July 13, 2012

From Happy Birthday to a Beauty Pageant to the Governor not meaning what he said, here’s what’s happening in and around KPA!

HAPPY 20 YEARS, OPEN MEETINGS/OPEN RECORDS!! 

It’s officially tomorrow, July 14, but I’m taking this time to remind you our Open Meetings/Open Records laws, the second generation, celebrate 20 years of good, open government. I doubt any of us involved in getting House Bills 105 and 106 through the 1992 General Assembly realized the trend-setting language being developed. There are issues being addressed today in other states (remember the note a couple of weeks ago about Alabama and its “serial” meetings?) that our laws took care of 20 years ago.

Honestly, we expected the laws to be passed in the 1990 legislature but the first attempt met with a lot of resistance from the House State Government Committee as well as public agency groups – the League of Cities for instance. So just saying open government is good and needed wasn’t sufficient. If you’re interested, I wrote a couple of pages of notes for Jon F. and John N. to refer to in the One to One taping with Bill Goodman (see below). Disappointment set in in 1990 but when the bills were passed in 1992, what transpired in the interim was better than we could have hoped for.

Sunday, July 22, and Tuesday, July 24, and with five other airings, Jon Fleischaker and John Nelson relive some of that history of getting the laws passed. KET will be airing a One to One show, hosted by Bill Goodman, that looks at the laws, how effective they are, and how we finally got them passed in 1992.

I hope you’ll be watching the show that’s scheduled to air a few times on KET. And give the show some space so your readers will know as well.

Here’s the schedule taken from the KET website:

Jon Fleischaker and John Nelson #724 
On July 14th, the state will celebrate the Open Meetings/Open Records law that passed in 1992. Attorney Jon Fleischaker and John Nelson, managing editor of The Advocate-Messenger and executive editor of Advocate Communications Inc., discuss the significance of the law that came about after a group of legislators and Kentucky Press Association representatives met to write the legislation.

KET Sunday, July 22 at 1:00 pm EDT

KET2 Tuesday, July 24 at 7:30 pm EDT

KET2 Wednesday, July 25 at 7:30 am EDT

KETKY Wednesday, July 25 at 8:00 am EDT

KETKY Thursday, July 26 at 6:00 pm EDT

KETKY Sunday, July 29 at 9:30 am EDT

KET Monday, July 30 at 12:30 am EDT 

HE SPOKE WITH LIP SERVICE BUT NOT WITH HIS HEART

Comes this week yet another story about the Cabinet for Health and Family Services refusing to release court-ordered documents. Even if the Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that Judge Phil Shepherd’s earlier decision on the releases would stand, the cabinet was going to maintain a state of defiance.

All that takes me back to November 29, 2011. The governor called a press conference and announced that the air of secrecy would be no longer. He was lifting the cabinet’s constant refusal that had led to lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit.

Oh how great that day would have been, should have been, could have been. If only…. If only the governor meant what he said. As he spoke, I wanted to believe him. I wanted to believe this was a victory for the public, a victory for the press. That the governor is taking control of the situation and making his administration transparent. After all, in many other areas, the governor’s efforts have leaned strongly toward transparency.

Nice words, governor. But it appeared all that was just lip service to the media and the public. You said them, governor, but not from your heart.

I covered it because it was such an important announcement and something that I thought newspapers not only needed to know, but needed to report.

But something was amiss. And when I got back to the office, I called Jon Fleischaker so he would know. But I told Jon, while the governor said it, I had reservations. He might have said it but not with his heart. It was like the guy who sees a beautiful woman and tells her everything she wants to hear to try to win her over. But in the end, what he said he didn’t mean at all.

The governor said the cabinet would start complying, would start releasing the records, would end that veil of secrecy.

But he didn’t mean it at all. And nothing’s changed.

Here’s part of the story I filed shortly after the press conference. Judge for yourself:

The governor said the first step will be to direct the cabinet to “immediately begin opening records of cases in which abuse or neglect led to a child fatality or near-fatality.

“Transparency will be the new rule,” the governor stated, noting that some information might still be redacted before the records are released. “I think the time has come, given the horrifying details of a few cases, for the balance to tip toward increased openness.”

We continue waiting for these words to ring true, governor.

MISS KENTUCKY FINALS JULY 14         

So you’re wondering why mention the Miss Kentucky finals. Well, pretty simple. There are 31 contestants vying for the title and the opportunity to represent Kentucky in the Miss America pageant.

And if you’re a betting person you might want to check the majors of those 31. Because chances are probably better than even that the winner will have a major related to journalism. Eleven contestants list journalism/broadcast journalism/communications/public relations as their majors. So better than one-third are looking to a future in this kind of business.

BOARD MEETING IS JULY 20     

The KPA Board will have a busy meeting July 20 at Eastern Kentucky University. It’s going to resemble one of the Fall Board Retreat agendas because there are several things that need a good discussion. It’s much more than approving the minutes and where we are financially.

The Kentucky Broadband Project, the Kentucky Auditor’s emphasis on special districts (taxing and non-tax districts), workers compensation legislation on newspaper carriers, and digitization of newspapers at UK need to be brought before you and we need your thoughts and comments. And perhaps a show of support.

We should get to the “meat and potatoes” of the agenda about 12:45 and after a couple of usual agenda items we’ll have Abby Caldwell and Brian Kiser from the Kentucky Broadband Project; Stephenie Steitzer from the Auditor’s office; and Leigh Ann Thacker with our lobbying firm, Southern Strategy.

Abby Caldwell is director of Communications & Special Projects for the Kentucky Council of Area Development Districts, and Brian Kiser is executive director Commonwealth Office of Broadband Outreach & Development.

It’s going to be longer than a typical board meeting, probably going until at least 3, maybe 3:30. And that’s okay because at 6 the reception and dinner for Max Heath and Jennifer Brown will be in the same building. That dinner and the presentation of the Al Smith Public Service Award are being coordinated by the Bluegrass Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues.

AND ONE MORE CHANCE          

And I’m going to give you this final reminder and final opportunity to make a reservation for the reception and dinner. This comes from Al Cross and was emailed yesterday to publishers, editors and circulation directors.

Dinner honoring Max Heath — the Al Smith Award Dinner at Eastern Kentucky University’s Performing Arts Center Friday evening, July 20. This is a follow-up from the invitation we sent you earlier. Tickets are $50 ($40 for members of the Society of Professional Journalists, our co-sponsor). The announced reservation deadline has passed, but we can accept your email or phone reservation until Monday, July 16. Please join us for an evening that will salute these leaders in community journalism. Cash bar at 6, dinner at 6:30.

Join us in honoring Max for his many, many years of commitment to postal service issues affecting newspapers. Believe me, Max’s work in the postal arena that last 25 to 30 years has saved you a lot more than the $50 for the awards dinner. So how about showing your appreciation and being there?

BLUE RIBBON TAX REFORM COMMISSION

The Governor’s tax reform commission had another public meeting Tuesday night in Louisville. The report from Southern Strategy seemed like more of the same. No new ideas or comments other than farmers need help because of the drought.

One thing I’ve think the “media” group has come to realize is that we’re taking the correct strategy and just monitoring these meetings and not bringing up anything about the service tax, especially as it would relate to advertising. If it’s not being discussed, then don’t make an issue out of it. Don’t alert them to the idea. Don’t show your hand until it’s needed. So sitting back and listening seems to be the correct strategy.

But one thing I’m coming to realize is the different levels of a service tax. I went to a store recently (wasn’t the dry cleaners I do know that) and was surprised when the clerk totaled the charges. Wish I could remember where it was but I do remember there was no sales tax on it. To my dismay as such. And then I remembered, oh yeah, there’s no tax on services. I fully expected to pay the sales tax on that, just as I expect in getting my dry cleaning, or getting my haircut.

So looking at a service tax from the individual’s perspective, it’s not out of the ordinary to pay it for those services. Get your dry cleaning, pay the sales tax. Get your haircut, pay the sales tax. Get your car fixed and expect to pay a sales tax on the mechanic’s time. Those things and many more could make a sales tax on services somewhat swallowable.

But the tax on advertising is totally different. It is NOT a tax on individuals as are most services, it’s a tax on businesses. It’s a tax on the retailer, who hires an ad agency, who hires a graphic design firm and then places the ad in newspapers or the commercial on TV. All of those are business-related taxes and if there is one common theme the commission has been hearing is you are taxing businesses and Kentucky’s business climate is not well. Don’t tax businesses any more than you are.

Think about your own newspaper. Look at the ads this week and how many display ads are for ONE individual? Doubtfully any, or maybe just a couple. All those display ads are for businesses. Now go to the classified section. Many of those will be for individuals – Babysitting, Housesitting, car for sale, will care for an elderly person. That could be a different game. But as for the overall approach, an ad tax is an additional tax on businesses (only) and should not be considered.

Now I’m not going to come out and support a sales tax on services. But if it gets to the point of being a tax that makes businesses suffer, that makes businesses pay even more taxes, then that’s different.

One good thing about the commission is that it appears to be complying fully with the Open Meetings laws. And perhaps eventually the Open Records law could come into play. There are three public meetings left – Northern Kentucky, Lexington and Prestonsburg. Then it’s back to Frankfort, talk with the consultants and develop a proposal, if that’s possible.

ANOTHER SPECIAL SESSION?     

Let’s see. The commission gives its report in November. The next elections are in November with all 100 House members and 19 of the 38 Senators on the ballot. 2013 is a relatively short session, just 30 days. And five of those come in January under the “Organizational Session” title, when the chambers elect leaders for 2013 and 2014.

Tax reform isn’t easily handled in a full 60-day session so you can imagine a 30-day session would make it almost impossible.

Is there an alternative? Sure there is. Get the elections in November over with and call a Special Session on Tax Reform.

Just saying. And if it happens, remember where you read it first!

AUDITOR’S EFFORTS AND SPECIAL TAX DISTRICTS          

I had asked the Auditor’s office about this a few days ago and then with Stephenie Steitzer coming to the Board meeting, I took another opportunity to float the balloon that special districts should be subject to the Public Notice Advertising provisions. Jon Fleischaker has already opined that the districts should be subject to Open Meetings and Open Records. So why not see about KRS 424 I thought?

I sent Stephenie an email this week and she said she would forward it along. She did and it ended up with Bob McBeath, the Auditor’s general counsel.

Here’s his email to Auditor staff members, referencing my question. Sounds like it’s time for newspapers to tell these special districts to publish their information and to make their meetings open and their records open as well.

Nathan,

KRS 65.060 states that “the term ‘district’ shall mean and the provisions of KRS 65.008, 65.009, 65.065, 65.070 shall apply to any board, commission, or special district created pursuant to the following statutes: . . .”, after which there is a long list of statutes dealing with particular types of special districts.

All these special district types identified in KRS 65.060 must comply with KRS 65.070, and (1)(c) of this statute requires “the district” (as defined in KRS 65.060, above) to “[p]ublish, in lieu of the provisions of KRS 424.220, but in compliance with other applicable provisions of KRS Chapter 424, the names and addresses of the members of its governing body and chief executive officer, and either a summary financial statement, which includes the location of supporting documents, or the location of district financial records which may be examined by the public.”

Thus, it is my opinion that David’s reference in his email, below, to “city, county, district, or other area,” which he’s quoting from KRS 424.110(1)’s definition of “publication area,” would include at least all those districts identified in KRS 65.060, and the provisions of KRS Chapter 424, with the exception of the provisions of KRS 424.220 if the district chooses to publish according to KRS 65.070(1)(c), would be applicable to those districts.

Hope this helps.  Let me know if you have questions.

Bob McBeath, General Counsel, Auditor of Public Accounts

Now when the time seems right, and it’s getting close, I’ll notify publishers to start the push locally.

I have printed out the text of KRS 65.070 as well as Attorney General opinions. While these districts might not be required to publish a full financial statement, it’s obvious there are publiation provisions. Some newspapers have reported a few of the districts in the area have published something over the last year. What remains to be determined is if only those considered “taxing” districts would be required to publish or if all 43 types of special districts must comply.

Regardless, Jon Fleischaker is ready to argue that the definitions in the Open Meetings and Open Records laws require them to comply full with KRS 61.

IT’S AS IF COUNTY OFFICIALS DON’T CARE          

The Kentucky Association of Counties is having some training around the state and part of the training is on Open Meetings and Open Records. Got a note earlier this week from Amye Bensenhaver at the AG’s Office, frustrated at the lack of participation.

The training is limited to county officials so there was no interest in us trying to promote it to the public and the press. Three more sessions are planned in the near future so perhaps newspapers in those areas can at least encourage the officials to attend.

Upcoming sessions are:

July 25 Cumberland Valley ADD (London)

August 30 Cave City Convention Center

October 18 KY Dam State Park (Gilbertsville)

These are part of KACO’s Leadership Institute Curriculum. So maybe they’ll show some leadership and get attendance increased.

ADVERTISING    

You know that we have the second highest month in KPS’ history and today we sit with $1.857 million for July. I think all the tallies are in for the public notice placement so the dollars added through the end of the month will be for other placements. This is all good news because it’s going to have a positive impact on the bottom line and from your perspective, a positive impact on the 95 or so newspapers who shared in this.

BALLARD WEEKLY FINDS A HOME

I reported last week that the Ballard Weekly had not closed, after all, and that Dennis Richardson has added it to his stable of three other Kentucky newspapers and a shopper. And in that, he was looking for a new home for The Weekly. He has that taken care of as evidenced in this email.

After a long search throughout Ballard County the Ballard Weekly newspaper has found a new home across from the city hall in Wickliffe. The Weekly is moving into 350 Court Street directly across from the Wickliffe City Hall. The phone number is 270 332-2117.

Richardson said he believes this to be an excellent move. “I respect the 124-year-old Advance Yeoman which is located in LaCenter,” said Richardson. “Nine years ago a new newspaper was born to focus on the local issues of Ballard County. We were sad to hear that it was being discontinued and were happy to administer CPR to revive it. Now we plan to build on the foundation laid by the founders while publishing from the county seat of Wickliffe.”

The email address is ballardweekly@usit.net.

The newspaper invites Facebook® users to “like” it. View the entire newspaper for free at www.magicvalleypublishing.com. Online Editions are at the left on the website; click on Ballard Weekly. The Weekly joins the family of newspapers in western Kentucky: The Hickman County Gazette, The Hickman Courier, The Fulton Leader and the Fulton Shopper.

SCHEDULE       

I’ll be leaving the office about 10:45 and head downtown to a meeting and lunch with Beth Barnes and some folks from Africa. UK’s had a partnership with the media in Africa the last few years and this is the second group Beth’s had come to Frankfort. One of them is in a similar position as I am so we’ll visit especially and compare notes.

Should be back by 1 p.m. or so.

Tuesday, I have a lunch meeting with Leigh Ann Thacker and with Gary White from the Broadcasters Association, just to talk about legislative issues, etc.

Wednesday, I’m going to head out before work and go to Owensboro. I’m meeting with OMI publisher Bob Morris and also wanting to visit Owensboro’s successful graphic design/copy editor addition. OMI is laying out a number of Paxton papers in their office and I’m working on a convention session, “Outsourcing,” where newspapers are joining forces for layout and design to save costs. Will be in Wednesday but it will be late afternoon.

And of course, next Friday will be leaving the office about 10 and heading to Richmond for the Board meeting and then the Al Smith Public Service Award dinner.

And being out next Friday (well will be here until 10 but have to get everything together for the Board meeting) there won’t be a Friday Email to the Board nor a Friday Update to members.

As always, if you have questions, comments, concerns, issues, clarifications, corrections, additions, deletions or anything else, just call or email.

Otherwise, thanx!!

CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Friday, July 13, 2012 – 11 a.m. – Meeting and Lunch with Beth Barnes and Guests from Africa

Saturday, July 14, 2012 – 20th Anniversary of Kentucky’s Current Open Meetings and Open Records Laws

July 20, 2012 – 12 Noon – KPA Board of Directors Meeting, Center for the Performing Arts, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond

6 p.m. –  IRJCI and Bluegrass Chapter of SPJ Dinner honoring Max Heath and Jennifer Brown with presentation of the Al Smith Award, Reception and Dinner at the Center for the Performing Arts, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond

Wednesday, July 25 – 10 a.m. – Leigh Ann Thacker and David T., meeting with Workers Compensation Insurance Commissioner Logan

Friday, July 27 – 12 Noon – Site Visit, new Marriott East in Louisville, with Elizabeth Weimer

July 31 – August 4, 2012 – Newspaper Association Managers Convention, San Francisco, CA

Sometime in August – Judging Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Advertising Contest (electronically)

Monday, September 3, 2012 – KPA Central Office Closed – Labor Day

Sunday-Monday-Tuesday, October 14-15-16, 2012 – 2012 Southeast Region Newspaper Association Managers Conference, Marriott RiverCenter, Covington

Thursday-Friday, October 18-19, 2012 – 2012 KPA Fall Board Retreat, Rough River State Park

October 19, 2012 – Probable Deadline for Entering Excellence in Kentucky Newspapers – 2012 Competition

January 24 – 25, 2013 – 2013 KPA Winter Convention, The Brown Hotel, Louisville

January 23 – 24, 2014  – 2014 KPA Winter Convention, Hyatt Regency, Lexington

Sometime in 2017 – We’ve been asked to judge the Mississippi Press Association Better Newspaper Contest in 2017. Please hold the year open for further information on when, where and what media format Mississippi papers will be in that year.

Sometime in 2018  – Colorado judging KPA Excellence in Kentucky Newspapers Competition

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