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Feb 01

Zopes To You Too

Comments (0) 12:00 AM posted by admin |

I went to tonight’s City Council meeting because they posted their agenda on the web and posted it early. Within this agenda, it said that Washtenaw County Director of Information David Behan would be there to speak about Zope and web site content management. If you recall, I complained about the poor state of the City’s web site and how a City striving to be “cool” was doing a disservice to the community and looking unqualified in the process. For some reason I got it in my head that City Council had invited this guy to come talk about how they could improve their services and provide more information in a real-time manner. I figured that any organization that was going to consider what I had said and then act on it was worthy of my support. If I didn’t show up, I would be letting them down.

Boy was I wrong.

As it turns out, Mr. Behan was not asked to speak, but rather he asked to present the County’s 1Washtenaw initiative to Council. It was a nice presentation about what services they provide, training sessions they offer, and their commitment to keeping it a free of charge service, but I didn’t get what their point was. I had built it up in my head that this was going to be some kind of beautiful event between Council and their constituents. Alas, reality couldn’t keep up with the image I had in my head, and the moment was gone.

The Q&A session that followed was goofy. Council Member Gawlas seems like he could be an ally in this web site nonsense, but it seems like he’s always missing the point. He seems to think there are mistakes and dead links on the site that are the result of information expiring or something. He quizzed Mr. Behan about technology that allows links to expire after a set amount of time. That’s cool and all, but the problem with the City’s web site is that content is not updated, posted correctly, or utilized to it’s fullest capabilities. I feel like I’m making myself that crack-pot web site guy, and that’s not my goal, but if they are going to keep screwing up, then I’m going to keep bitching. It’s great that Mr. Bruner has a link on the front page allowing me to check the weather in Ypsi, but if you want to be useful, post the text of the ordinances that are going to be discussed at the meeting so I don’t have to call the Clerk’s office the next morning and ask for them.

Council Member Gawlas had the stones to take a shot at Ann Arbor’s web site and how he couldn’t find their archive of meeting minutes (which isn’t intuitive to the amateur), but not only do they have the decency to post the entire packet their City Council receives before each meeting on their web for anyone to view, they have all of the valuable information that you would like to find in a city in one convenient location.

The saddest thing about all of this is there is no accountability. Sure, there is accountability at the ballot box, but it’s very hard to battle the throngs of supporters that call the Mayor or talk to her in grocery stores but mysteriously don’t show their support at council meetings.

Now I feel like a complainer. This wasn’t remotely meant to be my point. I meant to explain why the vacant buildings ordinance is a foolish idea and will ultimately be overturned in the courts because of it’s poor wording, but that will have to wait for another day. I apologize for your time.

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