The battle over whether the city will actually pass an ordinance banning the Press-Register’s continued tossing of advertising circulars to residents who don’t want them continues.
In a public services committee meeting last week concerning the issue, city councilors seemed to get weak in the knees when it came to taking on the Alabama Media Group concerning the possibilities of banning the unsolicited tossing of bags of pre-printed advertising under the Yes! and Gulf Coast Life labels. Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s administration has pointed to the products as a major cause of litter in the city and a problem in local waterways as well, but AMG has refused to stop throwing them into the yards of people who have not requested them.
An AMG attorney threatened the city with lawsuits if it violated the company’s First Amendment right to toss the products in yards and driveways across the city. District 1 Councilman Fred Richardson also inferred that the issue had become racial and socio-economic in that wealthier people were complaining about the circulars and wanted them stopped, but poor, black citizens in his district wanted and needed the advertising coupons to help make ends meet.
The issue was laid over by the council this past Tuesday for two weeks while attorneys for both sides tried to figure something out.
Meanwhile citizens continue to complain about the circulars and the inability to get them stopped. Robin Roberts wrote to me saying that over a two-week period she had collected 180-plus Gulf Coast Life circulars that had been lying along the curbs in her neighborhood. She said she didn’t pick any up that had not been there at least 48 hours, and provided a pretty compelling photo.
“These all reached recycling instead of the river, but it took effort,” she wrote.
On a two-block ride from my house to work Monday afternoon, I counted seven GCL bags still lying on sidewalks and driveways and in the street, soaked from days of rain. That’s five days after they were tossed.
AMG’s attorney told the council last week that people love getting these things thrown in their yards, but it looks like an awful lot don’t.
Reporters tossed out of Bayou la Batre meeting by mayor
Last week, Lagniappe reporter Jason Johnson and Mobile Press-Register reporter Michael Finch were forced to leave a Bayou la Batre City Council work session after sitting in chairs that apparently are considered too close to the action.
Mayor Brett Dungan had a police officer escort both reporters from the room prior to the meeting’s start after City Clerk Jamie Abastoflor asked them to move from two chairs they were occupying near the council podium. When Finch asked why, Abastoflor said they were too close and would be able to hear what councilors whispered to one another. Abastoflor said only things said through the microphone were public.
According to both reporters, Dungan then had them tossed from the meeting. They were both allowed into a meeting that followed an hour later.
While the mayor has since apologized to our reporter, his actions were completely inappropriate and illegal. The state’s open meetings laws don’t say anything about allowing public officials to whisper to one another during meetings, or that such communications are off the record. The fact is the law says anything in the meeting is recordable.
Hopefully Dungan will be able to control himself next time an issue like this comes up and understand the reporters are there to inform his constituents what’s happening in City Hall.
Changes at WKRG
They’re shaking things up a bit at WKRG-TV, moving some of their best-known people around and creating a new show.
A new 9 a.m. half-hour broadcast will begin March 30, according to News Director Mike Rausch. It will follow the “CBS Morning News,” and feature Devon Walsh anchoring the newscast, along with her current cohort on “News 5 This Morning,” Meteorologist John Nodar.
This move will take Walsh off “This Morning,” and she will be replaced by current weekend anchor Avery Cotton. In turn, Cotton will be replaced as weekend anchor by reporter Ashley Knight. Ashley will also report three days a week and continue her “Scam Busters” series, Rausch said.
Along with anchoring the new morning show and the noon newscasts, Walsh will move to co-anchor the 5 p.m. broadcast with Peter Albrecht.
Bunting said other newscast expansions are in the planning stages and will be announced at a later date.
Kennedy hired by WNSP
Randy Kennedy has been hired by Mobile’s all-sports radio station WNSP, to lead its on-air programming and website content, it was announced Tuesday.
Kennedy has been a co-host of “The Afternoon Sports Drive” for some time and will continue to do so, along with adding full-time duties as program director and web editor,” WNSP operations manager Tim Camp said.
“Our mission is to provide the most in-depth and entertaining sports coverage to fans in the mobile area,” Camp said. “By hiring one of the most respected and recognizable sports journalists in the region we think we’ve taken a major step in accomplishing that goal.”
Kennedy has served as the sports editor for the Mobile Press-Register and most recently hub director for the paper and al.com. He was let go in a recent purge that saw the Alabama Media Group lay off seven members of its Mobile staff. He has been part of “The Afternoon Sports Drive” since 2009.