Update July 9, 2015 - A reader has been in touch to say that
the link is dead for this story, “Compact avoids Do Not Deliver newspaper law,
February 29, 2008.
Kevin E. Dayhoff July 9, 2015
Westminster Md. - The February 29, 2008 story was about proposed
legislation in the Maryland General Assembly to stop the delivery – that is to
say, the littering - of unwanted spam newspapers on your front yard – and the
agreement that was reached that stopped the legislation from moving forward.
Word on the street in February 2008 was that the “do not
deliver” legislation faced an uphill battle but had a better than average
chance of passing because unwanted papers piling up in your front yard annoys
both conservatives and liberals.
In Carroll County, the bipartisan initiative was spearheaded
by a leading community liberal as far back as 1995 – and introduced in the
Maryland General Assembly in 2008 by a leading community conservative. A copy
of the November 13, 1995 citizen’s complaint was forwarded to the Westminster
mayor’s office on November 14, 1995.
The issue of the free newspapers littering
neighborhoods was brought-up frequently in community meetings with homeowner
associations and community groups from 1995 to 2008.
Actually, the free newspapers in the area ultimately made the
decision for the legislative initiative as a result of failing to respond to
the citizen complaints of many neighborhoods throughout the community.
Many in February 2008 felt strongly that the agreement did
not go far enough. That in addition to the opt-out phone number, the agreement
ought to have required the free newspapers to stop delivery at an address where
it was obvious the free papers were not being retrieved – and as a result the papers were piling-up in an unsightly mess.
The accumulation of unwanted newspapers on a property in the
neighborhood is an eyesore. In the words of one neighborhood newsletter, “Free
papers laying around make the neighborhood look bad, and can invite crime by
advertising when you may be away from home.”
More often than not, the accumulation of the unwanted free
papers eventually has to be cleaned-up by municipal or county maintenance
workers – which is a burden upon the taxpayers.
Or worse yet, the unwanted free newspapers end-up clogging
the stormwater drains, causing damage and more cost to the taxpayers because
government maintenance workers need to spend time cleaning-up the mess.
Apparently the problem has raised its ugly head again.
If you will recall, the February 2008 agreement with local
newspapers was successful in getting Carroll County Delegate Shewell to
withdraw the “do not deliver free newspapers” legislation.
In return for the withdrawal of the legislation, the local
papers would provide a phone number that homeowners could call and opt-out of
the free delivery.
Today, over seven years later, no one remembers the legislation
or the agreement that stopped the legislation - - and the number published on
the front of the free newspapers has evolved into voice mail jail that
ultimately, if you are patient enough, lands you with someone who does not know
where Westminster or Carroll County Maryland is located. “Never heard of it.” You
cannot make this up.
In other words, it is a number provided so that the free
newspapers can say that they are in compliance with the agreement. After-all,
no-one said that the agreement required that the published number has to
actually work as it was intended by the agreement… Just saying.
Meanwhile, what many folks have long forgotten is that
according to Channel 2 in Baltimore, “Newspapers would have seven days to
comply with a request. If it's still
delivered, consumers could register a complaint with the Attorney General's
Office and the newspaper could face a fine.”
Maybe more folks ought to contact the Attorney General's
Office and complain - or maybe better yet, this legislation ought to be brought
back for re-consideration with stiffer penalties or maybe just outlaw the
unwanted spam from being littered on your property altogether.
To be sure, we have greater problems to solve in the greater
community, but this might be one small step in the correct direction to take
pride in the appearance of our community, protect our neighborhoods from
unwanted corporate spam, obviate the potential for attracting crime and protect
Kevin E. Dayhoff July 9, 2015
Compact avoids Do Not Deliver newspaper law
Friday, February 29, 2008
ANNAPOLIS — Four
free-delivery newspapers in Maryland have agreed to crack down on deliveries to
customers who say they don’t want them, pre-empting an attempt to set up what
would have been one of the nation’s first “Do Not Deliver” laws.
The newspapers have
agreed to publish a phone number that homeowners can call to stop deliveries.
The number will be on the second page of each home delivery edition and will be
in a 12-point bold font.
Under the agreement
announced Thursday, the newspapers also said they would increase supervision of
carriers to make sure deliveries stop when people make requests.
“We’re certainly not
out to hurt businesses, but we do need to answer constituents’ concerns,” said
Delegate Tanya Shewell, R-Carroll, who said she plans to withdraw two bills
that would have fined newspaper publishers who failed to meet requests to stop
deliveries within seven days.
Shewell says she
proposed the bills after a flurry of complaints from constituents that the free
newspapers littered their lawns and deliveries didn’t end even after homeowners
requested them to stop.
The agreement applies
only to Carroll County, northwest of Baltimore. But the director of the
Maryland-Delaware-District of Columbia Press Association said many free
newspapers would comply with provisions to prevent consumer complaints.
“Newspapers don’t want
them going to people who don’t want them and won’t read them,” John “Jack”
Murphy said during a meeting with Shewell.
The papers include The
Examiner, the Carroll County Times (which distributes both free and paid
papers); The Gazette, and Kapp Advertising, which produces a free-delivery
periodical called The Merchandiser.
"Do Not Deliver" Bill Delivers Controversy
Some say it's a
nuisance and others call it community service. Free newspapers pop up on your
front steps everyday. Now one Maryland lawmaker wants a "Do Not
"I do recycle
them, but some of them do fly away in the yard and go onto the street and down
the gutters," said Essex resident Cathy Benzig.
In fact, a state
delegate from Carroll County goes as far to say the newspapers, that are
delivered with no cost, infringe on the rights of property owners.
Delegate Tanya Shewell
from Carroll County says consumers have the right to say what's on their front
lawn. She wants a phone number printed on newspapers that you can call to
The bill is modeled
after the national Do Not Call Registry that let's you decide about whether to
receive telemarketing calls at home. Delegate Shewell wants consumers to
have the final say with free newspapers. But some of her colleagues in
Annapolis think the plan will hurt small businesses.
"I think it's
much to do about nothing. It's an intrusion. It's shooting a flea
with an elephant gun. And it's unfair to local publishers who do a
wonderful job for the community," said Del. Pat McDonough, (R) Baltimore
says he's talked to publishers of local papers who say they'll stop delivery
when asked. But we talked to people with failed attempts.
Newspapers would have seven days
to comply with a request. If it's still delivered, consumers could
register a complaint with the Attorney General's Office and the newspaper could
face a fine.
- 20080128 Do Not Deliver Bill Delivers Controversy