Claremore Daily Progress

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January 16, 2014

Commissioners ban most legal ads in Daily Progress

CLAREMORE —

The Rogers County Board of Commissioners voted 2-1 Wednesday to no longer publish its legal advertisements in the Claremore Daily Progress, except when the immediacy of the information require using the daily newspaper.
The decision means nearly all of the commission’s advertising will now rotate between the county’s three weekly newspapers —  Inola Independent, Chelsea Reporter and the Oologah Lake Leader — even though their combined circulation does not equal that of The Daily Progress.
The commissioners also tried to extend their decision to other county offices, such as the county court clerk, assessor and treasurer. But Judge Dynda Post advised them that they did not have the authority to do that and Assistant District Attorney David Iski, counsel to the commission, agreed.
“You don’t have the powers to tell the county officials where to publish,” said Post.
Legal ads are required by state law to be published in local  newspapers to alert public throughout a county to such activities as contract bids, property disposal, financial information and other activities of government.
Commissioners Kirt Thacker and Mike Helm voted to exclude The Daily Progress from receiving legal ads, except in emergency notice cases, after Faith Wylie, a co-owner of the Oologah Lake Leader, accused the Claremore paper of overcharging for two legal ads in 2010. Commission Chairman Dan DeLozier dissented.
Bailey Dabney, publisher of The Daily Progress, strongly objected to the decision, saying it was based on the allegation of a competitor, and not an official review of the paper’s charges for legal ads placed by the commissioners.
Thacker and Helm have been at odds with the newspaper over its coverage of the commission’s awarding of county contracts.  In December of 2012, they voted to remove about $55,000 in legal ads from The Daily Progress. The latest action will affect another $20,000 to $30,000 in legal ad revenue the paper traditionally receives, said Dabney.

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