Editor’s Column: Those Pesky Legal Notices

Some papers call them public notices. We call them legal notices. They’re in the classifieds section, before the stuff like what’s for rent and who’s

Niki Turner
having a yard sale this weekend. Most of us ignore the legal notices, because they tend to be written in legalese. (I’m dating myself here, but “mumbo-jumbo, mumbo-jumbo” comes to mind.)
Municipalities and special districts are tasked with publishing their agendas and their notices to bid and various other things in local county newspapers for the sake of reaching the broadest audience possible. Here at the Herald Times, as a courtesy to our readers and to those governmental entities, we publish regular board agendas free of charge. Why would we do that instead of charging for those column inches? Because it’s the responsibility of the free press to keep the public aware of what their elected and appointed officials are up to every week.
In several states, every few years (this year it’s North Carolina), some not-so-bright bulb of a politician decides it would be a good idea to erase that requirement and save those taxing districts a few (literally) dollars here and there, insisting that it’s just as effective to put those public notices on county and town websites instead. Because folks will gravitate there to check out what their local government is doing, right? Who are they kidding? Most people don’t even bother to vote.
Here’s the thing… once something is in print, it’s done, it’s settled, it’s horribly, irreversibly permanent. It’s on the record forever and ever. If such-and-so entity is doing something questionable or controversial, publishing that public notice serves as an alert to the citizenry that they might ought to pay closer attention to what’s going on.
Some newspapers have turned their public notices into fancy advertisements with artwork and color and interesting fonts in an attempt to garner more attention and interest. Part of me likes that idea. Part of me says I should expect better from our readership.
Either way, I encourage you to skim through those dull legal notices… you never know what interesting information you might uncover. And should it ever come to a vote here in Colorado, I hope the readers of the Herald Times will be well-informed enough to call their local and state reps and tell them to continue to make public notices available to their constituents via their local newspapers.
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One of the things I appreciate the most about this job is the opportunity to talk to people from all different backgrounds, generations and ideologies. A few times a month my office is graced by one or more of our local military veterans sharing a VFW news brief or a story or, as happened this week, bringing me a treasure trove of old Meeker Heralds to review.
Every time one of these gentlemen stop by I am awed by the humility and gentle spirit they share. I don’t know if that’s a result of the trauma of war or if that’s the underlying characteristic of those who sign up to serve and protect our nation. Whatever it is, they are worthy of our respect, honor and support.
We’re publishing a list of our elected representatives this week on Page 5A. I encourage you call or email our state and national officials, right up to the president, and tell them to vote for legislation that benefits our veterans. It’s a sad truth that the billions of dollars earmarked for “defense” spending don’t trickle down very well to our soldiers, past or present. As taxpayers, we need to raise our voices and tell our lawmakers where we want those dollars to go.