Daily newspapers may lose revenue source

From the News Service of Florida:

The Florida Senate on Wednesday could take up a proposal that would change laws about publishing local-government legal notices, as newspapers and media organizations scurry to try to block the bill.

The Senate Rules Committee approved the measure (HB 7049) on Tuesday, the first time the proposal was heard in the Senate during the legislative session that started Jan. 11. The session is scheduled to end Friday.

The House last week voted 78-39 to pass the bill, which, in part, would allow local governments to publish legal notices on publicly available county websites if it would be cheaper than publishing them in newspapers.

Senate bill sponsor Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, said the goal is to “get legal notices to the most people.”

But opponents raised a series of objections, including that many rural areas lack internet access, that people would not find the information on county websites and that the Senate should not be taking up the issue without considering it earlier in committees.

“This essentially is a solar eclipse on the public,” Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, said. “It’s designed to block out the sunshine.”

The PNJ has been running ads proclaiming the need for legal notices in its print editions. Now we know why.


2 thoughts on “Daily newspapers may lose revenue source

  1. Mr. Lewis, you must be the only person who makes an attempt to follow politics in this town that didn’t know that the Resign to Run ordinance was on the agenda at the County meeting that night. While you seem to be a wealth of institutional knowledge on some past history pertaining to City business, when you get out of that lane to comment on County business, you always reveal how little you know and understand about what’s going on. (For the record, I was opposed to the ordinance and stated so publicly, so my comment is not a defense of the action they took.)

    As for your comment unfairly targeting Sherri Meyers, having to deal with such cherry picking and tone-deaf accusations from the peanut gallery is the primary reason that, as Sherri’s friend, I hope she doesn’t put herself through running just because the rest of the people in the race don’t seem capable of or interested in discussing many real issues. Sherri has more results from her lifetime of advocacy and service in her little finger than you’ve apparently been able to muster with years upon years of cranking, and seeing this attack from you of all people is jaw dropping in its disingenuity. You were happy enough to support her when you felt like you could use her as a mouthpiece for your scattershot program. People who pile on Sherri as she comes to the end of her time as council person will be duly noted by the political community as the worst type of opportunist.

  2. If the goal was really to “get legal notices to the most people” state law would expand the type of notifications. State law would also outlaw a favored Pensacola city council meeting tactic which is to drop an “add-on” item onto the agenda at the very last moment. Councilmembers have bluntly told me that the reason they use the political ambush tactic is to reduce the number of citizens who know in advance what was bring brought forward. Ironically, Councilwoman Myers is the one who most complains about the tactic when she opposes what is proposed but uses the tactic the most when it serves her own purposes. If she is elected mayor, and she has told me and others many times that she is going to file to run, she could drop last-second agenda items onto the council from the 7th floor of city hall. Further, and very unfortunately, most local government actions are not the subject of public notices. Plus, most local media reporting about local government issues is often descriptive with little analysis or fact-checking for that matter. The days when the city benefited from journalists like Jamie Page are long gone. Sometimes when a public notice is required, they are buried in a newspaper no one reads like the Escambia Sun Press supposedly read in both Escambia County and Santa Rosa County. That’s where the Board of County Commissioners buried the public notice about a new county law to prohibit who can run against them. Commissioner Bergosh then proclaimed that it must be a good law because no citizens showed up to protest. In truth, how would they have known about it? Who actually “reads” the Escambia Sun Press? I can say for certain that there are a surprising number of people who subscribe to the PNJ but do not have a computer, especially seniors. I talk to them. If this action becomes law, they will have even less of a fighting chance to know what’s going on. A saving grace is that local governments can continue to publish public notices and expand the type of notices published. In Pensacola, most council members do prefer that the public is kept in the blind. One member told me that council meetings were a lot better when the public was forbidden to attend in person in city hall. Most council members showed up but also claimed that it was unsafe for the public to be there too. The city’s charter review commission is now meeting. It could propose an amendment to require public notices in the PNJ, and maybe the Inweekly too. The council would be very upset but a bit hard pressed to refuse to allow the public to vote on the idea. Or a citizen could bypass the charter review commission and council and propose the amendment. It would pass.

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