A News Analysis
By the Leader staff
Rogers County Commissioners will consider two hot-button issues during their regular meeting at 9 a.m. Monday.
One is whether to ask county voters to decide if liquor by the drink should be allowed on Sundays.
In Oklahoma, liquor by the drink is regulated by counties, which can prohibit it, allow it, or allow it on certain days or during certain hours.
According to the Oklahoma Restaurant Association, Sunday liquor by the drink sales are prohibited in Rogers County after 2 a.m. (i.e., after last call on Saturday night).
Commissioner Kirt Thacker said he was approached when he was commission chairman last year about placing the election proposal on the commission agenda.
He said Friday he agreed to do so when the sponsoring group was ready. He said the organizer had now asked that the issue be presented to the commissioners. (Since the initial request, the chairmanship has rotated to Commissioner Dan DeLozier with the start of the new year. This is standard practice.)
Thacker said that as an elected official he must place matters of public interest before the appropriate public body and/or the voters, regardless of his personal beliefs.
He said he expected at least one vote to reject calling a special election on the issue.
The other issue to be discussed Monday is how the county will handle publication of commission proceedings, claims (payments for goods and services), bid notices and other items which the county is required to publish in a newspaper qualified to publish legal notices.
At issue are two sets of questions Thacker and others have raised.
One set of questions involves past billing practices of the Claremore Daily Progress and whether it has billed the county substantially more than state law allows for publication services.
The other questions, raised in legal and other circles, involve whether various actions by the Progress involving required federal reports that are filed and published under oath may have jeopardized its status as a legal newspaper.
Those questions involve both its circulation figures in the past two reports as well as its failure to disclose the ownership of Newspaper Holdings, Inc. (which it purports is the owner of the newspaper) in the federal reports, although such corporate ownership is specifically required to be disclosed for any holder of more than 1 percent of the corporation’s stock.
The Progress has said in court proceedings that Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., of Birmingham, Ala., owns 100 percent of NHI’s stock. However CNHI is never named in the federal report.
The issue is very touchy in Rogers County, since an error in publishing a legal notice more than a decade ago led to the court judgment will be paid off by county citizens through sales taxes that will be in place for many years.
The meeting Monday will be held in the Commissioner’s Meeting Room on the first floor of the Rogers County Courthouse in Claremore.