Houwman: Newspaper should be ‘faciliatory to the agenda of the city’

When the time comes each year for the Mitchell City Council to designate an official newspaper, there is often somebody who uses it as an opportunity to make a comment — good-natured or otherwise — about The Daily Republic.

The City Council is required by state law to designate a newspaper for the publication of legal announcements, and the council is required to pick a newspaper from within the county if one exists. The Daily Republic is the only newspaper in Davison County, so the council has no other option.

Like all other newspapers that I know of, The Daily Republic charges the city to publish those announcements. I guess you could say we have a mini-monopoly.

The situation doesn’t sit well with some council members, partly because of the monopoly and partly because there are always one or more of them who are miffed about news stories they consider negative or inflammatory. If a newspaper is doing its job, that sort of tension is always going to exist.

And so, many times when there’s a vote to designate an official newspaper, one or more of the council members and/or the mayor feel compelled to say something.

Last year, for example, Mayor Lou Sebert quipped "This is kind of one of those no-bid contracts we read about in the paper." He was referencing some reporting that had been done about so-called "no-bid" contracts in state government. I hate to admit it, but it was a pretty clever and funny jab.

This year, it was Councilman Scott Houwman’s turn. He didn’t say anything during the meeting, but he cast the only vote against designating The Daily Republic as the city’s official newspaper.

After the meeting was adjourned, I approached him and asked him why he voted "no." We had a 13-minute discussion, and I wrote a synopsis of that discussion for today’s newspaper. An excerpt from that synopsis is reproduced here:

… Houwman said afterward in an interview with The Daily Republic that he wishes the city "had another option," because he thinks competition would be beneficial and because he is unhappy with some of The Daily Republic’s coverage of city affairs.

Specifically, he cited the newspaper’s 2008 coverage of a development deal that involved an unidentified company’s pursuit of city-owned parkland, and the newspaper’s filing of an open-meetings complaint against the City Council for a discussion of the parkland issue that was conducted during an executive session. The state’s Open Meetings Commission ruled that the council did not violate any open-meetings laws, but the newspaper appealed the matter in civil court, and the civil case is still pending.

Houwman said he blames the newspaper for killing the 2008 development deal and believes the newspaper "owes the council an apology" for "pushing" the open-meetings complaint.

"It seems like to me, we’re always having to second-guess everything that we do, and The Daily Republic’s right there to say that we’re doing something wrong," Houwman said.

"I would like to think," he continued, "that it would be nice to have a publication that would be faciliatory to the agenda of the city."

24 thoughts on “Houwman: Newspaper should be ‘faciliatory to the agenda of the city’

  1. this is the libertarian-republican who can not follow that laws by leashing his dogs when he’s out on a run? Gee Scott who let the dogs out? woof woof woof

  2. I don’t know what he means by faciliatory. Does he mean the paper should just let the city council do whatever it wants without question?

  3. Thank you ..I see this allllll the time. There is a Leash Law right?
    He just thinks he can do what ever when ever he wants.
    This issue now with the paper…what is he afraid of that the paper will publish? Why should the paper always side the council or anyone? They report..we decide. Not a Comunnist Country.

  4. I don’t always agree with Scott, however, on this issue he makes a very valid point. News reporters are trained to “get the scoop” – no matter the damage it may cause or to whom. Getting the scoop may sell papers and gives the reporter a warm/fuzzy feeling for doing a good job, but it may not be good for the majority of the public. Loosing this potential business definitely was not for the betterment of the community. Especially in light of the unemployed and under-employed people in the area. Mitchell lost an opportunity of additional good jobs and the land still sits undeveloped. What good came out of this issue??? The DR pats themself on the back for getting the scoop and at the same time Mitchell residents are still looking for jobs when there aren’t any. The media uses “freedom of the press” to their advantage and never looks at the damage they leave behind.

  5. What does that have to do with the article. Is this another personal attack blog with gutless people attacking an elected official and then not signing their own name? If you have an opinion, it really doesn’t matter who you are if it is productive and inciteful; however, if you want to get off the subject and be negetive and derrogatory as the subject is defensless to protect him or herself against an unknown assasin you should be ashamed of yourself. Houwman has a right to an opinion as does the daily republic.

  6. There is such a publication, Mr. Councilman. It’s called the city website. You want to “facilitate” your agenda? Start typing. Start a blog. But don’t expect the press to be your automatic booster.

