Columns

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?

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.