You have to hand it to the auditors from Stuart Maue, the company serving as the court-appointed fee examiner in the Tribune Co. bankruptcy case: They are unbelievably thorough. They chastised an employee at AlixPartners, the financial adviser to the Tribune creditors committee, for spending $902.52 for a night and two meals at the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York — and got Alix to shell out $487.52 from its own pockets to cover the bill. They discovered that Jones Day billed the Tribune estate 20 cents per photocopy instead of 10 cents, a finding that saved the estate $8.10. They forced AlixPartners to explain why some of its employees were often spending more than $50 on work-related dinners, and asked that Alvarez & Marshal (Tribune’s restructuring adviser) retract a request for Tribune to pay $22.68 for stamps, envelopes and tape.

Stuart Maue is being so thorough, in fact, that Chadbourne & Parke — counsel for the creditors committee in the Tribune matter — has decided to take the rare step of challenging the fee examiner’s call to cut $13,639 from the firm’s $1.68 million fee request covering work done from December 2008 through February. Stuart Maue claims the Tribune estate shouldn’t have to pay that bill, because much of the work is clerical in nature or — as in the case of late-night meals and cab rides — should be considered the cost of doing business. Chadbourne, of course, disagrees, and has filed a response claiming the $13,639 as legitimate, reimbursable expenses.

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