By Dennis Hetzel, Executive Director

Dennis Hetzel

Hetzel

Three Republican senators have introduced a bill that would allow county sheriffs to place all foreclosure notices on a government website in lieu of any print publication.

The sponsor of Senate Bill 234 is Sen. Bill Coley (R-Butler County). Co-sponsors are Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) and Bill Seitz (R-Hamilton County).

As I said in an email to our publishers and general managers on Wednesday, I do not know yet if this bill will gain any traction, but it’s not too early to let your state senators know that we are watching it closely and will strongly oppose.

Here are some talking points you might use:

First of all, this is completely inconsistent with the broad reform in public notices that was made part of the massive state budget. Everyone, including the Kasich Administration and House and Senate leadership, signed off on this and it has an “Internet option” for notices subsequent to the first full notice.

Secondly, foreclosure notices surely are among the highest-interest notices that should be made accessible to the public. It’s bad public policy to only put these on a government websites that few people will access. For one thing, foreclosures affect property values in neighborhoods. Neighbors want to know. And wider dissemination of this information increases the chance that the price of the property will be higher, which helps all parties involved as well as the housing market in general.

Here is a link to our tri-fold based on solid market research that debunks any notion that people aren’t reading newspapers. Citizens want and expect these notices to be in print.

Keep us posted on any efforts you make or feedback you receive.

I might add that we are getting a lot of questions from individual members as portions of the new law on public notices begin to take effect. That is what we are here to do. Don’t hesitate to contact me, dhetzel@ohionews.org or 614-486-6677, with questions and concerns. Our FAQ is available to members by clicking here.

Markus moves; ONA bids adieu

Rick Markus

Markus

Rick Markus, our Mr. Everything for Web and Member Communications (not his actual title, which I always forget), came into my office a few weeks ago and had that “I hate to tell you this, but I’m leaving” look on his face.

It was true. After more than 10 years at ONA, Rick is moving to Chicago where his wife has an excellent opportunity with Comcast. Rick’s last day in the ONA office will be Friday, Oct. 14, but he will continue to work for us remotely until we replace his position. Rick also has work as a freelance web developer and consultant, and I can vouch for his skills if any ONA members have projects to send his way.

And he is leaving in spite of the orders of President Warren G. Harding of Ohio, his Commander In Chief (See photo).

Harding Orders

President Harding orders Markus to stay at ONA.

Rick came to us out of Ohio State as a communications assistant. He realized he needed new skills, particularly in the digital arena, and kept upgrading. He has become exactly what we need: A sophisticated Web developer, database manager and social networking expert who can do hands-on work one minute and operate at a strategic level the next as we figure out effective messaging for not only ONA but our Foundation, AdOhio and the Ohio Coalition for Open Government.

As I was thinking about how to advertise for Rick’s position, which I have “re-branded” as “manager of communications and content,” it occurred to me that this is happening throughout our industry. In an era of down-sizing, multi-tasking and eliminating layers of middle management, more jobs require hybrid skills that are both hands-on and strategic. Those who thrive with those demands are our future leaders.

We have been flooded with applications, but we hope to have a decision on Rick’s successor in the next few weeks.

You can still reach Rick at rmarkus@ohionews.org to send your regards. I will miss him even though he took me to the worst science-fiction movie (“Skyline”) I have ever seen.

Links that caught my eye

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