ECP removed as Ferris’ official paper
By 12/07/2006 00:00:00
Retaliation reasons obvious
FERRIS - With no mention of what it might mean to keeping citizens informed, the Ferris City Council voted Monday to change the publication of its legal notices from The Ellis County Press to the Waxahachie Daily Light.
The only excuse given was the desire for a 'daily newspaper' from Councilman Gary Ross, who made the motion for a change.
Councilman Bill Pardue, who seconded the motion, said he and Ross had spoken to the WDL and assured the council the Waxahachie-based newspaper was prepared to cover Ferris' community events, schools and other news, although no representative from the daily was even present to cover the meeting which would appoint them as the city's official paper.
When a city chooses a newspaper for its legal publication of record, it normally does so on the basis of general circulation to its constituents.
Saving money on the publication of legal notices has also been a consideration for most elected official.
The newspaper of choice prints all legal notices which were required by law to be published so residents of the community had due notice of the important actions its local government was about to undergo.
The publishing of these notices in the Waxahachie Daily Light, who admittedly revealed a Ferris subscriber base of only 40 people, was never brought up at Monday's meeting.
The Waxahachie Daily Light was also only available in two news stands in Ferris.
The ECP has operated a tax-paying business within Ferris' city limits and has been the official paper for the City of Ferris since 1993.
The ECP presented the council several months ago with a cost differential analysis depicting the larger expenses the city would incur by changing to the WDL.
Although no reasonable reason was offered for the change, past remarks from certain council members have made it obvious the real reasons included retaliation and campaign promises made to the brother of a former police chief for the City of Ferris.
The brother, Hubert Cottongame, formerly said he hated the owners of the ECP because they were breathing his air and because stories published three years ago led to the firing of his brother.
He has filed many frivolous complaints against the ECP's building owner Charles Hatfield and has tried to have Hatfield removed from the city's planning and zoning board.
At least two of the current Ferris City Council members meet regularly with Cottongame at a local cafe.
Cottongame was one of the organizing members of a former political group named 'Save Ferris,' who supported the current council and began campaigning three years ago to unseat the previous council who fired the chief, his brother.
Until May of this year, they were unsuccessful to gain a council majority.
Once elected, they pursued undoing the actions taken by the previous council.
Danny Satterwhite, owner of Danny's Auto, was reinstated recently on the city's vendor list, even though he had been originally stricken from the list because his invoices to the city were so untimely, no one could remember what work had been actually done on city vehicles by the time the invoices were submitted.
Satterwhite also meets daily with Cottongame and councilmembers.
The former council-appointed city manager and police chief have also come under fire.
The vote to remove the ECP was unanimous, after councilmen Rick Barrett and Billy Don Dunn first questioned Pardue and Sims about the WDL's promises and asked if they could change it back if it didn't work out with the daily.
Mayor Pro Tem Fred Pontley was presiding over the meeting in the absence of Mayor Jim Parks.
Because of the council's action Monday, the ECP has vowed to 'step up' its coverage of the council to ensure important information was 'not hidden' from the citizens of Ferris.