Our view

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Taxpayers should rejoice that the county tax assessor-collector’s office has revolutionized the way in which investors can obtain information about the properties on offer in the county’s monthly sheriff’s sales. So, too, should the investors, whose access to details of the tax-sale properties’ physical type, location and other attributes has suddenly been given a 24-7 capability with no need to leave home.
For anyone in doubt, the tax office’s acceptance of an offer to list the details on a website dedicated to tax sales is not about removing free and easy access to information about the properties – on the contrary, it is about increasing it.
Readers can be assured that the county is not removing its legal notices from printed publication. All that is changing is the tax office’s method of offering complementary – and complimentary – paper packs of extra information to investors who wish to bid for the listed properties at the sheriff’s auction.
The difference is that the legal notices are required by longstanding statute; the paper packs have been a courtesy service offering other, non-legal, information for about 11 years.
So now, instead of continuing to ask its staff members to collate reams of paper at great material-and-labor expense, the tax office has accepted an offer by Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, the law firm the county uses to pursue its delinquent taxpayers, to place the information on the firm’s new national tax-sales website at no charge to the county.
This is a win-win for everyone involved. First, the tax-office staff can now get on with their primary duties and investors need not travel to Galveston to pick up the cumbersome paper packets. Second, the county’s property-sales information – as distinct from its legal-notice information – is now available on a much wider basis and anyone, not just potential investors, can view that information free no matter their location or the time of day.
Not only that; removal of the need either for extra staff or burgeoning overtime wages at the tax office will surely offer at least some relief to the county’s taxpayers come the next annual budget.
But there’s even more good news. As an added bonus, The Post has moved to provide a link – again free – between our own website and Linebarger’s, enabling anyone anywhere who is interested in a foreclosed property to compare its legal and physical attributes with just a couple of mouse clicks in the comfort of their own home.
If there is a more satisfying employment of modern technology in the adequate dissemination of public information, we wager you’d be hard-pressed to find it. It’s a perfect example of good governance in the very best interests of the people.

And another one, too
THIS WEEK, the city of Hitchcock declared The Post the official publication for its legal notices, continuing the evidence that our newspaper is making its mark all across the county. Doubtless, a prime consideration in accepting our bid was the great value for money that its price per column inch offers the city.
But we are confident that it also bore in mind the value we offer its citizens, with free ad-hoc distribution throughout the area, a fee of just $25 for an annual subscription and an exciting, innovative approach to news and other editorial content that keeps readers engaged, considerably boosting their likelihood of paying attention to the advertisements from local businesses.

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IT IS MORE in disbelief than in anger that we find ourselves this weekend once again having to admonish our local rival to put its house in order and refrain from actions it knows to be professionally unacceptable.
For readers whose loyalty to this newspaper prevents them from reading the Galveston Daily News, we are referring to two editorials published in that journal in the past week in which members of its editorial board lambasted the county commissioners for contracting with The Post to publish the county’s weekly legal notices.
The two columns were written in response to a guest article by county commissioner Ken Clark in which he weighed into the daily newspaper for what he perceives as its adversarial coverage of county issues, positing the theory that its criticism “is caused by the fact that [it] no longer benefits from a no-bid public-notice publishing contract”.
We will leave to the warring parties their personal insults about each other; we are far more concerned with one particular aspect of the News’ activity in the affair.
That is our rival’s admitted and continuing attempts to coerce the county to cancel its contract with us and return publication of its weekly public notices to the daily newspaper.
Such interference, if successful, would constitute an act contrary to both contract and tort law in Texas.
The News not only admitted having engaged in this activity in both editorials mentioned above but carried on doing so in the first, published on October 5.
While attempting to refute Clark’s argument that its constant sniping at the commissioners is retaliation for losing the public-notice business, it argued in that article: “A more definitive test might be for the commissioners to put the notices back in The Daily News.”
Next, current publisher Leonard Woolsey wrote on October 7 that, after awarding the bid to The Post in 2013, “the county agreed to return the sheriff-sale notices to the Daily News during the first half of 2014 – but only as a test”.
That agreement followed a prolonged campaign of vilification against The Post, much of it an unwarranted diatribe of disinformation about our respective circulation figures, including a plea written directly to the commissioners by a senior member of the News’ publishing executive.
The clear hope was that the test would result in the county returning its advertising to the News at $23 per column inch at the expense of The Post, which won the contract with a bid of $8pci. The ruse failed.
So much for the campaign the News is undertaking in public. We note that neither of its editorials included a rebuttal of Clark’s accusation that “privately, Daily News representatives have pressed the issue, asking the county to cancel and rebid the public-notice contract early to give them another bite at the apple”.
Having failed to win back the commissioners’ approval, it seems the News is now trying to curry favor with the public by puffing up its importance in the community and claiming that The “nearly invisible” Post offers “restricted access to information”.
The fact is that our circulation figure is now about 48 per cent of the News’ latest claimed amount, while our public-notice advertising rate is less than 35 per cent of that paper’s counterbid.
Add to that the additional fact that, unlike our rival’s online presence, our website is not only free to all but also contains an easy-to-find section devoted entirely to legal advertising. So it’s unquestionable that our service is of far, far greater value to the county and its taxpayers.
Perhaps the News has already recognized that, though – in its most recent public-notice contract bid, to League City, it quoted a rate of $10pci. No wonder the county commissioners are none too keen to make their taxpayers the victims of gouging.
So take note, Daily News – we know of no legitimate reason why our contract should be terminated before its completion and you are not a sacred cow to be fed and groomed lavishly no matter the public cost.

