Columns

Guidelines for barcode placement available online

Q: If I file a public information request for a copy of a contract from a local governmental body, and they deny my request and then seek a Texas Attorney General opinion as to the validity of their denial, would the local governmental body have to provide a copy of the contract to the Attorney General as part of the process?
 A: Let’s check the Texas Attorney General’s 2018 Public Information Handbook, Section VI, titled, “Attorney General Determines Whether Information Is Subject to an Exception.” 

Public information law under siege in Texas

It has been clear for some time that public information law is under siege in the state of Texas.
Texas attorney general spokesman Marc Rylander’s swaggering performance at an open government seminar held by the AG’s office earlier this year — during which he encouraged public officials to slow-walk public information requests — offered ample evidence of its endangered status. 
Further verification followed this week, when the Texas Supreme Court denied a motion for re-hearing, filed by the Fort Bend Herald in a 2014 case against Fort Bend County officials.

A new look at an old sales technique

Carla has been selling advertising for many years. She has researched and tried a variety of techniques to answer objections. “Just about everybody knows the Feel-Felt-Found formula,” she said. “When a prospect makes an objection – about price, for example – the response is, ‘I understand how you feel. Many others have felt the same way. Then they found that our paper offers good value for their investment.’ 

By John Foust, Raleigh, NC

Curbside postal delivery ending for new homes

The U.S. Postal Service is ending curbside delivery for new home construction in favor of cluster boxes, which would require residents to go to a central location in the neighborhood, much like what is done at apartment complexes.
The change was announced in an April 26, 2018, revision to Part 631 of the Postal Operations Manual, an internal document for postmasters and employees to follow. As the Postal Service continues to lose money, it is looking for opportunities, and this has been discussed over the years. 

By MAX HEATH, NNA Postal Consultant

Arrest warrants, supporting affidavits are public records

Q: The police chief of one of several cities our newspapers cover reported in a public meeting that his officers had issued several hundred citations during a recent month. A county seat city that we also cover has more than double the population of the first city. But its officers issued fewer than half of the number of citations that the smaller city issued during the same period. I want to do a story about this, so I need to find the state law that says revenue from a city’s citations cannot exceed a set percentage of the city’s total revenue for the prior year.

Tools of the trade: Reminders that the power of a free and independent press is greater than our challenges

TPA President Laurie Ezzell Brown

While digging through some old files the other day, I ran across a folder containing a set of index cards titled “Tools of the Trade” that I’d helped my dad – former Record publisher Ben R. Ezzell – prepare three decades earlier. They were part of an exhibit prepared for Canadian High School students – props he used for a presentation on careers in print journalism.
Whatever I had been seeking in those files was instantly forgotten, as is always the danger when the present stumbles across the past. I was transported in time. 

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?