An arbitrator decided this week that Valley Herald publisher Clark Hager owes former owners John and Barbara Vlahovich more than $30,000.
Arbitrator Greg Jalbert issued his decision Thursday.
“Couldn’t have happened to a meaner guy,” John Vlahovich said in a telephone interview from his home in North Idaho.
In September 1992, Hager and his wife, Gloria, agreed to pay the Vlahovichs $50,000 for the Herald.
The sale included the weekly newspaper’s subscription lists, advertising contracts, back copies, copyrights, postage permits and other items.
The Hagers made a $5,000 down payment and paid monthly installments of $2,000 until November 1993.
Then they stopped paying.
The Vlahovichs sued in July of the next year, seeking the $26,266 balance due, $1,378 in interest and $3,000 in attorney fees and court costs.
Because the case involved only money, it was assigned to arbitration, and Jalbert heard arguments from both sides this month.
He decided the Hagers should abide by the terms of the contract.
“He didn’t have a case,” said John Vlahovich, who declined to comment further.
Clark Hager was in good spirits Thursday despite the decision, but he, too, was reluctant to talk about it.
“It means I owe the Vlahovichs a lot of money for misrepresentation,” said Hager, who would not elaborate. “It’s a bum deal all the way around.”
The strong conservative said he wouldn’t close the publication, which he uses to promote his political causes, including Valley incorporation.
“What, and leave The Spokesman-Review out there all alone? No, we won’t shut it down,” said Hager, who this year won a contract to publish the county’s legal notices.
That contract was worth nearly $99,000 in 1994.