All that it can be?
Not City Hall's Web Site!
by Stephen Puibello
Reprinted with permission of Digital City Boston/America Online

It's a shame that our City Government is not supportive ó not truly committed ó to real representation of the people it governs. If it were, Boston City Hallís web page would not be slanted toward one person, the Mayor. A good web page is designed to offer the customer a quick and immediate action ó to take care of a real need 24 hours a day! For example:

Imagine being able to click on a bag of potatoes, enter your personal identification number, press submit, and three hours later a delivery truck delivers your groceries from Food-, inc. The reality? This service already exists!

Now imagine, instead, that you're walking home from work and notice that there are no litter baskets anywhere. You get home and turn on your computer, enter (the URL for City Hall) and go to the Department of Sanitation section, where you can now click on a form labeled "Request for a litter basket in your neighborhood." You then receive an automatic reply via email, thanking you for your participation in our community. Before leaving, you press the icon button that takes you back to the Cityís Home Page and notice that the city services report card for litter basket requests is at 72%.

Keep imagining ó the reality is that this accountability doesnít exist here in Boston as it does in other parts of the country. Citizens deserve better, because technology does offer us a convienience. We could have a 9-5 city government that offers 24 hour a day accessibility.

It's Monday morning in the Office of Neighborhood Associations (ONA) department of the Mayorís office. The Associate Director has arrived early to find many new requests for various city services. The information provided via email requests now provides the ONAís nine district representatives the same tools that the other nine district representatives, the City Councilors, have available to them as well. Together these two bodies, could make a significant difference, on Quality of Life issues, that its residents ask for time and time again, but never see. Why can't this dream become a reality?

How nice it would be to be able to register to vote online. How about offering a voting page that is designed to give all the participants input into its the city they live, specifically Bostonís many young people? How about being able to license your dog online. The data collected could provide city planners with the badly needed numbers that reflect the dog-owners' rights, too.

There are some examples of good use of the internet in government in Boston. Look at Tom Keane, Boston City Council, District 8, a three term elected City councilor. Councilor Keane, a smart, well spoken man, offers his district a web page that does solicit feedback. It also offers folks a calendar of events, links to other interesting sites, important phone numbers, and a place to read about his contributions as an elected city Councilor. This page was paid out of Tomís pocket. Whose pockets were picked to pay for the City Page?