Council Chooses Higher Cost, Minimal Coverage for Legal Notices to Retaliate Against Free Press

At its meeting Tuesday, the majority of the City Council chose to give the city’s Legal Notices Contract to the dramatically highest bidder with pathetically minimal circulation.
Each fiscal year the city is required to seek bids for that contract from all Newspapers of General Circulation in the city. Dixon has two such publications – Dixon’s Independent Voice (IV), Dixon’s only locally owned newspaper; and the Tribune owned by a Marin County banker.
After delaying issuing the Request for Proposals past the beginning of the Fiscal Year (which starts July 1), the city further delayed considering the two bids until two full months after the bids were opened on August 11. City Manager Jim Lindley had no explanation for that delay, nor did City Attorney Doug White.
The bid award should have been made at the August 22 council meeting, but was not on the agenda until this week’s October 10 meeting.
As in all the past years, the bid offered by Dixon’s Independent Voice (IV) was again about forty percent lower than that by the Tribune. More telling is the circulation difference. The Tribune admitted it’s circulation has dropped by fifty percent during this past year – to a mere 660 on Wednesdays and Fridays and at most 2,100 on Sundays. Dixon’s Independent Voice has proven circulation of over 4,000, but just once per week on Fridays. Statewide most communities have only weekly newspapers, and the state’s legal notices requirements are based on once per week publication.
This year the Tribune again bid $6.50 per column inch – forty percent higher than the IV bid of $4.25 which is about $1 – one dollar – per one-thousand copies delivered. The Tribune is charging the city about ten times more for weekdays delivery and three times more for Sunday.
The purpose of legal notices is to inform the widest number of the public about government actions. But that fact is overridden by the council majority’s corrupt desire to retaliate against the IV’s exercise of Freedom of the Press to investigate, expose, and critique the actions of city officials.An example is the expose of City Attorney Doug White violating state campaign finance laws, and padding billings to the city almost one million in charges. White wrote the rigged bid requests
During the debate Tuesday night, City Councilman Ted Hickman blasted the rigging of the bid – which other councilmembers admitted. Mayor Thom Bogue exposed his purpose of retaliating by ranting about what he perceives as slights against him by the IV – publicly proving the award to the Tribune was to punish the IV’s exercise of the First Amendment right to Freedom of the Press.
The city also has a “Locally Owned Business Preference Ordinance” which requires contracts to be awarded to such business if their bid is lowest, or within five-percent of the next lowest bid. The IV has been Dixon’s only locally owned newspaper for over 24 years. The Tribune is owned by a Vallejo based company controlled by a Marin County banker who never has lived in Dixon.
The ordinance requires a majority of a business’s employees to reside in Dixon to qualify as locally owned. The IV qualifies. The Tribune is part of Gibson Publishing of Vallejo – which has a majority of its employees working there – not in Dixon.
The result of all this is higher cost to the public; minimal distribution of the city’s legal notices; and a corrupt attempt to silence the only publication that has the courage to challenge the misfeasance, malfeasance, and incompetence of Dixon officials.

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