LAST TIME we were in our favorite local market, we picked up a great bunch of grapes — firm, succulent and oh, so sweet.
We don’t know where Hillsboro Free Press publisher Joel Klaassen got his last bunch of grapes. Wherever he got them, they sure must have been sour.
After failing last fall to sell people on the idea of buying news coverage, Klaassen is now bellyaching about how his paper doesn’t qualify to publish official notices.
He seems to think the state should change the law so he can make money on public notices without having to do any of the work to qualify to publish them — work that, by his own admission, all 150 or so other newspapers in Kansas regularly do without objection.
He conveniently glosses over how the Free Press briefly did qualify (or so it claimed) by creating a separate little newspaper with fewer than 200 readers a couple of years back.
As soon as Joel used this untested loophole to get money for publishing official notices — and found out how much work he had to put in to do so — he promptly closed that part of his business, leaving local governments in the lurch.
Since then, he has been complaining every few months about how much we earn from publishing official notices, even though it is the exact same rate as he charges for ads.
As usual, friend Klaassen tried to summon supposed “facts and figures” to support his argument. As usual, you could trust only about half of what he said.
He claims we’re getting 30 percent more than we actually are. In fact, we’re getting the exact same price we received years before he ever tried to compete.
He also claims that the notion of publishing county notices in each separate commissioner district came up only after he briefly entered the business. The fact is public notices began being published in multiple newspapers years before the Free Press ever attempted to get into the business.
All the while he continues to harp about how his is the only “audited” paper in the county.
The “audit” (if you can call it that) is performed by a private company that openly advertises how, if you send it enough money, it will create a report making your newspaper look more legitimate. Maybe that’s why his “audit” results in claims that the Free Press is distributed to several hundred more households than actually exist in the county.
Friend Klaassen knows full well that newspapers qualifying to publish official notices are audited annually by the federal government, under penalty of perjury. Paying off our auditors would net us not a glowing report but a trip to prison, for bribery.
Joel calls his Free Press column “Partly Nonsense.” Just like he tried to take the “free” out of the Free Press by charging for news stories last fall, he now seems to have taken the “partly” out of his column’s name.
We hope he finds some better-tasting grapes. We hate having to be confrontational, but we can’t stand idly by while bullies make outlandish claims.