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The hidden storyline in Alaska Dispatch News’ bankruptcy

By CRAIG MEDRED
CRAIGMEDRED.NEWS

Less than a year after former Alaska Dispatch News owner Alice Rogoff wrote a rather strange column describing her newspaper as being in “investment mode” and about 8 months before she took the company into bankruptcy, court documents now reveal the business was almost $1 million underwater and sinking fast.

It was news the newspaper was trying hard to keep out of the news. It would be a long time before Alaskans learned the state’s largest news organization was on the brink of going under, and shortly thereafter it would be in bankruptcy and sold to an old, Alaska family from the Interior city of Fairbanks.

When it was reported here in June that Catalyst Paper, a Canadian newsprint and ink supplier, had gone to court to try to get the Dispatch to pay its bills, the Rogoff-led Dispatch News dismissed the suit as the common sort of litigation that goes on between businesses.

The staff of the state’s largest news organization reported almost nothing about the start of the biggest business collapse in the state’s largest city until GCI, the state’s largest telecom and cable company, took Rogoff into state court to demand about $1.4 million in back rent and unpaid electric bills. 

Thus began the public unraveling of a story that had for months been developing under the noses of the reporters and editors working for the state’s largest news organization.

Since then, a lot of the details of the collapse of the shining star of what has come to be called Rogoff Inc. have emerged in U.S Bankruptcy Court hearings that have dragged on since September 2017, but new tidbits are coming out in a lawsuit filed against Rogoff by M&M Wiring Service Inc.

M&M was hired to wire a new printing plant the Dispatch News planned in an industrial section of the city’s Midtown. It claims in its court filings that it was defrauded by Rogoff and her associates.

BEGINNING OF THE END

Informed of cash-flow problems and the need to come up with more than $1.3 million to cover outstanding bills by the end of January 2017, M&M court filings say, Rogoff told her staff to simply stop paying some bills, including those of  M&M.

“It was after this point in time, now that Alaska Dispatch was unable to pay M&M, that Rogoff sent M&M’s invoices to Adam Cook (an attorney at the firm Birch Horton Bittner & Cherot) to review as they were ‘suddenly’ a ‘way-inflated cost,’” the complaint says. “Rogoff was asked what should be paid, a Precision Maintenance & Fabricating invoice, a M&M invoice or the Premera monthly premium.”

[Read more at CraigMedred.news]

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • The Dispatch was never really set up to be a profitable business. More of a hobby for a billionaire’s wife.
    When John Binkley bought the paper, the first thing he did to plug some leaks was to get rid of overpaid writers. Dermot Cole was one of them. With cash outflow at a more manageable level, Binkley is finally turning it around. Binkley is a pretty good
    businessman. He ran for governor against Frank Murkowski, but both of them got beat by Sarah Palin. Rumor had it that Binkley was in line to be picked by Frank Murkowski as his US Senate replacement in 2002. Something happened and Frank picked his daughter instead. Binkley would have been a far better senator than Lisa, who still acts like a deer in the middle of the road, not knowing which way to run.

  • Please, Mr. Binkley, please buy the Fairbanks Daily Newsminer too. Corrupt, extremely partisan Democrat reporters run that paper. Crooked little rag. My pet bird demands far better cage matting.

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