Sunday, May 17, 2009

Making your own repairs to save money in tight times?

Making home repairs can be fun and rewarding but think twice about complicated projects.

Having skills to do your own repairs or carry out construction projects at home can save you a bundle on costs these days. This is especially helpful if funds are limited or you are worried about losing your job. If you aren't careful doing the work and things do go wrong, costs can go up significantly when things don't go as expected or something fails shortly after carrying out a project. 

Sometimes it makes sense to do things yourself but be careful with the work and do the job right! Check out the troubles that came to do-it-yourselfers in this story from the new York Times...
Even to save cash, don't try this stuff at home

The New York Times

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Paul Stam of Apex wants to limit information access

Paul Stam, representative from Apex, NC, is proposing to exempt Wake County and other communities from a requirement to advertise government meetings in newspapers. The plan would limit access to information about meetings to those with internet access and not allow notices to be accessible to many that rely on newspapers. His first attempt to exempt all government organizations from required advertising met significant opposition, so his latest effort aims to push through a new plan to exempt Wake and Mecklenburg counties.

The premise is that if people have access to the internet and routinely check community websites for such notices, that sufficient legal notice would be given and communities would not have to pay for advertisements outside their own websites. The proposal, if approved,  would have the effect of limiting public awareness about meetings affecting their own community and allow community planners and Town staff to push through plans with less involvement of local citizens. 

Local citizens need to be involved in government planning and need full access to information about public meetings and activities. Don't let Rep. Stam's effort to reduce availability to information about local government meetings - contact your Apex and state House and Senate representatives and let them know your views...

Read the entire article...
Bill draws opposition from newspapers

By Benjamin Niolet

RALEIGH - A bill that would save local governments some money has drawn opposition from the state's newspaper publishers, who say it would limit public access to information about government meetings.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Paul Stam, an Apex Republican, would give certain cities, towns and counties the ability to stop paying for newspaper advertisements to announce public hearings. Currently, all but a few municipalities in North Carolina are required to pay for the ads, which are in classified sections.

A bill to exempt all local governments met with resistance, so Stam is preparing to introduce a version this week that would apply to towns in Wake and Mecklenburg counties as well as other large cities and counties in the state.

Stam said the bill would give governments a break on an expense that is unnecessary since many towns, cities and counties can post the notices on their own Web sites.

Publishers and editors at The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer and other newspapers have lobbied against the bill, arguing that many people who read legal ads don't necessarily have Internet access.

“It's a little bit uncomfortable to be putting the message in the hands of the government who maybe stands to lose the most if enough people turn out in opposition to whatever the meeting's going to be about,” said John Bussian, a lobbyist for the N.C. Press Association.

The bill would require local governments wanting to make the switch to hold a public hearing and make a finding that there is sufficient Internet access.

Ad revenue declining

The bill comes at a time when advertising revenue for newspapers has been in sharp decline. N&O Publisher Orage Quarles III said legal ads represent a small percentage of the company's revenues. Quarles said newspapers are in the business of attracting people to their print paper and Web sites, and a city or county couldn't match the kind of traffic newspapers get.

Rick Thames, editor of The Charlotte Observer and president of the press association, said public notices should appear in a place where people are likely to run across them. The idea is similar to tacking up a sign up a public square.

“You can have an obscure Web site with little to no traffic, and you can post a notice there,” Thames said. “That doesn't mean the public is going to see it.”

Thames also said that allowing governments to stop advertisements would give officials leverage over news coverage.    

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