Sunnyside City Councilman Bruce Ricks started the night off defending his position for voting to reject the lone bid submitted to the city last week for publishing the city's legal notices. But by the time everything was said and done, there was some doubt left about what the one-term councilman was truly saying.
Daily Sun News Publisher Tim Graff came before the City Council Monday night asking the governing body to reconsider the newspapers' legal publication bid the Council rejected last week.
Ricks initiated the process at last Monday's meeting for rejecting the Daily Sun News' bid for legal publications. Ricks reasoning, he said, was that he didn't feel the city had done a good job of seeking bids from different newspapers. Ricks said the Council in 2001 sent out a negative message to other publications by rejecting the then lower bid of the Yakima Herald-Republic to publish legal notices in its weekly Voices section. Ricks said by rejecting the Yakima Herald-Republic bid, the Council sent a message that it was showing favoritism to the Daily Sun News and for other newspapers to not even bother to go through the process. At that time, however, then City Manager Dave Fonfara explained in a report to Council that it would be more cost effective to go with the legal bid from the Daily Sun News because the city would have to pay a more significant legal publication rate for notices that weren't able to be published in Voices and had to be inserted in the regular legal section of the Yakima Herald-Republic. Fonfara said there was also more flexibility in scheduling by going with the Daily Sun News' bid.
Last week, the Daily Sun News was the lone publication to submit a bid to be the official newspaper of the city of Sunnyside. The rate the Daily Sun News submitted was $6.70 per column inch, a 30¢ increase over past rates.
Graff told the Council this past Monday night that he believes the Daily Sun News met all of the requirements set forth by the city in submitting its bid in a timely manner. Graff said by rejecting the newspapers' bid last week it puts the Daily Sun News at a competitive disadvantage because the bid rate it already submitted was made public, giving other publications an advantage in the forthcoming bid resubmission process.
Graff said under the terms set forth by the city only two publications qualify to be the official newspaper of the city, those being the Daily Sun News and the Yakima Herald-Republic.
The specifications set forth in the process require any publication submitting a bid to be of "general circulation in the City of Sunnyside and must be compiled in whole or in part in an office maintained at the place of publication." The Daily Sun News and the Yakima Herald-Republic, both with offices on Sixth Street in Sunnyside, apear to be the only publications meeting those requirements.
Graff said last year the city spent about $4,300 for legal advertising. Graff said the newspaper at many times met needed deadlines for the city at a moment's notice.
"We have always worked well with city staff," said Graff.
Graff said he felt justified in asking for the minimal 4 percent increase in rates because he believes the newspaper has done a superb job for the city. Graff said the rejection of the Daily Sun News' bid makes him wonder if it was personally motivated.
Councilman Don Vlieger said the legal newspaper bid rejection was nothing personal with him. Vlieger said he wanted to make sure the city was getting the best and most conservative bids needed to make sure the Council is spending taxpayers' dollars appropriately. Vlieger said the Council has rejected bids in the past and he felt having just one bid wasn't sufficient.
"It is not something new or abnormal (to reject a lone bid)," said Vlieger. "I am going to go with the low bidder. I don't know who is going to be the low bidder."
Ricks responded to the comments of Graff.
"I think there are other newspapers who serve this community as well," said Ricks.
Ricks praised the work completed by Fonfara in the cost comparison done in 2001, but rejected Graff's comments that the Council went with the most conservative bid in 2001. Ricks said he wants to look for the best way the Council can spend the citizens' money. Ricks added another comment regarding personal issues in the rejection of the Daily Sun News' bid. Ricks said it is interesting the newspaper can write editorials voicing their opinion on topics, but said he found it equally as interesting that the newspaper is the only one who can have a "vendetta."
Graff asked the Council to reconsider the action taken last week to reject the bid. The Council opted to stand by its decision last week.
But the evening wasn't done yet concerning issues surrounding the conduct of Ricks.
Sunnyside fireman Bob Johnson read a letter, sent via e-mail, into public record that had come from Ricks. No date was given on the letter, but Ricks did acknowledge at Monday's meeting he had written the letter. The e-mail includes comments Ricks made following a Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce meeting. The letter also makes reference to Councilwoman Bengie Aguilar and the Daily Sun News. The letter also talks about how Ricks will use his Council vote in ways he sees fit.
"I find this really, really disturbing," said Johnson after he read the letter.
Johnson said he felt Ricks was acting inappropriately and that he did use his Council vote to get into the pockets of the Daily Sun News.
The following is a copy of Ricks' e-mail letter Johnson read into public record at Monday night's Sunnyside City Council meeting.
"I am finer than frogs hair---all is well and every day is sunshine--this was just an initial volley at the mother of all lies in our city (DSN) and if it has $ome (any) impact I will feel a lot better--
to me the def: of a lie is if a lie is spoke OR if a lie is known and not spoken--same thing (sin of omission or sin of commission)
I attended the 1st half of the chamber mtg. fri. night. However, after I was gone the attendees spoke about how awful it was that members of the city council were beating up on B.A. And the fact the whole chamber board knows the truth and did and said NOTHING to defend its self and in particular council, after we have spent so much political capital defending the chamber and its programs and bringing to light the attempt to divide the chamber and the efforts to shed a bad light on it, I am personally ashamed to be associated with such a spineless group that I will NEVER go to bat for them again and I will NEVER AGAIN work behind the scenes in their behalf--
Then the paper who knows the truth and refuses to print all sides of it---I will try to get into their pockets at any opportunity--I DO NOW HAVE AN AGENDA--TRUTH, OR DARE (ME)
STRENGTH THROUGH SUPERIOR FIRE POWER--I HAVE MY COUNCIL VOTE--I INTEND TO USE IT
LEAD FOLLOW OR GET THE HECK OUT OF MY WAY---but you know that I will do it with a smile and keep my old theme-------
TACT: THE ABILITY TO TELL SOMEONE WHERE TO GO AND HAVE THEM ANXIOUS TO GET THERE
Share this with whomever you wish