For more than 75 years, the Times Picayune has always won the official journal contract from the City of New Orleans. The official journal is where all mandated public notices are printed, tax seizures, bids, City Council summaries, etc. It is and has always been a great source of revenue that the TP has counted on.
For the first time there is a real chance that John Georges or even Margo and Clancy Dubos could take that contract from the TP. The contract is bid each year and of course the best bid wins. Councilmembers could always expect to hear from TP officials like former TP publisher Ashton Phelps or Editor Jim Amoss around that time. Though never spoken, we’re sure that many councilmembers dared not to vote against the TP for fear of retaliation in the next edition.
With the TP now only available in print three days a week, a case can easily be made for a change. Publisher Georges has been roundly praised across the city for his purchase of the Advocate and building its New Orleans edition. They really put out a good paper with plenty of local and state news. We also like reading more about Baton Rouge happenings, especially about the Legislature and the ongoing comics at the state capitol. And let’s not discount Clancy and Margo Dubos who have also previously bid. State law does not mandate now that the journal be published in a daily newspaper.
The Advocate’s local office is just a few blocks from ours and Danae has stopped in a number of times. The environment is like old home week – filled with former TP reporters who understand our New Orleans politics, neighborhoods, and culture. Georges has left the hiring decisions – wisely so – to his capable editors who are building a dream staff of seasoned professionals that are serving New Orleans well. Like any savvy entrepreneur, Georges is focusing his attention on the business side of the publication building a customer base of subscribers and advertisers. However, regarding the legal journal, because the Advocate is domiciled in Baton Rouge, the Council would have to amend the legal journal ordinance to let Georges into the game – if he wants to play. Of course, Georges could sit out this year and use the intervening 12 months to carefully prepare an amended ordinance and a carefully constructed bid that that would cause consternation at the TP.
Some of you might have even noticed the Advocate’s recent full page ad inviting the public to visit their tent at this weekend’s Greek Festival and talk with reporters and staff. Oh, and if you want to sign up for home delivery, that’s good too.
The City’s official journal contract could be come up for bid again if the Council so chooses. Winning the contract may mean more to someone like Georges than the income it would generate. Case in point, CityBusiness had the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s office official journal contract for many years. The TP wanted it back badly and made a strategic decision to place a bid so low that CityBusiness could not beat it. Now, Lisa Blossman and CityBusiness will no doubt rethink their strategy and bid again next time.
Attorney Cynthia Samuel isn’t done yet
Attorney Cynthia Samuel, who ran third in the recent Juvenile Court race and then spent $100,000 of her own money to publicize what she saw as defeated Juvenile Court candidate Doug Hammel’s flaws, is trying to build her political base, probably in anticipation of another race. She is hosting a large “thank-you” function for people that she thinks aided her campaign to trounce Hammel. Look for Samuel to run another judgeship again soon.
Allan Katz spent 25 years as a political reporter and columnist at The Times-Picayune, and is now editor of the Kenner Star and host of several televsion programs, including the Louisiana Newsmaker on Cox Cable. Danae Columbus is executive producer of Louisiana Newsmaker, and has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall and the Dock Board. They both currently work for the Orleans Parish School Board. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by their public relations firm are City Councilwoman Stacy Head, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and council candidate Dana Kaplan.