Derrick: We need more public notice, not less 

Notice to the public - public notices

Last year a rumor started circulating on a community Facebook page: GRACE Marketplace would close its current location and relocate to west Gainesville.  

The supposed evidence for this was a construction project at Queen of Peace Catholic Community.  

“Rumors went wild,” Eric Godet, president and CEO of the Greater Gainesville Chamber of Commerce, told me.  

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It turned out GRACE Marketplace was not moving, and the building project was only a family life center.  

“Being able to refer to actual [public] notices helped a lot of people,” Godet said. “In the absence of the truth, people will believe a lie. If we can go to the paper and see what is being done and how, it’s great.” 

The practice of public notice began centuries ago. The idea was that citizens had a right to know about government-related activities that might spark them to act. A local example would be Gainesville’s 2022 decision to eliminate exclusionary zoning, which the city had to notice in print before moving to implementation.  

The longstanding practice of printed public has now taken a major turn in Alachua County.  

To its credit, the county recently started posting all county legal notices on its website—something it could have done long ago. This is a step forward for the community, but, unfortunately, it coincided with three steps backward: The county simultaneously removed its notices from the Gainesville Sun newspaper, the Sun’s website, and  

“We see this kind of confusion with the historic noticing method. Can we imagine the amount of confusion when we shift to less notice?” Godet said. “We have so many people who do not hear about things, or they are misinformed. A lot of that misinformation happens online.” 

Alachua County’s break with decades-long practice came after a single print notice in the Sun, a county press release, and posts on its social media channels on the afternoon of March 29—Good Friday.

The move was made possible by a law the Legislature passed in 2022 (click here to see how lawmakers voted). 

Cost savings was the primary reason cited for stopping the printed publication of public notices. Last year, the county spent about $60,000 on legal notices, according to assistant county manager Tommy Crosby. He estimates the county can execute the website-only plan at a cost of $20,000.  

For context, the projected savings of $40,000 is 0.005% of the county’s projected $757 million budget this year.  

Interestingly, private parties aren’t allowed to use the county website, per the new state law. It’s only for government entities.  

Up until now, if you wanted to find a particular notice, you could search for it on and be guaranteed to find it, regardless of the newspaper that published it. Now, Alachua County will have a hodgepodge, with some notices (mostly private, but not all) at, and others available at the county website.  

This move essentially turns public notice into an open record. There are lots of pages on the county website that inform citizens about any number of things—you can find county commissioner emails there, for example—but that is not the same as giving public notice.  

Godet said the community needs more notice options, not less. 

“All the uproars in the community pertain to not having enough notice,” he said, predicting that most people won’t go to the county site to view notices. “Historically, in the community people know where to look for the notices and what’s happening… Why are we removing something that has been around and is tried and true?”

The city of Gainesville is now considering moving all of its notices to the county website. If that were to happen, it means the next zoning controversy would not have to appear in a local newspaper before implementation.

One commissioner told me the city’s decision will likely turn on what officials hear from local citizens. Do they care?  

If you do, call the city at 352-334-5016 or email your thoughts to 

Editor’s note: This column has been updated to note the county’s March 29 social media posts.

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Local ‘government’ administration is failing faster and more often than the federal system. And THAT’s surprising.

It appears things were better functioning before they hired specialists and individual consultants and contractors for every tiny little detail.

All in the name of saving a few dollars, yet the costs continue to skyrocket. There must be a hole in their pockets or something.