Public notices: Trust government? No
The latest proposal to allow Pennsylvania local government public notices to be published online, instead of in newspapers, puts too much faith in government.
Senate Bill 733, sponsored by Sen. Bob Robbins, R-Mercer County, would require municipalities, school districts, local authorities and intergovernmental entities to still print such notices in “legal journals,” which county bar associations typically run — and typical Pennsylvanians rarely read. But they'd have the option to publish public notices on their own official websites instead of in “newspapers of general circulation,” with the Governor's Center for Local Government Services within the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) listing, online, local government websites carrying public notices.
Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel for the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, cites the “significant number” of Pennsylvanians lacking Internet access as one SB 733 problem. But the biggest, she says, is reliance on local governments' own websites, which are infrequently visited, not secure and, unlike newspapers, don't provide independent, third-party authentication of notices' publication.
And SB 733's ill-advised faith in government is compounded by its reliance on the DCED — a mess of an agency with a history of record-keeping and other accountability problems — for that online list.
The Senate must keep public notices where they belong — in newspapers reaching far more Pennsylvanians than local government websites do.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Benchmarking questions: Fueling perversion
- U.N. Watch: Climate games
- Jesse White’s chutzpah
- Shenango shakedown: Public money at risk
- Those new methane rules: More eco-extremism
- Saturday essay: The thumb itches
- Sunday pops
- The Penn State deal: Focus lost
- The Obama foreign policy ‘model’ imperils the world.
- Piercing the media’s shield: Muzzles & slopes