Editorials on Public Notices


Representatives should back win-win bill THE DAILY DISPATCH, Henderson
Should our Republican-dominated General Assembly seek to truly operate away from the public’s trusting eyes with bills related to public notices, we’ll know for sure in the life and death of House Bill 723. HB 723, a proposal backed by the N.C. Press Association and this newspaper, keeps the idea of public notices in place while working with government entities and their taxpayers to keep costs minimal. The bill keeps public notices in the local newspaper. The newspaper is also required, after accepting, to post it online for no additional charge. The newspapers would publish in print and online the same day, with a clearly visible link to public notices on its homepage. A search function must be present for public notices. Read more.

Support public notice compromise bill THE HERALD-SUN, Durham
Tennessee doesn’t want to be in the dark. Bill Haslam, the Republican governor of the Volunteer State, signed legislation that keeps the job of informing the public about government business out of government’s hands. The law, which had been proposed by the Tennessee Press Association and closely resembles similar legislation offered by the North Carolina Press Association to our own General Assembly, keeps public notices in newspapers. Read more.

Environmental concerns need our eyes THE DAILY DISPATCH, Henderson
House Bill 755 is another step in the wrong direction, and we’ve requested state Reps. Nathan Baskerville and Winkie Wilkins to make sure state Sens. Angela Bryant and Floyd McKissick Jr. never even get to see it. In another step to take notices away from the public, HB 755 affects all North Carolinians by allowing the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources to give notices of hearings only on its website and through emails to those who have signed up in advance to receive them. Currently, they must be posted in newspapers. In full disclosure, there is a financial stake for newspapers dependent on size and various other factors. We’re talking less than 1 percent of total revenue at the state’s largest newspapers, and a paper our size not much more. Read more.

Bills threaten public notice access THE CASWELL MESSENGER, Yanceyville
Since 1926, The Caswell Messenger has served as the primary source for county residents to not only get their news, but to find out what’s going on at the town and county levels through public notices. But several bills moving through the North Carolina Legislature are threatening the access to these notices, by allowing government agencies to post public notices on their own websites, and not in the local newspaper. These notices include rezonings, budget hearings, ordinance changes, and other issues. Read more.

Legislature must not scrap public notices HICKORY DAILY RECORD, Hickory
Four pieces of legislation would hamper the public’s right to know what local government is planning. The bills would allow cities, counties and even one state agency to put public notices on their web sites and not publish notifications in newspapers. Currently, North Carolina law requires government notices such as announcing public hearings to be placed in newspapers. The publication must be done in a timely manner. The requirement is a critical element in protecting the right to know about actions that will directly affect the public. Read more.

Don’t hide notices from public SPRING HOPE ENTERPRISE, Spring Hope
The N.C. Senate, increasingly seen as the place where crazy ideas take root, struck a huge blow against open government Tuesday when it passed a local bill exempting 10 counties and two cities from having to publish public notices where the public will see them. Republican leaders and their rank and file, including Sen. Buck Newton of Wilson, pushed through SB287 on a 26-22 vote. It now goes to the Republican-controlled House where several anti-public notice bills are already circulating and will be considered as early as later this week. Read more.

A victory for the public  THE DAILY COURIER, Forest City
A battle over public notices in newspapers has come to an end. Unfortunately, that battle ended across the state line in Tennessee. Late last week, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed legislation proposed by the Tennessee Press Association (TPA) that requires all public notices printed in newspapers to be published on the newspapers' local website and a statewide aggregate website maintained by the TPA. Read more.

What's the value of an informed public? THE ENQUIRER-JOURNAL, Monroe
It is quite plain now just how much our county commissioners value government transparency and keeping the public informed about government action. The figure is $2,000. That is how much our county would spend on publishing notices in a local newspaper to keep its taxpayers informed about things like new laws, delinquent tax lists notices of when and where the commissioners will meet. They voted enthusiastically to sign on to Senate Bill 287, a local bill that would allow the county and its municipalities to stop publishing legal notices in newspapers and allow them to publish the notices on websites instead. Read more.

Public notices need to stay in newspapers THE DISPATCH, Lexington
Instead of removing public notices from newspapers, thereby decreasing the number of people likely to see them, why not add more ways for delivery? That's the heart of HB 723, a measure backed by the North Carolina Press Association and this newspaper. Under the provisions of this bill, newspapers would continue to run these government advertisements in their printed product, but add on a requirement for those same notices to be placed on their websites. Read more.

Bad guy pushing bad bill  THE DAILY DISPATCH, Henderson
When elected officials don’t realize whom they serve, they no longer should serve. They should respectfully resign and go back home. Tommy Tucker, a state senator from Waxhaw, chaired the State and Local Government Committee Tuesday and told a newspaper publisher the following: “I am the senator. You are the citizen. You need to be quiet.” Further, he refused a fellow senator’s request for a roll call vote when a voice vote appeared close, if not opposite of Tucker’s judgment. The topic? Tucker has a bill for government to move its activities where fewer people are likely to look. Read more.

No, YOU need to be quiet, Mr. Tucker! CREATIVE LOAFING, Charlotte
Political arrogance reached a new extreme on Tuesday when Republican Sen. Tommy Tucker of Waxhaw told a North Carolina newspaper publisher, "I am the senator. You are the citizen. You need to be quiet." Ok, well, that's one way to operate in a Democratic society. Another way is to turn the table on this pathetic excuse for a public servant and tell him, "No, we are the people. You are the slimy bastard who wants to conduct public business in secrecy. You need to go away." Read more.

Publication of legal notices in newspapers keeps information available for all THE GASTON GAZETTE, Gastonia
If you are looking for an example — another example in an endless list — of bad government and arrogance on the part of an elected official, look no further than Sen. Tommy Tucker and Tuesday’s session of the N.C. Senate’s State and Local Government Committee. Tucker, a Waxhaw Republican, pulled a political shenanigan for the record book. In doing so, he thumbed his nose at all citizens of North Carolina and their right to know what happens in their government. Under Tucker’s leadership as co-chair, the committee put its stamp of approval on a bill that allows governments to hide public notices on their web sites rather than publishing them in newspapers. Read more.

Get involved: Public notices and tax reform affects everyone
THE DAILY HERALD, Roanoke Rapids
Here we go again. The General Assembly is already begun its annual fight to squelch your access to public notices by trying to remove them from newspapers. Now some state Senators are targeting newspapers along with other businesses under the guise of tax reform. Seems we have some overzealous legislators who either have a grudge against their local papers, or lawmakers who are being led astray by those who feel it’s also fine to keep their own colleagues in the dark and mislead them with incorrect informationRead more.

The people’s business CARTERET COUNTY NEWS-TIMES, Morehead City
The business environment for newspapers has changed dramatically with the rise of the Internet as a source for news and information. But community newspapers continue to serve an important function that should not be overlooked, especially by municipal government officials. Handheld electronic devices connected to the Web are changing how local governments disseminate information, both internally and to the public. Pressure to cut expenses, such as advertising costs for legally required notices, must not be allowed to infringe on the public’s right to know. But that’s precisely what is happening in North Carolina. Read more.

Government announcements need distribution beyond online postings STARNEWS, Wilmington
As an environmental engineer and small-business owner who must keep his skills updated, Rick Catlin is computer savvy. But the Republican state representative also knows his constituency, and that many of them either choose not to own a computer or cannot afford one. That makes a proposed law allowing local governments to restrict public notices to a government-owned website or TV channel burdensome for many people, and may prevent them from learning about important meetings,hearings and public issues. Read more.

Public notices, where the public will notice THE HERALD-SUN, Durham
In the next few days, the Durham County ABC Board will hold its regular meeting at 3620 Durham Chapel Hill Blvd. The Durham County Board of Commissioners will hold public hearings on proposed development-ordinance changes, and the Durham County Board of Adjustment will hold public hearings on several cases. Those meetings, and many more like them every month, are the routine but vital stuff of the public’s business. You might find out about them in a variety of ways – your neighborhood’s email discussion group, or a brief news item. But you know without a doubt you can learn about them by scanning the legal advertisements in the newspaper. That’s state law – public bodies are required to publish public notices of their meetings, new ordinances, public hearings – all information the public has the right to know and the government has an obligation to publish. But if some state legislators have their way, your fellow citizens in several places may no longer be able to depend on those notices being published where the public will notice them. Read more.

Better to watch making sausage THE HERALD-SUN, Durham
An old and well-worn cliché has it that watching a legislative body in action is like watching sausage being made. A couple years ago, The New York Times ran a delightful article in which it talked to a group of people who take considerable umbrage at that comparison. They weren’t legislators. They were sausage-makers. “I’m so insulted when people say that lawmaking is like sausage making,” Stanley A. Feder, president of Simply Sausage, told The Times’ Robert Pear. Read more.

Republican duo forging bad bill THE DAILY DISPATCH, Henderson
Greensboro Republican Trudy Wade and Raleigh Republican Andrew Brock are making another attempt at destroying transparency and putting numerous government entities in fiscal liability jeopardy. Read more

Keep public notices public HENDERSONVILLE LIGHTING, Hendersonville
We would assume that our new state Legislature, firmly in control of Republicans who claim to be for the people over government and for private sector solutions over public ones, would cast a skeptical eye on an effort to whittle away at the people's right to know. Read more.

Newspapers provide best option for notices THE DAILY COURIER, Forest City
For years newspapers have been the long-standing source for the public to find notices from its government entities. Newspapers have become the first place the people look to find various notices ranging from foreclosures to project bids. Read more.