This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.
If you have a spare moment, look at today’s classified ads, specifically a category called “Legals.”
In recent days, that category has informed the public of actions being taken by the Bethel School District; the state of Washington; Pierce County; a local fire protection district; the cities of Sumner, Lakewood and Tacoma; and many other jurisdictions. The information is also published on the newspaper’s website.
But legislation introduced in both houses of the Legislature could make that a thing of the past. Now required to post public notices in local newspapers, jurisdictions would be allowed to post them on their own websites – which would require the public to search each site individually for information they need.
While the legislation is now limited to cities and counties, it likely would just be the first step. State agencies and local bodies such as ports, fire and school districts, and utilities surely would demand equal treatment.
Public notice, at that point, will not be very public at all. Citizens who want to know what local and state government is doing will have to go on website safaris to uncover information ranging from meeting announcements and liquor licenses to property foreclosures. Read more »