When the Allegheny County Sheriff's Department decided earlier this year to run its legal notices only in the Tribune-Review, the Post-Gazette objected. But the sheriff's office, under then-Sheriff Pete DeFazio, told the P-G this was a financial decision that would not be changed.
Now the Post-Gazette has offered a better deal for two years of exclusivity in its own paper, and acting Sheriff William P. Mullen signed it, but the reaction from the Trib wasn't at all like the P-G's last year (see "Sheriff Sells Sheriff's Sales to Lowest Circulator," News Briefs, Jan. 26).
Instead of preparing an even better deal of its own for the next go-round, the Trib has sued the sheriff, the county and the P-G. Among several counts in the suit, the Trib claims that DeFazio agreed four days before he resigned Oct. 31 to continue the Trib's 2006 deal through 2007. The suit also claims that the Trib wasn't given a chance to provide a counter offer, and that the sheriff didn't follow proper procurement procedures by putting the contract up for bid.
"Mullen ... did not ask [the Trib's representatives] to submit a proposal or to make a presentation in a competitive bid situation," the lawsuit states.
When the Trib scored its own exclusivity earlier this year -- without a competitive bid process -- the paper didn't raise a peep publicly about procurement procedures, of course.
The Trib had asked for an emergency injunction to keep the new deal from going into effect on Jan. 1, but Judge Judith Friedman refused to grant the order.
Calls to the Tribune-Review and sheriff's office were not returned. Randall Brant, the P-G's vice president of advertising, said that while he could not comment on pending litigation, he could say that "I am happy about the sheriff's decision to work with us again."