Full disclosure Press-News!
The Ocheyedan Press-Melvin News of Jan. 21, 2009, posted a headline story on the Comp board recommendation of a 7.5% pay hike for the county sheriff and 5.3% hike for other officials. What the Press-News fails to disclose is that their courthouse reporter Ken Hartoorn, is also the Comp board member who made the motion to raise salaries by 5.3%. When the reporter reporting the news is the one making the news, the paper should have the integrity enough to disclose it.
Local taxpayers need to consider another possible conflict as well. Should an employee of the newspaper remove himself from voting on Supervisor's salaries when it is the Supervisors who legally designate the official newspaper(s) in the county? Printing official minutes and notices provides healthy taxpayer income to the newspaper. In theory, could a vote for premium salary increase for the supervisors insure future income for the Comp board member's employer? It would be appropriate for the newspaper and supervisors to openly address this.
May 9, 2007, the Ocheyedan Press-Melvin News (PN) printed a letter from the Osceola County Attorney Robert Hansen, challenging our concerns about his excessive salary. It can be read here. The Osceola County Gazette & Tribune (GT) printed the same letter from Hansen.
The OCTA wrote an effective rebuttal to it and submitted it to both papers by eMail. President Wolfswinkel followed up by phone to confirm they received it.
The GT promptly granted us equal space and printed our reply. The PN has never printed it. Remember the PN was the first paper in the county to allow local attorney Daniel DeKoter to start his acrid round of letters to the editor attacking us and our consultant, without merit. These letters did little to bring our county together and caused division where it wasn't needed. Now the PN allows Hansen to print a letter to the editor, but won't let us reply.
We support both papers and appreciate the GT's editorial fairness. We encourage the PN not to take sides and to follow the GT's leadership. If you agree contact the publishers of the PN at 758-3140 and ask them to let their readers read both sides of the issue.
Meanwhile, readers in the eastern side of the county who have been denied our rebuttal can read it here.