Black newspaper wins battle against advertising discrimination
ABOVE PHOTO: Informer publisher Denise Rolark Barnes
Trice Edney News Wire
The Office of the Chief Financial Officer in Washington, D.C. has agreed to recognize The Washington Informer as a newspaper of general circulation. The designation was spelled out in a settlement agreement that ends the Informer's legal challenge against the OCFO which disqualified the newspaper from bidding on the Unclaimed Properties advertisement because it "serves a certain ethnic group."
In an email to The Informer, Joseph Giddis, director of the D.C. Office of Contracts, said the newspaper was not qualified for the contract to publish ads for unclaimed property because it "serves a specific ethnic group" and therefore "does not meet the requirement of a newspaper of general circulation." D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray called the decision "ill-informed."
Washington Informer publisher Denise Rolark Barnes and Attorney Johnny Barnes made the announcement at a press conference held Monday, November 5, in front of One Judiciary Square in North West D.C. Supporters of The Washington Informer - many of whom had showed up to protest after the negative decision in August - returned to express their support for the settlement agreement that declares the Informer a general circulation newspaper and for costs related to preparing for the bid and appeal expenses.
"I am pleased with the OCFO's decision," said Rolark Barnes, "but I am still baffled by the unwarranted decision which got us here in the first place and its negative implications. However, this settlement is not only a win for The Washington Informer, but it will apply to every DC-based newspaper that is a Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) or that serves a target market. That was our purpose for appealing this decision."
Since 1981, The Washington Informer has published for the District of Columbia Government various advertisements including the Unclaimed Property Advertisements. It has also published the Tax Sale Advertisement. In September 2009, the Washington Informer published the Unclaimed Property Advertisement and as recently as June 2011, it published the Tax Sale Advertisement.
Attorney Johnny Barnes, who represented The Washington Informer in its protest against the District, called the earlier decision a "subjective judgment wholly inconsistent with the plain language of the governing statute." At a press conference held three months ago with Washington Informer supporters, Barnes said, "In fact, because the decision has as its foundation the mistaken view that the Washington Informer Newspaper "serves a specific ethnic group,' the decision could be regarded as discriminatory under the District of Columbia's Human Rights Law."
In June, the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, Office of Contracts issued a solicitation bid for the publication of the city's unclaimed property listing to "a newspaper of general circulation" that is "widely distributed in the District of Columbia." The Washington Informer responded along with The Washington Times, Washington Post and Washington Examiner.
The $30,000 contract was awarded to The Washington Times.
Rolark-Barnes was informed by email that, "The Washington Informer was found non-responsive based on the fact that the Washington Informer serves a specific ethnic group. It is our view that targeting a specific ethnic group does not meet the requirement of a newspaper of general circulation," wrote OCFO contactor Joseph Giddis.
+ Top Story
With the holiday season in full swing, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), joined by a local worker and advocates, will call for an increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour for over 700,000 Pennsylvania workers.
Wayne County, Mich., prosecutor Kym Worthy has charged Theodore Paul Wafer with second-degree murder in the death of Renisha McBride, a 19 year-old Detroit woman, who sought help following an automobile accident in Dearborn Heights, Mich.
Alabama’s parole board approved of granting posthumous pardons in the infamous “Scottsboro Boys” rape case on Thursday morning. The board made the decision during a hearing in Montgomery for three black men whose convictions were never overturned in a case that came to symbolize racial injustice...
Cleveland Cox, 49, and Lisa Cox, 52, are charged with nonsupport of dependents. Authorities allege the Middletown couple left boy with children’s services after saying he was displaying aggressive behavior and earlier threatened the family with a knife. Trial is scheduled for Feb. 10.
Another milestone is passing in America’s racial journey: The next mayor of New York City is a white man with a black wife. Even in a nation with a biracial president, where interracial marriage is more accepted and common than ever, Bill de Blasio’s marriage to Chirlane McCray is remarkable...
Common Pleas Judge Lawrence O’Toole has appointed former retired U.S. District Bankruptcy Judge Judith K. Fitzgerald to manage the financially troubled August Wilson Center for African American Culture. As conservator, Fitzgerald will oversee the center’s operation and...
The NAACP announced the members of its search committee for the Association’s new president and CEO last week. The members are a distinguished group of leaders from a variety of fields. The committee includes both members of the national board and key stakeholders.
Typhoon-ravaged Philippine islands faced a daunting relief effort that had barely begun Monday, as bloated bodies lay uncollected and uncounted in the streets and survivors pleaded for food, water and medicine.