Yesterday, Oct. 11, Asheville City Council unanimously voted to not authorize a community media contract with web development company Ponderwell.
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: