ATLANTA, GA (Anibal Ibarra) - The Georgia Press Association (GPA) is asking publications around the state to oppose S.B. 186. The bill would make optional to publish legal notices by government entities to the “legal organ” and give the opportunity to ethnic media, such as anibalshow.com, to be considered for posting those paid ads in their sites. The Augusta Chronicle is the legal organ for Richmond County so it is difficult for independent/ethnic media with limited or none revenue to inform such officials documents to the community not subscribed to the only daily and its ideological agenda.
Calling for Action by GPA
“The Georgia State Senate is moving forward with S.B. 186, a bill that would allow local governments the option to put public notices on their own websites instead of having them published in newspapers. Public notices belong where they reach the widest possible audience -- in newspapers and at our state's public notice website, www.GeorgiaPublicNotice.com. The bill has been moved to the Senate Rules Committee for consideration after passing out of the State and Local Government Operations Committee.
“Newspapers are urged to contact their senators, especially those on the Rules Committee, to let them know of your opposition to the bill. Help further by writing news stories and editorials about the dangers in S.B. 186 to the public's ability to keep a check on its government. GPA also would like all publishers to send a note of thanks to Sen. Gloria Butler and Sen. Greg Kirk for standing against S.B. 186 in a recent committee hearing.”
Morning News, Savannah, Georgia, on proposal to publish legal notices on government-controlled websites:
“It's a familiar ploy: A group of Georgia lawmakers introduces a bill that they claim will benefit citizens. Then, upon closer inspection, the reality seems to be the opposite.
This time, the issue is legal notices that local governments must publish in local newspapers designated as legal organs.
“Six Republican senators, mostly from metro Atlanta, are pushing legislation that would let any local government entity publish required notices, advertisements and other items of public business on government-controlled websites. Print publication by independent entities would vanish.
“It's a bad idea. Senators should send SB 186 to the shredder.
“In the interest of full disclosure, this newspaper generates revenue from publishing legal ads for governments in Chatham County. We'd hate to see it go away. But there are compelling reasons to maintain the current, long- standing practice, which has kept Georgians informed and governments honest.
“First, this proposal imposes new duties on governments that opt for e- notification. This includes creating a website, an index, a repository for paper copies (and an index for that repository) and providing ongoing service of ads by mail or email to anyone who wants to be copied. How much will all this cost taxpayers? No one seems to know. But building a secure website could be expensive. A site that could be hacked would not be sufficient, as electronic documents can be doctored too easily.
“And will such changes help citizens become more informed? It seems doubtful. Under current law, when a government agency or official advertises in the legal organ newspaper, the newspaper itself is a permanent record of what was published and when. The newspaper provides copies to the Clerk of Superior Court to be preserved for not less than 50 years. That record cannot be manipulated electronically. The process is easy as well.
“Here's a reality check for metro-Atlanta lawmakers: Many Georgians don't have computers or Internet access. Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to surf the net. By comparison, newspapers are inexpensive.
“Of course, the more ways the public can access government information, the better. So here's one thing that lawmakers who are pushing SB 186 should know: Citizens who want online access to legal notices can find it right now on GeorgiaPublicNotice.com.
Here's one more thing they should know: That site is free.”
Many Asian and Hispanic publications are following with interest the discussion of S.B. 186 and online sites that target the international community in Georgia. The revenue that is originated by legal ads are immense and could help to keep alive those publications if S.B. 186 passes. Every one of these publications in print and online could compete for those revenues with the ideological press, such as The Augusta Chronicle, or mainstream media.
Online ethnic media without any support from comercial ads could be supported by legal ads postings and expand their area of service to their particular communities.
According to an open records act request made by anibalshow.com, Richmond County paid to Augusta Chronicle/Morris Communications $100,254.26 during FY 2014 and was budgeted $125,390.00 for FY 2015 to cover legal ads.
It is estimated that any legal organ in the state is making from 3,000 to 50,000 per year.
Taxpayers money are not the only funding source for these legal organs. All personal and business notices must also go to newspapers considered legal organs such as bankruptcies, divorces go out of business and much more.
In the case of anibalshow.com any revenue would be beneficial to cover more stories not only for the Hispanic community but the entire community. Information and commentaries are not limited in our site and social media to just some issues, some religion, some social class or political agenda.
One of the advantage of anibalshow.com is that can be visited by anyone with smartphone making easy the access to informations in their language to most Hispanic or people without access to computers.
Excerpt from the Bill
12 (a)(1) Except as provided in this Code section, the governing authority of any county or
13 municipality is authorized to adopt an ordinance providing that any notice it is required
14 by law to publish or advertise may be published electronically as provided by this Code
15 section in lieu of or in addition to the required publication or advertisement. The
16 ordinance may cover all notices required to be published or advertised or a selected class
17 or classes of notice.
18 (2) Each constitutional county officer shall be authorized, but not required, to participate
19 in such electronic publication upon the filing of written notification with the county
20 governing authority. Following receipt of such notice, the county governing authority
21 shall, in a timely manner, include in such ordinance appropriate provisions for the
22 participation of such constitutional county officer.
An example of a legal ad above that currently the city of Augusta must pay to advertise to the legal organ The Augusta Chronicle.