Quick! Where do you go for local news and information — a newspaper or government website?
That may seem like a no-brainer because The Brazil Times prints nearly 20,000 copies per week. One study revealed each copy of a newspaper printed is read by an average of three people. When you think about the number of people in each household and the number of newspapers that are shared, that estimate sounds about right. So, it is safe to say each week The Brazil Times is read by 30,000 people or more, conservatively speaking.
I doubt any website in Clay County, including city and county websites, can claim that kind of circulation.
Yet, there is a bill before the Indiana General Assembly, H.B. 1212, that would eliminate the requirement that notice of sheriff’s sales (mortgage foreclosures) be published in newspapers. The bill passed the House Committee on Financial Institutions 7-3 and now moves to the full House.
The bill was authored by Rep. Wendy McNamara of Evansville.
The state representative has testified that the elimination of all newspaper publication requirements for public notices is her goal. She sees no value in the printed notices and calls the system a “subsidy” for newspapers.
Yes, newspapers are paid for providing the service of publishing the notices but it’s not a subsidy any more that a county buying gravel from a local quarry would be a subsidy. Elimination of the publication of the sheriff’s sale hurts those who find themselves in foreclosure and the community.
Why else should mortgage foreclosures continue to be published in your local newspaper?
There are several:
• Public notice of foreclosures protects the elderly, disabled, uneducated and those out of the country, like members of the Armed Forces. It also helps the holder of the mortgage by enlarging the pool of bidders. Newspaper public notices alert an entire community of an event that severs the property rights of a member of that community.
• Elimination of notice helps the attorneys who handle the foreclosure process and predatory insiders interested in buying the properties at the lowest price possible, so they can turn a larger profit on the resale after the homeowner has been evicted.
• Effectively hiding the notices on websites increases the opportunity for self-dealing or collusion.
• If mortgage foreclosures no longer have to be published in local newspapers the number of people who might attend a sheriff’s sale will be reduced because only the insiders will see the sale notices. This means bids will be lower, which means the sale will bring in fewer dollars that will be applied to the mortgage debt. The home owner not only loses his home but will still be pursued by the bank for the remaining balance.
Currently, the attorney pays for the legal advertisement of the sheriff’s sale in Clay County. If the notice is posted on the county website, taxpayers will have to pay clerical costs to make sure notices are posted timely, create proofs of publication, and maintain archives of three years of notices. Why should taxpayers now pay for the process, instead of the buyers who benefit from the foreclosure?
Newspaper publication creates a third party with no vested interest in the foreclosure and ensures that notice is handled correctly. Newspaper publication is verifiable, unlike Internet posting.
Newspaper publication of foreclosures gives community businesses a heads up that a customer or vendor may be in financial distress, which could impact the relationship for the business by giving it an opportunity to avoid risk of default.
Elimination favors the banking industry, attorneys who handle foreclosures and professional house-flippers. It reduces the number of people who might attend the sheriff’s sale because only the insiders will see the sale notices. This means bids will be lower, which means the sale will bring in fewer dollars that will be applied to the mortgage debt. The home owner not only loses his home but will still be pursued by the bank for the remaining balance.
The bill eliminates the cost of the ad for the purchaser, while creating additional obligations and costs for the sheriff (maintaining the website, making sure notices are posted timely, creating proofs of publication, maintaining archives of three years of notices). Why should taxpayers now pay for the process, instead of the buyers who benefit from the foreclosure?
Newspaper publication creates a third party with no vested interest in the foreclosure, ensuring that notice is handled correctly. Newspaper publication is verifiable, unlike Internet posting.
Elimination of public notice does not reflect the will of Hoosiers who repeatedly have said they prefer public notices be published in local newspapers rather than government websites. Hoosiers have repeatedly said they prefer notices in local newspaper, not government website. In 2017 survey, 63% said they wanted public notices in local newspaper even when told that government notices could cost public agency several thousand dollars.
The same survey found that adult Hoosiers would be 60 percent less likely to see public notices on government websites compared to local newspaper. That’s because readers discover public notices inserted in interesting and important news or features that they pay to receive. They don’t spend their evenings searching the various government websites to see if by chance there’s a notice that directly impacts them, a neighbor, or loved one.
Our readers tell us repeatedly they “love” The Brazil Times. Continuing to support publication of legal notices, including mortgage foreclosures, is one way you can support your local newspaper in Clay County.
You can contact your state officials and tell them you do NOT support House Bill 1212 and you want to see mortgage foreclosure notices continue in The Brazil Times.
State legislators representing Clay County include: District 42, Alan Morrison: (800) 382-9841, District 46, Bob Heaton: (800) 382-9841, District 44, Beau Baird: (800) 382-9841, Indiana Senate District 38, Jon Ford: 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204-2785, Phone: (800) 382-9467 and District 39, Eric Bassler: 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204, (800) 382-9467 or 317-232-9400.