Don’t let government hide in the dark


Are you OK with government officials limiting who can speak at public hearings or keeping you in the dark on things like tax increases or zoning changes or continued meetings?

House Bill 51 opens the door for all of that.

The bill allows local governing bodies to post public notices on the county’s website “in lieu of or in addition to the required publication or advertisement” in a newspaper.

Let’s pretend for a minute that our elected leaders will be willing to spend more taxpayer dollars to report their notices in the newspaper and on the county’s website. (The county can charge other local governing bodies unchecked fees to do so under the bill). And let’s pretend they will continue to follow that practice into a second year of a troubled economy. (The stimulus checks won’t continue to come forever and someone will eventually need to pay for them.)

In the spirit of “saving taxpayer dollars,” local governing bodies could opt to only publish notices on the county’s website.

A recent market study by the North Carolina Press Association found 72% of North Carolinians read public notices on important things like tax increases and proposed zoning changes in local print or digital newspapers; and 86% of the state’s residents trust local newspapers and their websites for public notices more than government sources.

We have some great local officials, now, but can you really trust a politician you haven’t met yet?

Can you guarantee everyone will vote to keep the one you can’t trust out of office?

And then there’s that pesky internet problem we have.

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