Oakland voters on March 3 — along with deciding on presidential and other crucial ballot issues — have the opportunity to vote on Measure R, which would “eliminate obsolete requirements for designation of the city’s official newspaper and require that the council establish requirements by ordinance to designate the city’s official newspaper or newspapers,” according to the ballot title and summary published by the City Attorney.
Under Measure R, the City Charter will be updated to allow the Oakland City Council to annually pick the newspaper or newspapers the publish “pending ordinances, invitations to bid, award of contracts and leases, notice of intention to grant franchises, election proceedings and other matters that require public notice.”
Currently, the charter requires that only newspapers can be designated as the city’s official newspaper if they are printed and published in the city and have a minimum daily circulation of at least 25,000 within the city.
“No newspaper that currently is circulated in Oakland meets all of the current charter requirements,” wrote City Attorney Barbara Parker in her summary of the ballot measure.
When the current law was written into the charter, there was a daily newspaper published in Oakland. Without a change in the law, the city would continue to be required to post notices in “non-local media, owned by out-of-state corporations and failing to meet the full diversity and access for our community,” wrote City Council President Kaplan.
According to the ballot argument in favor of Measure R submitted by Kaplan, local businessman Geoffrey Pete, Councilmember Noel Gallo, former newspaper publisher Robert Gammon and Legislative Director Barbara Lopez, “This measure allows the Oakland City Council to establish a thoughtful public process to adapt our noticing provisions to accommodate changing circumstance and practices through ordinance.”
“This will assist the City of Oakland in working with diverse weeklies and truly reaching all communities across our city,” the ballot argument said.
“In Oakland, our long-established daily print newspaper shut its doors in 2016,” according to the ballot argument. “As this section is memorialized in our City Charter, it requires a vote of Oakland residents to update our newspaper of record circulation requirements.”
Measure R was placed on the ballot by the City Council. Passage of the measure requires a “yes vote” of more than 50% of the votes cast.