Official Journal Selection is a Waste of Taxpayer Moneyby John Settle
Now that the Caddo Commission has decided to play Santa Claus for city property owners (see previous column ), it should come as no real surprise that two insignificant publishing companies have also had a visit from St. Nicholas. On June 7th, the Commission selected the Caddo Citizen and the Shreveport Sun on the official journals of the Commission for fiscal year 2012, rather than the Shreveport Times. Unfortunately, the cold hard facts do not support this vote.
The Times submitted the low bid –21 cents per line versus 24 cents per line for the Citizen/Sun. The Times publishes daily; the Caddo Citizen and Shreveport Sun publish weekly. The Times has a daily circulation of 39,365 and a Sunday circulation of 53,208. The Caddo Citizen reported a weekly circulation of 1,133, –down from 1,350 in 2007. The Shreveport Sun listed a paid circulation of 5,000 per year for each year since 2007.
The reported circulation by the Shreveport Sun is very questionable. The Sun has failed to provide a statement of ownership which is required to be filed with the U.S. Post Office, despite request by this writer. The best educated guess for the Shreveport Sun’s circulation is more like 1,750, –not 5,000. The Parish did not confirm the accuracy of the bid information for the Sun.
The vote by the Commission was 7-5 for selection of the Citizen/Sun bid. Doug Dominick- the Commission from north caddo, voted for the Citizen/Sun bid along with the black members of the Commission. Evidently Dominick puts home cooking above fiscal integrity, despite the fact that he has (or had) a reputation for being a good government guy.
Unfortunately for Caddo Parish taxpayers, the bid to the Caddo/Sun was “legal.” The requirements of Louisiana law primarily deal with publication for five years prior to selection, with a general paid circulation for those years and a business office in the parish (La. R.S. 43:141 et al). The Commission must publish all minutes, ordinances, resolutions, budgets, and other official proceedings in the official journal.
The Commission vote is reflective of a blatant disregard for good business judgment –in the real world, the most attractive bid in terms of price and readership is a no brainer. Evidently the “spend happy seven” believe in subsidizing the operation of two publishers to the detriment of the education of Commission constituents. Similarly, the Commission ignored the fact that the Times has over 200 employees and approximately 160 part time paper carriers; the Caddo Citizen reports four employees, and the best guess for the Sun is the same.
In an era when “government transparency is becoming more and more important, the Commission’s vote definitely sends the wrong message. This is especially important in the upcoming months with Commission discussions concerning redistricting –and the possible creation of a new minority-majority district. Seemingly the supporters of this journal selection do not want their actions as commissioners to receive widespread publication.
Bottom line, Commissioner Dominick, Johnson, Williams, Bowman, Baker, and Lynch have sold out to parochial interests that really harm rather than help their constituents. If their collective intent was to “buy” more favorable press coverage for the Sun and the Caddo Citizen, –then they probably have succeeded. So much for serving the common good of the electorate, and prudent expenditure of public dollars.