Citizens trying to save the paperBy Mary Adamski
U.S. District Judge Alan C. Kay will hear the state's request for a temporary restraining order to stop the shutdown of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
The hearing at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow comes one week after the attorney general's office and a citizens' organization, Save Our Star-Bulletin, filed lawsuits claiming the closing set for Oct. 30 violates federal antitrust law.
The state asked for a restraining order to preserve the status quo and stop further harm to the Star-Bulletin until the court can fully consider the merits of the case.
The lawsuits allege that the agreement between owners of the Star-Bulletin and the Honolulu Advertiser to shut down the 117-year-old afternoon paper would create a monopoly in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Hawaii Antitrust Act. They ask the federal court to find that the closure agreement violates the intent of the federal Newspaper Preservation Act.
The state's request for a temporary restraining order to stop the Honolulu Star-Bulletin from closing will be heard:
When: 9:30 a.m. tomorrow.
Where: Federal Courthouse, 300 Ala Moana.
Judge: Alan C. Kay
Executives of the Honolulu Advertiser and Hawaii Newspaper Agency are complying with a U.S. Justice Department request for 10 years of business records related to the joint operating agreement with the Star-Bulletin, said Michael Fisch, HNA president and Advertiser publisher.
The Justice Department's antitrust division issued a "civil investigation demand request" for the records related to the scheduled shutdown of the Star-Bulletin, Fisch said.
HNA and Advertiser executives and attorneys spent the weekend reviewing and collecting the requested business files which will be copied and submitted to the Justice Department, he said.
Meanwhile, a second citizens' group launched a plan to buy the afternoon newspaper and asked the City Council to implement the plan through its power to condemn and purchase property.
Former City Council member Kekoa Kaapu, executive director of Hawaii People to Buy and Save Our Star-Bulletin Inc., said it is within the city's urban renewal powers to initiate condemnation procedures to preserve something of value to the community. He said the city could implement the purchase through tax-exempt revenue bonds.
Kaapu said the organization has filed an application with the Internal Revenue Service to establish charitable status that would allow for tax-deductible donations. He said he envisions wide community membership in the corporation which would own the newspaper and direct it through an elected board of directors.
Other principals in Hawaii People to Buy and Save Our Star-Bulletin Inc. are President Nimsha Goins, a Star-Bulletin street vendor; vice president Brett White, publisher of Paradise Right commentary; secretary Nancy Ahn; and treasurer Jack Sullivan, president of Hawaii Business Services.
The closing of the Star-Bulletin was announced Sept. 16 by Rupert Phillips, principal investor of Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership.
Some 150 Star-Bulletin and Hawaii Newspaper Agency employees will lose their jobs.
The lawsuit filed by Save Our Star-Bulletin claimed that Liberty received an annual guaranteed return, which would be $1.9 million in 2000.
Liberty will collect $30 million from the Virginia-based Gannett chain under terms of the agreement, the suit asserts.
The state and Save Our Star-Bulletin asked the court to stop the closure agreement and require the owners to seek a buyer for the newspaper.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Star-Bulletin closing Oct. 30, 1999