  7. Hi there, Meeps. Thanks for your input. You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but I must know, why do you insist expressing that unique perspective under the guise a pseudonym that was already taken? Are you trying to ride the coattails of my intelligent comments and discourse on this blog? That’s really cute. Do you want to be like me? Or do you just have trouble inventing pseudonyms on your own?

    Might I suggest “follis” or “santorum?” Let me know!!

    -The person who started posting as MEEPS over a year ago, and will post as “the artist formerly known as meeps” from now on.

  8. Okay, off my soapbox and back to this article. I laughed out loud and almost spit my lunch onto my computer when I read this. I believe what Scott is proposing is called a city newsletter, not a newspaper. It would be nice, for some people, if the Daily served as a “facilitory” arm of the City, but it would also be nice if money grew on trees. Let’s not forget that Scott is welcome to start his own newspaper.

  9. Houwman has a beef with the paper? All the more reason to publish the minutes, so the public can make an informed decision on the merits. Better yet, maybe more will go to these meetings.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Heidelberger: Houwman can be the the spokesman for the city. I would, however, encourage him to be a little more plainspoken, rather than be “faciliatory to the agenda of the city.”

    I think I know what he meant, but I do not know anyone who talks like that.

  10. Mr Houwman wants a newspaper that support any and all ideas the city council comes up with. We are not programmed robots, but a society with various opinions and ideas, some good and some not so good. Everyone is not going to agree all the time, and life would be pretty boring if we did. Good Job DR for keeping us readers informed. I may not always agree, but at least I am being informed.

  11. Herbert Bayard Swope, Pulitzer Prize winning editor of the New York World and born, interestingly enough, on January 5, 1882, put it best:

    “The first duty of a newspaper is to be accurate. If it is accurate, it follows that it is fair.”

    Councilman Houwman can complain if the Daily gets the story wrong. Otherwise, he’s got nothing to complain about. Keep up the good work.

  12. If I was from out of town and got my news from the DR. I would have a bad opinion of Mitchell, SD. Judging from this blog, article after article has no public input. A shock and awe campaign against someone expressing their opinion with a simple no vote gets all this. Should be included with Seths pol and would probably get the victory for most important story of the year, or would it be this year? I guess we will have to wait and see. Fact is the paper is making the big deal. The article states there was no comment. Maybe they feel threatened. Learned that one of the ‘secret land deals’ going on in the city involves the daily republic. Turns out they are running their own covert operation on the ‘surplus property’ across the street. When were they going to make that public? Could be a shady inside deal.

  13. Does the word ‘leash’ mean that the dogs are under control. I see people with those extendable leashes all the time going up onto peoples lawns and business and doing their business. I see Scott running several times a week which is commendable in itself and sets a good example for everyone. His dogs are under control better than most dogs on a leash. They are very well trained. If they do their business in the wrong place, I have seen him go back and clean it up after his run. Is someone saying his dogs are doing their business and he is leaving it? If they are not, and they are under control via verbal or otherwise, what is the problem?

  14. Someone must have hit a sensitive nerve. How much money does the Daily get for having the monopoly on the cities publications? Seth, do you know? That could be a good way for the city to save money if it could go online and publish the people’s business on its website same as the daily republic publishes its paper on the web. Not to mention, it would show are city is going green with all the paper it would save. No one really reads that crap anyway do they? If the info was made available on line that would save a lot of money.

  15. Live in the apartment building across the street from Scotts. I noticed the paper mentioned comments made by scott about helping the fire department clean the snow out from around the fire hydrants. Given the rash of fires might be a good idea. Hard to believe that a guy that always cleans the snow up and down the street in our neighborhood can be as evil as this blog shows him to be. His yard is always well kept, trees trimmed and dogs friendly. Write about what you know is the truth instead of letting your own agenda or anger get the best of you.

  16. Did he really say “faciliatory”? It’s not even a word.

    Now, regarding his ‘complaint’ against the newspaper. It is not the job of the media to act as a promotional tool for local, state or federal governments. He is not being realistic if he thinks the DR should be ‘faciliatory to the agenda of the city.’ Neither are those who think the DR is to blame for a lost opportunity to bring jobs to Mitchell.

  17. Councilman H is not a republican and has never been registered as a republican. Was registered as a democrat and is now an Independent. Votes for the best candidate. Get the facts.

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