Of Record 2010

Volume 10, Issue II

November 20, 2010

With the November elections behind us, legislatures around the country are gearing up for 2011.  Therefore, this edition is packed full of articles and editorials on the importance and effectiveness of public notice in newspapers as well as some exciting new work being done at the Public Notice Resource Center.

As always, please let us know how best we can help!

PNRC Resources

The PNRC continues to work hard to provide you with additional resources about the importance of public notices.  Most recently, we have added a new section to the website under the “subscriber resources” tab to compile Attorney General opinions and cases on various topics of concern to public notices.

This information is continuously being updated, but we encourage you to check out the materials as you begin to prepare for your upcoming legislative sessions.

Subscriber Resources – A.G. Opinions

Demographics

The Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) have released their new report, “Digital Nation II” analyzing broadband access and adoption across the United States.

Of particular interest is their finding that almost one-fourth of all households did not have an Internet user.

The report also confirms that there are still significant gaps among demographic groups defined by income, education, race, and ethnicity and between urban and rural locations.

The report analyzes data collected through an Internet Usage Survey of 54,000 households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau in October 2009.  NTIA previously released some of the findings from this study earlier this year.

The full report is available at:  http://www.esa.doc.gov/DN/

Prominent Notices

Recently, National Public Radio (“NPR”) hosted an analysis of the difficulties associated with archiving digital files.  You can listen to the ‘All Things Considered’ podcast and/or read the transcript on the NPR website.

Cataloging Digital Documents (10.29.2010)

Articles & Editorials

While the legislatures prepare for another busy year of public notice legislation, PNRC has been compiling a wealth of articles about public notice that you may find of interest…

Failure of Notice

CALIFORNIA – The Agoura Hills city council was legally required to postpone the amendment of an ordinance that would prohibit the establishment and operation of medicinal marijuana dispensaries because of a clerical error by the city clerk.  The notice, printed in the local newspaper, stated the incorrect date for the meeting.

Council Clerical Error Angers Medical Marijuana Dispensary Supporters (10.14.2010)

NEW HAMPSHIRE – Because of an error in a public notice five years ago, a Barnstead man was granted a rehearing on an application for a zoning variance to erect electronic signs along the roadways. It was determined that the ordinance amendment specifically banning these signs was invalidly adopted because the notice published in the newspaper did not specifically mention electronic signs.

‘Sign for Jesus’ Plan Revived (10.8.2010)

NORTH CAROLINA – Leaders of the fire board in Gardner thought it adequate to post notice of two quickly called Board of Directors meetings discussing the terms of its new contract with the town on their website hours before the meetings began and promptly removed the notice the next day.  “On Wednesday, interim Fire Chief Matt Poole said the notices were removed because they cluttered the department’s site.  ‘Once the meeting is done, is there any reason to leave it on there?’ Poole said.”

Garner Fire Department Highlights Ambiguity in N.C. Sunshine Laws (10.8.2010)

SOUTH DAKOTA – Finding a contradiction of public notice, county officials granted a construction bid to replace a bridge because “the time published in the public notice takes precedent over the [meeting] agenda,” the Deputy County Attorney said.  The time in the published notice said bids would be received until ten o’clock, while the meeting agenda closed the bid process at nine-thirty.

Bid Allowed After Agenda Error (10.16.2010)

TEXAS – An unfortunate error occurred in which a newspaper simply failed to publish the public notice.  “I dropped the ball. For the first time in my 35 years in the business, I failed to publish a public notice like that. We had the information in plenty of time, it just fell through the cracks. It’s not the county’s fault.”

Dewitt Commissioners Set Second Public Hearing on Budget, Tax Rate After Notices Not Published in Two of Three County Newspapers (10.4.2010)

Lack of Public Notice

COLORADO – The Board of County Commissioners in Montrose are seeking an injunction against the trustees of a hospital for failure to provide adequate notice to the county or to the public that they were leasing the hospital to a newly created nonprofit, the Montrose Memorial Hospital, Inc.

County Seeks Injunction to Stop Hospital Transfer (10.25.2010)

ILLINOIS – The Illinois Attorney General’s office has declared null and void seven resolutions that were not listed on the meeting agenda.  Two days after the failure of notice, the local newspaper reported on the actions taken that were not posted on the agenda.

County Found in Violation of Open Meetings Act (10.19.2010)

NEW YORK – Through a newspaper’s Freedom of Information Act request for documents proving appropriate public notice was given for meetings in which two ballot provisions were discussed regarding mayoral succession and the approval of mayoral appointees, it was found that no such notice existed.  The city’s law department sent a letter in response to the request stating, “The city could find no documents fitting the description of ‘papers, e-mail or memos’ showing that public notice was given.”

Yonkers Can’t Produce Evidence of Public Notices for Ballot Proposition Meeting (11.2.2010)

OHIO – Because of a failure to provide public notice of a meeting to fill a spot on the Board of Education, the newly elected member was forced to resign and allow the application and interview process to be renewed.  “The failure to send the public notice was a mistake, one the board has not made in the past and will not make in the future,” said the board president.

Oversight Causes Allen to Resign From Canton City BOE (10.11.2010)

Notices Belong in Newspapers

The best advocate to illustrate that notices belong in newspapers is the newspaper itself.  Below, a sampling of articles and editorials based on public notices in newspapers.

ENGLAND – Based on a published public notice, this author was able to write an article focusing on the concerns of residents about community land that was being sold off, land used for a community garden and by a local school to teach students science lessons.

Concern at Longford Land Change (10.28.2010)

ILLINOIS – This editorial highlights the merits of public notices in newspapers as a tool for citizens to hold their government officials accountable.

Public Notices Shine a Light on Government (10.9.2010)

INDIANA – Articles about a public notice can be as simple as informing the community that a new sports bar chain will be moving into the area.

Buffalo Wild Wings Restaurant Chain Looking at Former Tascas Building (10.26.2010)

IOWA – An important editorial illustrating why public notices should be printed in newspapers: because they are the most trusted and convenient location for information vital to the community.  In this instance, the notice provided information regarding voting and sample ballots.

Simply Put (10.25.2010)

KANSAS – Public notices on the Internet are hard to come across simply by just surfing the web.  This author agrees.  He makes the argument for newspapers and further articulates that many newspapers publish in both print and online.

The Free Press Does It Again (11.3.2010)

State

With just a few states still in session, things on the legislative front are relatively quiet.  However, in the very near future many states will begin their pre-filing process for the 2011 legislative session.  We expect to see a busy year ahead on the public notice front!

Judicial

INDIA – The High Court of Bombay at Goa found that newspaper notice was not sufficient notice that six kiosks were to be destroyed because personal notice was legally required.

MMC to Issue Fresh Notices to 6 Kiosks in Mapusa (10.20.2010)

International

ENGLAND – Yet another reminder that legislative threats to move public notices online are not isolated to the United States.

Councils Call for Change in Public Notice Laws (10.18.2010)

Volume 9, Issue II

August 27, 2010

Welcome to the August edition of PNRC’s, of Record. With only nine legislatures still in session, things have quieted down considerably on the public notice front. The legislatures still in session continue to present bills that would remove public notices and place them on state websites.

Proponents of unfavorable public notices legislation are relying on the mantra “cost-saving measure.” And New Jersey and Tennessee dominated the public notice news this month as legislative sessions continue to discuss bills that threaten to reduce notice. See more details below.

As always, please let us know how best we can help!

Prominent Notices

This year, landmark public notice legislation was signed into law in Illinois. We’ve covered the bill from its inception, so now we’re going to dive in a little deeper and explore this remarkable collaboration between the state legislature, Illinois Press Association (IPA) and local newspapers.

On July 21, 2010, Governor Quinn signed HB 5232, the Notice by Publication Act, into law. The law will require all public notices to be published on a statewide site, PublicNoticeIllinois.com, launched by IPA and jointly maintained by statewide newspapers.

“It is imperative that newspapers remain the primary provider of vital government information,” the Illinois Press Association wrote in a press release.

“The journey into an increasingly digital era requires that the newspaper industry demonstrate to lawmakers a willingness to offer online access to public notices. Newspapers must present a united front to promote the future viability and readership of public notices.”

The public’s right to know continues to be attacked. Under the guise of “cost-saving measures”, many state legislatures are proposing the removal of newspaper notices.

Looking at the past legislative year in review:

  • More than 50 bills made the public notice requirement for newspaper or a state website, at the discretion of the entity involved.
  • More than 55 bills were introduced that only required notice on state, agency or organizational websites (with no publication requirement).
  • More than a dozen bills proposed a complete removal of notices currently published in newspapers.

State newspaper associations and local newspapers have met with legislatures and written countless articles defending public notices. The new Illinois law can be a model for how newspapers can protect the public’s right to know by keeping public notices public and off government websites.

See the statewide website section of the new Notice by Publication Act:

Sec. 2.1. Statewide website. Whenever notice by publication in a newspaper is required by law, order of court, or contract, the newspaper publishing the notice shall, at no additional cost to government, place the notice on the statewide website established and maintained as a joint venture of the majority of Illinois newspapers as a repository for such notices.

