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How would you feel if you hired someone to work for you and they shot your family’s watchdog? That’s essentially what Stephen Rudy, the powerful chairman of the Kentucky House Appropriations and Revenue Committee, just did. He and some of his colleagues scattered language throughout the committee’s 201-page state budget bill (HB 351) that takes nearly all public notices out of newspapers. Then they rushed it through the process. Worse, they intentionally ignored the fact that a bill addressing the public notice issue had already passed the house – one that had been hammered out after intense negotiations and compromise with representatives from across the state for newspapers plus city and county governments. The supposed reason for this is to save “public tax dollars.” Okay, so how much is the savings? According to the legislature’s own research, less than two tenths of one percent of their budget for most school districts! Likewise, most cities spend a tiny, tiny fraction of their budget on public notices. Again, this data came from the legislature’s own research commission, which published a report on this issue, LRC research report #431. So, if Rep. Rudy and his Frankfort colleagues really want to save taxpayer dollars, they should be trying to increase the number of people who know about and can bid on city, county and state projects, right? It is proven an open, honest and transparent bid process with many bidders builds trust and reduces cost. This bill does just the opposite. Bid invitations, audits, and other financial reports for all school boards, cities, and counties would disappear from newspapers. Sure, printed newspapers don’t reach as many homes as they used to. But neither do network television shows, radio broadcasts, or even cable television. Media everywhere has become more specialized and fragmented, with smaller and smaller audiences now common across the board. But, quite interestingly, most newspapers today put their public notices on their websites - at no extra charge to taxpayers! PLUS, in Kentucky they are already consolidated on a single statewide website - www.kypublicnotice.com. The site is FREE. It’s open to anyone. It lists every notice listed in almost every Kentucky newspaper. So, when you combine the print product, newspaper website - well, newspapers are still the cheapest way to reach a large audience. Some in Frankfort suggest we use “government or government agency” websites for public notices. But, when discussing websites in rural counties, Senate President Robert Stivers said, “I don’t think many cities or counties across Eastern Kentucky even have websites, do they?” He’s right. They do not. But our communities still have newspapers and newspaper websites. These do reach and serve their community. For example, in Clay County, The Manchester Enterprise and its website routinely reach over 20,000 viewers per week. The county only has about 20,366 people. In Knox at The Mountain Advocate, 24,000 views each week is common. That’s over 75% of the county’s population. But unless the senate steps up and stops this now, Rep. Rudy and his crew will get away with this blatant attempt to keep you in the dark. To stop this loss of government transparency, please email or call your state senator today. Ask them to fix HB 351 so it keeps public notices in newspapers. Don’t let them shoot your watchdog! Jay Nolan is CEO of Nolan Group Media and a Kentucky Press Association Past President

How would you feel if you hired someone to work for you and they shot your family’s watchdog? That’s essentially what Stephen Rudy, the powerful chairman of the Kentucky House Appropriations and Revenue Committee, just did.

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A lot has changed in Berea during the course of my lifetime. Some of those changes aren’t as drastic as some of you have witnessed, but still, the city isn’t the same as it was even 30 years ago.

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I remember at the turn of the 21st century we were all concerned about computer crashes, the unknown, and were just getting used to talking on cell phones. The iMac was relatively new and the iPhone was a few years away from becoming part of our everyday lives.

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If any of you are long time readers, you may know that during Christmas week I have a custom of dedicating my column space to the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth from the second chapter of the book Luke. This year I’ve used the New King James Version.