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On December 7th in 2004, the Ypsilanti City Council tried to pass Resolution 2004-231 that would have made the Ann Arbor News the official newspaper of record for the City of Ypsilanti. They ultimately decided to hold off on passing the resolution.In response to this resolution, I remember making the snarky comment that Council also proposed making Ashley’s the official bar of Depot Town. You see, Ashley’s is in Ann Arbor and it would be unusual to make a foreign bar the official bar of Depot Town much like it would be unusual to make an out-of-town newspaper the official paper of record over the hometown Ypsilanti Courier.
It wasn’t as funny as I’d hoped two years ago either, but give me points for trying.
The resolution was supposed to be tabled until January of 2005, but it sat, unactioned, until a budget planning session in February of this year. It was the only bit of legislation for that meeting and it passed 6-0 (Councilmember Swanson was absent). The reasoning behind passing Resolution 2006-26 was the Ypsilanti Courier had become something that could no longer be counted upon to come through when needed. It was around this time the best writer the Courier ever had left over not getting paid on a timely basis. The Courier had even screwed up and not a run a couple of notices in a timely fashion. Their decision to go with another newspaper seemed pretty reasonable.
I still thought it was the wrong thing to do. This is probably because of the deep allegiances I have for people and things. The Courier, for better or for worse, is our hometown paper. I’m not saying we should all have subscriptions (but if me saying so gets me a free subscriptions and favorable articles from their staff, then I will say it). I’m not saying we should all support it either. I support it because it’s an Ypsilanti institution. The quality ebbs and flows, but it’s from Ypsilanti and I’m from Ypsilanti, so we’re stuck with each other. At the very least, we should be trying to make it better rather than tear it down. I thought that by making the Ann Arbor News the newspaper of record, we were tearing down the Courier just a little.
Council didn’t see it that way. I would have given them another chance, but I’m a sucker like that even if it burns me a once or twice.
Fast-forward to present day Ypsilanti six months later.
I received a little note the other day from someone on City Staff that the Ann Arbor News was charging the City of Ypsilanti $2200 for a legal notice about a towing ordinance.
It was then reported that Karl Barr was suggesting the City publish the legally required full notices in the Washtenaw Legal News or something similar. Something similar? Like maybe the Ypsilanti Courier.
This espisode is full of comedic irony as well as opportunity.
The Clerk’s office, the Building Department, and the Planning Department all have “media” budgets for things like notices in newspapers of records. We don’t know how much (Karl mentioned something like $10K for the Clerk’s office), but now that the Ann Arbor News is trying to zing us for $2200, it’s worth visiting those budgets and understanding how much the switch of newspapers of record has cost the City. It should be noted that some deal was worked out so the final bill was less than the quoted $2200.
Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill, but when the City Attorney’s offices kicks around a plan for publishing stuff in the Washtenaw Legal News, making the Ann Arbor News the newspaper of record isn’t saving us any money. Maybe it’s time to call the Courier and beg for forgiveness. Tell them we were wrong to doubt them. Please take us back.
At the very least, the notice in question should be shopped to the Courier to see what they would have charged. That’s easy to do. Give me the damn notice and I’ll call them myself.
This is definitely worthy of a discussion during Council Proposed Business at the next City Council meeting. I have one loyal councilmember that reads this everyday. Maybe he’ll do it. This shouldn’t have to wait until November for a conversation to happen.
How much could we have saved by sticking with the Courier?
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