Perhaps this model, or something similar, could help you in your fight to protect public notices.

On the other end of the spectrum…

Ohio’s HB 220, which would remove legal newspapers from those that publish notices, creates a threat to public notices. HB 220 passed the House on June 2, with of vote of 97 “yeas” and only one “nay”. It is now before the Senate.

The bill is being touted as modernizing the requirements pertaining to the publication of public notices, according to State Representative Jennifer Garrison (D-93rd District), who voted in favor of passing the bill in the House, but the bill is opposed by the legal journals who say the changes will add, not save, costs on government budgets. Garrison considers the current notice requirements to be “outdated” and sees the bill as a cost-saving measure.

The sole Representative who voted against HB 220 was Gerald Stebelton (R-Lancaster). Stebelton offered an amendment that would have allowed publication of foreclosure and sheriff’s sales notices in daily legal journals, but that amendment was not incorporated into the bill that passed the House.

Demographics

A recent Pew study shows that broadband growth has slowed in the last year. And more than half of Americans don’t believe that broadband expansion should be a government priority. One third of all Americans are not using high speed internet at home are not using broadband, a number that decreased only three percent from 2009.

The only demographic group showing a drastic increase was African-Americans whose broadband usage was up ten percent from 46 percent to 56 percent.

“By a 53%-41% margin, Americans say they do not believe that the spread of affordable broadband should be a major government priority,” Pew analysts found.

“Contrary to what some might suspect, non-internet users are less likely than current users to say the government should place a high priority on the spread of high-speed connections. 

Home Broadband 2010 Pew Study, (8.11.2010)

Articles & Editorials

California

Local residents deserve to have notice of local issues. An unfortunate illustration unfolded in Bell, California. The local paper was bought out. As a result, there was less coverage of local government affairs, coverage that may have brought to light the abusive self-dealing scandal involving top tier administrators.

The article highlighted the importance of local reporting stating that “the Bell spectacle is what happens to communities without their own old-fashioned diligent news coverage by veteran newspaper reporters, or at least smart reporters led by veteran newspaper editors.”

“The result need not be on paper, but it must be done with the community memory and professional savvy almost unique to newspaper-trained journalists with experience watching small-town politics,” the article continued.

Why the bell scandal happened and what can be done, (7.28.2010)

Montana

An attorney for the Montana Newspaper Association (MNA) called out district officials who held a meeting without providing public notice. In a bizarre attempt to comply with the open meeting law, the Ennis school board changed a private meeting to a public one… minutes before it began and without notice.

“If a quorum of the Board was present it was covered by the open meetings law and should have been noticed as such,” Mike Meloy, an attorney who provides information through MNA, wrote in an email.

“They should have renoticed the meeting in the same time the original notice was given.”

School district meeting may have violated open meetings law, (8.10.2010)

New Jersey

In a new twist on government failure to provide public notice, in New Jersey the Nutley Board of Commissioners met with the Lt. Governor in a public meeting. However, the notice for the meeting was not submitted to run in the paper until three days after the meeting occurred.

“While “adequate notice” is required by law, it is unclear if the township specifically was non-compliant in this case,” the editorial noted.

“But surely the intent of the law is not only to let the public know there was meeting but also to give them a chance to attend. Obviously, if the meeting took place before public notification, people would not necessarily know about the event in order to attend.”

To make matters more interesting – or confusing – the notice was written in future tense. There was not even a mention of the meeting on the government website.

Editorial: Commission takes us back in time, (8.19.2010)

Pennsylvania

Despite an evasive – and arguably insufficient – notice, the public showed up at a Pittsburgh’s Historic Review Committee meeting to oppose the demolition of a historic building.

The notice failed to mention that the committee was planning to vote on the demolition of the building, a historic commercial building, even though the demolition was previously voted against.

“The public and the public process were abused to ensure a result, and to me that’s criminal,” Jerry Morosco, a local architect, said after being denied a hearing to oppose the demolition.

Historic panel’s vote to allow razing of building denounced, (8.18.2010)

Tennessee

Each year more and more bills are introduced that would remove public notices from the newspaper. And each year, people fight back to protect the public’s right to know. Tennessee is no exception with an increase from three bills that challenged public notice last year to eight bills this year.

None of the bills has passed both the House and Senate, but that is due to a lot of hard work by opponents working with the legislature.

Can government be trusted to give “public notice?”, (9.16.2010)

Also in Tennessee, the election commission failed to provide public notice before it conducted an early voting session on a Saturday other than the regularly scheduled sessions. The commission met to discuss the early voting violation on August 17 th.

Election Commission to meet Wednesday to discuss its mistake, (8.17.2010)

State

As of this publication, nine legislatures remain in session: California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin. Some of the newly introduced bills are highlighted in this section.

For a full account of the myriad of legislation that was introduced this year, please visit the 2010 State Legislative Chart on the PNRC website. As always, please let us know if you have any additions or corrections: info@pnrc.net.

New Jersey

New Jersey bill S-2072/A-2082, a bill to remove public notice from the newspaper, is being fast-tracked through the legislature. Similar to many other bills, the justification for removing published notifications is a “cost-saving measure”.

“Publication of government notices are a worthwhile expenditure that serves the public by providing a concrete record to hold government accountable and by informing citizens of government action.”

“In today’s fast-paced wireless world, websites can be edited or deleted by a single click of a mouse, with little or no oversight,” said Harry Pozycki, Citizens’ Campaign Chair.

Legislation Removing Requirement for Public Notices Threatens Competition and Gov’t Integrity, (7.29.2010)

Tennessee

Fighting legislation that would remove notices from the public’s view works! One example of a challenger to public notice removal is the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government.

“The central argument on all the proposals, more like a mantra, was that more Americans get their information from the Internet, that newspaper circulation is on the decline and that it would be cheaper in tight budget times to trust the government to post those notices somewhere on a government website,” said Frank Gibson, Government Affairs Committee Coordinator for the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government.”

Bills like Tennessee’s HB 2974, a bill to remove public notices from the newspaper and have notices posted on a government website, threaten the public’s right to know. HB 2947 is only one of eight bills proposed this year that would affect the placement of public notices. None have successfully passed both House and Senate.

Proposed public notices changes take narrow view, (August 2010, see page 9 for article)

If a state-run site can’t crashes because the servers can’t handle traffic, how will be public receive notice? That is a question posed in the Tennessee Journal article.

Especially considering that the Secretary of State’s website crashed on election night. Many bills propose placement of public notices on state-run websites.

“Secretary of State Tre Hargett announced before the election that the state would update its website with election returns from throughout the state as received during the night so citizens could follow the races,” an article in the Tennessee Journal stated.

Nice idea, but it didn’t work. “Due to the unprecedented volume of traffic on our website, our servers have crashed,” spokesman Blake Fontenay said early in the evening.

Judicial

In a recent decision, a judge in the Summit County Common Pleas Court found that the school board’s lack of public notice before holding meetings violated the Ohio Sunshine Act. The judge held that the school board conducted public business in private and ordered the board to comply with notice requirements.

“I’m pleased and I hope this will ensure that the things that happened in [the past] don’t happen again,” said Kellie Patterson, a former member of the Cuyahoga Falls School Board.

Ohio does not have specific notice requirements, but publication in a newspaper is one of the options to provide notice. Public bodies are required to give establish at least one reasonable method, by rule, “whereby any person may determine the time and place of all regularly scheduled meetings and the time, place, and purpose of all special meetings.” Ohio Rev. Code § 121.22(F).

Former Falls School Board member wins Sunshine Law case, (7.27.2010)

International

Scotland is facing similar public notice battles to those in the United States. Recently, the Fife Council called for a review of expenditures for publication of public notices in newspaper. The council is using the familiar “cost-saving measure” argument to remove public notices.

In May, the council unanimously approved the development of an online government public notice site, but legislation failed to pass.

Fife councillor calls for review of recruitment advertising costs, (7.27.2010)

In other news…

NCCUSL is considering model law for authentication.

A drafting committee of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) continues work on a draft model bill that would set standards for authentication of legal materials on government websites.

Its draft report states that few states have taken the necessary steps to demonstrate that legal materials on their websites are “authentic,” a term that requires an established chain of custody from lawmaker to end user. For more on the report, see:http://www.law.upenn.edu/bll/archives/ulc/apselm/2010memo_am.pdf.

With a barrage of new bills attacking public notices in newspapers, publishers and other activists in Tennessee are fighting back. In an editorial published on August 16th, the Knox News attacked the government’s financial justification for removing notices from newspapers. The editorial highlights the transparency and accountability issues involved in putting public notices on websites.

“Arguments for change ignore the historical reasons for publishing public notices,” stated Frank Gibson, director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government.”

“They are about open government. They are about transparency. They are about accountability to citizens, taxpayers, voters, consumers, homeowners, vendors wanting to provide goods and services to the government, and others. They are a hedge against government secrecy.”

Other issues are that government websites are not secure or dependable. The sites have no operating standards and many local governments don’t even have websites.

Click on the following links to read the full editorial and the full article by Mr. Gibson:

Can government be trusted to give “public notice?”, (August 16, 2010)

Proposed public notices changes take narrow view, (August 2010, see page 9 for article )

August 2 – As a follow-up on our initial coverage of New Jersey SB 2072, we wanted to bring your attention to an article in an article by the Citizen’s Campaign, a non-partisan New Jersey organization. The campaign highlighted the importance of public notices in newspapers as a means of keeping the government accountable.

“Publication of government notices are a worthwhile expenditure that serves the public by providing a concrete record to hold government accountable and by informing citizens of government action,” Citizens’ Campaign Chair Harry Pozycki said.

“In today’s fast-paced wireless world, websites can be edited or deleted by a single click of a mouse, with little or no oversight.”

For your convenience, a link to the full article is below:

Legislation Removing Requirement for Public Notices Threatens Competition and Government Integrity, (7.29.2010)

An attempt to keep government in the dark?, (7.20.2010) – This blog post also criticizes the negative effects of allowing bills like SB 2072 to pass.

July 22 – We wanted to bring to your attention to a New Jersey SB 2072. This contentious bill just passed a crucial Senate committee earlier this week.  SB 2072 would remove public notices from newspapers and have them posted online on government websites.

“Many small newspaper rely on these legal advertisements to keep afloat,” Star-Ledger publisher Richard Vezza stated in his testimony at the hearing on Monday.

“Without them, local newspapers may close, resulting in less scrutiny of local government and a citizen’s right to know.”

The Jersey City Independent published an article on SB 2072′s movement.

The article will be included in the July issue of of Record, and will be available on the PNRC website. For your convenience, a link to the full article is below:

Trouble for New Jersey’s Newspapers? Bill Moving Public Notices to Web Clears Senate Panel, (7.21.2010)

Volume 8, Issue II
July 22, 2010

Welcome to the July edition of PNRC’s, of Record. With less than a dozen legislatures still in session, there are fewer public notice bills. But the headlines are peppered with public notice violations.

As always, please let us know how best we can help!

Prominent Notices

New Jersey: Public notices to be pulled from newspapers

There have been several alarming bills introduced in New Jersey during the last month. On June 10, SB 2072, permitting the publication of legal notices by both governments and individuals on websites instead of in the newspaper, was introduced.

SB 2072 unanimously passed a critical Senate committee early this week, which is bad news for printed notices. Similar bills were introduced in previous sessions, but neither made it past the Senate.

Trouble for New Jersey’s Newspapers? Bill Moving Public Notices to Web Clears Senate Panel, (7.21.2010)

Four days later, the New Jersey Assembly introduced AB 2870, a bill that would limit the useful information required in publication of notices. The bill would only require publication after introduction of an ordinance to be by title and summary.

Ohio: Legal notices to be moved to only the largest papers

Trouble is brooding on the public notice front in Ohio as well. HB 220, a bill that would direct public notice business to the largest newspapers, was introduced more than a year ago. In early June it passed the House and was referred to the Senate Committee on State and Local Government and Veterans Affairs.

Illinois: Governor signed win-win public notice legislation

Hot off the press!

Governor Quinn signed HB 5232 into law. The legislation requires newspapers that publish legal notices to post the notices online on a statewide website owned collectively by the newspapers.

Congratulations are in order for the Illinois Press Association for its creative collaboration in making HB 5232 a law that will protect the public’s right to know!

Governor Signs Landmark Public Notice Legislation, (7.22.2010)

Articles & Editorials

Colorado

Public notices save homes!

In a startling series of events, and 84-year-old Colorado grandmother found out that her home was foreclosed on and sold – and if it weren’t for the fact that her attorney saw a public notice advertising the foreclosure sale, there may have been a different ending to this outrageous story.

For over a month, the woman’s attorney fought to have the sale reversed. The bank finally responded back stating that she will be getting her home back soon.

Bank to return woman’s home sold without notice, (6.25.2010)

Minnesota

Winona County Commissioners violated the Minnesota Public Meeting Law when they failed to publish public notice of an informal meeting. A quorum of commissioners took a road trip around the county and discussed a variety of upcoming projects.

The open meeting law requires newspaper publication for all gatherings of members of a governing body when a quorum is present. The board chair stated that no decisions were made, but “it would have been a good idea to have the media along.”

“Since a quorum of the board was involved, the gathering in the van was definitely a meeting within the terms of the Open Meeting Law,” Mark Anfinson, Minnesota Newspaper Association Attorney, said.

“And since it occurred at a different time and place than regular meetings, the board should have provided the required notice for special meetings. Simply placing a notice on the web site is not sufficient.”

County tour violates open meeting law, (6.27.2010)

New Jersey

Controversy surrounds the contract renewal of the Jersey City school board’s superintendent. The contract was extended at a closed school board meeting, in direct violation of N.J.S.A. section 18A:11-11, governing public notice requirements for the alteration of a superintendant’s contract.

“If anyone needed further reason for the Governor to step in, here it is: the contract extension is illegal…

“The law states, ‘A board of education shall not renegotiate, extend, amend, or otherwise alter the terms of a contract with a superintendent of schools, assistant superintendent of schools, or school business administrator, unless notice is provided to the public at least 30 days prior to the scheduled action by the board.’”

Over 425 residents filed petitions with the governor’s chief of staff demanding an investigation of the contract extension. The issue is currently under review.

Jersey City school board member filing complaint against superintendent’s contract extension, (6.28.2010)

Hundreds of Jersey City residents ask governor to void superintendent’s contract extension, (7.6.2010)

A good place to start, (7.7.2010)

New Mexico

A series of emails exchanged by the Las Vegas City Council allegedly violated New Mexico’s open meeting laws. Official business was discussed in the email correspondence, therefore, written public notice was required.

“Call it what you will. Special meeting. Work session. Retreat. E-mail messages. Texting,” Sarah Welsh, said.

 “If a quorum of a public body is discussing public business, they have to follow the Open Meetings Act. That means issuing public notice and an agenda. It means allowing the public to attend the discussion. It means keeping minutes.”

Their view: Electronic messaging violates Open Meetings Act, (7.15.2010)

New York

Following the trend we’ve noticed in headlines this past month, the Oswego County Planning Board held a public meeting without providing public notice. The planning board did not respond to inquiries for a copy of the meeting notice.

County planning board may have had illegal meeting, (6.16.2010)

Pennsylvania

Newspapers and AARP speak out about the issues surrounding the public notice newspaper publication waiver. While the school district boasts the removal of public notices from newspapers as a cost-cutting measure, others are concerned that it will compromise the public’s access to information.

A new open records law only requires publication on government websites. However, a study has shown that county governments are failing to comply with its posting requirements.

“It is important that all citizens have the ability to know what actions and proposals are being considered by government entities,” Pennsylvania’s director of AARP, said.

“The public accesses this information in a variety of ways, but one method that is important, especially to older citizens, is through publication in local newspapers,” he continued.

Editorial: SCA should rethink quest for public notice waiver, (6.24.2010)

Tennessee

Two editorials out of Tennessee address radically different public notice issues. The first is a reflection on the Bluff City Police Department allowing its domain name to lapse. The blunder is highlighted as one of many compelling reasons for public notices to stay in newspapers.

“Newspapers have been integral and independent watchdogs of government activity since the beginnings of our democratic society,” Sherrill said.

 “They have a proven track record of continuous publication and pride themselves on never missing an issue,” he continued.

Editorial: Newspapers best place for Public Notices, (6.13.2010, see page five of the PDF document for article )

This article references: Anti-speed camera activist nabs Bluff City PD’s expiring web domain, (6.7.2010)

The second editorial is about the controversy surrounding an Islamic center. The center is still in the planning stages, and local residents cite a public notice violation as one reason for opposition to the planned facility.

Middle Tennessee city divided over proposed Islamic center, (7.15.2010)

State

As of this publication, less than ten legislatures remain in session: California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin. Some of the newly introduced bills are highlighted in this section.

For a full account of the myriad of legislation that was introduced this year, please visit the 2010 State Legislative Chart on the PNRC website. As always, please let us know if you have any additions or corrections: info@pnrc.net.

Massachusetts

With so many states trying to remove published notice from newspapers, the language in section 21 of Massachusetts HB 4800 is promising.

HB 4800, an appropriations bill, expands the definition of “newspaper” to include “legal newspapers”. See the full text of sec. 21 below:

Section 21. Whenever a department established under this chapter is required to publish a notice in a newspaper by any general or special law, order, rule or judgment of any court, that department shall be deemed as having met all notice requirements by publishing in a newspaper which by its title page purports to be printed or published in such town, city or county, or having a circulation therein. For purposes of this section, the definition of newspaper shall include legal newspapers.

Pennsylvania

HB 1876, a general bill would keep public notices in newspapers by lowering the cost of advertisement rates.

Newspapers have kept the public informed for over 200 years, and the legislature is trying to tamper with that tradition by removing or relaxing the public notice requirements.

“What’s at stake in any loss of newspaper public notices is the people’s right to know,”

“If Pennsylvanians are best served by notices of school board meetings, township contracts and local zoning changes all being delivered by a free and independent press, then which elected officials would dare take them away?”

Editorial: Public notice: Newspapers deliver on the people’s right to know, (6.14.2010)

Judicial

A Superior Court judge in Alaska held that there was enough evidence in a lawsuit filed by opponents to the Pebble Mine permits. Allegedly, the permits were issued in violation the Alaska Constitution and without public notice.

“The state has issued permits behind closed doors without even looking at the harms to public resources,” plaintiffs’ lawyer Nancy Wainwright said.

According to the lawsuit, the state issued mining permits for over 20 years without providing public notice. Local fishermen are suffering from the impact of exploratory mines near on one of the most productive salmon runs in the region.

Pebble Mine opponents win in court; judge clears way for trial contesting permits, (7.14.2010)

Judge Orders Trial in Lawsuit Challenging the Proposed Pebble Mine’s Exploration Permits, (7.14.2010)

International

The mayor of Toronto, seeks compensation for the destruction caused by violent protestors during the G20 conference.

Partial blame for the violent clashed with local police are believed to be the result of a regulatory change that was only posted on the provincial government website, rather than through an official public notice. The regulatory change made it a jailing offense to refuse to show a police officer identification or submit to a search within five meters of the security fence.

Miller pushes for compensation, blames Ottawa for G20 chaos, (6.28.2010)

In other news…

In response to a news release issued by the Kentucky Division of Water, Executive Director of the Kentucky Press Association, David Thompson, approached the State Energy and Environment Cabinet for clarifications. The response he received was quite the endorsement of publication in newspapers.

The news release stated the cabinet, and especially its Division of Water, would start using electronic means to notify customers of water quality concerns, issues, and permits. Thompson’s concern was that the notices, by law, were required to be published in the newspaper.

According to the cabinet members he spoke to, the electronic notification was simply in addition to the newspaper publication required by law.

 ”I don’t think that government will ever be able to completely eliminate newspaper notification and rely on internet only, simply because not all residences have computers with internet access,” another cabinet member added.

© Copyright 2010 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved.

In Case You Missed It…

Pending legislation in Massachusetts would redefine newspaper publication of public notices to expressly include legal newspapers.

The bill states:

SECTION 98. Chapter 211B of the General Laws, is hereby amended by adding the following section:

Section 21. Whenever a department established under this chapter is required to publish a notice in a newspaper by any general or special law, order, rule or judgment of any court, that department shall be deemed as having met all notice requirements by publishing in a newspaper which by its title page purports to be printed or published in such town, city or county, or having a circulation therein. For purposes of this section, the definition of newspaper shall include legal newspapers.

A link to the full text of the legislation can be found at:  H.B. 4800

 

Volume 7, Issue II

June 18, 2010

Welcome to another edition of PNRC’s, of Record. In this edition, you will find recent trends in “size of locality” posting requirements for bills, a story about a reader who caught errors in a public notice, litigation over failures to publish proper notice and more.

As always, please let us know how best we can help!

Prominent Notices

As part of PNRC’s efforts to monitor legislation around the country to determine trends in public notice legislation, we wanted to bring to your attention a number of bills that have arisen that determine publication requirements based upon the size of the locality.

Most recently, a North Carolina senator introduced a proposal, SB 1381, to permit Internet publication on the county web site of advertisements of tax liens on real property for failure to pay taxes. This bill allows for web site publication of ads in counties with more than 800,000 persons (based on the most recent census).

Similar legislation was introduced this session in Illinois. HB 4610, a property county tax assessment bill, allows for notice on a county web site if the population is less than 3 million persons.

Last year, Nevada and Virginia had similar “size of locality” based public notice bills. Nevada AB 307 as introduced included a provision permitting Internet publication of tax assessment rolls for counties with a population greater than 100,000 persons. The bill was later amended to strike the size of locality provision expanding the Internet publication to any sized county. Neither version of the bill passed.

Likewise, Virginia HB 1879, provided for publication of notices for charter changes, referenda, and public hearings online if the locality had a population of at least 100,000 persons. This measure ultimately failed.

Articles & Editorials

Idaho

An editorial from the Idaho Mountain Express heavily criticizes the Blaine County School District ‘s door-posting announcements of seven special meetings since January, including a major presentation for a $15.1 million contract for district construction funded by a plant facilities levy. The author instead suggests:

“Quit putting special meeting notices where no one will see them, publish them in the newspaper, put them on the district’s website and refuse to hold any meeting in virtual secrecy.

Do the public’s business in public.”

Do the public’s business in public, (6.9.2010)

Oregon

Need further proof that people read public notices in newspapers? And that public notices make a difference?

One reader of the Oregon Democratic Herald proves in the below editorial that public notices in newspapers have an impact.

“Wednesday’s story about math errors in a published budget notice came about because a reader noticed. In other words, the public notice worked. It got somebody’s attention.”

Editors Letter: That public notice worked, (6.5.2010)

In Portland, Oregon, the Daily Journal of Commerce highlighted the importance of keeping public notices in the newspaper. The public notice manager’s article addressed the four key elements of public notice and why newspapers are the best entity to handle publication of notices.

“Ensuring that all four of the key elements are in place when a public notice is published is something that is best handled by an entity with and established, long-term record working with the parties that publish public notices…” public notice manager, Mark Caplan wrote.

Choosing the right paper gives legitimacy to public notices, (6.9.2010)

Pennsylvania

Legislative threats to public notice continue to plague the citizens of Pennsylvania. As the author explains, the momentous loss that would occur if these bills were to succeed would be the impact on a community that is unaware and uninformed about its government activity and decision making.

Editorial: Public notice: Newspapers deliver on the people’s right to know, (6.14.2010)

Tennessee

How effective is public notice on a web site? Just ask the Bluff County Police Department. It found one of its biggest critics suddenly in charge of its site.

Because the police department allowed its web site’s domain name to expire the domain name for the city police department was purchased by an anti-speed camera activist. Notice was given for the expiration of the site via an email to the department and a posting on the web site to notify viewers that the domain had expired. However, the police department failed to take an “active role” in monitoring the site.

“It just slipped my mind,” [Police Chief David] Nelson said, adding that he knows little about computers and the more technical aspects of running a website. “If you open up a website and let it go down, somebody can buy it – I did not know that.”

Anti-speed camera activist nabs Bluff City PD’s expiring web domain, (6.7.2010)

State

As of this publication, just a dozen legislatures remain in session: California, Delaware, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

For a full account of the myriad of legislation that was introduced this year, please visit the 2010 State Legislative Chart on the PNRC website. As always, please let us know if you have any additions or corrections: info@pnrc.net.

New York

AB 10478, a proposal to amend the election law in New York to remove publication of constitutional amendments from the newspaper and put on the Internet has been introduced.

North Carolina

The Burlington City Council has unanimously voted to amend HB 1688 and SB 1121 and resubmit to the state delegates for the county, legislation that threatened to remove public notice from city land sales and leases. The newly revised proposal now requires the city to follow public records laws. The City Attorney stated that the bill’s intent was to stimulate growth downtown by providing the council with authority to sell land more quickly.

“We would have had public hearings (anyway), but I’m glad these safeguards are in there now,” Councilman Jim Butler stated after the vote.

Burlington council adds public hearings to land-sale bill, (6.1.2010)

Council strikes compromise on downtown bill , (6.14.2010)

Ohio

HB 220, legislation allowing online posting of public notices in addition to newspaper publication, passed the House on June 2 and is now under consideration in the Senate State & Local Government Committee. Additionally, HB 220 changes the publication requirements for legal notice to a “newspaper of general circulation”, which would no longer include legal publications. The bill also states that newspapers must establish government rates and post notices online with no additional fee.

The legislation was introduced “to provide for greater use of technology, and will result in big savings to local governments,” House sponsor Kathleen Chandler (D) said.

House bill to allow public notices online, (6.4.2010)

Tennessee

Proposed county legislation will “require” 90-day notice to any city officials for any city annexation. Current state law requires public notice to be published in a newspaper at least seven days prior to public hearings. It is expected to be voted on by the full County Commission at the June 21 st meeting.

Sullivan County considers 90-day notice for city annexation, (6.6.2010)

Sullivan leaders seek notice from city of annexations, (6.7.2010)

Federal

The federal government, like many state governments, has made the assumption that everyone is using the Internet as a means to gain access to information and is now focusing their efforts on broadband speeds rather than the public’s right to know.

Rather than highlighting where citizens can gain access to information about what is going on in their communities or even the need for expansion of broadband into rural communities, the Federal Communications Commission’s latest report focuses on consumer knowledge of broadband speed. Eighty percent of the nation’s broadband users do not know the speed of their broadband connections, according to the results of a survey on consumer broadband speed released by the FCC in early June. The survey, part of the agency’s broadband speed initiative, found no demographic group had a good awareness of home broadband speeds.

Americans’ perspectives on online connection speeds for home and mobile devices, (6.1.2010)

News Release: FCC Survey Finds 4 out of 5 American’s Don’t Know Their Broadband Speeds, (6.1.2010)

Judicial

Issues surrounding compliance with public notice requirements at the municipal level have raised some contentious legal claims in Louisiana.

A protracted legal battle has begun over the annexation of land along a new four-lane thoroughfare through three cities in Lafayette Parish. The suits arise out of multiple claims of failure to provide proper public notice.

The initial lawsuit filed by the city of Broussard asserted that the Lafayette Consolidated Government failed to follow state public notice laws when it annexed almost 275-acres of land in April. The Lafayette City-Parish Council rescinded the annexation and adhered to the public notice law in its final vote on June 1.

Special meeting to cover land suit, (5.30.2010)

Annexation chess match, (6.1.2010)

The city of Broussard subsequently filed a lawsuit against the neighboring city of Youngsville over another disputed annexation within the southern part of Lafayette Parish again asserting a failure to follow the correct procedure for posting of public notices.

Broussard sues to stop Youngsville annexation, (5.28.2010)

The Lafayette City Parish Council has now filed a counter-claim against Broussard seeking to void one of Broussard’s annexations. Additionally, Lafayette filed a separate claim against Broussard. Lafayette’s claim asserted that Broussard did not comply with public notice statutes in its annexation of a 50-by 50 parcel of land.

Lafayette annexes land, (6.8.2010)

International

The Turkish embassy in Argentina quietly sidestepped laws requiring public notice and hearings about the installation of statutes on public property when it met with Buenos Aries officials about replacing a statute of an Egyptian human rights activist with that of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a Turkish ruler who established the Turkish Republic.

Turkey Fails to Promote Denialist Agenda in Argentina, (5.31.2010)

In other news…

The Atlantic Monthly recently published a lengthy article addressing the complex relationship between Google and the news. Interviews with Google employees, news analysts and others reveal that “the company now considers journalism’s survival crucial to its own prospects”.

“There are a lot of people in the business who think that in the not-too-distant future, the classified share of a paper’s revenue will go to zero,” former web manager from Reuters, Josh Cohen said. “Stop right there. In any business, if you lose a third of your revenue, you’re going to be in serious trouble.”

How to save the news, (Atlantic Monthly – June 2010)

We encourage you to check out PNRC’s website: www.pnrc.net  for updates between issues. There you will find relevant articles and posts as well as valuable links to demographics, briefing sheets, previous editions and much more!

Please submit any stories or materials you would like to share to: info@pnrc.net

To unsubscribe to of Record, please click here and include “unsubscribe” as the subject heading.

of Record is a product of the Public Notice Resource Center, Inc. (PNRC)

PNRCLogo2003bw_000

The mission of the Public Notice Resource Center is to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on public and private notifications to the public through local newspapers, and to educate the public on the value and use of its right to know.

© Copyright 2010 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved.

Visit us on the web at http://www.pnrc.net/

Contact us

AT&T announced on June 9th that hackers found a security hole in the iPad that allowed hackers to obtain thousands of customer’s email addresses, including White House staff, the mayor of New York, the chief executive at the New York Times, and military personnel.  The latest breach provides startling evidence of corporations’ inability to guarantee protection of sensitive customer information.  This incident highlights the fragility of the Internet and the malleability of notices posted on a website.  With hackers compromising websites, due process is not being served if the information cannot be authenticated or provided permanence on the Internet.

AT&T Discloses Breach of iPad Owner Data

Volume 6, Issue II

May 21, 2010

Welcome to another edition of PNRC’s, of Record. The 2010 legislative session is beginning to slow down, but is certainly not over as more than 21 states remain actively in session. In this edition, you will find many stories about the successes and challenges that have faced public notices this year.

As always, please inform us how we are able to assist!

Prominent Notices

Illinois

Through the work of the Illinois Press Association (IPA), HB 5232, a bill to require newspapers that publish public notices in the newspaper to additionally post the notices online, has passed both the House and Senate and is headed to the Governor’s desk.

The online notices will be posted to PublicNoticeIllinois.com at no additional cost to the government. This will help ensure that the checks and balances for public awareness of government spending will not be removed by placing notices only on government sites.

Mike Kramer, Chair of the Community Outreach Committee for the Illinois Press Foundation and treasurer of American Court and Commercial Newspapers, praised the proactive accomplishments of IPA to deal with the problem head on.

“There was a major effort by IPA to get the bill enacted. Now we need to help people comply,” said Kramer.

Kramer is working with his Committee, including publishers from around the state, to find solutions to ensure that all newspapers are able to comply with the new law. The goal is to have full compliance by the end of this year, even though the bill does not require newspapers to comply until the end of 2012, according to Kramer.

Editorial: Newspapers provide checks and balances with legal notices, (3.10.2010)

Michigan

The Michigan House of Representatives is currently reviewing six proposals to remove notices from newspapers and post on either: 1) a government website, 2) a newspaper website designated by the local government office as the official newspaper of record, or 3) a public access channel. NNA President Cheryl Kaechele, publisher of the Allegan County (MI) News, testified on behalf of the Michigan Press Association in a May hearing on the issue. However, there was no definite resolution and the future of the bills in Committee is uncertain.

In anticipation of these proposals moving forward, the Lincoln Township Board has already approved changes to their publication of public meeting notices, removing the requirement that notice be published in general circulation newspapers. However, this measure will not take effect unless the Michigan House bills are enacted.

Board OKs public notice changes: If state law permits, township will no longer have to publish meeting notices in a print newspaper, (5.14.2010)

Demographics

Internet usage on government sites

The majority of the population is not using the Internet to gather information from government sites, according to a recent survey from the Pew Research Center. More than 65 percent of American adults have NOT used a government site to obtain information about a public policy or issue online, and more than 81 percent of American adults have NOT sought out advice or information from a government agency online.

“High-in-income and well-educated internet users are much more likely than those with lower levels of income and education to interact with government using many of the online channels we evaluated in our survey.”

Want to learn more? Check out the Pew Internet & American Life Project study at the link below.

Government Online, (4.27.2010)

See the full study at: Government Online: Internet gives citizens new paths to government services and information, (4.27.2010)

Articles & Editorials

Below, an editorial on the continuing challenges newspaper notices face in Pennsylvania and a brief note about an Alderman in Milwaukee expressing his outrage for lack of public notice about sex offenders in his district.

•  Pennsylvania – Our view: Don’t pull public notices from newspapers | GoErie.com (5.10.2010)

•  Wisconsin – Alderman: Sex Offenders In His District Without Notice (5.17.2010)

State

The 2010 State Legislative Chart is available for your reference on the PNRC website. Please let us know if you have any additions or corrections to our chart: info@pnrc.net.

2010 Public Notice Legislation

Louisiana

Since 2005, eight bills concerning state and local governments proposed the removal of certain types of notices in newspapers citing cost to taxpayers and increased Internet usage as motivating factors. HB 248, a proposed constitutional amendment from Republican Representative Hunter Greene, would move the notice of the Legislature’s official acts online. The bill was unanimously approved by the House and Government Affairs Committee. Several other bills aimed at eliminating public notice in official publications were shot down at various stages of the approval process.

Lawmakers debate public-notice bills going online, (4.19.2010)

New Hampshire

HB 1361, legislation that would remove from state law the newspaper notice requirement for parole hearings, will require notice to be posted only on government websites as a cost-saving measure. This change will defeat the purpose of the public notice requirement and may compromise public safety.

“…notifying the victim is not enough because a convict up for parole often has had an impact on many people’s lives. Hence the law requiring public notice in a general circulation newspaper.”

Editorial: Parole hearings?: New, not-very-public notice, (4.26.2010)

Vermont

A proposal was recently defeated that would have posted all state government notices and rulemaking solely on a state website. Currently, the Secretary of State collects the ads and runs them in newspapers. In 2009, the state spent $96,000 to run the notices.

Last year, the Republican Governor vetoed the budget only to have the Democratic Legislature override his veto. As a result, this year the Governor created a statewide effort “Challenges for Change” to find $38 million in the state budget to combat a $150 million deficit with the idea that no cost is too small; saving nickels and dimes is worthwhile.

My Turn: Web-only public notices bad for democracy, (4.22.2010)

Federal

The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet held the fourth in a series of hearings addressing issues raised in the National Broadband Plan on May 13.

The hearing examined recommendations for increasing broadband adoption, including ways to ensure that all Americans are able to subscribe to broadband and ways to educate consumers about broadband’s benefits.

Hearing on “The National Broadband Plan: Promoting Broadband Adoption”, (5.13.2010)

Judicial

A lawsuit filed by Three Forks-area landowners in Gallatin County Montana alleged violations of their rights to due process for failure to provide public notice before adopting regulations pertaining to land use around the airport.

Owners sue over TF airport regs, fence, (5.4.2010)

International

A lawmaker wants to amend Guam’s recently ratified Open Government Act (OGA). Rep. Rafael S. Demapan’s bill proposes a decrease from the 72-hour advance public notice requirement for public government meetings to a 24-hour requirement. Demapan said that it is crucial that government operations are not unduly burdened or disrupted by OGA compliance requirements.

