Comments from concerned citizens supporting public notice in newspapers
You have to ask yourself what was the purpose of the legal notices to start with? Printed notices in newspapers came about to fight corruption. Going to a strictly online process will put those notices back in the shadows again. It is easy to put a notice in a place where it would satisfy the letter of the law while restricting access to the information. Don’t think it doesn’t happen.
Even with newspaper ads being the law, we still run across county judges and school districts who do not follow the law and try to get their friends work. Thanks to public notices in newspapers, we’re able to catch them and make them do it right…
Higher education is exempt from some newspaper notice rules. They post many bid notices online only. Recently the University of Houston-Victoria had a job. We called them four times before the bids were called for and let them know we were interested. They posted the job online and never called us. We were watching for it, but they changed the name of the project so it was hard to find. They said it was our responsibility to find it on the website. The same thing happened two months ago with Caldwell County. They were remodeling a Wal-Mart into a new Justice Center. We contacted the County and the third party they were using for procuring the construction contract. I have a superintendent that lives in Lockhart who checked the newspaper constantly. The project never appeared. I contacted the architect one day and asked if the project was ever coming out for Construction Manager proposals. I was told they had already taken proposals and a Construction Manager who has done a lot of work for the third party procurement officer had received the job. They had just advertised it online. I called them on it and they rejected all proposals and went back out for proposals. To nobody’s surprise I was not selected and their good buddy still got the job but at least we made them follow the law.
-Mike Weaver, President Weaver & Jacobs Constructors, Inc.
Public notice of governmental actions is essential for transparency — not only notice, but notice in a medium that reaches the most people in a way that’s easy to access. Eliminating public notice in newspapers would amount to letting government watch itself. That would be devastating to accountability.
-Sen. Don Adams (Ret.)
“[L]ocal businesses, particularly small businesses, likely learn about bidding opportunities through printed public notices, and… eliminating print notices would effectively disenfranchise these citizens from civic involvement and potential business development…the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce would oppose any legislation that would remove public notices from being printed in newspapers, and… the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce supports efforts that will continue to keep public notices published in newspapers.– Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce, Resolution approved March 18, 2015
Last fall, the Snyder Planning and Zoning Commission ran a public notice in our local newspaper letting citizens know about a proposed zoning change. The change would have had a negative impact on our local neighborhood, where several families with children live. It would have allowed oilfield companies to open yards adjacent to our homes, and with limited access, would have increased traffic past our homes. Because the notice was in the paper, several individuals and families knew to show up at the meeeting and voice their concerns about the change. We were ultimately able to convince the propoerty owner to pursue another use for their land… High speead internet access in rrural areas, like parts of West Texas-including parts of Scurry County, is limited. We agree that local governments should keep their citizens informed through their websites, but we support the continued publication of required legal notices in newspapers, which have efficiently filled this role for many years.– Peggy Vernon, Gene Vernon, Tommy Guynes, Beth Guynes, M.L. Chandler, Walter Guynes, Jeff Pierce and Suzy Pierce, Residents of Snyder, Texas.
[T]he purpose of public notices is the make citizens aware of governmental actions and intent…newspapers’ readership far exceeds that of any other medium, and newspaper readers are most likely to be involved in local civic activites and to vote, and…eliminating pring notice would effectively disenfranchis these citizens from civic involvement…the Crockett County Commissioners’ Court would opposany legislation that would remove public notices from being printed in newspapers [and] the Crockett County Commissioners’ Court supports efforts that will continue to keep public notices published in newspapers.-Crockett County Commissioners’ Court, Resolution, Approved Dec. 8, 2014
I was on the Associated Press Capitol Staff in Austin during legislative debates on the Open Meetings & Records Acts in the 1950s, and I remember vividly how desperately the politicians fought against the public’s right to know.
Later, I spent 20 years as an AP, NBC Radio News and U.S. News & World Report editor covering Latin American regimes that took full advantage of the fact that there was no “right to know” in their countries.
I also saw how my own government tried to cover up its mistakes and schemes by classifying them SECRET OR TOP SECRET.
Published public notices protect us from unannounced tax increases, zoning changes, budgetary hanky-panky and the like.
Don’t these vital protections go away!– Joseph Benham firstname.lastname@example.org