May 14, 2008

Alderman objects to paying JT to publish legal notices

Alderman David Maack reiterated his disagreement with the city having to pay The Journal Times to publish its legal notices throughout the year.

The JT was the lone bidder on the contract to publish the notices, which include minutes and agendas for city meetings. Maack argues that the city already publishes its minutes online.

But state law requires that the legal notices be published on a printed paper with enough circulation to reach the community, said Tom Friedel, chairman of the committee. Smaller papers, like the Insider News or the Labor Paper, are not eligible to bid on the contract.

The state has petitioned to change the law, but the effort has yet to pass the state Legislature.

Friedel jokingly asked Maack if he would like to introduce the motion to grant the contract to the JT. Maack declined, and then voted against the proposal.

"Alderman Maack would rather have us break the law," said Friedel, who also noted during the meeting that websites like Racine Post are not eligible to be the official site of record for the official announcements.

Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen ruled that counties with populations under 250,000 people (Racine County has about 196,000 people) do not have to declare an official newspaper and can print official proceedings on their website.

Counties do, however, have to print legal notices in a newspaper, Van Hollen ruled.

We're checking on how much the city spent on legal notices in the JT last year. As a starting point, Clark County (population: 33,000; located in central Wisconsin) paid $11,000 last year publishing legal notices.


  1. As much as I dislike the J-T not can go on line.
    A printed page is needed.
    However it does seam that since we do not need an official newspaper we could try the Insider or Labor paper

  2. Is the City going to buy a computer for all resident?

    Get real Maack.

  3. Hey anon:

    Does the city buy you your newspaper?

    You can always access the paper or the city website at the library.

  4. Why not use the Insider or the Labor paper?

  5. The state law requires publication of the notices. It also sets circulation standards that leave the city with the one option: publish legal notices in the Journal Times. Until the state law changes, the Journal Times is the paper of record.

    Here is the requirement: "For at least two of the five years prior to publication of a notice, the paper must have published regularly and continuously in the municipality and must have a bona fide paid circulation constituting at least half of its circulation and a minimum number of subscribers. A newspaper must have had at each publication actual subscribers of not less than 1000 copies in 1st and 2nd class cities..."

    Under those rules, the neither the Insider or the Labor Paper qualify.

  6. Friedel is such an arrogant know-it-all. It's time for him to leave council, it's been time for him to leave for years. All he does now is the mayor's bidding. He has absolutely no new ideas or thoughts or opinions. He's an extension of the mayor, nothing more. And a more pompeous version at that, if that could even be imagined.

  7. Please continue in your efforts to discover how much we are paying to print legal notices. Looks like Clark County is about 1/6th the size of Racine Co., so is $66,000 reasonable?