I've come across some rather interesting numbers, and I'm not quite sure what to make of them. So I'm tossing this out to you guys. What exactly is it that these numbers tell us?
What I'm referring to here are the costs to the City of Sierra Madre for running legal advertising in this town's adjudicated newspaper. Up until August of 2007 the publication that carried our legal notices was the Mountain Views News. Or least in recent years. After it was acquired by the Mount Wilson Observer (which then changed its moniker to Mountain Views-Observer, possibly to give the impression that an authentic merger of publishing philosophies had taken place rather than just a grab for city advertising), Sierra Madre's business was transferred to this new entity.
So here's a breakdown of the legal advertising costs:
Year 2002 - cost $2,188.00
Year 2003 - cost $7,863.00
Year 2004 - cost $3,028.00
Year 2005 - cost $12,850.00
Year 2006 - cost $34,465.60
Year 2007 through to the merger - cost $21,500.00
Year 2008 - cost $9,253.50
What I can't quite get my mind around are the ballooning costs for years 2006 and 2007. Costs which, if you add them up, come to a combined total of nearly $56,000. Or more than double the previous 4 years combined!
So what is the explanation? Here are 3 questions that come to mind:
1) Did we have an explosion of legal advertising in those two years? Do you recall any phone book sized Mtn Views News editions stacked up outside The Bottle Shop?
2) Was this just another indication of the fiscal carelessness that so typified the free spending administrations of Mayors Buchanan and Joffe?
3) Was there a political angle involved here? This was during the furor over Measure V and the lavishly funded campaign to defeat it. Could this possibly have been a way for a pro-high density development city administration to secure the loyalty of the MVN's outspoken publisher?
One thing that is for certain, once the old regime was voted out of office our legal advertising costs plummeted substantially. And if it was those 2006 and 2007 numbers that drove the Mount Wilson Observer's publisher to acquire the MVN, then I think it is safe to say that somebody got punk'd.
One more point. In the state of California there is an antiquated law that requires cities to place legal advertising in adjudicated newspapers claiming town residency. And if there isn't such a newspaper in town, then this advertising must be run in a paper that is locally distributed. Either way this involves the spending of thousands of dollars in scarce funds yearly to accomplish something that could be done on any city's website for free.
Considering the financial hardships of 2009, it is time that law was changed.