Assemblyman Wants You to Work Harder to Get Information

By EGP News

State Assemblyman Anthony Rendon (D- 63rd District) has proposed a bill (AB-642) that will make it significantly more difficult for residents in his district and all across California to get information about what government is doing in their names and with their tax dollars.

AB 642 lowers the standard for how information in disseminated, and is an affront to the people’s “Right to Know.”

What AB 642 does is gut the standards for where public and legal notices are published, which have traditionally required that they be posted in adjudicated newspapers of general circulation which provide locally relevant content to its readers, and that have invested in those communities for a period of time.

Rendon’s bill allows Internet-only sites to become local, adjudicated, “newspapers’ of record, without any clear guidelines to ensure that the sites are actually locally run or provide original content.

In effect, he is telling the residents of his district that he wants to place on them the added burden of having to go from website to website, and through long lists of public notices to find those that will affect them. His bill presumes that people will somehow always know that there is a notice of action that they need to know about, and that instead of turning to their local newspapers for the information, will be happy to spend their time searching the Internet to find the information their government is supposed to provide.

We are surprised that Mr. Rendon would put forth this proposal given the area he represents—which includes the cities of Bell, Maywood, and South Gate — where in the not too distant past residents fell victim to questionable behavior or extravagant spending by local city representatives, and where transparency was far from the norm.

It is particularly troubling given that studies show that many in his district, particularly Latinos, are less Internet savvy, or victims of what is regularly referred to as the Digital Divide.

Residents in his district may have little access to vital information about their community except through their local adjudicated newspapers, such as this one, so why Mr. Rendon wants to deprive them of this source is beyond us.

Local city clerks, school boards, water districts, traffic notices, health notices, political and voting notices are all posted in local adjudicated newspaper along with local community news of interest.

The changes AB 642 would make will severely hamper the community’s right to know by making it more difficult for citizens, taxpayers, property owners and others to access information that could pertain to them, whether in the form of notices about local public works projects, land use and environmental issues, delinquent taxes that could result in property seizure, termination of parental rights, contracting opportunities, or ways to mitigate issues arising from government action.

We urge Assemblyman Rendon to rethink this legislation and to come up on the side of greater transparency, rather than more Internet noise.

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March 21, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

Comments

6 Responses to “Assemblyman Wants You to Work Harder to Get Information”

  1. Bill Wong on March 21st, 2013 1:33 pm

    Quite to the contrary.

    Assembly Member Rendon’s intent on introducing this bill is to provide greater access to public notices by the public and more affordable alternatives to print publishing required legal notices.

    Interested individuals would not need to go from site to site to find public legal notices…all they would have to do is Google, Bing or Yahoo in order to get access the public notices that are now buried deep in the classified sections of print publications – often in small dense print that is difficult to read.

    In addition, subscriptions to print publications are dramatically falling while use of the internet to get news is gaining momentum, especially now with more affordable access to the web through smart phone technology.

    In fact, new research shows that adoption of broadband in low-income households has jumped 27% going from 33% in 2008 to 60% in 2012. Furthermore, broadband adoption in Latino households similarly jumped 24% with an 11% increase for Spanish speaking residents.

    Assembly Member Rendon respects the work and role that EGP plays in the community and welcomes thoughtful balanced debate on the issue as it moves through the process. Interested readers can search the bill at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov.

  2. Lance Watkins on March 21st, 2013 6:18 pm

    It is hard to imagine that anyone other than newspapers and newspaper lobbyist would be against this bill. The public wants information free, open and searchable. Qualities that dont exist with newspapers. The Federal government has moved to noticing online, yet states try to keep the monopoly on noticing with outdated media.

    “In effect, he is telling the residents of his district that he wants to place on them the added burden of having to go from website to website, and through long lists of public notices to find those that will affect them. His bill presumes that people will somehow always know that there is a notice of action that they need to know about, and that instead of turning to their local newspapers for the information, will be happy to spend their time searching the Internet to find the information their government is supposed to provide.”

    Exactly what his residents would want… 80% of households have internet access nationally, higher in his district. Much higher than the number of people in is district who subscribe to the papers that contain public notices.

    The intent of the noticing laws are to reach eyeballs, not burden resources with outdated ink. The intent written into the antiquated laws were to reach readers in a time when the newspaper were the only viable source of information. Now these papers that meet the laws, no longer meet the intent of the law.

    Sorry to say that protecting newspapers is more important than protecting the law or the people the laws are intending to reach. I would rather have a notice on a searchable database than a paper I can not find or afford.

    I strongly support and urge Assemblyman Rendon to keep moving forward with legislation that meets todays media consumption!

    Lance Watkins

  3. Lance Watkins on March 22nd, 2013 7:31 am

    Interesting that when you comment, the content is not visible? It is also interesting that if this topic philosophy existed within the writer why would we even see it online? Just keep the opinions in the newspapers within the district. Accordingly everybody would see the issue and respond accordingly.

    I emailed service@egpnews.com – lets see if we get an answer on making response comments available.

    Lance Watkins

  4. Jeff Allison on March 22nd, 2013 9:57 am

    Let’s not pretend that printed newspapers are the go-to for local information any longer. Daily circulation fell 30% between 1990 and 2010 and that trend is unlikely to turn around. Putting notices in places that people will actually see them, like on the Internet, is progress.

    http://stateofthemedia.org/2012/newspapers-building-digital-revenues-proves-painfully-slow/newspapers-by-the-numbers/ for more information on the state of print media.

  5. Donald Tackett on March 22nd, 2013 2:01 pm

    I think the congressman has a great idea. We are no longer in the dark ages where media should be monopolized by anyone. I understand that newspapers are on the verge of extinction due to the popularity of the internet, but that is their issue. It is up to them to move into the light and aspire to be part of the current century. I agree with the congressman, It is time that people be allowed to decide where they want to post notices instead of being forced to keep riding a dead horse. Not only do most people in the world spend time on the net, far less spend time reading newspapers anymore.

    I also think that stooping to bringing up a past issue as a valid arguement.. “We are surprised that Mr. Rendon would put forth this proposal given the area he represents—which includes the cities of Bell, Maywood, and South Gate — where in the not too distant past residents fell victim to questionable behavior or extravagant spending by local city representatives, and where transparency was far from the norm.” only shows the weakness of their arguement. Then the slam against Latinos not being internet savvy, is appauling. Stick to the facts folks! Tell it like it is… You just don’t want to lose the monopoly you currently have!

  6. Donald Tackett on March 22nd, 2013 2:08 pm

    I agree with the congressman. It is time to come out of the dark ages and put information where people will find it. Newspapers are a dying breed if they are not publishing online. The only arguments I see in this story are 1. A very weak attempt to use a past issue (that could have just as easily been reported online) and 2. A slam against Latino’s as being less than internet savvy. Personally, if I were Latino, I would sue your butts off for that slander. However, sticking with the subject. The congressman has my support. He is not saying people HAVE to post online, only that they should have the FREEDOM to post online. It’s time to end the monopoly and let the people decide for themselves whether to put it in ink, or virtual type.

Comments are intended to further discussion on the article topic. EGPNews reserves the right to not publish, edit or remove comments that contain vulgarities, foul language, personal attacks, racists, sexist, homophobic or other offensive terminology or that contain solicitations, spam, or that threaten harm of any sort. EGPNews will not approve comments that call for or applaud the death, injury or illness of any person, regardless of their public status. Questions regarding this policy should be e-mailed to service@egpnews.com.





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