From the editor

Just enough to get riled up

Wed, 03/01/2023 - 9:00am

Hey, it’s March. Stop with the snow! We’ve had enough storms in the past two weeks to make up for the snow that didn’t fall in December and January … and the early part of February. No joke … we’ve had enough! I want to put my roof rake and shovel away for the rest of the winter. I like my plow guy but I don’t want to pay him more money. Sunshine, warm weather and fog … melt my driveway before it turns to ice again. Rant over!

On to another rant … the Maine Legislature is considering a bill, “An Act to Eliminate the Requirement That Municipalities Provide Public Notice in Newspapers.” In my 36 years in the newspaper business, this “Act” has been brought up several times and the Maine Press Association is once again going to be fighting it tooth and nail. The summary reads: “This bill provides an alternative way for a municipality to provide public notice as required in the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 30-A. In place of notice in a newspaper, a municipality may choose to provide the required notice on its publicly accessible website.”

In my view and experience, governmental websites are not updated on a regular basis and newspaper websites are more widely read. It is also necessary for newspapers to be an independent watchdog of government. In a booklet published several years ago by the Public Notice Resource Center, these four topics say it all about keeping public notices in newspapers:

1. Every citizen in the jurisdiction affected by the notice must have a realistic opportunity to read it.

2. Notices must be capable of being archived in a secure and publicly available format for the use of the judicial system, researchers and historians.

3. Notices must be published by organizations independent of the government body or corporation whose plans or actions are the subject of the notice. There must be a way to verify that each notice was actually published in accordance with the law.

4. There must be a way to verify that each notice was actually published in accordance with the law.

Here’s hoping that the MPA and others fighting the bill will win the battle once again.