Is the O.C. Register trying to shift its retirement costs to taxpayers?

taxpayers screwed

An article in the Saturday, October 3 Business section of the Register (“Freedom tries to keep bankruptcy documents secret”) reports that the Register’s parent company, Freedom Communications, has run into a dispute in its attempt to go into Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. It seems that in a bankruptcy process like that the named creditors are entitled to most financial records of the business seeking bankruptcy status. The article says that more than 1 million pages of documents are involved.

The problem has arisen because Freedom is insisting those parties, who are members of an unsecured creditors committee, sign a confidentiality agreement to not disclose the content of those documents to others, and one of those parties is an agency of the federal government. To be specific, it is the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. That federal agency says it reports to Congress and its records are available to Congress for hearings and is subject to the Federal Freedom of Information Act and therefore it cannot sign such an agreement.

This federal agency is the one that assumes pension obligations of bankrupt businesses so that employees who have earned a pension can be assured of receiving at least something. In the last few years it has been the safety net for many an employee of bankrupt businesses – United Airlines comes to mind.

This news would seem to signal that Freedom may be engaged in a strategy to shift its pension obligations to this federal agency as part of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. Can you imagine that – the parent company of a newspaper that crusades about the cost of public sector pensions, and that demands public sector retirement information under the Freedom of Information Act, trying to shift its pension costs to government and wanting to circumvent the Freedom of Information Act in this case? At least that seems to be what one can deduce from this newspaper article.   And, keep in mind that the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. has a deficit in excess of $ 40 billion according to published reports.  Perhaps I have Freedom’s strategy wrong, but if not – wow.


About Over But Not Out

A retired Orange County employee, and moderate Republican. The editor seriously does not know OBNO's identity as did not the former editor, but his point of view is obviously interesting and valued.