August 25th, 2011 | by COREY PEIN News | Posted In: Media, Business

Bankrupt Bend Bulletin Blasts Big Bank

bend bulletin bank of america

Today the Wall Street Journal and media blogs picked up yesterday's news about the recent bankruptcy filing of one of Oregon's largest daily newspapers, the Bend Bulletin.

The Bulletin says it will continue operations. American newspaper bankruptcies are a dime a dozen these days, but what makes this one national news is that the paper's editor, John Costa, wrote an editorial blaming Bank of America for the filing.

It simplifies the issues, but is destructively misleading, to view this Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing as a fight only over money.

It is a fight over values, an assessment that admittedly contains a measure of self interest. …

We’re at loggerheads over the term and interest of the extension of a loan that both Western and the bank want to see. It’s that simple.

Costa says Bank of America jacked up the interest rate it was charging the paper's parent company, Western Communications, after the 2007 sub-prime mortgage crisis—a financial calamity for which the bank had no small role, and which, in the interest of full disclosure, led to this reporter's layoff in 2008.

Western, which has made all scheduled payments to the bank, wants to pay back the loan at a fair rate of return, and the B of A wants the 9.5 percent and fees they’ve grown to enjoy.

Bank of America reported profits of $2.5 billion in the first quarter of this year, up by $1 billion from 2010.

An early bankruptcy filing shows that the city of Bend is among the paper's largest unsecured creditors. Western Communications says it owes the city $11,800 on an unspecified loan.

Update: The Western Communications filing lists Page Cooperative Inc., a Pennsylvania company that sells ink, newsprint and press supplies, as its largest unsecured creditor, with $567,000 outstanding.

Another filing shows the company's assets and liabilities each in the range of $10 million to $50 million.

 
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