Echo named official paper

Council votes 6-0 for Ely business

by Tom Coombe
After a one-year hiatus, the Ely Echo will once again serve as Ely’s official newspaper.
Earlier this week, council members decided the Ely-based publication will be where the city prints meeting minutes, public notices and other official announcements.
Tuesday’s 6-0 council vote, with Al Forsman absent, came after city officials determined the Echo was the “lowest responsible bidder” for the city publishing contract as required in the city charter.
A comparison of sample public notices and meeting minutes showed that the Echo was less expensive than the other bidder - the Tower-based Timberjay.
It was just over a year ago that the Ely council ignited controversy and weeks of debate by naming the Tower publication as Ely’s official newspaper.
The decision was revisited and ultimately upheld, despite protests over the city choosing a business that isn’t based in Ely, and procedural issues including the Timberjay designating the residence of its editor as its local office.
City officials cited cost savings and city charter language in defending that decision, and mayor Chuck Novak seemed to cite economics in endorsing the decision to choose the Echo.
“I went back in last year’s packet, and we’re in a lot better shape compared to last year, which I think is good,” said Novak.
As part of the bidding process, both newspapers were asked to submit prices for sample advertisements, and the Echo was lower in both examples.
A sample display advertisement was $5.82 in the Echo, compared to $7.95 for the Timberjay, while meeting minutes were $67.51 in the Echo and $70.98 in the Timberjay.
While the Timberjay’s bid was lower than the Echo’s in a formula that was part of the bidding process, city attorney Kelly Klun said the sample advertisements made it “appear that the Echo is the lowest responsible bidder.”
“When you think what is the lowest responsible bidder, you think of cost,” said Klun.
The Echo, which has been in existence since 1974, owns a downtown building and has maintained an office presence in Ely’s business district since its inception.
It also maintains a sizeable advantage in circulation over the Timberjay, according to information included in the bid packet.
The Echo holds a better than two-to-one circulation edge in the Ely area, at 2,085-857.
Overall circulation is better than three-to-one in the Echo’s favor, with the Echo reporting circulation of 3,291 compared to 1,011 for the Ely Timberjay.