Galveston County Daily News Publisher Patrick Graham has filed his official written protest of Galveston County Commissioners Court's award of a contract to The Post Newspaper in Texas City for publishing public notices. Document
The commissioners court had voted 3-2 with Kevin O'Brien and Stephen Holmes opposed, to award a contract for publication of notices required by state law in a “newspaper of general circulation within Galveston County that is published on a not less than weekly basis”.
The commissioners court had previously voted to award a contract for publication of notices in a “newspaper of general circulation within Galveston County that is published on a daily basis” to Galveston Newspapers, Inc., publishers of the Galveston County Daily News.
In his letter to Galveston County Purchasing Agent Rufus Crowder, Graham said the award to the smaller paper “does irreparable harm to the public’s right to know” by moving the notices to a newspaper with “an unverified paid circulation of 110 homes in a county with approximately 120,000 homes…”.
He said the action also will be confusing for the public.
“Forcing the public to go to two different publications to find the public notices it has a right to see could make an already difficult situation for the public even worse,” Graham said, adding that the action would render the county’s legal advertising ineffective. “For example, by far the largest category of the adds (sic) is tax foreclosures, and if only a handful of people see these foreclosure notices, that will damage both the public’s right to the information as well as the county’s finances.”
Graham said that the Galveston County Daily News may not accept the county’s contract for advertising in a daily publication.
“The Daily News is considering turning down the county’s daily legal advertisements so that the county can try and work out a daily arrangement with the winner of the weekly bid should it be a publication other than the Daily News."
In addition to Galveston County, many other governmental entities have been seeking less expensive methods to publish public notices.
The City of La Marque sponsored a resolution at the recent Texas Municipal League Conference to allow cities to post notices on their websites instead of in newspapers of general circulation.
Galveston Mayor Lewis Rosen has scheduled a city council discussion of the issue, asking city staff to provide information on the city's expenses for such advertising. He cited the county's recent action as well as the La Marque resolution.
Guidry News Service does not qualify for these ads under current state law, but governmental entities frequently request that we publish their public notices because our audience includes many people and corporations who will bid on public projects and are not likely to read local newspapers.
Although there has been some interest in changing the law so that we can compete for the lucrative contracts that newspapers currently enjoy, it has been my position that such advertising should not be required by law. I believe that the current law is archaic and governmental entities should be able to post their notices on their own websites.
Vendors, contractors and others interested in bidding on public projects would have an easier time visiting government websites than searching through local newspapers with diminishing readership.