Walter Pierce

Council to vote on renewing Advertiser contract

by Walter Pierce

The Lafayette City-Parish Council will vote Tuesday evening on a resolution for final adoption that again designates The Daily Advertiser as the official journal for Lafayette Consolidated Government for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The Advertiser has held the distinction as Lafayette’s official journal for decades. State law requires municipalities that meet a population threshold to designate a media organization — typically a daily newspaper — as official journals for the publication of public notices.

As the Independent Weekly detailed in our April 7 cover story, “Put on Notice,” City-Parish President Joey Durel has been a vocal critic of the law, which requires LCG to shell out about $230,000 annually to The Advertiser for the publication of public notices. The Louisiana Press Association has long lobbied in favor of the law, which generates millions of dollars in annual revenue for its member publications.

The issue came to the fore earlier this year after four meetings — by the council, the planning and zoning department, the planning commission and the Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority — had to be cancelled because The Advertiser, reeling at the time from staff cuts, failed to publish the notices two business days before the meetings as required by Lafayette’s Home Rule Charter.

By April, Durel and other LCG officials were openly discussing the possibility of seeking a legislative solution and getting the public-notices law repealed; Durel et al argue the law is antiquated in this digital age. The matter was not addressed in any legislation filed in the current session in Baton Rouge. However, Dee Stanley, LCG’s chief administrative officer, says the official journal issue remains on the radar. “It’s still being talked about,” Stanley acknowledges, adding that LCG leaders are discussing ways of bringing the issue before lawmakers, possibly next year.