Bad Politics?

The Political Insider has this tidbit on a bill that just passed the House. The bill, HB 833, would talk legal notices out of the local papers and put them on a website.

HB 833 is now before the Senate.

Proponents of the bill say it’s cheaper to post all bids for projects in all of Georgia’s 159 counties on a single Web site.

Publishers say that, revenue aside, local businesses need to see local opportunities in local newspapers. It’s another way to keep track of how government spends its money.

Newspapers also see this bill as punishment for their successful opposition last year to HB 218, an administration measure to cloak state and local development projects in more secrecy.

HB 833 isn’t a big-city newspaper fight. We’d never describe any advertisement that contributes to our massive salaries as negligible, but in Atlanta, the Fulton County Daily Report is the official legal organ and thus gets the bulk of legal ads.

No, like HB 218, this new measure strikes most harshly at the hundreds of smaller weekly and daily newspapers in Georgia. Which makes the timing unusual.

Politicians usually pick serious fights like this in off-election years.

I think I tend to agree that this is bad politics to inflame the local papers — of course this may just be a shot at DuBose Porter’s newspaper empire. 😉

On a serious note, I don’t know that rural counties in Georgia are as net savvy as metro-Atlanta, which could lead to problems.

2 comments

  1. atlantaman says:

    I don’t think it’s a matter of if the public notices will stop being published in newspapers, it’s a matter of when. Whether the Legislature succeeds in accomplishing it this year or a few years from now, it will happen.

    At some point, enough people will decide it’s a huge waste of money. I guess there is a tradeoff. Do you continue to spend taxpayer dollars for the ads in the papers – just for the folks that do not have internet access or do you at some point reach diminshing returns and just expect the remaining folks to go to the library for internet access (or perhaps the ads could be printed in hardcopy at the local courthouse).

  2. kspencer says:

    One reason I hesitate to recommend the jump to the web is the (relative) permanence of the record. That is, if three months later a lawsuit arises that alleges the notice was not posted with adequate timeliness prior to close of bids there is no doubt that it was indeed posted on a given date – that somebody didn’t go back into the electronic archives and make an edit.

    Likewise the post is not subject a hacker editing the post or bringing down the computer and so the interrupting access during the bidding window.

    There are a few more weaknesses of electronic-only posting that are surmountable but which probably need addressed, but those are the ones that most concern me.

    FWIW, to find and resolve most of the problems (and if I were in the seat) I’d start by running with a redundant system for a couple of years. That is, for a minimum of two years I’d run print and web with a specific requirement to revisit to determine whether the web’s really a good replacement (yet).

    Kirk

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