Cumberland Times-News

Editorials

January 22, 2013

Bad idea

Newspapers best way to access legal notices

Imagine this scenario: A portion of your neighborhood has been zoned from residential to commercial and you knew nothing about it. Or another one: Your local government floated a multi-million bond bill that you would have opposed, had you known about it.

Those are just a couple of examples of what could happen if local governmental bodies in Maryland are no longer required to have legal notices published in newspapers.

For several years there has been talk or proposals in Annapolis to have legal notices placed online, rather than published in local newspapers.

The idea is a bad one and will make it more difficult for constituents to keep tabs on what their local government is planning.

Requiring municipal and county governments and public school systems to place printed public notices lets constituents know about such things as budgets, charter changes, zoning meetings, permit requests, unclaimed property, jobs that are available for bidding and a host of other government issues.

Despite the increased use of the Internet, there are still many people who do not have — or want — computers. For them, going to a government site to read public notices is not an option. There also is the challenge of easily finding a website — or the correct website — and then being able to locate a public notice.

Newspapers have long been considered the best outlets for public notices because of their easy and wide accessibility and the fact that they are relatively inexpensive and have a documented list of subscribers. Readers know public notices appear daily in the classified ad section and surveys show public notice readership is consistently high.

The University of Southern California Annaneberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy notes that public notices are one of the few regular and official communication channels that exist between government and citizens. Public notice laws additionally regulate the way in which government communicates with citizens.

The Maryland Municipal League is proposing legislation in Annapolis this year to do away with the legal notice publication. The group sees the elimination as a way of saving money.

But the savings would come at a dear price. It is in the public’s best interest to have easy access to public notices. Newspapers provide that easy access — and the newspaper is where the public notices should remain.

1
Text Only
Editorials
  • Time to do it Time to do it

    It never made sense that criminal background checks were not made on medical license applications in Maryland. Fortunately — for the protection everybody — the background investigations may soon be a matter of routine.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Get involved Get involved

    Cumberland residents who want to make an impact on their community have an opportunity in that the city is seeking applicants for five of its boards.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • If we don’t sell it to them, somebody else will

    The front page article on coal exports by AP writer Dina Cappiello is one of the most asinine and biased “news” articles I’ve read (“Not in my backyard: U.S. sending dirty coal abroad,” July 29 Times-News, Page 1A).

    July 30, 2014

  • Not a villain Not a villain

    Time was that we looked for heroes. Heroes of the make-believe variety have sold a lot of comic books. We also had real-life heroes like Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, whose deaths the whole nation mourned.
    These days, we seem to be more interested in looking for villains. “Vote for me because I’m the good guy” has taken a back seat to “Don’t vote for him, because he’s the bad guy.”

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • About time About time

    Although many Cumberland streets are in need of repair and improvements, the decision by city and county officials to address Greene Street is a good one.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Where is it?

    Once upon a time, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce held its annual conventions at the Bedford Springs resort hotel near Bedford, which is in Pennsylvania.

    July 28, 2014

  • Korean War Korean War

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sloppy lawmaking is to blame

    July 27, 2014

  • C-minus grade C-minus grade

    If a survey conducted by Thumbtack.com and the Kaufman Foundation is an accurate portrayal, Maryland has a long way to go to become a business-friendly state.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Big loophole Big loophole

    How ironic — and how sad — that the Potomac Highlands Airport Authority plans a closed executive session to discuss the open meetings law.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story