Lawmaker wants to amend Open Govt Act to cut 72-hour public notice, (5.14.2010)

In other news…

Elizabeth Becker has joined PNRC on an interim basis for the summer months as our Executive Director Sara DeForge Hough plans to be out on maternity leave. Elizabeth is a 2009 University of Kansas School of Law graduate. Prior to attending law school, Elizabeth received her bachelors degree in Mass Communication from Benedictine College and also studied at the National University of Ireland. Elizabeth is a member of the Kansas Bar. We are very excited to have Elizabeth join the team and hope she is able to work with many of you during her time with PNRC.

We encourage you to check out PNRC’s website: www.pnrc.net for updates between issues. There you will find relevant articles and posts as well as valuable links to demographics, briefing sheets, previous editions and much more!

Please submit any stories or materials you would like to share to: info@pnrc.net

To unsubscribe to of Record, please click here and include “unsubscribe” as the subject heading.

of Record is a product of the Public Notice Resource Center, Inc. (PNRC)

The mission of the Public Notice Resource Center is to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on public and private notifications to the public through local newspapers, and to educate the public on the value and use of its right to know.

© Copyright 2010 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved.

Visit us on the web at http://www.pnrc.net/

Contact us

Volume 5, Issue II

April 21, 2010

Welcome to another edition of PNRC’s, of Record. With many still deep in the midst of legislative sessions, we have ensured this issue is filled with lots of helpful content and valuable information about public notice around the country.

As always, please let us know how best we can help!

Demographics

Readership

People are still reading newspapers! Want proof? Look at the following study from our friends just north of the border.

“The Newspaper Audience Databank (NADbank) study for 2009 suggests 77 percent of Canadians read a print or online edition of a newspaper at least once a week, numbers that remain fairly steady across all age groups.”

Newspapers continue to be relevant in online age: Survey, (3.22.2010)

PNRC Resources

An updated version of the 2010 State Legislative Chart is available for your reference on the PNRC website. Please let us know if you have any additions or corrections to our chart: info@pnrc.net .

2010 Public Notice Legislation

Prominent Notices

The pressure to move public notices online by state governments seeking to save a few pennies in their annual budget continues to be a major threat in state legislatures all over the country.

Governments eye public notices on the Internet, cutting out newspaper classifieds

Articles & Editorials

Below, please find several editorials from around the country highlighting the importance of public notice in newspapers. See…

•  Louisiana – Save printed notices | DailyComet.com (4.13.2010)

•  Pennsylvania – Legal notices are too important to be trusted to government Web sites (3.24.2010)

•  Vermont – Editorial: Web-only notices cut off too many | The Burlington Free Press | Burlington, Vermont (4.9.2010)

•  Wisconsin – There are too many efforts in the state Legislature to limit access to public records. This must stop. (3.13.2010)

Remember, it is always valuable to promote public notices directly in the newspaper and highlight their significance to the community, such as this article from Florida.

“ Space Coast citizens were alerted to the meeting through a public notice in FLORIDA TODAY last week, one way newspapers help make government more transparent.”

Our views: Right to know (4.6.2010)

State

Connecticut

The battle in Connecticut over Gov. Jodi Rell’s proposal to permit towns to post their legal notices online is not over, as the article below articulates. Connecticut Conference of Municipalities spokesman Kevin Maloney, argues that moving public notices to the web will “drive more traffic to municipal Web sites.”

Will a change in state law put Connecticut’s daily newspapers out of business? (3.16.2010)

Illinois

 

Proposed legislation, SB 3336 would allow a fire protection district the option to publish penalty and appropriation ordinances on a city website. The legislation fails to detail for how long or how often the notice must be posted or even where the notices will be located on the web.

“Under Senate Bill 3336, the public notice might be posted on the fire protection district’s Web site — if it has one.”

“Or it might be on the Web site of an association of fire protection districts of which the district is a member.”

“Or it could be posted on a Web site run by an association of fire officials.”

The measure was approved in the Senate 48-5 and has now moved to the House.

 

The latest government takeover: public notices, (3.30.2010)

 

Public notices should remain in newspapers, (4.7.2010)

Missouri

 

In Missouri, a proposal has been introduced to require local governing bodies to give at least four days’ advance notice of votes on tax increases, eminent domain issues or development projects. The legislation would also require a public hearing before a vote is taken.

 

Missouri Senate endorses greater public notice of votes to raise local taxes (3.23.2010)

Florida

HB 1511, legislation that would let the publication of public notices on local governments’ Web sites serve as legal notice, has been reported favorably out of the Governmental Affairs Policy Committee and moved on to the Military and Local Affairs Policy Committee.

 

News to the public (3.24.2010)

 

Editorial: Public notices (3.26.2010)

Federal

The Library of Congress (“LOC”) plans to digitally archive public Twitter feeds tracing back to 2006. Because there are 50 million tweets per day and the total number of tweets already number well into the billions, the LOC will focus on the culturally and historically significant tweets.

 

Library of Congress to House Entire Twitter Archive (4.14.2010)

Judicial

The New York State Supreme Court nullified a decision to close 19 middle and high schools in New York City. The Court found that mere posting of the proposal on the Department of Education website was insufficient to constitute public notice.

Joel Klein’s ongoing defiance of the rule of law (3.28.2010)

International

Japan‘s largest business newspaper has taken measures to protect its online content. The Nikkei created a pay-to-view website model and is taking measures to severely restrict links to the newspaper website to ensure their content is not manipulated in any way.

Nikkei Restricts Links to Its New Web Site (4.8.2010)

After protests and fiercely vocal opposition, Scotland ‘s finance secretary pulled a proposed measure to move public notices online.

Plans to allow Scottish councils to stop running press ads dropped (3.17.2010)

SNP drops bid to change law on newspaper public notices (3.18.2010)

State Session Updates

Almost all state legislatures have convened their 2010 session, except for North Carolina which will begin in May. As of today, more than half of the states still remain in session. Many are adjourning later than expected and/or holding special sessions, often to deal with lingering budgetary constraints.

In other news…

We encourage you to check out PNRC’s website: www.pnrc.net  for updates between issues. There you will find relevant articles and posts as well as valuable links to demographics, briefing sheets, previous editions and much more!

Please submit any stories or materials you would like to share to: info@pnrc.net

To unsubscribe to of Record , please click here and include “unsubscribe” as the subject heading.

of Record is a product of the Public Notice Resource Center, Inc. (PNRC)

PNRCLogo2003bw_000

The mission of the Public Notice Resource Center is to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on public and private notifications to the public through local newspapers, and to educate the public on the value and use of its right to know.

© Copyright 2010 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved.

Visit us on the web at http://www.pnrc.net/

Contact us

Pew finds that Americans want government reform and government power curtailed.  In a time of fiscal uncertainty, more Americans are not as trusting of their government.

Just 22% say they can trust the government in Washington almost always or most of the time, among the lowest measures in half a century.”

With such malcontent for government, it is unlikely that the first place citizens will turn to for information will be a government website.

Distrust, Discontent, Anger and Partisan Rancor

 

Volume 4, Issue II

March 15, 2010

 

Welcome to another edition of PNRC’s, of Record. This issue should prove valuable to those still embroiled deep in legislative sessions. Inside, you will find updated demographic information on internet use and readership of newspapers, as well as editorials and updates from around the country.

As always, please let us know how best we can help!

Demographics

Internet Use

As the debate about broadband continues at many federal agencies, the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications & Information Administration has released a sneak-peek at the results of its research. Its conclusion: almost a third of people in the United States “do not use the Internet anywhere.” This important finding is more detached than estimates being offered by broadband providers and is likely more trustworthy.

NTIA: Almost a Third of U.S. Does Not Use Internet

21st Century America’s Progress Toward Universal Broadband Internet Access

Readership

The importance of newspaper readership is a valuable tool when discussing why public notices should remain in newspapers—both in print for due process purposes and online for greater reach. Two studies were released recently that may be of interest.

The Suburban Market Research Study was conducted by the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri for Suburban Newspapers of America and the Suburban Newspapers of America Foundation.

Study: Local News, Ads in Newspapers Still in Demand (2.11.2010)

SNA Suburban Market Study & SNAF Community Web Sites Study

The Newspaper Association of America (NAA) released the results of a survey of more than 3,000 adults on “consumer insights.” Part of its findings, “local newspaper web sites have the greatest overall reach as a source of local online information.”

Newspaper Web Sites Continue To Be The Most Valued Local News & Information Sites Online (2.24.2010)

PNRC Resources

An updated version of the 2010 State Legislative Chart is available for your reference on the PNRC website. Please let us know if you have any additions or corrections to our chart: info@pnrc.net.

2010 Public Notice Legislation

***COMING SOON***

PNRC is finalizing a one-page handout on the importance of publishing public notices in newspapers and hope to have available for your use in the next few weeks.

We are working hard at PNRC to locate and develop additional materials to assist you. Be on the lookout for future publications!

