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Are Government Legal Notices A Waste Of Tax Dollars?
By John Pless
Many people believe if you dig deep enough you can find where government wastes your tax dollars. So we're beginning a new, on-going series of reports called Waste Watch where we are going to find those wasted dollars.
We begin with a closer look into governments spending money to buy ads in newspapers that few people read.
Times are changing as fewer people subscribe to and read printed papers in favor of getting information on-line. So should the Tennessee law be changed so that governments no longer have to spend your money on something seldom used?
According to the Tennessee Press Association 70% of Americans read newspapers either in print or on-line. But what about all those legal notices that city and county governments are required by law to publish?
We posed that question to a number people who said they never read the legal notices. We did find a few people who said they do read some legal notices like announcements of marriages, divorce and foreclosures.
The City of Chattanooga spends about $75,000 a year to buy space in newspapers to let the public know about meetings, bids and purchases according to city media relations director Richard Beeland.
"Well we've always been concerned about the amount of money we're spending on legal notices," Beeland said.
Last year City Hall asked State Senator Bo Watson, R-Hamilton County, to introduce a bill that would change the requirement for governments so they could publish legal notices on-line without having to pay for printed notices in newspapers.
"What I wanted to do with this bill was begin the dialogue of how do we transition from a print media system to a system that's electronic and still meets those four tenants of being independent, verifiable, achievable and accessible," Senator Watson said.
The measure failed. The Tennessee Press Association lobbied against the change which would have resulted in lost income for newspapers. TPA said the change would water down the press's role of keeping people informed.
Frank Gibson, policy director for the Tennessee Press Association, said "of course that removes an important ingredient and purpose of public notice and that is that the notice be independent of government and verifiable."
TPA cites several studies showing why going exclusively on-line would keep a substantial number of people in the dark. At least 36% of Tennesseans don't have broadband access. 25% of Tennesseans don't have computers -- of those who do have computers only one-in-four visit government web sites.
Vickie Jefferson, a reader of those printed legal notices, said "I think they should keep doing it solely because everybody doesn't use on-line."
The city's spokesman agrees, going on-line would limit access for some but these days it's more about the cost considering how few people even read the printed notices.
"We're just trying to save taxpayer dollars by eliminating the requirement that we put it in print," Beeland said.
We are looking into other government projects and programs where there may be wasteful spending of tax dollars. If you know about a government program that needs attention we have set up a special e-mail address where you can share the information: email@example.com.
More Business News
Last Update on July 22, 2014 17:08 GMT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- There's a big decision concerning the big business of health care.
A federal appeals court has ruled 2-1 that the health care law as written only allows insurance subsidies in states that have set up their own exchanges.
That invalidates an IRS regulation that allowed subsidies in all 50 states.
The decision could potentially derail subsidies for many low- and middle-income people who have bought policies, resulting in premium increases for more than half
8 million Americans who purchased taxpayer-subsidized insurance under the law.
The White House says health subsidies under the Affordable Care Act will continue to flow for the time being.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sales of previously owned homes rose for a third straight month in June, pushing activity to the highest level in eight months and providing evidence that housing is regaining lost momentum.
The National Association of Realtors says that sales of existing homes increased 2.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million homes. It marked the first time that sales have been above the 5 million-mark since October.
Even with the three months of increases, sales are still 2.3 percent below the pace in June of last year.
Sales peaked in early summer last year and then lost momentum as mortgage rates rose from extremely low levels. Sales were further hurt by an unusually severe winter.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumer prices rose in June at a slightly slower pace than in May with two-thirds of the June advance driven by the largest jump in gasoline prices in a year.
The Labor Department says prices rose 0.3 percent in June following a 0.4 percent rise in May which had been the biggest one-month gain in more than a year.
Energy prices were up 1.6 percent, nearly double the May gain, reflecting a sharp 3.3 percent rise in gasoline costs. But food costs edged up just 0.1 percent, the smallest gain since January.
Core prices, which exclude volatile food and energy, were up just 0.1 percent. Over the past 12 months, core prices are up 1.9 percent, an indication of moderate inflation.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Comcast Corp.'s second-quarter net income rose 15 percent to nearly $2 billion as it added high-speed Internet customers at a faster pace than a year ago and video subscriber losses moderated.
Its adjusted earnings topped Wall Street estimates.
The nation's largest cable provider says net income rose to $1.99 billion, or 76 cents per share.
Revenue grew nearly 4 percent to $16.84 billion, short of the $16.95 billion expected by analysts.
Cable hookup revenue, up 5 percent at $11.03 billion, was slightly better than expected, but NBCUniversal revenue, flat at $6.02 billion, was less than analysts predicted.
The company says it added a net 203,000 Internet customers compared to the first quarter, giving it 21.3 million. That's 8 percent more than it added in the same quarter a year ago.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Verizon is reporting that its second-quarter earnings nearly doubled after securing full ownership of Verizon Wireless.
Profit jumped to $4.32 billion from $2.25 billion, or 78 cents per share. Net income per share grew, but at a lower rate, to $1.01 per share from 78 cents per share. That's because Verizon issued shares in February to pay Vodafone shareholders for their share of Verizon Wireless.
Revenue rose 5.7 percent to $31.48 billion from $29.79 billion last year.
GENEVA (AP) -- Credit Suisse AG has posted a second-quarter net loss of 700 million Swiss francs ($779 million) after paying the largest penalty ever imposed in a U.S. criminal tax case.
Switzerland's second-biggest bank calls the steep loss, a striking contrast to its 1.045 billion francs ($1.16 billion) profit in the April-June period a year ago, a direct result of resolving the U.S. government's case against the bank for helping wealthy Americans avoid paying taxes through secret offshore accounts.
The Zurich-based bank pleaded guilty in May to aiding U.S. tax evaders and agreed to pay about $2.6 billion to the U.S. government and regulators.
Chief Executive Brady Dougan says, "we deeply regret the past misconduct that led to this settlement and that we take full responsibility for it."
McDonald's profit slips; US sales decline
OAK BROOK, Ill. (AP) -- McDonald's says its profit slipped in the second quarter as sales in the U.S. continued to flag.
The world's biggest hamburger chain has been struggling to boost sales in its flagship market amid intensifying competition, changing eating habits and the persistent financial struggles of its lower-income customers.
In the U.S., sales at established locations fell 1.5 percent for the period fewer customers came into its restaurants. The company, based in Oak Brook, Illinois, hasn't managed to raise the figure since October.
Executives say they're working to improve basics such as operational speed and service, but that they don't expect performance to change significantly in the near term.
ATLANTA (AP) -- Coca-Cola is reporting quarterly sales that fell short of Wall Street estimates as demand weakened for Diet Coke in North America.
Globally, the world's biggest beverage maker says sales volume rose 3 percent, boosted by gains in places including China, India, the Middle East and South Africa.
In its flagship North American market, however, sales volume was flat despite the company significantly stepping up its marketing around the World Cup. Sodas including Coke, Fanta and Sprite saw gains, but Diet Coke declined. Diet Coke is the country's No. 2 soda, behind Coke and ahead of Pepsi.
Executives at Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have blamed a recent decline in diet sodas on concerns people have about artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.
To address those worries, the companies have been working behind the scenes to assure dietitians and others about the safety of such sweeteners.
For the quarter, the Atlanta-based company says profit fell to $2.6 billion, or 58 cents per share, from $2.68 billion, or 59 cents per share, in the same quarter a year earlier.
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Harley-Davidson Inc. reports net income that climbed by 30 percent in its second quarter, and topped analysts' expectations.
The Milwaukee-based company says earnings rose to $354.2 million, or $1.62 per share, from $271.7 million, or $1.21 per share, in the same quarter a year earlier.
The company says revenue rose 12 percent to $2 billion from $1.79 billion in the same quarter a year earlier, also beating Wall Street forecasts.
Harley-Davidson shares fell $80 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $66.50 in trading before Tuesday's opening bell. They have dropped $1.60, or 2.3 percent since the beginning of the year, while the S&P 500 has risen 6.8 percent.
GOODWILL-DATA BREACH INVESTIGATION
NEW YORK (AP) -- Nonprofit organization Goodwill Industries Inc. is working with federal officials to investigate a possible security breach.
The Rockville, Maryland-based organization says it was contacted Friday by a payment card industry fraud investigative unit and federal authorities who said payment card numbers may have been stolen from some U.S. stores. Investigators are reviewing information but so far no data breach has been discovered.
Goodwill operates more than 2,900 stores and takes in annual retail sales of $3.79 billion. It sells donated merchandise to fund job programs.
Goodwill says it is working with credit card makers, the Secret Service and fraud investigators to figure out if a breach occurred.
Its investigation follows a spate of high-profile data breaches at Target, Neiman Marcus and other retailers.
CUTLER, Calif. (AP) -- The supplier of fruit to Costco and Trader Joe's has issued a voluntary nationwide recall on certain lots of some of its fruit for possible listeria contamination.
Wawona Packing of Central California says the recall affects its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots.
The recall comes after internal testing at the packing house in Tulare County, California.
Officials say the facility has been sanitized.
NEW YORK (AP) -- CIT Group is buying regional bank OneWest Bank in a $3.4 billion cash-and-stock deal.
OneWest, whose parent company is IMB Holdco LLC, runs 73 retail branches in southern California. The bank is privately owned.
IMB shareholders will receive $2 billion in cash and 31.3 million CIT Group shares that are currently valued at $1.4 billion.
When the transaction closes, CIT Group Inc.'s banking subsidiary CIT Bank will merge with OneWest Bank under the CIT Bank sign.
John Thain will still serve as Chairman and CEO of CIT Group, based in Livingston, New Jersey. The company's board will increase from 13, to 15 directors.
The deal is expected to add 20 percent to CIT Group's 2016 earnings per share.
The boards of both companies have approved the sale.
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