• 86°
Hartselle Enquirer

Editorial: There is no accountability in HB106

Newspapers have a long history of serving as watchdogs for their communities, holding local officials accountable, and shining light on issues that might otherwise go unnoticed. Requiring government bodies to continue to print public notices in newspapers is a key step in ensuring that these important watchdog functions are preserved. However, there is currently a bill in the Alabama House of Representatives that would sound a death-knell for local government transparency and accountability. Proponents of HB106 claim government notices in Alabama should be published on government-controlled websites, instead of in newspapers, because it is easier and costs less money. But is that true? The cost of running public notices represents a tiny fraction of the mind-boggling budgets of most local governments. And what government officials don’t talk about is the expense of designing, operating, properly maintaining, and updating those websites. If done right, the costs would erase most, if not all, of the savings from eliminating public notices in newspapers. In truth, it’s not really the cost of public notices governments are most worried about, it’s the ability to control the dissemination of the information those notices contain. And therein lies the great concern of local newspapers throughout the state, who believe this fight is truly about transparency in government, and keeping citizens informed about what their tax dollars are supporting, and what their political leaders are doing. Where is the accountability in HB106? There is none. Legislators can’t guarantee the posting of public notices on government-controlled websites will be free from manipulation or abuse. Also, we know all too well that websites can be hacked, updated, altered, or deleted at any time. The public notice process for newspapers, however, ensures the information presented is correct; requires a notice to be published for a specific amount of time; and generates an affidavit that serves as proof that the notice ran correctly. Without the requirement of notarized affidavits, how will citizens know the notices on government-run websites ran correctly, or for the right amount of time? Also, the public is far less likely to see a public notice on a government-run website because those sites typically have far fewer visitors than newspapers and newspaper websites. Currently, public notices printed in newspapers have triple exposure to Alabama citizens. It begins with print – a format that cannot be changed and offers permanence. Placement in print requires the notice to be posted on the newspaper’s website and on alabamapublicnotices.com. Those three elements offer the maximum exposure possible for public notices. It is the job of local newspapers to serve as a check on government, not the government to check itself. If legislators were truly concerned about providing effective service to their constituents, they would leave legal notices in newspapers, which provides the transparency and accountability every Alabama citizen deserves. Ask your local House members to consider these issues when HB106 comes up for a vote and urge them to vote “NO.”

 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Annual Hartselle Camp Meeting begins Sunday

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Salute: Hartselle High alumnus graduates from Naval Academy 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Annual Hartselle Camp Meeting begins Sunday

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Goodbye to a good boy: Beloved family pet, Ace, battles cancer  

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

College Street Players to present Newsies: The Broadway Musical 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hartselle adds two police officers 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hartselle bomb threat deemed hoax

Editor's picks

At 90, Carl Winton keeps on trucking

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hartselle man with rare genetic condition headed to Grand Ole Opry

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Morgan delegation discusses recent legislative session 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

College Street Players to present Newsies: The Broadway Musical

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

HU adjusts rates for water, sewer and natural gas services

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Town Council helps Priceville Elementary furnish school 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hartselle City Schools hires three math coaches for 2024-25 school year 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Crestline students rock Alabama Stock Market Games, poster contest

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

New EMA director worries and plans for a living

Falkville

Jonna’s journey: Local woman battles Glioblastoma with unyielding faith 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Sheriff’s Office opens applications for 2024 youth academy

Brewer

MCS Technology Park to host STEAM summer camp for middle school students 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Bridging the gap: Hartselle Historical Society launches guided walk downtown bringing history to life

Falkville

Storm shelter companies see increase in calls for installation

Falkville

Morgan County rabies clinic to be held June 1

Eva

Community class reunion celebrates Morgan schools

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hats off: Class of 2024 graduates from Hartselle High School

x