June 14, 2013

GOOD AG RULING FOR MOUNTAIN EAGLE

The Mountain Eagle received notice this week that a request for an opinion from the Attorney General is in process and will be on the list of AG opinions to be released Monday.

The opinion was written June 7 and as usual, the requesting party was notified of the opinion before the week’s review is released.

Here’s the summary, sent to me Thursday by Sally Barto at the Mountain Eagle:

Summary: Letcher County Board of Education violated the Open Meetings Act by failing to give notice of the nature and purpose of a closed session, and to the extent that it discussed general personnel matters, i.e., abolition of certain positions, during an executive session pursuant to KRS 61.810(1)(f). Telephonic discussions of what items should appear on a special meeting agenda did not violate the Act, but budget discussions among a quorum of membership would have constituted a violation.

ADDING ONE TO KPNS AND ONE TO ARK

We added two newspapers this week to networks — the Oldham Era joining the Kentucky Press News Service and the Booneville Sentinel adding its name to the ARK advertising network.

We’ve added several newspapers to the ARK ad network this year and it now holds the banner of the largest participatory network KPS has. There are 108 newspapers agreeing to the terms and conditions of this display network that puts 2×2 to 2×4 ads in newspapers across the state.

KPNS is up to 74 newspapers now.

AND A PAT ON THE BACK TO KPNS

David Greer talked with Scott Dillingham, of the Dawson Springs Progress, Thursday afternoon, part of it being about KPNS website running a little slow. But that gave Scott a chance, too, to talk about KPNS. Here’s an email from David Greer with that conversation:

“Anyway, he said KPNS is a tremendous KPA member service. He uses 3 or 4 KPNS stories in each issue, he said.

“And some KPNS stories he uses just because they’re so interesting — not necessarily relevant to readers in Dawson Springs — but just interesting to read nonetheless.

“Nice little pat on the back.”

And kudos to the newspapers involved for finding some “interesting stories” and allowing us to share them with a wider audience through the news service.

ASK AND YE SHALL RECEIVE

Anytime we survey KPA newspapers for whatever the reason, we’re going to get 25 to 30 responses. That’s been the history of responses for many years so we know going in the response won’t be great but will be in that range.

At Monday’s staff meeting, David Greer mentioned the freelancer/stringer survey he’s doing currently and he had 24 responses. That’s pretty much on target for his goal but he was going to make one more push to get some more completed surveys.

Doing that paid off just a couple of hours later. Another plea ended with 10 more newspapers responding, pushing the total to 34 responses. And there’s still time for that to go higher since his self-imposed deadline is June 19.

Editors — Find the email from David Greer about the Survey Monkey on using freelancers/stringers, fill it out and lets see if 50 responses can be attained.

JULY 4 AND 5

Of course, the KPA Central Office will be closed Thursday, July 4, for Independence Day and the dilemma comes with what to do about July 5. Some state press associations are closing on the 5th, also, but most are just allowing staff to take vacation days if they want a four-day holiday.

That’s what we’ll be doing at KPA, giving staff members a choice of working or taking a vacation day. And preliminary reviews show yours truly might be the only one staffing the office that day. It’ll be slow and few calls but that’s fine. We’re open if newspapers need anything and that’s the important part.

KENTUCKY LEGISLATURE — REDDEST OF REDS OR BLUEST OF BLUES?

Is the Kentucky General Assembly among the reddest of the red or the bluest of the blue? And this has absolutely nothing to do with whether they support UK (the blue) or UL (the red).

Check out these maps of Democratic and Republican extremism:

http://mischiefsoffaction.blogspot.com/2013/06/where-republicans-are-really-red-and.html

NEED A KPA MEDIA PASS?

It won’t get you a free cup of coffee or admission to many events but if you’re in need of a media pass, don’t forget the KPA Media Pass we offer. These are two-year media passes, available to members of KPA, and free for the asking.

All it takes is going to www.kypress.com/presspass and filling out the application. Then submit the required photo to us at the email address provided on the link and you’ll have the media pass within a few days.

These replaced the Kentucky State Police press pass when that agency stopped offering them a few years ago.

If you have a new employee, or a current one whose media pass has expired, just follow the steps to kypress.com/presspass and get it in process.

http://www.kypress.com/presspass

ALLIANCE BACK TOGETHER TO FIGHT OFF POSTAL INCREASE

The Affordable Mail Alliance, a coalition of Postal Service customers, has been reestablished to defeat an expected Postal Service proposal to raise postage rates by as much as five times the rate permissible by law. The National Newspaper Association is a member of the alliance.

The Postal Service Board of Governors, who must approve the Postal Service’s request, is set to decide on the matter imminently.

The law permits the Postal Service to raise postage rates annually, consistent with the rate of inflation, a standard that should satisfy any well run organization in today’s economy. But a combination of declining revenue and increasing costs has the Postal Service poised to inflict on its customers an “exigent” rate increase designed to subsidize an outdated infrastructure in need of change. Most private sector companies have already made major structural and operational changes in recent years in order to survive. The USPS needs to do the same.

A massive postage rate increase will hit consumers, charities, and large and small businesses at a time when the still fragile economy cannot afford it. The result will be more jobs lost in the private sector in order to maintain an overbuilt postal system, and even less revenue to the Postal Service as mailers flee. There should be a unified call to reform the USPS, not saddle postal customers with higher prices – something that will only accelerate the decline of mail volume, and hasten the Postal Service’s demise.

The Postal Service claims that it will soon run out of cash without major financial relief, a claim it has been making for a number of years. In 2010 the Postal Service proposed a massive postage rate increase to avert a pending financial catastrophe that never materialized. Fortunately for mailers and for the Postal Service, that proposed price increase was rejected through the efforts of the Affordable Mail Alliance.

While the Postal Service may believe it has no other options, a rate hike of this magnitude will hurt postal customers and cause more mail to leave the postal system; therefore, the Affordable Mail Alliance has united to once more say no to exorbitant rate hikes.

$35,000 FOR COPIES OF PUBLIC RECORDS?

That’s what a Tennessee state agency says it will cost The Tennessean for copies of public records it wants. The request is similar to what Kentucky newspapers have been after from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (oh, yeah, sorry, the Cabinet for Self-Protection). The Tennessean wants records from the Department of Child Services pertaining to child deaths and near-deaths.

See if this sounds familiar: The Tennessean earlier this year was engaged in a legal battle with the agency under similar circumstances. The newspaper requested public records on the children from a different time span and was told it would cost $32,000 to obtain copies of those redacted documents. In April, Davidson County Chancellor Carol McCoy ordered the agency to begin turning over redacted documents from early 2009 to mid-2012, finding that the agency could not use confidentiality exemptions to deflect the newspaper’s Freedom of Information request.

But the judge rejected the $32,000 estimate and ruled that the newspaper would pay no more than a 50-cent photocopying fee for each page produced. Guess the department was trying to recoup costs for staff time, copier lease, building lease, insurance on the building, electricity, gas, water and anything else involved.

To read the rest of the story, go to: http://www.rcfp.org/browse-media-law-resources/news/agency-asks-tennessee-newspaper-pay-35000-records-deaths-and-near-de

92 PERCENT (MAYBE MORE) USING STRINGERS/FREELANCERS

Update of an earlier note: If the percentage would hold true then you could calculate out that 9 in 10 newspapers use stringers or freelancers for their news needs. A survey David Greer has had going for a couple of weeks has 36 respondents so far, with 33 showing freelance/stringer use. That’s 92 percent and could climb a little higher. The survey is open until June 19 and watch for one more push to add to the 36 responses.

And even if you’ve already filled out the survey you’ll still get the email. It’s done anonymously so we can’t tell who has and who has not filled out the seven-question survey. But you editors know if you have or not, so if not, find the link to the Survey Monkey and fill it out.

While 25 to 30 responses from our member newspapers is considered a success (it’s about the standard response rate to anything we send it), David’s surpassed that and now has a target of 40 newspapers filling out the form.

Ironically, this week our former executive committee member Dennis Hetzel, now Executive Director of the Ohio Newspaper Association, put out a call for any language pertaining to an independent contractor contract that newspapers could use. That gave me an opportunity to pull out a Work for Hire contract, done by former KPA general counsel Kim Greene, and share it with state press associations.

And with the number of you using stringers/freelancers, I share it with you as well.

WORK FOR HIRE CONTRACT

LEGAL DEFENSE FUND AWARDS $44,000

The KPA Legal Defense Fund Committee met recently and considered seven requests for legal assistance from six newspapers. The requests came from Georgetown, Frankfort, Danville, Owensboro, Hopkinsville and Lexington (2). The committee decided to award requests in six of the requests and “the checks are in the mail” or will be on Monday.

The $44,000 reimbursed for legal fees, where the case or outcome would affect the industry as a whole, puts the total amount returned to newspapers well over $500,000. The LDF began in August, 1996.

ARTICLES, EDITORIALS ON PUBLIC NOTICES

As a member of the Public Notice Resource Center, we’re able to get monthly reports on public notice legislation being considered in other states as well as links to good stories and editorials newspapers are publishing to show the importance of public notices.

Here’s a sampling from the May, 2013, PRNC update (and if you’d like to read any of these, just let me know and I’ll send you the link):

Municipal notices in Canada received a makeover to make them easier to read and encourage people to get involved in their local government.

New easier to read look for Courtenay’s public notices – Comox Valley Echo (4.9.2013)

Articles that direct attention to the public notices in your newspaper are a great way to inform the public.

Public notices highlight insurance companies’ financial condition – Rapid City Journal (5.7.2013)

Two editorials from Florida on the importance of public notice:

Keep public notice in print, online – The Ledger (4.9.2013)

Preserve Public Notice and our property rights – Tallahassee Democrat (4.5.2013)

An attempt by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in their budget proposal to remove notices announcing the sale of state owned timber from the newspaper was recently defeated. Here is an excellent editorial explaining why this proposal was bad public policy.

Public notices for timber sales should stay in DNR’s budget – Vernon Broadcaster (5.8.2013)

We retain these, and other, articles for reference in case a similar public notice bill surfaces in Kentucky.

FLURRY OF ACTIVITY AROUND THE COUNTRY

Many state legislatures aren’t in session right now (i.e., our own) but where legislators are gathering there’s a number of public notice bills for consideration.

Here’s a sampling from some of the other states. If you’re interested in reading more about any of these, let me know and I will send you a link to each bill:

California – AB 642 (DEAD, Hearing cancelled at request of author – 5.7.2013)

A bill promoted by AOL’s Patch that would permit a newspaper that is available on a web site to qualify as a newspaper of general circulation for the purpose of publishing public notices has been defeated.
Organized labor joins newspaper opposition to online public notice bill – Los Cerritos News (4.11.2013)

Connecticut – SB 902 (Moved to Foot of the Calendar, Senate – 5.14.2013)

A proposal has been introduced to allow a brief summary of the matter being noticed and a reference to the appropriate Government website instead of requiring a legal notice from a town, city or borough to be published in a newspaper. Additionally, the bill would allow daily and free newspapers to publish notices.

Where do you read Leadyard’s public notices? – Leadyard Patch (5.8.2013)

Limiting public access isn’t good public policy – Norwich Bulletin (4.22.2013)

Keep public notices in newspapers – Courant (5.3.2013)

Michigan – SB 8 (Headed to House floor, PASSED House Committee, PASSED Senate – 5.9.2013)

Legislation to revise the definition of a newspaper to include an online version only if a print copy does not exist unanimously passed the House Local Government Committee and now heads to the floor for a full vote by the House. The Senate has already approved the proposal

The bill specifically requires the Internet website to be an online version of a previous newspaper and requires the retention of a printed copy for archival and verification purposes. This bill is supported by the press association.

Nevada – AB 4 & AB 267 (DEAD, Failed to make an April 12 Deadline)

AB 4 – A bill to reduce the amount of newspaper public notice has been defeated.

AB 267 – A bill that would allow for online notice on a website controlled by a newspaper or a broadcaster in lieu of notice published in a newspaper has been defeated.

North Carolina –SB 287 (Re-Referred to Committee; PASSED Senate – 5.15.2013); SB 186 (Referred to Committee – 3.6.2013)

SB 287 – A broad based bill to allow notice on a government site instead of published notice in a newspaper. The bill has already passed the Senate.

SB 186 – Proposal that would allow notices by counties and cities to be posted online on a government website instead of in a newspaper.

These bills sparked a great deal of controversy within the state as North Carolina Press Association fought to point out serious flaws in the bills.

Public notice bill passes Senate – Sun Journal (4.24.2013)

Public notice change gets ok from Senate – Richmond County Daily Journal (4.23.2013)

Public notice bill moves forward – The Laurinburg Exchange (4.23.2013)

NC Senate gives initial OK on legal notice options – The Associated Press (4.23.2013)

NC Senate OKs bill to allow online public notices – News Record (4.24.2013)

Additionally, here is a sampling of editorials from North Carolina about the importance of public notices in newspapers:

Public notices for everyone, not just those online – Star News Online (4.12.2013)

Keep public notices public – The Sampson Independent (4.17.2013)

Public notice bills threaten people’s right to know – News of Orange (4.17.2013)

Legislature must not scrap public notices – Hickory Daily Record (4.19.2013)

City declines to support public notice bill – Mount Airy News (4.20.2013)

South Carolina – H 3563 & S 513 (Language to Eliminate Newspaper Notice Removed – 4.25.2013)

The storage association agreed to remove language in the proposed legislation that would have eliminated publication in a newspaper for self-storage notices.

Texas – HB 335 (Committee Report Sent to Calendars – 5.3.2013)

Allows a political subdivision to post legal notices on its own website.

Proposed public notice bill threat to government transparency – Your Houston News (4.25.2013)

SCHEDULE NEXT WEEK

Pretty light over all, with a conference call of KPA Past Presidents on Thursday morning and a vacation day on June 21 to play in the Senate Majority golf tournament in Georgetown.

Teresa and I do have an interview set up for Monday at 11 with a candidate for the Statewide Classified position.

As always, call, write, email, fax or stop by if you have questions, comments, concerns, issues, additions, deletions, clarifications or corrections. And if there’s anything you wish me to share with members around the state, let me know.

Otherwise, thanx!!

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