EDITORIAL: City of Penticton advertising contract not an election issue

There are a lot of real issues facing the candidates that deserve to be discussed. This isn’t one of them.

Rather than be drawn into the controversy some people are trying to make of it, we have stayed silent since the city awarded its advertising contract to the Penticton Western News.

Mayoral candidate John Vassilaki has chosen to make reversing that decision part of his campaign platform, so we have decided it is time to speak out and clear up the misinformation.

Vassilaki’s assertion the city should return to a policy (it is not a policy, but rather a practice) of splitting its advertising equally between the two local newspapers raises some interesting questions. Does that mean that instead of going to a request for proposal, the city should purchase an equal number of vehicles from each of Penticton’s nine new automobile dealers?

There may have been a lower bid, but price was not the only factor — eyes on the page was another part of the RFP, and with an audited circulation exceeding 15,000 within the City of Penticton alone, no other publication comes close to our distribution. Our circulation reports are available to anyone who finds himself in need of a cure for insomnia.

We also find it disturbing that Vassilaki and others have suggested communications officer Simone Blais should have been removed from the group evaluating the proposals, or worse, that she should be terminated. No doubt, Blais’ knowledge of the newspaper industry was an asset during the evaluation process, but it would be a mistake to think the Western News has any call on her loyalty. It’s true Blais was employed by this paper — for six months, after coming here from a competing newspaper chain. On the other hand, she has now passed her second anniversary with the city. Over those two years, Blais has not shown any favouritism to the Western News. You might also consider that when Blais was part of the 2013 Challenge junket to Roth, Germany, she supplied photos to our competition that were not passed to this paper.

There are a lot of real issues facing the candidates that deserve to be discussed. This isn’t one of them.

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