We all know that lobbying on behalf of businesses distorts the legislative process. Companies of all shapes and sizes waddle up to the public trough, throwing out whatever cases they can conjure to protect their bottom lines.
That's happening again this week in reaction to a bill proposed by Paul Stam, the Republican lunatic representing Apex. Only this time, Stam is right. He's looking for ways to help local governments save a few bucks, and the businesses that would lose their monopoly are crying foul.
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 found in classified sections.
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. They say government shouldn't be solely responsible for publicizing its hearings.
"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.
You know what must be a little bit uncomfortable, Mr. Bussian? What must be a little bit uncomfortable is the contortions you're going through to make the case that people who don't read newspapers are less important than people who do.