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Publishing public notices

Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 11:02 am
by Shorty
I am hereby giving you notice...

Scott Walker proposal spurs fight over how to publicize government business ... a73f9.html

"It would give state and local agencies the option to publish certain public notices on their websites instead of in a local newspaper. Some lawmakers are offering a separate bill that would extend an online-only publishing option just to local governments...

Critics say the changes would be a blow to the public’s ability to learn about government business. Beth Bennett, executive director of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, said the internet — far from being what birthed these proposals — is only the latest means some are using toward the end of jettisoning newspapers as independent stewards of public information. “Way before the internet was an issue, it was just a cost issue,” Bennett said. “That’s the reason that newspapers were entrusted (with public notices) — so government doesn’t have to report on itself...

The proposals are part of a national effort to roll back publishing requirements for public notices. At least 12 states are considering legislation that would move all or most of their official notices from newspapers to websites operated or controlled by government units, the Public Notice Resource Center reported last month."

Re: Publishing public notices

Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 1:24 pm
by gargantua
Sounds like one of those ALEC ideas. How come we never hear about them anymore? Did they get tossed into the memory hole? Was that thoughtcrime? Am I about to be arrested?

Re: Publishing public notices

Posted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 6:47 am
by bdog
It's unfair that I should have to purchase a newspaper to find out my government's business.

I say we go back to the town crier.

Re: Publishing public notices

Posted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 8:55 am
by MPMay
If this wasn't coming from Walker, I wouldn't be so suspicious, and might support it in a minute. On balance, I think it is a bad idea, but not for the reasons proffered by the print media.

I think there is one key question that I only know the answer to anecdotally, but let's trust the Forons:

Do you or anybody you know actually read the agate type notices published in the back of the newspaper to get information about government activities?

My experience is that nobody does. Oh, you might read court notices if it was your job, and you might read the list of abandoned bank accounts to make sure Uncle Pat hadn't left money in his credit union savings account, but do you look to the printed notices to see when a meeting will be held? What was done at the last Council meeting? I'm betting not.

Now, you might read the list of meetings published by the newspaper every Sunday or Wednesday, but those aren't at issue. The local government doesn't pay to publish those; the news outlets do it as a public service. And nothing will stop them from doing that in the future.

On the other hand, I really like newspapers. They are a dying breed, and they perform an important public service, and when they are under attack by a buffoon like Donnie (You're out of your element!), I'd guess I'd rather see them stay in business. So, on the socialist note of state support for an important quasi-public function, I guess I'd come down in favor of keeping the publication notices. It is a boondoggle for the papers, but probably a socially important boondoggle.

I wonder if the dailies would support a change in the law so Madison could publish its notices in Isthmus?

Re: Publishing public notices

Posted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 12:11 pm
by david cohen
Maybe it's due to my past in both investigative journalism and legal research, but I read the legal notices every day. Public meetings, not so much, UNLESS i have a vested interest about a certain public body.

Re: Publishing public notices

Posted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 12:42 pm
by gargantua
You're right. I do scan the legal notices for familiar names, but I can't honestly think of a time when I looked at government notices other than unclaimed property.

Re: Publishing public notices

Posted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 11:11 am
by Shorty
Keep public notices in print ... -in-print/

"Without a third-party, independent source providing the information, there is no accountability, no checks and balances to make sure that government is posting all the public notices it is required by law to post. Most Wisconsin residents continue to rely on the printed newspaper for information about their local elected governments, as they have for decades.

For those who choose not to use computers, it remains the best source. For those who do use computers, there’s already an invaluable resource at your fingertips. Since 2005, newspapers in Wisconsin have been digitally archiving every public notice published in every newspaper in our state every day. Today, a decade of this information is available free of charge on this website: