I'm just back from a meeting of Yellowstone County commissioners, who voted 2-0 , with John Ostlund absent, to award their legal advertising contract to The Billings Gazette again this year.
This was the first year the Outpost was eligible to bid, thanks to changes in the last legislative session, and we submitted the low bid. Our bid would have increased county spending on legal ads by 6 percent over the next two years; the Gazette's will increase the cost by 28 percent.
Commissioners accepted the staff recommendation that the Gazette's bid was better because of its higher circulation.
I thought, for a variety of reasons, that we might have a chance to win this thing. Last week, Missoula County commissioners awarded their legal advertising contract to the Missoula Independent, which also had the low bid. Because of our own low rates on legal ads, legal advertising in our pages continues to grow.
All to no avail. Yellowstone County taxpayers can take some consolation in knowing that the mere existence of the Outpost may well have saved them money. The Gazette bid might have been substantially higher without us around.
Some consolation for taxpayers. None for us. This is a tiny piece of revenue for The Gazette; for us, it would have been a very big deal.