out of the room along with the attorney representing the city or N.Y.P.D., and they settled the case for $80,000 for Capsis.

“Arthur is a complex person because he has a complex life,” Capsis reflected. “I’ve always been sympathetic to him. … What he did [in launching New WestView News] was so damaging, so unnecessary. If Arthur was here right now… .”


  1. J. McManus J. McManus December 12, 2022

    George has done a tremendous service to the community, and runs a paper with an open mind and curiosity. He has published a few of my articles, for which I ‘m grateful. I can’t understand why a lawyer who was a former colleague in a sense, and whose articles George published, would have any right to take over George’s paper for any reason. He could have started his own paper, ok, but to hijack an established paper and simply walk over the publisher? Seems like a major ethical lapse if not criminal. There’s some enormous ego and arrogance in this that should be sorted out. I support George and hope he continues to run his paper. Way I see it, Dusty has helped him during some health issues to keep WestView News going and continuing in its independent and “free-speech”-based coverage.

  2. Jane F Jane F December 11, 2022

    What a disgrace to hijack outright, steal George Capsis’s newspaper Westview News he founded and owns, not Arthur Schwartz! And how dare Arthur Schwartz use his law license illegally to power grab someone’s hard-earned work and declare he has any percentage of a right to do so! Sounds like the bar association and WBAI should look into what Arthur Schwartz has done. What’s telling here is that, if not for the generosity of George and allowing Arthur Schwartz to ever write in the paper years ago when Schwartz was desperate to get publicity for himself, he wouldn’t even have had an opportunity had it not been for the kindness of George. Arthur Schwartz’s articles were mediocre at best and his termite to steal Westview News from George even using the name, saying George didn’t corner the name, speaks volumes of how low Schwartz goes to legitimize his disgraceful grab of someone else’s 20-year work. The fact that Schwartz even has the audacity to speak of George’s age and now make like he is no longer viable, yet George is brilliant and continues to put out a great paper and it was good enough when it suited Arthur’s self-serving articles! The other people on the staff who say they dissented too have some nerve; if not for George, none of them had worked for a paper in such roles before or ever in some staff members, yet George was kind enough to give them those opportunities as well, only to have them behind George’s back plotting with Schwartz to take the paper, is just disgusting and telling of all of their charactors! No one has the right to take Westview from George, no matter what! George and George alone owns Westview News! He has always served the community and people of NY with truth, not special interests and agendas! Hope the bar investigates and sanctions Arthur Schwartz for using his law license unethically, illegally, let alone to harm people who helped him!

  3. lawrencewhite14 lawrencewhite14 December 11, 2022

    I have heard artistic thievery is the most flattering form of felony.

  4. Kate Walter Kate Walter December 10, 2022

    Please keep the comments coming. They are really helpful in understanding the situation, especially revealing are those from Cindy Lou and Carol Yost. As I learn more about the situation, I keep thinking of that movie “Misery” based on the novel by Stephen King.

    • M. Markowitz M. Markowitz December 10, 2022

      Carol is a real person.
      CindyLou is a nom-de-fume (sic)

  5. Barbara Ruether Barbara Ruether December 10, 2022

    I love West View News, and George who has produced this newspaper so needed in this City. He has did this sucessfully because he is a very stubbon, committed person. The total confusion about what is happening with George and Arthur needs to be clarified immediately. One of the comments below intimated that Arthur has power of attorney over George and is claiming George is incompetent and not able to handle his affairs. THIS MUST BE CLARIFIED ASAP!! And this community must not sit by but take action to find out somehow. Do we have any loyalty and duty to do so?? Yes, we do. Who can help?

    • M.Markowitz M.Markowitz December 10, 2022

      Per a subsequent Sun article, George — i.e., the REAL WestView News — now has legal representation.

  6. Carol Yost Carol Yost December 9, 2022

    I’ll comment personally here. I’ve been a contributor to the original paper for some years now — not being able to contribute every month, but being grateful to have seen some of my articles published. Some staff members can comment more effectively about their own experiences and viewpoints; I wasn’t involved in the shakeup.

    However, I don’t agree with Dusty Berke, who apparently was involved in the shakeup, taking control. She has sent me articles by far right-wing authors, including anti-vax, anti-gun control, anti-undocumented-immigrants, election-denying and other viewpoints I could not in good conscience forward to my list. She tried to promote the film “2,000 Mules,” which alleges ballot-stuffing during the last presidential election and providing dubious video footage to try to promote the allegations. I feel the new direction for the paper led by Arthur Schwartz looks very good. One former staff member long associated with the paper sent an email stating that she had been summarily removed from the paper with the announcement by others that she had retired, which she said she had not. She was onboard with the new paper. I’ll let her speak for herself.

    People I’ve heard from who’ve written for the paper for a long time have said the paper was being subjected to an abrupt and insensitive power grab by right-wing advocates. I like the new lineup and want to write for them.

    I sympathize with George Capsis for feeling his control of the paper has been wrested from him; he founded the paper many years ago. I can’t be onboard with letting right-wing people take over, however; they’re not just conservative. They’re off the wall.

    I won’t comment further. I feel Arthur and his friends can handle this. We all want a paper that well serves our community. I’m grateful to George Capsis for founding it.

    Carol Yost

    • M. Markowitz M. Markowitz December 10, 2022

      WestView News may feel like the Town Square, as it does and should, but it is not for sale — or swiping.

      Arthur could have started his own paper (as he effectively has) WITHOUT cloning the original.

      He’s a lawyer. Ask him why the stunt?

  7. M. Markowitz M. Markowitz December 9, 2022

    Granted the situation and the personalities are intertwined and complicated.

    Arthur Schwartz could have started his own paper with its own identity and look. Why didn’t he?

    The various staffers may be free agents, but they need to look at themselves in the mirror in the morning. Some may have complex entanglements there as well.

    There are both ethical and possibly legal implications to how A.S. has decided to apparently / allegedly / nominally — but make no mistake — clearly HIJACK another man’s property and current life’s work.

    A 95-year old friend. For shame.

    In the October issue, George published an article by Arthur.

    In December, Arthur published a knock-off paper.

    (The below-the-fold cover rationale-ifesfo saying this is all with George’s approval seems to be fully disputed… by George.)

    This palace coup did not happen overnight. How long was it in the works?

    But make no mistake who built this castle, and continues to own it. And defend it.

    Color me disgusted.

    And a loyal friend of George’s. 

    • CindyLou Who? CindyLou Who? December 9, 2022

      Loyalty is not the issue here (BTW, SidEWalker, how loyal are you to your employer?). George’s staff were loyal, and pushed out by his caregiver who threatened to leave him if he did not hand over editorial control of the paper. It was a devastating ultimatum – nursing home or turn over the paper. That meant dismissing many loyal employees, all very accomplished, selfless and loyal before they were stomped on. This is less about George and more about the predatory caregiver, with absolutely NO qualifications to be an editor or senior journalism professional. To her, everything is for sale, including the pages of the newspaper. Scammer… Poor George – he really is a victim, though not of his former staff. Look no further than Dusty as the origin of the fallout.

      • M. Markowitz M. Markowitz December 10, 2022

        Malicious attacks under a pen name? For shame. True or not.

        That the behind the scenes situation is complex is no secret.

        That some of his former employees are bitter it is no secret either. Heck, they are open about it. And probably justified. Still…

    • CindyLou Who? CindyLou Who? December 9, 2022

      This palace coup DID happen overnight, with about 10 days notice. It was never stated that this was with George’s approval. Please spare us the victim statement. SidEWalker (loyal to your employer?), you have NO IDEA what has really transpired…

      • M. Markowitz M. Markowitz December 10, 2022

        The below the fold cover story of the knock-off issue clearly suggests this ID theft was with George’s approval.

        You know darn well it was not.

        Interesting you are using a pen name also. Lol. Why so shy?

        P.S. “Sid” first appeared in a series on Open Restaurants. As you know. Hoping you enjoyed them. Employer? Let me just say as someone who knows a little bit more about loyalty than you appear to, I shared them with my employer. It was more about being tongue-in-cheek about the initial sidewalk-blocking topic. When “Sid” decided to write about congestion pricing, it just seemed handy. Nothing to see here. Open with my employer. You should try it sometime. Keep walking, and avoiding sidewalk sheds. Roll again. Feel free to contact me off-line. I believe you have my email.

