Palmdale City Council
Pulls Proposal to
at City Website
Measure Designed to
Save Taxpayers up to
Power of The (Valley) Press
PALMDALE - In what could be reasonably construed as local political support for the public subsidization of a privately-owned local newspaper, like a hot potato, Palmdale’s City Council dropped a proposal to have the City publish Ordinances on-line instead of in a newspaper.
After introduction of Ordinance 1394, Assistant City Attorney Judy Skousen delivered a cryptic and brief explanation, followed by a request to delay action, then Palmdale’s pols - without discussion or inquiry - quickly agreed to pull the agenda item and then approved a motion to not bring the proposal back until “a time uncertain” by a 4-0 vote.
The council’s January 6 meeting was chaired by Vice-Mayor Thomas Lackey in the absence of Mayor Jim Ledford.
Palmdale derives her authority to alter how she notifies the public of approved and proposed Ordinances due to her status as a Charter City - a change approved by 82 percent of voters at last November’s election.
Charter City status was cited in the accompanying staff report’s “Background” paragraph, which declared, “Now that the City of Palmdale is a Charter City, the State law that establishes the procedures, requirements and methods to adopt ordinances may be modified to better meet the needs of the citizens of the City.”
The staff report explained that an estimated savings to the taxpayer of up to $20,000 per year could be realized by eliminating the need to publish Ordinances in the only local daily newspaper, The Valley Press.
After the introduction of proposed Ordinance 1394 by Vice-Mayor Lackey, Assistant City Attorney Judy Skousen succinctly summed-up the situation.
Keeping it pithy, Skousen said, “We have received phone calls and are requesting that this item be pulled to allow us additional time to discuss this with The Antelope Valley Press and discuss some of the ramifications and the implications of this Ordinance, so we’re asking that it be pulled and we’ll bring it back at a later meeting.”
Vice-Mayor Lackey called for a motion but before one was made Councilman Steve Hofbauer clarified with Skousen if it was her preference to have the item brought back at February’s meeting or at a “time uncertain,” to which Skousen indicated her preference was with a time uncertain.
Hofbauer’s motion to pull the item until a time uncertain was seconded by Councilman Mike Dispenza and approved by a 4-0 vote.
The proposed Ordinance covers more than just how Palmdale notifies the public on proposed and approved Ordinances. If approved, 1394 would also permit the city council to waive the full reading of Ordinances and Resolutions without a motion. Currently, a motion and unanimous consent is required.
Also under 1394, an Ordinance may be introduced and adopted at the same meeting. Currently, an Ordinance must be introduced at a meeting at least five days before adoption and a vote to approve is required at two separate meetings.
The Daily Newspaper:
She Ain’t What
She Used To Be
Daily newspapers across the land have seen a decline in advertising revenue over the past several years – an industry average of 40 percent since 2005 - and the problem has only been exacerbated with the poor economy.
Among astute political observers it seems reasonable that a daily newspaper - such as our Great Suburban Newspaper (GSN) known as The Valley Press - may have good cause to be concerned with losing up to $20,000 annually.
Producing a new product every 24 hours, 365 days a year isn’t cheap.
The City of Palmdale recently filled a substantial advertising void for The Valley Press after the GSN lost the advertising account of the R. Rex Parris law firm late in 2009.
Parris – also the Mayor of Lancaster – ran a front page banner ad in the Valley Press every Wednesday, a space subsequently purchased by the City of Palmdale after his departure last autumn.
In a telephone interview, Mayor Jim Ledford informed The Political Observer the reason his City is consulting with The Valley Press over Ordinance 1394 is due to the newspaper’s contention that posting Ordinances on-line only is prohibited by law.
The legal opinion of The Valley Press is in contrast to Palmdale’s counsel’s opinion that posting on-line only is allowed under law for a Charter City, according to Ledford.
“We don’t want to go to war with local media. It is important not to have a strained relationship,” said Ledford.