The first of a four-part series.
The Florida Agenda used to publish news. Now it just makes news.
The now defunct local weekly newspaper has been out of business for nearly a year but their woes continue in bankruptcy court as its parent company Multimedia Platforms Worldwide seeks relief under chapter 11, which provides a company with an opportunity to reorganize in order to get their act together.
But their problems are going from bad to worse.
The U.S. Trustee assigned to the case is now asking that their case for reorganization be dismissed. The trustee complained that Bobby Blair’s company has failed to keep its promises and recommended a straight bankruptcy, which would eliminate any chance of court approved paybacks.
Bobby Blair, the company’s chief corporate officer, had sought bankruptcy protection last October. This would have allowed the company to provide their creditors, totaling hundreds of businessman and millions of dollars, an opportunity to recoup their losses.
Besides the Florida Agenda the company also published LA’s Frontiers, New York’s Next Magazine, and also acquired Columbia Fun Maps.
The listing of creditors posted by Multimedia last fall was 36 pages long, noting unpaid obligations in each of the geographic areas where the publications were distributed. Aside from scores of investors, Multimedia also admitted owing back payroll and income taxes to the government totaling more than $500,000.
The initial filing by Blair’s company said they had less than $50,000 cash on hand and were nearly $6 million dollars in debt. Still, Multimedia fought the case, saying they were forced into bankruptcy because a creditor wrongfully foreclosed on a loan. At the end of 2016, a preliminary court approved settlement was reached.
A potential dismissal of the reorganization is devastating to investors, including Alan Beck, listed as one of Multimedia’s largest, to the tune of $458,000. The former publisher of the popular Columbia Fun Maps, told SFGN “This bankruptcy has been a serious blow to many individuals and to our LGBT community and it is obvious now that gross mismanagement and greed were two of the major factors in play.”
Beck noted that the publications Multimedia had acquired represented a cumulative total of “105 years of publishing from respected publications across the country.”
The petition by the U.S. trustee lends authenticity to Beck’s charges. It accuses Bobby Blair, the sole remaining player in Multimedia of continuing negligence, charging that “ten months have passed since the date of its bankruptcy filing and the Debtor has not filed a plan or single disclosure statement.”
Additionally, said Damaris Rosich-Schwartz, the court appointed trustee from the U.S. Department of Justice, “the debtor is delinquent in the filing of ALL monthly reports since the filing of the case last October.”
Under the provisions of bankruptcy law, unexcused failures of a debtor to submit a plan or its monthly reports are grounds for dismissing the case for cause. The trustee alleges that in this case the failures are unexcused and at “the record supports a finding of cause, at a minimum.”
The trustee also has alleged Blair has not remained current on payments to the U.S. for trustee fees, which are required for a reorganization plan to stay in place. If it is still operational, the plan prevents creditors from seeking judgments, further relief, or making additional claims individually against Blair or Multimedia in other courts.
Judge Ray of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court has set the matter for hearing on Sept. 13. If the court elects not to dismiss the case in its entirety, the U.S. Trustee is instead asking for the appointment of a separate trustee solely to protect the remaining and “best interests of the creditors.”
In an unrelated motion connected to the Multimedia debacle, Blair is asking the court to release an insurance policy so he can pay costs and defend himself against an employment discrimination complaint brought by longtime lesbian journalist Karen Ocamb, a former staffer at LA’s Frontiers Magazine.
“Absent advancement of costs under Multimedia’s Directors and Omissions Policy,” they say, “the Defendants will be without means to defend itself in the suit.”
The same company, Multimedia did a press release a year ago on Market Wire, after it went public and listed its stocks and shares on the New York Stock Exchange. It listed its company as “the industry-leading multimedia, technology and publishing company that delivers content and advertising to one of the most sought-after demographics in the world -- the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) population, representing approximately 7.5 million readers and more than 4 million unique online visitors annually.”
Not so much anymore.
Its stock has been de-listed and its shares are now worthless.
“So were their promises,” added Alan Beck, perhaps the creditor who lost the most.