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
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague will announce the £20m ($31 million U.S. dollars) compensation package in the House of Commons and thereafter express "sincere regret" to the more than 5000 victims who have been fighting for reparation from the UK government.
The next time a flight attendant reminds you there’s no smoking or you witness a teenager getting carded at a liquor store, think of Frank Lautenberg. The liberal Democratic senator from New Jersey left his mark on the everyday lives of millions of Americans...
A building that was being torn down on 22nd and Market Streets, collapsed with a thunderous boom Wednesday, raining bricks on a neighboring thrift store, killing six people and injuring at least 14 others in an accident that witnesses said was bound to happen.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s decision to eliminate a two-year waiting period for nonviolent felons to regain their voting and other civil rights largely was met with praise from local officials and candidates Wednesday. McDonnell’s office announced that nonviolent felons who maintain a clean record...
Both the House and Senate have passed bills that would reduce funding of the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called food stamps, but the extent of the cuts will not become known until negotiators from both chambers agree to a compromise measure.
Emergency crews searched the broken remnants of an Oklahoma City suburb Tuesday for survivors of a massive tornado that flattened homes and demolished an elementary school. At least 24 people were killed, including at least nine children, and those numbers were expected to climb.
In a brutal daylight attack which raised fears that terrorism had returned to London, two men with butcher knives hacked another man to death near a military barracks Wednesday before police wounded them in a shootout.
Malcolm Shabazz, grandson of political activist Malcolm X, died in Mexico City after a violent dispute in a bar, Mexican authorities said Friday. He was 28. City prosecutors are investigating the attack that sent Shabazz to a nearby hospital where he died Thursday of blunt-force trauma injuries.