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Thornburg Watch

We are fortunate in Santa Fe to be living in one of the last two newspaper towns. If the Journal is scooped by the New Mexican — or vice versa — it will come back the next day to match or top the story with one of its own. And if both dailies become complacent there is the weekly Reporter nipping at their heels.

Given all that, I’ve been reluctant to believe that the New Mexican is deliberately suppressing the Thornburg bankruptcy story. There are too many good reporters and editors at the paper. But something there is seriously wrong.

Last month in the Journal Jackie Jadrnak reported another disturbing Thornburg development: Larry Goldstone and Clarence Simmons, the executives who were forced to resign after allegations of financial wrongdoing, were seen in a surveillance video removing two computers and a few dozen boxes of records from their old offices north of Santa Fe. They shipped most of the stuff to their lawyers in Washington.

Fearing that evidence might be compromised, Joel Sher, the federal trustee appointed to oversee the bankruptcy, filed a legal complaint insisting on the return of the goods and complaining of Mr. Goldstone and Mr. Simmons’s “continued flagrant disregard for the demands of the Trustee.” Last week the Journal followed up on its story: the two former executives have agreed to comply.

Mr. Goldstone and Mr. Simmons are among Santa Fe’s most prominent citizens. Thornburg Mortgage was once the city’s great financial success story. But any Santa Fean who depends on the New Mexican for news about this matter will have no idea what has been going on.

The Reporter also continues to work the story with a piece last week by Corey Pein: How Much Does Thornburg Pay In Taxes? Drawing on court documents, Mr. Pein shows that the company has earned $19.9 million since filing for bankruptcy last May. After overhead costs, only $816,773 remains for the creditors to fight over. Here is another interesting item:

	[Thornburg], which laid off 130 workers in April and more
	since, has paid all of $973 in unemployment taxes in the
	months since its bankruptcy. Two years ago, Gov. Bill
	Richardson -- who has received many thousands in campaign
	contributions from company founder Garrett Thornburg over the
	years -- signed into law a bill that cut employer
	unemployment tax payments to the lowest rate allowed by
	federal law, saving corporations an estimated $26 million in

The company has also paid no property taxes because of the deal it struck with the city in 2007 involving industrial revenue bonds. The tax break was granted under the premise that Thornburg was a crucial component of the local economy.

George Johnson
The Santa Fe Review