Go ’Stros!
ISN’T it wonderful to have a local professional sports team contesting an exciting post-season series when other events are filled with dreary politicking or dire consequences? So far, the Houston Astros have delivered New York’s Yankees a battering in the Bronx and given Kansas City a right royal scare in their own court on Thursday and Friday. Today, Sunday, and tomorrow, they finally get to play before their own fans at Minute Maid Park. Two home wins would be just the ticket!

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THEY SAY you should not believe everything you see in print, but they also say perfection resides only in Heaven, so we humbly accept that, at The Post, we are subject to both sayings in equal measure.
But we like to think that, even when we do make an error, it is born of genuine misunderstanding and is so inconsequential that no one is harmed unduly
by its occurrence.
How we wish we could say the same about one of our rivals in providing our county with its news.
It would be unbecoming of us to name the offending journal, so let us refer to it euphemistically as the Daylate Snooze.
Usually, we refrain from commenting about the Snooze’s journalistic infractions, especially when they cause more mirth than misery.
Even though our newsroom giggles at thoughts of Galveston’s police chief desperate to crack his city’s sharply increasing “math problem”, as the Snooze reported on October 30 last year, or of the “muslin owner of a print shop” to whom it referred just this last Monday, we normally have little interest in pointing out the many such foibles frequently foisted on its forbearing readers.
We have also opted to ignore Snooze scribes’ all too frequent references to our newspaper as a single-city journal with a handful of readers, safe in the knowledge that our many thousands of readers countywide know the truth of the matter and that, contrary to their previous editor’s unprovoked defamatory innuendo about our professional status on November 12, 2013, The Post is, indeed, a real newspaper with real journalists.
We have even abstained from castigating the Snooze crew when its members follow up our reports many days later while claiming contemporary reportage.
One albeit extreme example of this habit occurred last month when, on March 3, the Snooze declared on its front page that “Carnival Cruise Lines this week said it would replace Triumph with its Liberty liner and Magic with Breeze next year”.
Fine – if only that were true. Unfortunately, however, the Snooze’s long-suffering subscribers were being misled – and mischievously so. For The Post had given its readers that same news 17 days earlier, on February 15, when award-winning writer Lora-Marie Bernard noted that Carnival had made its announcement of the replacement on February 12. Perhaps that’s why the Snooze calls its “news” accounts stories.
But let’s not get carried away. Let’s consider instead a much more recent instance of Snooze skullduggery, not because it affects The Post but because it commits that cardinal journalistic sin – treating one’s readers with contempt.
At first glance, it would seem we are referring to a relatively insignificant item, as it did not appear until the 16th page – B8 – of Wednesday’s Snooze. However, the importance of its subject matter, Thursday’s local-election deadline, was of such magnitude that The Post had already published a fuller account of the information in a highlighted top-of-page-3 article last Sunday.
Nevertheless and despite the fact that its account used substantially the same text as our own report three days earlier, the Snooze claimed that its abbreviated re-hash of a press release the county tax office issued last week was “special to [the Daylate Snooze]” – its preferred phrase for claims of exclusivity.
Snooze readers should take notice – they’re being conned and they really ought to do something about it. Before renewing their vastly overpriced subscription, they should ask why, despite the front-page report in our own Wednesday issue, the Snooze still had not told them by Friday, when we went to press, that, eight days earlier, the city of Galveston lost a legal appeal against the right of its Hurricane-Ike-recovery-program contractor to sue it for compensation regarding unpaid bills.
What was that about being a real newspaper, Days-Late Snooze?

Riding high

IT’S BOOTS ’n’ saddles time again and the county’s kids of all ages are merrily mounting their steeds, parading their prize livestock and cooking up their culinary delights at Jack Brooks Park on SH6 in Hitchcock. This year’s Galveston County Fair & Rodeo has several new features, including an education arena and a salute to military veterans, as well as a new carnival operator. The gates open at noon today, Sunday, and then at 4:00pm until the last day, next Saturday, when 16 hours of fun begin at 9:00am. So round up your own brood and head on out to one of the best events in the regular county calendar!