The Village of Garden City Board of Trustees recently announced its intention to switch its official newspaper from Garden City News to the Anton Media Group’s own Garden City Life, a decision which has generated some opposition from residents, and questions as to reasons behind the switch.
Publicly announced in the agenda of the village’s Jan. 17 board of trustees meeting, the now-approved resolution authorizes the village clerk to start publishing village legal notices in Garden City Life starting with the Jan. 23 issue. Legal notices are listings in the paper which include. but are not limited to, public hearings, court actions, bids and proposals and zoning notices.
This begins a two-month transition period where notices will appear in both Garden City News and Garden City Life. Following the village’s scheduled April 8 organizational meeting, a vote will be held to officially have all notices be printed only in Garden City Life.
The village failed to respond with comments about why the decision was made. As for Anton Media Group President Frank Virga, he and Anton’s publisher are understandably pleased by the municipality’s recent decision.
“Our publisher, Angela Anton, and myself couldn’t be more pleased by the board of trustees’ decision on this,” Virga said. “We’ve forged a great many relationships since we began publishing Garden City Life back in 1985, and we’re proud to finally have the opportunity to become the official newspaper of this wonderful community.”
Both Virga and Anton praised Life editor, Dave Gil de Rubio, as “…an award-winning journalist who has been at the helm for nearly seven years, and is an active and highly-visible presence in the community as well.”
Meg Norris, editor and publisher of the Garden City News, said in a statement: “We understand that members of the board of trustees are volunteers who willingly spend their time serving the community. However, they have sworn to uphold the laws of the State of New York, and that includes the Open Meetings Law. Since this decision was made without any public discussion by the board, we can only assume that they have not upheld those oaths. We urge the board to make public its reasoning for coming to this decision.”
At the Jan. 17 meeting, numerous residents expressed their objections to switching from the News to the Life, including Gerry Kelly, president of the Garden City Western Property Owners Association, who said there is a greater volume of communication in the News.
“I don’t see Garden City Life; I don’t get it; it’s not the same thing,” Kelly said.
Resident George Salem likened the switch to “shifting from the New York Times to The Daily News” and speculated that the Life has one fourth the circulation that the News has. Salem then asked the village board why it was being done, to which Village Mayor Brian Daughney responded “We’re taking comments [from the public].”
Thomas Lamberti, a former board trustee, said Garden City News has been the village’s official newspaper for more than 50 years and commented, “People are wondering about what the Garden City News did to warrant this decision—it’s shocking.” He also questioned the timeline of events, saying village residents should have heard about it prior to it being an agenda item to vote on.
Virga and Anton, in their joint statement, said that Anton “proudly delivers the full-color Garden City Life to our readers each week with unmatched superior print quality and an eclectic mix local sports, business profiles, dining reviews, politics, school and library news and so much more.”