Columns

Election commissions not subject to open meetings act rules

Q: Our county election commission has five members: the county judge, county clerk, tax assessor-collector and the chairs of the county Republican and Democratic parties. The commission appoints members to the early voting ballot board, appoints the early voting signature verification committee, approves the purchase of election supplies, etc. Is the commission subject to the open meetings law?

Physical standards for proper preparation of ‘flat’ mail like newspapers and magazines

I am sharing relevant content from a recent seminar I attended at the Kentuckiana District Postal Customer Council in Louisville by mailing specialist Ron Burch. I have found him to be a smart guy with in-depth knowledge of the rules in my dealing with that district office. He presented the rules on flat mail design elements, etc.
Although National Newspaper Association members increasingly publish bound magazines as well as newspapers, I thought this review might be helpful to clip and save.

Copy of writ clocks in at one dollar per page

Q: A death row inmate filed a writ of habeas corpus to contest his imprisonment. This is a ground zero, front-page news story in my coverage zone. I need to study the writ and it is about 500 pages in length. A copy for public viewing resides in the district clerk’s office, but I do not have time to sit in the district clerk’s office to read the document, take notes, flip pages back and forth, make calls, etc. I was ready to pay 10 cents per page, but the district clerk said a digital version of the document is not available and she cited Government Code Sec.

San Antonio newspaper war shaped many careers

Sports broadcasting legend Jack Whitaker once said, “Fate has a way of bending the twig and fashioning a man to his better instincts.”
I have always loved that saying. It has really haunted me lately (in a good way) as I get ready to attend a reunion — and a very special one at that.
It is a celebration marking the 25th anniversary of the closing of the San Antonio Light, where I began my newspaper career 36 years ago.

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.