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Don't Rush Me

Keep public notices public

Let the games begin!

March 03, 2010 - Lest you think I forgot, or went back on my word from last week . . . the following are bullet points on why Public Noitces should be run in newspapers, versus running them strictly on websites run by local governments. That is sorta like having the fox guard the hen house, all for the reason (wink, wink) to save taxpayer money -- not a good idea disguised as one. I received two letters from readers on this subject, which I will also share.

More importantly, I want to know what YOU think. Do you even give a damn? Send me an email.

First, the two letters . . .

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Good Morning Mr. Kumbaya,

As a local official ever "trying to save tax payer dollars," I am of the opinion that keeping our local economy local, will benefit this community far greater than "tightening our belt" by cutting essential local public notice advertising dollars.

I believe, in this case, too much of a good thing is cumbersome. For those who are not computer savvy or computer addicted, missing out on essential public notices could mean a local population missing out on matters that could affect our whole economic community. This risk then could domino far-reaching costs greater than that of public notice advertisement dollars.

As a local official, I believe we are obligated to our residents to "get the word out" by utilizing all tools available including uncharged on-line media sources and public access bulletin boards. However, it is my opinion that "ain't nuttin" more effective, concrete and long-range cost saving to our residents, than good old fashion reading it in black and white.

With regards,

Teri Stiles

Village of Oxford

Council President

(Now a moment of confession . . . whilst Teri is president of council, before that she was one of my girls . . . yep, I bossed her around as she worked here at the newspaper as a reporter.)

* * *

Bravo Don!

The public does indeed have a right to know - ABOUT EVERYTHING!

As a former elected official and a constant observer observer of Government, I say that there is no greater right than that of being informed. Using the economy as an excuse for disrupting the flow of information is a cheap, cowardly, and thinly-veiled attempt to restrict rights - shame on them. In the real world, "THEIR MONEY" is "OUR MONEY" that they unashamedly pilfer from us, the taxpaying clods of America.

This is all money well spent and to stop it would be a travesty. Hell, while we are at it, let's get rid of the Constitution and The Bill of Rights - just think of how much we will be saving!

Steven J. Allen

(Now, about Steve. He plays the blues with his geeetar and also designs websites and graphics and things. He, too lives in Oxford).

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Now, some more reasons why I am right and some of them backstabbers in Lansing are wrong. (Was that too harsh? I know it was juvenile, but that is to be expected.) The following talking points are from the Michigan Press Association, so they are as objective as me.

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• Any notice published on a government-run Web site would open the door to legal challenge because of the lack of ability to prove publication. Ink on paper hard-copy notice published in an INDEPENDENT publication provides proof of publication.

The voters in the communities of Wayne and Trenton overwhelmingly rejected this idea when it was • presented to them on a ballot last November.

Relying on the Internet alone, as these proposals will do, is unfair, especially to the elderly or those who • have lower incomes and often have less access to computers and transportation.

Web sites get hacked into every day... even the Department of Defense had a double-top-secret fighter • jet plan hacked into last year! What makes local government think they can protect the integrity of notices published on their Web sites?

It is a bad idea to stop publishing important government notices in newspapers. There are simply too • many important issues that affect our homes, neighborhoods, schools and jobs to no longer include this information in newspapers.

Changing current law in this manner will curtail the public's right to know about important government • actions in their community.

Newspapers remain the main source of local news and important matters, such as these government • legal notices.

Continuing to publish these important notices in newspapers is just common sense. Newspapers are • an independent source of information and help provide a transparent and permanent record of these government actions.

Publication of these important government legal notices helps provide public oversight of these • important matters.

Nothing in the current law prevents governments from posting notices online and we encourage on-line • posting in addition to posting in newspapers.

Jeopardizing public oversight and right to know is too high a cost to pay. These notices often deal • with matters affecting home values, special assessments or fees for local residents or small businesses. Newspapers are a fair and independent source to ensure the public is informed about these important government notices.

Newspapers employ nearly 15,000 taxpayers throughout Michigan, and have been hit very hard in • recent years. Like most industries in Michigan, there are fewer jobs than there were just a few years ago. Newspapers are a valuable, independent

source of local news and help provide transparency and oversight to government actions. Jeopardizing jobs and oversight is too high a cost to pay.

* * *

Between our newspapers in Oxford, Lake Orion, Clarkston, Goodrich and Ortonville, we employ upwards to 60 folks, depending on the season.

Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: don@dontrushmedon.com
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