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Post Planning to Publish Tuesday

March 15, 1993

NEW YORK (AP) _ The New York Post did not publish today, and some staffers were fired as they showed up for work at the 192-year-old daily.

″I was at the top of the list,″ said Peter Faris, a Post vice president who has been acting as chief operating officer over the past months of financial brinksmanship.

Faris said 71 termination letters were prepared, but one of those employees already had quit.

In the Post city room today, Maralyn Matlick, the associate metropolitan editor, said the paper was trying to publish Tuesday.

Meanwhile, prospective owner Abraham Hirschfeld said today that if Gov. Mario Cuomo came forward with a new group of investors, he would consider stepping out of the picture.

″The best thing I would like is to buy the building, not the Post,″ Hirschfeld said. ″I don’t know anything about newspapers.″

Post editors and writers gathered in the city room on Sunday. They discussed not publishing, then said they would try to do so. By then it was late in the day and ultimately deadlines passed with no reasons being given for the failure of the Post to get to the presses.

Hirschfeld won the right to buy the paper at a U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing Friday when a judge ruled he was in better financial shape to take it over than Steven Hoffenberg, who ran the paper for two months but could not close his purchase deal.

In another development Sunday, Hoffenberg said state Judge Kristen Booth Glen signed a restraining order temporarily halting the sale to Hirschfeld. He said both men were to appear at a court hearing today.

Hoffenberg claims Hirschfeld stole the Post from him by pretending to be his partner.

Gerard Bray, the top editor at the Post, quit Sunday in an uproar over planned layoffs.

Bray said Hirschfeld planned to fire about 270 workers, but Hirschfeld disputed that figure. He said he wants to eliminate about 70 jobs.

Hirschfeld, a real estate investor with no newspaper experience, named Wilbert Tatum, publisher of the black-oriented Amsterdam News, as editor in chief. Hirschfeld spoke of unspecified joint operations between the two papers.

In an interview published today in Yedioth Ahronoth, an Israeli newspaper, Hirschfeld also said he wants the Post to be ″the international spokesman for the state of Israel.″ But he later said he was misquoted.

Post Managing Editor Marc Kalech arrived at the office Sunday after Bray told him he quit in protest.

″I think (Hirschfeld) doesn’t care if the paper publishes,″ Kalech said. ″He can make the place into a garage or whatever, a health spa. It looks like that is what he will do and New York will be minus one paper.″

The New York Times reported today that Gov. Mario Cuomo, who has been involved in efforts to save the Post, had assembled a new group of investors prepared to replace Hirschfeld.

Cuomo spokesman Chuck Porcari said the governor was not available for comment Sunday night.

Friday’s decision by Bankruptcy Court Judge Francis Conrad appeared to have ended Hoffenberg’s nearly two-month operation of the nation’s oldest continuously published daily.

Hoffenberg reportedly put up about $6 million to keep the paper in operation. The Post ran out of money because of the personal bankruptcy reorganization of Peter Kalikow, still the paper’s official owner.

Any purchase deal must be approved by the bankruptcy court.

The 192-year-old Post has had financial problems for more than a decade. Current circulation has dropped to about 438,000 daily, down from a peak of just under 1 million in the late 1970s.

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