The San Francisco Superior Court ruled March 9th that SF Weekly must begin making payments on the Bay Guardian judgment by turning over half of the revenues it receives from advertising sales.
Commissioner Everett A. Hewlett, Jr., entered an Assignment Order that requires the SF Weekly and all of its advertisers to immediately begin remitting advertising revenues to the Bay Guardian. The Assignment Order also requires SF Weekly’s credit card processing company to remit 100% of the credit card payments directly to Bay Guardian rather than to SF Weekly.
The Assignment Order is effective immediately. Additionally, SF Weekly has until Wednesday to turn over to the Bay Guardian a list of all its advertisers and the amounts that they currently owe to SF Weekly.
At a hearing on February 11, attorneys for SF Weekly opposed the assignment by arguing that if the court were to enter the Bay Guardian’s proposed Assignment Order, it might cause the Bank of Montreal to declare a default on a $80 million loan balance that SF Weekly and its parent company have guaranteed. Bank of Montreal is the primary lender on a $120 million credit line available to the Village Voice chain. SF Weekly has repeatedly attempted to use the Bank of Montreal loan as a shield to defeat Bay Guardian, however, the Court has repeatedly rejected that argument.
"We consider this to be a very significant step towards the collection of our judgment," said the Bay Guardian's Bruce Brugmann. "The Village Voice folks first claimed that we would never collect anything, then they claimed that we would never collect more than a few thousand dollars, but the amount that we will now be collecting is certainly very significant."
Since the Village Voice chain has refused to post an appellate bond which would guarantee payment if the judgment is upheld on appeal, the Bay Guardian has continued to actively pursue the collection of the amount due as permitted by law where no bond has been posted. Extraordinary attempts by the Village Voice chain to avoid the judgment, including filing a lawsuit in Delaware that sought to stop all California collection proceedings, have been unsuccessful in blocking the Bay Guardian's collection efforts.
In recent weeks, the Bay Guardian has succeeded in collection efforts that involved auctioning off two of the SF Weekly's vans, seizing monthly income that the SF Weekly was receiving from its subtenants, and placing a lien on the approximately 14 newspapers owned by New Times Media LLC nationwide. Additional collection proceedings will be heard by various courts during the next couple of months unless the judgment of more than $20 million is paid.