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Centralized account processing system migrating

The U.S. Postal Service has been unveiling for some months now the transition to a new, more secure business mail account payment system to migrate current users of the Centralized Account Processing System. It would also consolidate many different payment locations to run through one central account, now called Enterprise Payment System. It is not mandatory. 

County comes out ahead thanks to publishing legal notice

Q: What do you think of this? I was covering commissioners’ court this morning when one of the commissioners touched on an under-appreciated benefit of legal notices. He was praising the county tax office on a successful tax sale that was due in part to the notices printed in my newspaper. 
The county realized more than $109,000, partly from the sale of property and partly from people who realized through the notice their family property was being sold and voluntarily came in and paid the taxes. 

Small town living, neighborly concern: Priceless

I love working at community newspapers.
Most of all, small-town newspapers are true reflections of the communities they serve. Those small towns and cities are all things hyper-local.
Everyone pretty much knows everyone else. Or if they don’t, they know “his brother’s sister-in-law’s son’s cousin.”
Move into a new neighborhood and don’t be surprised if a new neighbor knocks at your door holding a chicken-and-spaghetti casserole, offering a warm welcome and politely inquiring, “Have y’all found a new church home yet?”

Candidacy filings become public information immediately

Q: We received the following statement from our school district’s communications director when we asked about the status of candidates for the board of trustees:
“To preserve the continuity of the election filing period, (the school district) will release the names of everyone who has completed the filing process when the filing period ends on Feb. 16th @ 4 p.m.”
After perusing Texas attorney general opinions I was unable to find one that addresses when candidates have to be named. 

AG spokesman suggests public officials slow-ball FOIA requests

Well, it’s been about a month since Texas Attorney General spokesman Marc Rylander bloviated his way into the headlines.
 I find myself still seething over his remarks during an AG’s training conference, in which he slandered our profession and essentially encouraged public information officers for governmental entities to slow-ball public information requests from the news media.
Nearly every day, I find myself turning the whole episode over in my mind. His remarks have me reacting in so many ways. Let me count some of them.

Flats trays can now be prepared without lids: Central printers free to nest tubs for delivery

The U.S. Postal Service has granted Periodical newspapers the option of preparing flats trays (white tubs) without lids and strapping, as required since 2006.
Customer Support Ruling PS-347 has been issued by Lizbeth Dobbins, manager of product classification at USPS headquarters.
 It limits preparation without lids to pieces “that will be worked or processed at the entry facility or associated Sectional Center Facility.” That would include all the 3-digit ZIP codes covered by the SCF distribution territory, starting with the first three digits of your own ZIP code.

Appeals Court Finds Texas’ Retraction and Anti-SLAPP Statutes Work in Harmony to Protect and Promote Free Speech Rights

A Houston court of appeals recently sided with media defendants regarding the relationship between Texas’ retraction statute (known as the Defamation Mitigation Act “DMA”) and the Anti-SLAPP statute (known as the Texas Citizens Participation Act “TCPA”). 

By Wesley D. Lewis, Associate, Haynes and Boone, LLP 

Election Code limits use of registered voter list information

Q: I have some candidates wanting to communicate with registered voters through direct mail. I can get the list from the county. But Election Code Sec. 18.009, Unlawful Use of Information on Registration List, states: (a) A person commits an offense if the person uses information in connection with advertising or promoting commercial products or services that the person knows was obtained under Section 18.008. (b) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor. Does this specifically exclude commercial products or services but not political advertising?

Food for the journalism soul in crazy times

We live in truly crazy and sophomoric times.
I don’t care who you voted for in the last presidential election; I don’t care where you fall on the political spectrum. At the national level, it’s become a big mudslinging match with all sides involved, including some of our Beltway news media brethren.
All too often, people have allowed their ideology to overwhelm their intellect – and their tempers to run roughshod over reason and accommodation.
And if you’re like me, you’ve noticed some of that mud has splattered on us hometown newspapers.