News for Public Officials and the People They Serve

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More Letters and Guest Articles

To all the county clerks of Texas

Lisa Ramsey - Paralegal

 

"It is unfortunate that county clerks remain clueless to the harm they have caused the very citizens who have voted them into office . . .

 

"I am going to use your articles when we testify before the House Committee in March".

Mildred Dodak, Register of Deeds,, Saginaw County, Michigan

E-Records… The Dilemma and the Spoon-Feeding of Criminals.

By Jason C. Sheppard , TruClose Financial Services, LLC 

NALTEA President Denounces Bulk Sale of Public Records

Testimony Before Michigan Legislature

National Title Association Issues Statement

Expresses grave concerns and opposes the online publication of the Public Records

Citizens react nationwide with letters to the editors

Citizen reaction to local government publishing their records online is consistently unfavorable. . .

 

Making A List...
"Enough is enough!" I said. If our back-slapping elected officials aren't going to do anything . . 

North Carolina Paralegal

Readers Letter

From: Ginny McLaren, Tuscola County Michigan Register of Deeds

My name is Ginny McLaren and I am the Register of Deeds in Tuscola County Michigan. I received a copy of your email from Millie Dodak. You had emailed her after reading about the Federal lawsuit here in Michigan. I am also named in it!  . . .This has been an ongoing problem (Bulk Sales) here in Michigan in both the Registers of Deeds and County Treasurers' offices. Lawsuits actually go back to the mid 80's here regarding copies on other mediums and reduced rates for bulk purchases. This is actually my second lawsuit on essentially the same issues. I won the first one in the Michigan Court of Appeals including all costs but it did take almost 14 years!. Interestingly enough, it is First American Title that is suing me again.

During my first lawsuit I decided I was not going to leave anything to chance...at least not for the future. I wrote some language that was eventually passed into law that gives the Registers discretionary rights for producing copies. In the late 90's, we began seeing lots of activity with title companies making requests all over the State for copies under FOIA or at bulk prices. Even requesting to set up shop in our offices which we thought had been settled with the legislation that was passed in 1994. As it was occurring in other county offices too, we decided something needed to be done again.

We have a state association here of county wide elected officials called the United County Officers Association of Michigan. As the legislative chairperson, I took it to our board and got their permission to start drafting something that would protect the people's rights to their records. One of my biggest concerns is that we have a tendency to practically give our records away to private businesses (that are obviously in business to make a profit) while we charge our customers (the owners of the records) the statutory fee. It is discrimination and it is lending of credit which is illegal for government to participate in. At the time the first lawsuit was filed against me, we had a legislator that was writing what came to be known as the Records Media Act here in Michigan. I was lucky that he called and asked for my input because of its bearing on my case.

Keeping this legislation in mind as well as the issues that were beginning to come to a head, I wrote a draft containing wording that would address and resolve these issues. I then sent it to other county officials in the State for their input. We put together what we think will solve our problems. We have been fought tooth and nail though by the title industry to the point it has been held in committee for two years. It is about to be introduced again in this session in the next couple weeks. Initially, the Register's Association also opposed it as the larger counties tend to do what they want and unfortunately, their beliefs spilled over onto the others. We have now resolved the majority of those concerns though since we all getting sued!!!

I would love to hear what progress either of your states have made or your views. Hopefully we have incorporated everything we need but as technology changes, we know we will always have to be on guard to protect the records and rights of the public that elected us. The Baylor review was excellent in assessing the issues at hand. I only wish we here in Michigan had read it when it was first published! I hope to hear from both of you soon and any suggestions you may have.

 Ginny McLaren, Tuscola County Michigan Register of Deeds

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