Bidding process for City's official newspaper contested
July 22, 2021
DAYTON—Loyal Baker, the publisher of The Chronicle, was on the agenda for public comment at the July 14 council meeting. Baker asked the council to rescind its selection of The Times for the City’s official newspaper services. He offered as evidence to his complaint copies of the City of Dayton’s 2021-22 call for bids and the submitted written proposals from The Chronicle and The Times.
Baker said the call for bids spelled out bid requirements, contract periods, and submittal requests. Under reward criteria, an eligible bidder must meet RCW requirements and the bid and submittal requirements. Baker said The Chronicle carefully created a checklist so as not to miss any one of them
He asserted the Times is a non-responsive bidder for not complying with submittal requirement number two, by not including a statement of intent to comply with all bid requirements.
The Chronicle brought the matter to the attention of Trina Cole who forwarded it to the city’s attorney who said the city has the right to waive minor discrepancies.
Baker said, “The submittal requirement is plainly spelled out in the call for bids. We believe the city included this requirement for a reason. We respected that and insured The Chronicle’s full compliance.
“Why should a business that fully complied with written requirements be penalized when one that did not was rewarded? If you allow this, what’s next? What’s to say what a minor discrepancy is in the future?”
It should be noted that The Chronicle also omitted required information under the Submitted Requirements, section two. The Submittal Requirements asks for a statement of qualifying circulation which was not included in the letter from The Chronicle. This requirement is to provide quantitative data on the number of subscriptions to the bidder’s publication.
It is clearly stated on the legal notice calling for bids that the city reserved the right to waive minor irregularities in the bidding process. It also states that the city is only authorized to award the contract to the lowest responsible bidder (RCW 35.23.352). The letters presented to the council by Baker showed The Chronicle’s bid was for $32.65 for a 100-word notice and The Times bid was for $21.00 for the same sized notice.
“It is up to the city to decide if they have the needed information to make the best decision for the city’s taxpayers and residents. In the end, we submitted our best offer which was accepted as the lowest bid,” said Times publisher, Lane Gwinn. “We appreciate the opportunity to serve the City of Dayton.”