City to Local Newspapers: Pay Up or Shut Up

This morning, there appeared in The Dallas Morning News a story about how the some folks at City Hall -- including several council members -- are working on an ordinance that would "ban distribution boxes not conforming to rigid standards for size, color and material." Also included in that ordinance: City Hall wants to charge publishers $15 annually "for each location where the publication is distributed," writes Dave Levinthal. Most dispiriting is this quote from city councilperson Angela Hunt, who just had to go and break our hearts: "Newspapers profit from the city, so they should step up, help us and be the good community partners they should be." By all means, comrade. By all means.

There are several publishers quoted in the story reacting to the sad inevitable, but missing is the Dallas Observer's Stuart Folb, who Levinthal tried to contact but didn't reach due to Stuart's travel schedule. So Unfair Park got the comment for him. It's after the jump. --Robert Wilonsky

From Stuart Folb, publisher of the Dallas Observer I have several concerns:

First is the idea that there is something wrong with the "clutter" of boxes in different shapes and colors. I think that "clutter" reflects the energy and diversity of Dallas and its people.

Also, by charging what could amount to hundreds or thousands of dollars to publications to register the racks, the city may be silencing some of those diverse voices. Only the most financially powerful will be able to survive.

I fail to see how tripling the present rack rates will do away with any problems. The city has an ordinance in place now; perhaps it should try enforcing it first, before fitting everyone into the same black box.

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