EDITORIAL: We are so sorry

We’re still not sure what happened or why, but please accept our apologies anyway. A good intention has gone terribly wrong for Marion County taxpayers. Instead of saving your tax money for the publication of the county’s legal notices, which we fully intended to accomplish through the creation of the Free Press Digest, you’ll now be paying more than ever-with only modestly wider circulation of public information to show for it.

Even though the county commission, by a 2-1 majority, made the official decision, we feel responsible for raising the issue in the first place. Maybe if we had just kept our mouths shut and our ideas to ourselves….

Here’s what happened at Monday’s commission meeting. Maybe you’ll understand what transpired better than we do.

After several minutes of questions, discussion and the predictable spin from the parties involved, Leroy Wetta, the newly selected commission chair, concluded it was time to decide between the two proposals before them.

Our proposal would have run legal notices at a competitive rate in the limited-circulation Digest in a type size of the commission’s choosing (presumably smaller than the nine-point type used by the Marion County Record and Hillsboro Star-Journal), and then republished in the broad-circulation Free Press (around 7,000 Marion County homes) for no charge. In a nutshell: lower rate, smaller type, near-saturation circulation.

The other proposal presented to the commissioners was that the three paid-circulation newspapers in the county-the two mentioned above plus the Peabody Gazette Bulletin-would each run the legals for a combined higher rate of $10 per column inch. The two publishers involved suggested the combined press run of their three newspapers was 6,500 (neglecting to mention that the in-county distribution they collectively reported on their ownership statements last fall was about 2,100).

Chairman Wetta then opened the floor for a recommendation. Commissioner Collett moved that the commission accept the coalition’s proposal but stipulated the use of seven-point type.

His motion died for lack of a second.

Then Chairman Wetta himself moved that the commission accept the coalition’s proposal using nine-point type. (Yes, a larger type.) That motion was seconded by Commissioner Collett, who, just moments before, had spoken against the need for large type. The new motion passed by a vote of 2-1. Commissioner Bob Hein voted against it.

So, Marion County taxpayers will now be paying an even higher inch rate for oversized type with only marginally better public access to important information.

We are so sorry.

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