Just say “No”

Published 9:39 am Thursday, May 12, 2011

If state legislators have their way, you’ll have to either own a computer or have access to one to learn of current and future plans mapped out by your local government entity.
House Bill 472 and its companion version in the NC Senate (SB 773) are proposals that apply to all counties and municipalities in the state. This legislation, if approved, will eliminate the requirement for local government to publish public notices in newspapers.
Roanoke-Chowan Publications joins with our fellow newspapers statewide as well as with the NC Press Association in calling for the defeat of this proposed legislation as it tears at the heart of fair, open and transparent government.
The way public notices are currently handled – by an outside source (newspapers of general circulation) – maintains honesty and public trust of our local government. As required by law, they must legally advertise public hearings, rezoning requests, tax payment issues, etc. In turn, we provide an affidavit proving that the notice was published on a certain date or dates.
The public is accustomed to knowing these notices are published on a regular basis in their local newspaper. If that newspaper serves more than one town or county, as is the case of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, readers can easily keep track of governmental affairs within one source. Imagine how many individual websites one would have to visit, if you do have a computer with broadband access, to accomplish such a feat.
We’ll be honest….publishing such notices is a source of revenue. But it’s not about the money in this case, rather it concerns a matter we fully support – open and transparent government.
This proposed legislation is scary in the fact that it allows local government to police itself. They will have full control of the material published on their website. They will have the final say in what information is shared with its citizens.
That is simply unacceptable; it holds local government less accountable. We urge you to contact local state legislators – District 5 Representative Annie Mobley, District 27 Representative Michael Wray and District 4 Senator Ed Jones – and tell them to vote “No” to HB 472 and SB 773.
– The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald