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Are Government Legal Notices A Waste Of Tax Dollars?
By John Pless
Many people believe if you dig deep enough you can find where government wastes your tax dollars. So we're beginning a new, on-going series of reports called Waste Watch where we are going to find those wasted dollars.
We begin with a closer look into governments spending money to buy ads in newspapers that few people read.
Times are changing as fewer people subscribe to and read printed papers in favor of getting information on-line. So should the Tennessee law be changed so that governments no longer have to spend your money on something seldom used?
According to the Tennessee Press Association 70% of Americans read newspapers either in print or on-line. But what about all those legal notices that city and county governments are required by law to publish?
We posed that question to a number people who said they never read the legal notices. We did find a few people who said they do read some legal notices like announcements of marriages, divorce and foreclosures.
The City of Chattanooga spends about $75,000 a year to buy space in newspapers to let the public know about meetings, bids and purchases according to city media relations director Richard Beeland.
"Well we've always been concerned about the amount of money we're spending on legal notices," Beeland said.
Last year City Hall asked State Senator Bo Watson, R-Hamilton County, to introduce a bill that would change the requirement for governments so they could publish legal notices on-line without having to pay for printed notices in newspapers.
"What I wanted to do with this bill was begin the dialogue of how do we transition from a print media system to a system that's electronic and still meets those four tenants of being independent, verifiable, achievable and accessible," Senator Watson said.
The measure failed. The Tennessee Press Association lobbied against the change which would have resulted in lost income for newspapers. TPA said the change would water down the press's role of keeping people informed.
Frank Gibson, policy director for the Tennessee Press Association, said "of course that removes an important ingredient and purpose of public notice and that is that the notice be independent of government and verifiable."
TPA cites several studies showing why going exclusively on-line would keep a substantial number of people in the dark. At least 36% of Tennesseans don't have broadband access. 25% of Tennesseans don't have computers -- of those who do have computers only one-in-four visit government web sites.
Vickie Jefferson, a reader of those printed legal notices, said "I think they should keep doing it solely because everybody doesn't use on-line."
The city's spokesman agrees, going on-line would limit access for some but these days it's more about the cost considering how few people even read the printed notices.
"We're just trying to save taxpayer dollars by eliminating the requirement that we put it in print," Beeland said.
We are looking into other government projects and programs where there may be wasteful spending of tax dollars. If you know about a government program that needs attention we have set up a special e-mail address where you can share the information: email@example.com.
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Last Update on August 01, 2014 07:28 GMT
HONG KONG (AP) -- Most Asian stock markets dipped on Friday following a big sell-off on Wall Street but losses were limited by optimistic reports on China's economy.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei, Hong Kong's Hang Seng and South Korea's Kospi saw slight declines. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 tumbled. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite edged up.
ECONOMY- THE DAY AHEAD
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Investors are hoping for some positive news to halt the downward slide in the financial markets.
The Labor Department will issue the July jobs report today. In June, the economy added 288,000 jobs.
The Commerce Department will release personal income and spending figures for June. In May, consumers boosted their spending modestly after no gain in April.
Also, the University of Michigan will issue its index of consumer sentiment for July. For June, the index showed that strong job growth lifted overall sentiment.
The Commerce Department will report on June's construction spending today. For May, the figure barely rose as increased spending on non-residential projects such as office buildings and public construction was largely offset by a drop in home building
Also today, the Institute for Supply Management will release its manufacturing index for July.
On the corporate side, automakers will report July's vehicle sales numbers. And Procter & Gamble will report quarterly financial results before the market opens. Berkshire Hathaway will report earnings after the closing bell.
HONG KONG (AP) -- An official report says Chinese manufacturing rose to the highest level in more than two years in July.
Friday's survey is the latest sign that the world's No. 2 economy is perking up after a series of mini-stimulus measures unleashed by authorities.
The purchasing managers' index compiled by the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing rose to 51.7 last month from June's 51.0.
The index is based on a 100-point scale on which numbers below 50 indicate contraction.
It's the index's highest reading since April 2012 and follows an early version of a similar measure of factory activity by HSBC that rose to 52.
Communist leaders in Beijing have used small-scale stimulus in recent months to keep China's economy on track to meet its 7.5 percent full year growth target.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Congress has approved a bill to prevent a 28 percent cut in federal highway and mass transit aid at the height of the summer construction season.
The Senate voted Thursday night for a House-passed measure to augment the federal Highway Trust Fund with in infusion of $10.8 billion from the general Treasury -- enough to keep the fund solvent through May. The Transportation Department set Friday as the date the fund would no longer be able to provide all the aid promised from incoming gasoline and diesel fuel taxes.
The two houses played legislative ping pong with the issue in recent days over what critics called a "gimmick" to fund the measure by letting companies defer government-required contributions to their employees' pension plans. The bill now goes to the president.
NEW YORK (AP) -- The Canadian owner of a company that won nearly $1 billion in contracts to provide steel for the construction of the World Trade Center's tallest building and an adjacent transit center has been arrested on fraud charges.
Larry Davis was released on $100,000 bail Thursday. His lawyer said he will fight charges of wire fraud and conspiring in a scheme to cheat a program that provided contracts to minority- and women-owned businesses.
Court papers say Davis from 2009 through 2012 caused false payroll records to be sent to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The government says a Davis-owned company was awarded a $256 million contract to work on the trade center building and $330 million to help construct the transportation center.
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