Keep public notices in local newspapers

As has been the case in recent years, bills have once again ben introduced in the Miss. Legislature that would give local governments the option of no longer posting public notices in their local newspapers, but rather relegating them to their own somewhat ill-defined government websites. That has always been a terrible idea, and it still is.

Surveys consistently show that fully 70% of Mississippians faithfully read their local newspapers (some of them specifically for the public notices that affect their lives and businesses) and exactly 12% of folks have expressed any interest whatsoever in changing that local established tradition in favor of trying to find them on some quite possibly obscure public internet site.

While we here are blessed with largely honest public officials with good intentions, not everyone is so fortunate, and there are some public officeholders of our acquaintance that would like nothing better than making it easier to keep the public in the dark about what they are up to.

The old canard about how such a switch would save local units of governments big bucks is just that—the reddest of herrings. Surveys indicate that running public notices in Mississippi newspapers (where legislative-set prices are by any standard low, having not been increased since 1998) average less than 1% of local governmental budgets  Setting up and particularly accurately maintaining and updating websites, can, on the other hand, cost those governments thousands annually.

And really, folks, whom do you most trust? The efficient and disinterested third party whose business it is to print the truth accurately and timely, or those with potential hats to feather and/or axes to grind?

Do we really want each and every political subdivision in the state to find themselves in the position of asking the barber if they need a haircut?

This issue, folks, is a perfect example of it it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and that is an example we all need to urge our legislators to follow.

— Deer Creek Pilot, Rolling Fork