There is a move afoot in the Legislature to remove public notices from local newspapers. No matter what some may tell you, taking public notices out of your local newspapers is a serious mistake.
One of the proponents' main arguments for this move is that citizens would still be informed if the requisite legal notices were not printed, but rather only "posted" on the internet.
Several years ago, the Arizona Supreme Court unequivocally ruled and most of the state's citizens firmly believe the business of our government should be open and that the state's citizenry be fully informed.
Allowing notices to be posted only online, however, will disenfranchise a wide swath of the state's rural citizens. These are citizens who are served by newspapers, but who not only don't have easy or inexpensive access to the internet, but in many instances have no access at all.
The U.S. Agriculture Department conducted a survey in 2007 of every farm operator in the country to see if he or she had broadband internet access.
Of the 9,632 Arizona farms replying, a mere 28 percent reported using the internet and just about 17 percent had broadband. These figures, by the way, represent levels that are 50 percent below the U.S. average in each category.
You can extrapolate this sample of mostly rural farm dwellers to the thousands of Arizonans who live in remote, rural areas. And it is those citizens who will not have access to information that should be provided by their government.
The statutes call for a host of public notices to be printed. These include rezonings, school and city budgets, election dates and procedures, taxation increases, formation or changes in city and county boundaries and a host of other issues important to every citizen.
It is no laughing matter that many of us living in the less populated areas of our state are not connected to the internet information highway.
And if there is service, as the statistics above show, it is often dial-up speed or through a costly satellite broadband system. These high costs are often cited as a reason not to have internet connectivity. Compare, for example, the cost of a weekly newspaper delivered to the reader for less than 60 cents a week with internet charges that can easily be 100 times that amount.
Reaching and serving rural Arizonans is just one of the problems associated with shifting public notices from print to only the internet. But it is a big enough problem for the legislature to put aside this idea for many years to come.