Editorial: Increasing the decibels of reason

Jul. 31, 2014 @ 11:42 PM

Congratulations to Democratic Sen. Angela Bryant and a sizable number of Republican senators. They stepped forward for everyone in our community Wednesday, speaking loudly with their support in the name of government transparency.

While attention was riveted on the state budget — the raises and perhaps not really raises for teachers — a regulatory reform bill was calendared for an afternoon vote.

Finding the bill by number on the General Assembly website wasn’t possible. But it was happening, and the N.C. Press Association that includes this newspaper in its membership was fighting language in the bill to allow Guilford and Mecklenburg counties, and their cities, an option not to run public notices in newspapers.

Had the measure passed, 98 other counties would likely have followed suit.

Citizens must be responsive and realize this is another step allowing government at all levels, not just in Raleigh, to operate in darkness. A measure to do something on the street where we live? Raise taxes? Annexation? Zoning? Wastewater projects? If an obscure place to find notice about any of those isn’t seen by the public, the government entity can surely expect to do as it pleases rather than what the constituents they represent desire.

The government works for us and with us. Anything less is bad and among the worst things a body can do.

When asked to have the public notices language removed or vote to kill the bill, Bryant responded by text message, “Of course.” Bryant, as well as our House Rep. Nathan Baskerville, have continued to pledge support for keeping public notices in the place where the most members of the public can see them. It’s common sense.

Now, Republican senators are breaking ranks from leadership. The bill ended the day in the Senate Rules Committee, a likely death through the end of the session but no sure thing.

And we won’t be surprised to see something resurface in 2015’s long session.

Last year, a state senator admonished a citizen to be quiet about public notices.

We didn’t hush then. We won’t now, and the voice of reason is growing.