Thursday, October 03, 2013

Michigan town sets referendum on idea of putting its legal notices on web instead of newspaper

A Detroit suburb plans to let its voters decide next month whether it will put official notices on its website instead of the local newspaper, stirring fears among community papers that other governments will do likewise and increase momentum for the state legislature to follow suit. Such battles are being fought in many states.

"You will be receiving emails from us soon asking for financial help to pay for a campaign against this issue in Novi," about 25 miles northwest of Detroit, says The Bulletin of the Michigan Press Association. "Members may recall when three municipalities did this in the 2009 election. Trenton, Wayne and Ann Arbor all attempted to get voters to agree to letting the fox watch the henhouse and only Ann Arbor succeeded." At the time, the Ann Arbor News had gone online-only.

"There was also an attempt by Alpena city government to do this a few years ago but some heavy lifting on the part of the local newspaper prior to a final council vote prevented it from getting on the ballot," The Bulletin reports. "If this effort is successful in Novi, it will provide fuel for our opponents in Lansing to feed the fire to eliminate notice in newspaper altogether. Not many members can afford to see that happen, nor can the public who will suffer from the lack of due process and independence with regard to their property rights, tax dollars and government transparency." (Read more)

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