Prominent Notices

Many people are taking the initiative to make the case for public notice. See…

Back to Basics on Public Notices (2.5.2010)

And the IT community has taken an interest in the issue as well. See…

Newspapers Fight to Keep Legal Notice Revenue (2.28.2010)

Real world evidence is not hard to find that people read newspapers for information about what is going on in their communities. A proposed wind farm in Ontario was realized only through a local citizen’s browsing her newspaper. Follow clips in your own area to find great stories like these.

“Humphrey only learned of the proposal three weeks ago when she saw a public notice in the local newspaper. She immediately began researching wind turbines, the effects and their efficiency.”

Wind Farm Faces Opposition (2.28.2010)

Articles & Editorials

Editorials continue to draw attention to the legislative debate. See…

•  Tennessee – Bill Would Stifle Public Notice (2.12.2010)

•  Connecticut – Public Notices Must Remain Public (2.15.2010)

•  Indiana – Public Pays Thousands Annually For Public Notice (2.17.2010)

•  Florida – Read It or Weep (3.7.2010)

•  Ohio – Public Notice Law Changes: Good and Bad Points (3.11.2010)

•  Wisconsin – Don’t Make Us ‘Surf’ For Legal Notices (3.12.2010)

•  South Carolina – Public Notices of Elections Remain Vital (3.14.2010)

State

Arizona

 

Legislation to establish a 2 year legislative study committee to examine the issues surrounding the publication of public notices has passed the House and is now moving through the Senate. The Arizona Newspaper Association has been working closely with the sponsors and others in the furtherance of this bill in order to defeat other efforts to eliminate publication requirements of public notices.

Proposal For Public Notices Committee Clears House (3.3.2010)

Response to Capitol Times Article – Keep the Public Noticed

Connecticut

 

The battle in Connecticut over legislation introduced by Governor M. Jodi Rell continues to be debated. The proposed legislation would allow municipalities to post legal notices on town websites instead of in newspapers. However, a few days after the anti-newspaper notice legislation was introduced the Common Council’s majority leader Phil Sherwood proposed alternative legislation to require all legal notices to be published in a local newspaper. The ad campaign that ran in 17-daily newspapers throughout the month of February coupled with publishers’ grassroots work is steadily pushing back against Gov Rell’s proposal.

Rep. O’Brien Opposes Rell Public Notice Plan (3.8.2010)

Michigan

A bill has been introduced to revise the definition of newspapers. Part of the proposed definition will expressly state that “newspaper means a print publication” with paying subscribers and averages at least one-quarter news and editorial content.

Below, find a copy of the proposed legislation as well as an editorial on the bill and a letter from the Mayor expressing his support.

House Bill no. 5828

An Open Letter to Rep. Sharon Tyler (2.23.2010)

Letter from Donald D. Lyons, Mayor, City of Dowagiac

New Mexico

Broadcasters in New Mexico have attempted a challenge to move public notices to a broadcast format. One blogger posted the following comment from a reader in Santa Fe:

“Why is the Albuquerque Journal afraid of a little competition? The New Mexico Broadcasters Association is considering asking the Legislature to give local governments, like your local school board or city council, the option of turning to radio and TV stations to inform the public about upcoming meetings and other public information.”

Santa Fe Session: Waiting for Some Magic (2.3.2010)

Tennessee

After raising legal issues by the shifting of notices to an online only site, several bills that threaten to move notices online may be sidelined.

“I believe what we’re going to end up doing is delay all of them so that they can be studied over the summer,” said Tennessee Senator Mike Faulk.

Officials Ponder Legal Ads on Web (2.21.2010)

Federal

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), through a Congressional mandate, has been working on a National Broadband Plan to define, “an ambitious agenda for connecting all corners of the nation while transforming the economy and society with the communications network of the future — robust, affordable Internet.” But many infrastructure, logistical and market hurdles remain before FCC’s goals are met. Telecommunications providers fear that help with broadband buildout is going to come with a price tag—net neutrality.

 

Below, find links to the just released plan as well as preliminary findings released in the past month.

Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan (3.16.2010)

93 Million Americans Disconnected From Broadband Opportunitie(2.23.2010)

Nearly 20% of U.S. is ‘Digitally Uncomfortable’ or ‘Digitally Distant,’ FCC Says (2.23.2010)

State Session Updates

Although a few states have yet to begin their legislative calendar, many more are finalizing budget proposals and adjourning their general sessions. Eight states have concluded their sessions while another 15 states are expected to end their legislatures in late March or April.

In other news…

We encourage you to check out PNRC’s website: www.pnrc.net  for updates between issues. There you will find relevant articles and posts as well as valuable links to demographics, briefing sheets, previous editions and much more!

Please submit any stories or materials you would like to share to: info@pnrc.net

To unsubscribe to of Record , please click here and include “unsubscribe” as the subject heading.

of Record is a product of the Public Notice Resource Center, Inc. (PNRC)

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The mission of the Public Notice Resource Center is to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on public and private notifications to the public through local newspapers, and to educate the public on the value and use of its right to know.

© Copyright 2010 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved.

Visit us on the web at http://www.pnrc.net/

Contact us

 

Volume 3, Issue II

February 15, 2010

 

 

The 2010 Legislative Session is now in full swing! The threats to newspaper public notice have gained strength in many legislatures, especially with intense monetary strains on state budgets. However, several states have already fought off these threats by educating legislators and the public on the value of notice for the public’s right to know.

As always, please let us know how best we can help!

Demographics

The Pew Internet & American Life Project recently released a report on social media.

•  Social Media and Young Adults

The survey finds that teen and young adult use of blogging and commenting on social networking sites has dramatically decreased in the last two years. Of note:

•  14% of online teens now say they blog, down from 28% of teen internet users in 2006

•  52% of teen social network users report commenting on friends’ blogs, down from the 76% who did so in 2006

From these data and other recent reports of teen resistance to the enrapture of the Internet (see, January 2010 of Recorarticle on Ambivalent Networkers), there might be a statistical challenge to the argument that as these teens become adults, they will embrace the Internet and therefore will automatically go to the Internet to find information.

PNRC Resources

The 2010 State Legislative Chart is now available for your reference on the PNRC website. Please let us know if you have any additions or corrections to our chart: info@pnrc.net.

PNRC 2010 Public Notice Legislation

In response to several requests, the state rate law charts and state eligibility statutes have been posted on the PNRC website (www.pnrc.net ) under the subscriber resources tab and are also linked below for your reference. Please respect the password. It is there because the resources are meant for our subscribing partners’ use. If you do not have the password, please send an email to:info@pnrc.net.

PNRC Rate Chart

PNRC Eligibility Laws

We are working hard at PNRC to locate and develop additional materials to help you in your education efforts on public notice. Be on the lookout for future publications!

Prominent Notices

A bitter battle is brewing in Connecticut over legislation introduced by Governor M. Jodi Rell. The legislation would allow municipalities to post public notices on town websites instead of in newspapers.

Governor’s Bill No. 5031

As a result, an ad campaign was launched in Connecticut throughout the month of February running in all 17 of Connecticut’s daily newspapers to promote the value of public notices. Public notice supporters in Connecticut say the ads seem to be working to inform the public.

Newspapers join forces to fight changes in public access to government information

A few days after the ad campaign began legislation was introduced by the Common Council’s majority leader Phil Sherwood proposing alternative legislation to require all legal notices to be published in a local newspaper. Sherwood’s proposal was said to have been spontaneously generated, not at the request of newspapers.

Sherwood wants city notices in print

Samples of all the ads that will be run have been graciously shared by Record-Journal Newspapers and are available for your reference on the PNRC website.

PNRC Ad Library

PNRC is currently building a library of public notice ads and has posted several on our website at: http://www.pnrc.net/subscriber-resources/ad-library/. If your organization would like to include your promotional materials on the site and make them available for use by others, please send copies to info@pnrc.net and we will add to our database.

Following the ad campaign, Connecticut has seen a flurry of editorials on the issue. See…

•  Newspaper group launches campaign over legal notices ( 2/4/2010 )

•  Again, you’re right to know is in peril ( 2/4/2010 )

•  Newspapers oppose plan to put legal ads on-line ( 2/7/2010 )

•  Limiting the public’s right to know ( 2/8/2010 )

•  Keep notices in public domain ( 2/9/2010 )

Articles & Editorials

With such an active legislative session already underway, we have seen several editorials highlighting the importance of Public Notice. See…

•  Florida – Keep notices public, keep them in print ( 1/26/2010 )

•  Iowa – Public notices protect us all ( 1/21/2010 )

•  Oklahoma – Cities attempt to eliminate accountability notices ( 2/3/2010 )

And a few anti-notice editorials as well. See…

• Should the Government Be Spending Tax Dollars Printing Tiny Type In Newspapers?

• Hartford Courant Continues Its Campaign To Defeat Legislation That Would Reduce Newspaper Income, But Save Towns $$$

State

Arizona

Two bills have been introduced affecting public notice in Arizona. HR 2302 establishes a 2 year legislative study committee to examine the issues surrounding the publication of public notices and HB 2244 to permit posting of public notices on a website instead of in a newspaper.

For one bloggers analysis of the pending legislation, See…

Public notices in newspapers facing scrutiny

Colorado

HB 1063, would allow a municipality to publish a public notice in a free-distribution newspaper if there is no legal newspaper published within the territorial boundaries of the municipality. The legislation is supported by the Colorado Municipal League and the Colorado Press Association.

Public notices bill sails through Colorado House

Tennessee

One city is pushing to allow the posting of public notices of meetings on its city-controlled web site. However, the 1957 Sunshine Law that permits access to public information would need to be repealed or at the very least amended to allow for online notices.

City lobbies for notices online only

Virginia

Successfully defeated HB 586 which would have given localities the option of different alternatives for posting of notices. “ These alternatives include publication in at least two of the following forms of publication: (i) in a newspaper of general circulation in the locality, including such newspaper’ s online publication, if any; (ii) on the locality’ s website; (iii) on any public access channel operated by the locality, to be aired during prime time programming and at least two other times during the day; (iv) using any automated voice or text alert systems used by the locality; or (v) posting at the local public library established pursuant to § 42.1-33, if any.”

HB 766 provides that where a locality fails to publish legal notice, so long as there was a good faith effort to publish, notice will still be found valid if notice was posted on the locality’s website. The bill has now passed the House and has been referred to the Local Government Committee in the Senate.

A Constitutional amendment has been introduced, HB 1386, to permit notice of proposed amendments to mean a mere reference in the newspaper to the State Board of Elections’ website where the reader may find the full text of the proposed amendment. Currently, proposed amendments must be published, in their entirety, in the newspaper.

Federal

In case you missed it… the Federal Government recently fell victim to hackers proving once again that no website is impenetrable from security breaches and tampering by unauthorized users. See the following posts on the PNRC site.

Jan 28 – Government Websites Prove Vulnerable to Hackers

Jan 1 – Oh the Irony, FCC Chairman Gets Hacked

Judicial

Oklahoma – District Judge John Blake ruled that publication in a state newspaper was void because public notice was required to be published in a legal newspaper of the county, an order affirmed by the Oklahoma Supreme Court of Civil Appeals.

Purcell loses annexation battle

Illinois – La Salle County Board Member Stephen Carlson has filed suit against the County Board Chairman for failure to give adequate newspaper notice of a board meeting.

Carlson carries county concern to court

State Session Updates

As of the date of this publication, 42 states have convened their 2010 legislative session and the first legislature to adjourn, New Mexico, is expected to finish its session in mid-February.

In other news…

We encourage you to check out the PNRC website: www.pnrc.net for updates between issues. This material is there for your use. There you will find relevant articles and posts as well as valuable links to demographics, briefing sheets, previous editions and much more!

Please submit any stories or materials you would like to share to: info@pnrc.net

To unsubscribe to of Record , please click here and include “unsubscribe” as the subject heading.

of Record is a product of the Public Notice Resource Center, Inc. (PNRC)

The mission of the Public Notice Resource Center is to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on public and private notifications to the public through local newspapers, and to educate the public on the value and use of its right to know.

© Copyright 2010 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved.

Visit us on the web at http://www.pnrc.net/

Contact us

Hours after President Obama’s State of the Union address on Wednesday night, 49 Members’ of the House of Representatives found their Congressional websites defamed by hackers.  According to a joint letter by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), “this is the second time in a year websites hosted and supported by this vendor have been compromised.”

Pelosi, Boehner Demand Additional Web Safeguards After Thursday’s Cyber-Attack

IOWA – A threat to shift government legal notices from newspapers to  websites appears to have been stalled at the legislative level.  Today, state Senator Staci Appel, responsible for managing a state government reorganization and efficiency bill declared “the publication (provision) is out.”

Public Notice Shift Hits Legislative Snag

The bill passed out of subcommittee on Wednesday and subsequently several editorials were published highlighting the value of public notice in newspapers including:

Public Notices Are Vital To Healthy Democracy, 1/16/2010

Accountability For Tax Dollars, 1/17/2010

Public Notices Belong In Newspapers, Not Online, 1/20/2010

Volume 2, Issue II

January 15, 2010

Welcome to the 2010 Legislative Session! As we prepare for a busy year ahead, we have stuffed this edition with lots of tools that we hope will come in handy to help educate the public and policymakers in the months ahead.

As always, please let us know how best we can help!

Demographics

The Pew Internet & American Life Project recently released a report from a national survey conducted late last year on Americans’ use of the Internet. The survey provides demographic information abut Internet users, home broadband users, and wireless Internet users. Of note, the findings reveal there has been little significant growth in the last five years with neither the overall Internet user population nor with users who use broadband at home:

The Pew Internet & American Life Project also released some trend information spanning the last decade about what people do when they are online whether it is email, social networking, instant messaging or making a donation to charity. Of particular interest, this data details when people have visited a government website and the number of people who access a government website on an average day:

There has also been some buzz about “ambivalent networkers,” a notable segment (approximately 7%) of the population that is young and connected, however is not excited about using the Internet. This group feels compelled to stay connected online to keep up with friends and trends:

Finally, for your use we have revised our briefing sheet that illustrates how more than half of the population in the United States has NEVER seen a government website to reflect updated Census data:

For your reference, links to all of the above surveys, the briefing sheet, as well as other useful information can be found on the PNRC website (www.pnrc.net) under the subscriber resources tab.

We are working hard at PNRC to locate and develop additional materials to assist you. Be on the lookout for future publications!

Prominent Notices

Although we keep reading in newspapers that newspapers are dead and no one reads them, a recent legal notice published solely in a newspaper propelled a “flood of criticism” in this California county:

Year in Review: County Supervisors’ Raises Angered Many

Articles & Editorials

NEWS FLASH: Newspapers are still producing news!

Study: Newspapers Produce Most of the News

Recently, there have been a number of editorials on the importance of Public Notice. See…

•  IOWA – Public Notice Law Serves A Purpose (1/4/2010)

•  OHIO – Bill Would Help Some Avoid Public Notice Law (12/26/2009)

•  FLORIDA – Keeping the Public Noticed (12/16/2009)

State

Alaska

A local ordinance was passed in Anchorage to redefine publication of public notice to mean posting on the government website instead of in a newspaper.

Mississippi

A bill was recently introduced (SB 2145) that would move statements of condition of Insurance companies from newspapers to the State Insurance Department web site.

Federal

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has launched Reboot.FCC.gov. Part of their 5-part effort at reform is to evaluate how citizens engage with their government:

Engagement : The FCC is reevaluating how citizens engage in government and exploring new ways to increase public participation through the use of new media tools, e-rulemaking, and expanding our audiences.

In related news, the FCC has asked Congress for a one-month extension to complete its National Broadband Plan:

Chairman Genachowski Letter to Congress on National Broadband Plan

International

The United States isn’t the only place where threats to public notice in newspapers are being challenged. The Scottish Government is considering a proposal to allow online public notices:

Councils Given Online Ad Option

State Session Updates

As of the date of this publication, 32 states have already convened their 2010 session.

Conversely, the following states get a short respite as their legislatures will NOT convene in 2010: Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, and Texas.

In other news…

Note, PNRC has a new telephone number: 703.237.9806 and fax number: 703.237.9808

We encourage you to check out our website: www.pnrc.net for updates between issues. There you will find relevant articles and posts as well as valuable links to demographics, briefing sheets and much more!

Please submit any stories or materials you would like to share to: info@pnrc.net

To unsubscribe to of Record, please click here and include “unsubscribe” as the subject heading.

of Record is a product of the Public Notice Resource Center, Inc. (PNRC)

The mission of the Public Notice Resource Center is to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on public and private notifications to the public through local newspapers, and to educate the public on the value and use of its right to know.

© Copyright 2010 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved.

Visit us on the web at http://www.pnrc.net/

Contact us

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s facebook account was hacked into by spammers on New Years Eve.

New York Times Blog

PENNSYLVANIA – Under the open records law, taxpayer-funded contracts are supposed to be accessible on the state Treasury website within a matter of days.  However, the electronic posting of information has seen lengthy delays.

Web site runs into problems

FLORIDA – Threats to permit governments to post legal notices online have been renewed for the 2010 legislative session. And it appears the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Dean is more than happy to attack newspapers in the process:

“But he conceded the legislation could hurt Florida newspapers, including his hometown Chronicle.

‘If it does, it is what it is,’ Dean said. ‘The motivation for this is to save money. But if it trims their feathers a bit, fine.’”

Does Public Notice Bill Stem From Paper’s Coverage?

When it’s on the Internet, it is invisible.

This breaking news from Huffington Post in response to the White House’s breaking news on the “new” Treasury Department report that turns out to have been available since 1995 is a perfect testament to the obscurity of the Internet.

Treasury Touts Long-Available Derivatives Report As A Part Of Its ‘New’ Open Government Plan

So the report has been there all along. Who knew? Obviously the White House was counting on the strong likelihood that few Americans had been to http://www.occ.treas.gov/deriv/deriv.htm to read this report.