IT IS MORE in disbelief than in anger that we find ourselves this weekend once again having to admonish our local rival to put its house in order and refrain from actions it knows to be professionally unacceptable.
For readers whose loyalty to this newspaper prevents them from reading the Galveston Daily News, we are referring to two editorials published in that journal in the past week in which members of its editorial board lambasted the county commissioners for contracting with The Post to publish the county’s weekly legal notices.
The two columns were written in response to a guest article by county commissioner Ken Clark in which he weighed into the daily newspaper for what he perceives as its adversarial coverage of county issues, positing the theory that its criticism “is caused by the fact that [it] no longer benefits from a no-bid public-notice publishing contract”.
We will leave to the warring parties their personal insults about each other; we are far more concerned with one particular aspect of the News’ activity in the affair.
That is our rival’s admitted and continuing attempts to coerce the county to cancel its contract with us and return publication of its weekly public notices to the daily newspaper.
Such interference, if successful, would constitute an act contrary to both contract and tort law in Texas.
The News not only admitted having engaged in this activity in both editorials mentioned above but carried on doing so in the first, published on October 5.
While attempting to refute Clark’s argument that its constant sniping at the commissioners is retaliation for losing the public-notice business, it argued in that article: “A more definitive test might be for the commissioners to put the notices back in The Daily News.”
Next, current publisher Leonard Woolsey wrote on October 7 that, after awarding the bid to The Post in 2013, “the county agreed to return the sheriff-sale notices to the Daily News during the first half of 2014 – but only as a test”.
That agreement followed a prolonged campaign of vilification against The Post, much of it an unwarranted diatribe of disinformation about our respective circulation figures, including a plea written directly to the commissioners by a senior member of the News’ publishing executive.
The clear hope was that the test would result in the county returning its advertising to the News at $23 per column inch at the expense of The Post, which won the contract with a bid of $8pci. The ruse failed.
So much for the campaign the News is undertaking in public. We note that neither of its editorials included a rebuttal of Clark’s accusation that “privately, Daily News representatives have pressed the issue, asking the county to cancel and rebid the public-notice contract early to give them another bite at the apple”.
Having failed to win back the commissioners’ approval, it seems the News is now trying to curry favor with the public by puffing up its importance in the community and claiming that The “nearly invisible” Post offers “restricted access to information”.
The fact is that our circulation figure is now about 48 per cent of the News’ latest claimed amount, while our public-notice advertising rate is less than 35 per cent of that paper’s counterbid.
Add to that the additional fact that, unlike our rival’s online presence, our website is not only free to all but also contains an easy-to-find section devoted entirely to legal advertising. So it’s unquestionable that our service is of far, far greater value to the county and its taxpayers.
Perhaps the News has already recognized that, though – in its most recent public-notice contract bid, to League City, it quoted a rate of $10pci. No wonder the county commissioners are none too keen to make their taxpayers the victims of gouging.
So take note, Daily News – we know of no legitimate reason why our contract should be terminated before its completion and you are not a sacred cow to be fed and groomed lavishly no matter the public cost.
ISN’T it wonderful to have a local professional sports team contesting an exciting post-season series when other events are filled with dreary politicking or dire consequences? So far, the Houston Astros have delivered New York’s Yankees a battering in the Bronx and given Kansas City a right royal scare in their own court on Thursday and Friday. Today, Sunday, and tomorrow, they finally get to play before their own fans at Minute Maid Park. Two home wins would be just the ticket!