    • DuchessofNYC DuchessofNYC December 10, 2022

      OMG, did you bother to read the article?? I just did and it is specifically calling out racist voters for unseating the House majority leader Eric Cantor when Obama was president because of the racist backlash against a Black man being president. Racist voters in Cantor’s Virginia district voted him out… That’s the gist of the story that had the temerity to use the N word. I think I applaud Capsis for publishing it, took balls, and the reason for using the word was to make the point of what an ugly racist backlash there was to Obama. But these days it’s like saying “Voldemort” in the Harry Potter series, just employing the term, even if you are QUOTING someone else using it. This is the insanity of the kneejerk Left and it needs to stop. Here’s someone else who used the N word loudly and defiantly:

      • Arthur Gatti Arthur Gatti December 11, 2022

        No — she only reads headlines

  8. John Penley John Penley December 8, 2022

    In case you missed this other breaking news biz story The New York Times just had a reporter strike. Some reporting on this would be newsworthy as well. You are a “community” paper like the Westview News and believe it or not the NY Times has had a big impact on our community for my lifetime and even before I was born and they also published a lot of my photos over the years.

  9. Paul Paul December 8, 2022

    Hey Lincoln did you know Arthur claims he represented the Pacifica Foundation. Amazing he has so much time to run a newspaper too.

  10. Christopher Taylor Christopher Taylor December 8, 2022

    As a (relatively insignificant) advertiser, George’s paper has been incredibly important to us over the past decades. I understand the concerns that have led to this unfortunate split, but also feel an obligation of loyalty to George. I’m torn what to do for 2023.

  11. John Penley John Penley December 8, 2022

    How many people read this paper ? Does it take paid ads?

  12. Kathryn Adisman Kathryn Adisman December 8, 2022

    You could find out why Dusty Berke assumed the managing editor position in November replacing Kim Plosia and other longterm staffers – which might explain the motive behind the mutiny. .

    • The Village Sun The Village Sun Post author | December 8, 2022

      Kim reportedly quit. Dusty took over the position.

      • Kim Kim December 9, 2022

        Kim did not quit

  13. Mary Reinholz Mary Reinholz December 8, 2022

    It’s unclear exactly why Schwartz took over the paper and why the entire staff joined him to produce another sheet with almost the same title. This does seem to be a vote of no-confidence for the 95-year-old founder. What spurred this action? Hope you can get quotes from staff et al.

    • The Village Sun The Village Sun Post author | December 8, 2022

      Hey, Mary, in case you missed it, here is the first article, which was linked to in this article as well.

      Staffers were said to be unhappy with the direction of the paper, and the first article mentions an “advertorial,” among other things, that caused concern. We’ll be doing more reporting. But this is what we have gathered so far.

      • clayton patterson clayton patterson December 8, 2022

        Why did they take the name? Start their own? No problem. Change the name. Taking the name is a form of theft. How many of the people who left and joined the New WestView did Capsis help get started in the business? He gave them a break.

      • Mary Reinholz Mary Reinholz December 9, 2022

        Yes, I read that, but views of staff are not that clear or much quoted, and I don’t understand how Arthur Schwartz can legally take over a paper and give it practically the same name. He’s basically saying that Capsis, the founder and apparently his client, is not up to the job. Schwartz seems to personify the arrogance of power, and he has the backing of the staff, people who seem like a bunch of weasels with zero loyalty or integrity. Yuck.

  14. J J December 8, 2022

    Wow. Amazing story, great reporting — publisher’s nightmare.

  15. Mary Reinholz Mary Reinholz December 8, 2022

    This is a very ugly and confusing story. It’s not clear why Arthur Schwartz apparently assumed control of WestView News and then proceeded to publish a breakaway version of a paper he did not found, taking its staff with him. Much print is devoted to anecdotes about how founding publisher George Capsis once punched a cop. It seems irrelevant and intended to show that 95-year-old Capsis is not a stable genius. Hope you can deliver more clarity and fairness in your next article on this sad subject, but I’m not holding my breath.

    • The Village Sun The Village Sun Post author | December 8, 2022

      Mary, the recounting of the bike lane incident was not at all meant to show Capsis is “not a stable genius,” as you put it. Capsis mentioned that of his own volition. He said (not included in the article), “Arthur is my lawyer,” and that anecdote recounted a time when Schwartz went to bat for Capsis in a high-profile case. That’s why Capsis brought it up. Sorry if the article seems “confusing” to you, but it’s clearly a pretty complicated story!

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