Casper Looks into Public Notices as Wyoming Press Association Looks to Refile Case
At the Casper city council meeting on Tuesday, council member Kyle Gamroth brought up a suite that the Casper Star Tribune is involved in as it relates to public notices being published in the paper for Mills and Bar Nunn.
Gamroth said that based on the outcome of the case, it may be possible for Casper to try shifting where they publish public notices as well.
"I don't know if its viable yet, I haven't had the opportunity to check with John or Carter about, when we establish our paper of record, I don't know if we have any flexibility during that process to open the definition of paper of record to allow online publishers because the state statute was written 40 or 50 years ago and the internet didn't even exist. I just want to see what options are available to us as a city to try and modernize the way that we're making ourselves accessible and transparent to the public."
Carter Napier, Casper city manager, said at this time, based on how state statute is worded, he does not believe that Casper will change course when it comes to where they publish their public notices.
This comes as District Court Judge Dan Forgey dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Casper Star Tribune and the Wyoming Press Association against the City of Mills and the Town of Bar Nunn for lacking proper standing.
Patrick Holscher, who is representing Mills and Bar Nunn in their case, said that while it may take a little while for the WPA to refile their decision, he hopes they will have a final decision sometime in the next year.
Bruce Moats, attorney for the Wyoming Press Association, said that the case could have more implications beyond just whether a town has to post public notices.
"The proposition that municipalities may exempt themselves from a state statute and how far that authority goes, goes far beyond the public notice context. If it can be applied in that, it can be applied to other state statutes, so where does it end...There's still a reason for that to be out there, to have something that is in permanent ink, to show whether a legal notice has been published on a certain day, as opposed to on a website, or whether its on the front door of the town hall."
Holscher said the statute requiring towns to publish public notices in a paper of record may be unfairly benefiting newspapers by not allowing digital publications to be used to publish instead.
"The goal of all these statutes is to make sure that the public is provided with notice, and at the time the statute were written, [newspaper] was the only means to do it...but if you passed those same statutes today, that may no longer be true because there's really no rational argument that more people receive their news or public information from a print newspaper as opposed to let's say the Oil City News which is exclusively online."