Commission not wasting tax dollars
by Jack McNeely
May 11, 2014 | 775 views | 0 0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jack McNeely
Jack McNeely
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I told myself last Friday that I would not opine again about the election notice fight because we had won the battle with the April 30 circuit court ruling that gave the Walker County Commission the final say in where such notices were to be published. They chose your established and credible Daily Mountain Eagle.

But the Corridor Messenger this week attacked the commissioners for their decision, claiming they had wasted tax dollars. Again, their reporting lacked accuracy.

They reported that the commission was paying to have the voters list inserted in 19,000 newspapers. That is not the case. The commission chose the less expensive option of inserting the Qualified Voters List in our regular paid circulation this Tuesday.

We will, however, print at our expense an additional 5,000 newspapers and voters list inserts Tuesday and deliver them as free copies throughout Walker County. This brings our total distribution this Tuesday to more than 13,500.

Meanwhile, Corridor Messenger owner Ken Guin is now crying foul and claiming that a Republican-heavy commission is against him and Probate Judge Rick Allison, both Democrats.

As publisher of your Daily Mountain Eagle, it is my job to protect this institution. Our readership family, business partners and employees deserve an unbiased view of the events that lead us to this election notice debacle.

In 2010 and 2012, Allison and then-commissioners doled out duplicate election notices in both newspapers. Allison testified in circuit court that he published the official notices in the Daily Mountain Eagle and that former commissioners paid for the same to be published in the Corridor Messenger.

In 2012, the county spent upward of $100,000 for dual notices. There is absolutely no plausible reason to have published duplicate notices at such a cost to taxpayers. I find it hypocritical that Guin did not possess his newfound fiscal conscience back then when he cashed in.

But that is water under the bridge now since four of the five commissioners in 2010 and 2012 were defeated in the last election, and it is apparent that our new commission is dedicated to transparency and fiscal responsibility.

In fact, I estimate that the current commissioners will invest less than $30,000 with the Daily Mountain Eagle after all primary and general election notices are published, including the Qualified Voters List in Tuesday’s newspaper. That’s a savings of more than $70,000 compared to 2012 expenditures and half the commission’s budget of $60,000 for publication of 2014 election notices.

On the other hand, the Corridor Messenger admitted in a story two weeks ago that it would invoice the commission more than $29,000 just for the voters list it prematurely published the same week of the circuit court hearing.

Those are the hard numbers that taxpayers and voters need to consider. Anything else is merely a smear campaign against the Walker County Commission and your Daily Mountain Eagle.

Jack McNeely is the publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle and can be contacted by phone at 205-221-2840 or via email at jack.mcneely@mountaineagle.com.