Council members voiced concern that Ponderwell's proposal didn't meet the criteria they had desired when the RFP was created. Xpress had also entered a proposal for the grant and was a finalist in the assessment made by a panel of city, county and business representatives. That panel gave Ponderwell a higher score, and staff recommended contracting with them for the project. Council member Gordon Smith expressed concern about government funding a news organization. Ponderwell staff and supporters defended their proposal, saying it would help citizens develop the skills to report and edit news, but Council remained unconvinced. The $120,000 set aside for the contract will return to the city general fund.
Here's the video of Council's deliberations on the measure: