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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

City Officials Increase Interaction With Public Commentors on Various Websites

Websites such as Somerville Voices, the Somerville Journal Blog, and the Somerville News have their fair share of controversial postings where commentors let loose their thoughts on everything about the city. In the past few months, however, City Officials Mike Meehan and Daniel Hadley have jumped into the commenting pool rather than issuing Op-eds like elected officials have done in the past.

In a recent posting titled, Somerville “Happiness Survey” Weighted Towards Wealthy, author, eila, gave compelling evidence that the famous Happiness Survey results were skewed by pointing out that the opinions of people in specific financial classes were not included. Taking the opportunity to clear up the air and invite a offline conversation, Daniel Hadley, defended his data and an exchange takes place between the two with other comments sprinkled in between. Traditionally, elected and city officials have not taken to the comment section of websites to interact with constituents, offering Op-eds to voice their side as both Ward 1 Alderman Bill Roache and Alderman At Large Bill White have done in the past. Jumping into the comment realm can be risky, however, Ward 6 Alderman/Board President Rebekah Gewirtz took the plunge to clear up an endorsement question in September of last year. Her precisely written response drew no unwanted fire from other commentors.

Daniel is not the only city official to feel compelled to comment. Mike Meehan of the Communications Department "chimed in" when conversations surrounding towing companies possibly profiting from public land use and also let people know that the online processing fee for parking tickets had been eliminated when the new Traffic and Parking website was launched.

Is the city now realizing the importance of the online news scene as they have the social media scene? Does commenting online gain them more steps towards the transparency that residents are looking for?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for noticing, Courtney. Many of us in City Hall think that bloggers and other citizen journalists are doing a valuable service to the community. I like to join the conversation whenever I find the time.

Keep up the good work,