Urge To Meddle Can Cross Political Lines

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 31, 2011

When politicians gather in Raleigh, strange ideas bubble to the surface. We’re accustomed to that. We are not, however, used to seeing them sponsored by Davie County’s representatives.
To our utter dismay, Sen. Andrew Brock has attached his good name as the sponsor of a bill to allow cities and towns to avoid publishing their legal notices in newspapers. Like so many liberal ideas, the bill looks to government as its savior — creating a government website to circumvent the need to use newspapers.
Our representative bills himself as “the most conservative member of the Senate.” If true, he will disassociate himself from this wrong-headed piece of legislation drawn by a Republican associate in the House with a chip on his shoulder about the Raleigh News & Observer. The bill has already failed in a House committee.
Brock acknowledges the bill has no chance in the Senate either. Why then associate with a loser which diminishes his own influence?
Of course, this newspaper has a vested interest in remaining an outlet for publishing Mocksville, Cooleemee and Bermuda Run’s notices for zoning changes, annexations and budget hearings. The Enterprise-Record doesn’t hold a monopoly. The towns can and sometimes do use the daily newspapers serving Davie County. None of the towns requested Brock’s bill, nor did he consult with the newspapers in his district before signing on as sponsor.
The public benefits by knowing what its government is doing. That’s why public notices are required in newspapers with real readers, even if it is an imperfect system. An obscure government website is a poor substitute. The fox would literally guard the henhouse.
More revealing is the natural impulse of politicians, no matter their stripe, to turn to government as the Great Fixer. It is not a conservative ideal to make government bigger, as this bill would do. It is not a conservative ideal to harm private businesses by growing government. While the stated purpose of the bill is to save money, that is not the usual outcome of creating another layer of government bureaucracy.
Rather than tweaking the nose of the News & Observer, Brock’s bill adds another straw of misery onto the …