In March 11 IssueBy Greg WellsTimes Journal Managing Editor
This time the end result was as the county attorney had said it should be. The court took his advice and reversed its decision to name an official publication for legal notices, but it didn't seem it would go that way.
Repeatedly, County Attorney Mark McGaha told the members of the fiscal court that the local paper with the largest circulation is the Times Journal.
Again and again he told them at Monday night's meeting that the options were clear. He said that to remove the county from serious liability and to end a lawsuit the members of the court needed to refute the decision made at last month's meeting when they named another publication as the county's paper of largest circulation.
First, County Judge Mickey Garner tried to block discussion of the matter, saying it would have to be decided in court. The fiscal court members however indicated they wished to hear the county attorney's input.
After about a half-hour in executive session they came out and elected to hear from Times Journal Publisher David Davenport and legal counsel Kin Judd.
The two men explained that law and precedent both fell to the counting of average circulation figures, not single issue figures, in deciding which is the largest paper.
When it was suggested by the other paper's counsel that it was in-county circulation only that should be counted they did the math and again proved that the Times Journal had the larger average circulation when counting only local subscriptions.
Magistrate Greg Popplewell tried repeatedly to enter the conversation, but was interrupted repeatedly by County Judge-Executive Mickey Garner or another member of the court.
Finally he said loudly, "I can get us out of this mess if you'll let me."
He made the motion that the court reverse its previous decision and not name a paper, as recommended by McGaha.
Magistrate Ronald Johnston seconded the motion and the only member of the court to vote in opposition was Garner.
County Attorney Mark McGaha had also advised the court last fall that the "moist" petitions were not proper and that the county was making an expensive error by conducting that election. His advice was vindicated by a judge's decision last week, which voided the portion of the election he had argued against.
Though there are rumors of an appeal in that case nothing has been filed, according to the clerk of the court.