Let’s discuss a hypothetical situation.
If you owned a business — let’s say it’s a retail salvage operation and you had locations throughout the state — and I was going to sell you advertising space, would you prefer that advertising be on some newly developed Web page or would you rather I gave you space here in the Bangor Daily News?
What about your number one competitor? Would you rather I gave the competitor ad space here in Maine’s largest daily newspaper or on a newly launched website?
If you’re telling the truth to yourself — especially if you’re the man who once ran a chain of retail salvage outlets, then you know the answer — only a fool would choose an unknown website over an established print periodical. And you’d be steamed if you thought your competitor had the placement in one of Maine’s dailies while you are relegated to an unknown website.
The reason for that is — when the issue becomes one of your own success — you will invariably choose the option that both your rational brain and your deep down gut tell you are going to get your message out the best.
That’s why Marden’s ads run in newspapers. The very smart folks that run Marden’s understand that in order to get their message out, they have to go to the venue where potential customers seek information.
Somehow — over the last few months — that same wisdom that motivated Marden’s and that still motivates retailers all across the state seems to have eluded the Marden’s executive that now manages the state government. I know he’s supposed to be the chief executive, but let’s face it, his style is far more that of a top down manager barking orders than a representative of the people.
If you’ve followed state government over the years, you know that there’s an awful lot of information our representatives are duty-bound to share with the people. And just like whether or not area rugs are half price at Marden’s, you have the right to know if your mom died leaving a savings account somewhere. And to this date, if such abandoned property turns up, the state advertises that your mom left that money so that you might learn about it and collect it. Of if a state project your company was perfect for was up for bid, wouldn’t you want to know about it?
Well, there’s a move afoot in Augusta that would take your precious right to know out of the hands of public media outlets and relegate it to state-sponsored websites. I wrote Augusta, but actually that’s too broad. It’s the governor who’s out to do it.
Just yesterday, the Senate voted down LD 392, a bill that would have stripped municipal public notices from the newspapers and put them on the state-sponsored website. And the other bills that would have let the state off the hook when notifying the public came out of committee with the recommendation “ought not to pass.”
So the Legislature is not biting on the notion of moving valuable public notices off the pages of Maine’s local daily newspapers, but for some reason Maine’s chief executive has put doing just that into his budget anyway.
The governor would like to have a state-sponsored website sidestep private businesses and create its own location where folks would have to go search for the information that may directly impact them. I don’t know if I’ve written the term “state-sponsored” enough to drive the point home. But in case “state sponsored” isn’t making the point well enough, I do have a suggested name for the website if Gov. LePage manages to remove public notices from newspapers — which by the way also post the notices on their news websites.
Let’s name the governor’s website Pravda.
My head rattles with confusion over the fact that Gov. LePage thinks a small amount of funding to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network is a waste of taxpayer dollars, but then wants to pay as much as a quarter of a million dollars to devise a website to circumvent five of Maine’s most important private businesses. You can learn about the impact Maine newspapers have on the state’s employment and economy at the Maine Press Association’s website.
Honestly, the last thing I expected from this governor was his drastic move towards socialism.
Pat LaMarche of Yarmouth is the author of “Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States.” She may be reached at PatLaMarche@ hotmail.com.