Local Government Policy & Practice
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Local Government Policy & Practice
News and developments about good old-fashioned public policy and politics, with an eye on how digital technologies affect and hopefully improve the conduct of government at the local level. Ideas on how to be an effective member of a city council, school board, or other elected body.
Curated by Walter Neary
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Denver requires social-media announcements for pot pesticide recalls

Denver requires social-media announcements for pot pesticide recalls | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it

Denver environmental health officials require companies to post all pot-recall notices via social media amid worries too few people are aware of recalls.

Walter Neary's insight:

This is a good example of how social can help with a specific challenge; and another example of how public health can reach an audience. 

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A Tiny Rural Town Just Elected An All-Latino City Council

A Tiny Rural Town Just Elected An All-Latino City Council | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it
“It’s time for a change because most of us here are Hispanic.”'
Walter Neary's insight:

This is a great story about diversity among elected officials, but there's a troubling number in there: 164 registered voters in a population of 1,500? This story is inspiring about the march of progress for Latino elected officials, ,but that stat reminds us of the challenges to include everyone in the electoral process. 

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'Topeka in Two' program shares city information in manner that's short and sweet - Topeka Capital Journal

'Topeka in Two' program shares city information in manner that's short and sweet - Topeka Capital Journal | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it
Informing people about Topeka’s city government in a manner that is fun, quick and easily accessible — that is the objective of “Topeka in Two,” a roughly two-minute video program the city makes available on its website and airs weekly on its cable...
Walter Neary's insight:

Fact is, people don't have the attention spans or the time that they used to have. I love how this community's updates share information respecting that everyone is busy. 

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City Council to revamp comment rules - Bloomington Pantagraph

City Council to revamp comment rules - Bloomington Pantagraph | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it
A city staff recommendation to limit public comment at City Council meetings to agenda items and to require speakers to apply two hours in advance did not receive a vote
Walter Neary's insight:

Using this as the first in a collection, which I'll sort by the tag #publiccomment to help keep track of cities that think somehow they can legislate the public to be "nice" during public comment. 

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The Causes, Costs and Consequences of Bad Government Data

The Causes, Costs and Consequences of Bad Government Data | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it
States and localities are embracing the promise of big data. But just how good is the information they’re collecting in the first place?
Walter Neary's insight:

The issues described in this report are an interesting way to approach a lot of problems in government. It's significant that 7 in 10 officials believe bad data gets in the way of good governance. Local government elected officials should have candid discussions - maybe make it an agenda item - to discuss the root causes and effects of bad data in their jurisdiction. Seems to me like it offers a dashboard window into the people and the system. 

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This tiny Spanish town uses Twitter to run everything, and it's working -

This tiny Spanish town uses Twitter to run everything, and it's working - | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it
Twitter isn't only about frivolous tweets. When used creatively, it can help run an entire town.
Walter Neary's insight:

I don't recommend anyone get this extreme, but here's a case study in how social media can be useful. What a great way to report a problem like a street light that's out.

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Austin City Council engages social media, will launch task force to boost public engagement

Austin City Council engages social media, will launch task force to boost public engagement | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it
The Austin City Council attempted to boost public participation in Council meetings Thursday by projecting a livestream of community members’ texts and tweets on the wall.
Walter Neary's insight:

It was a very clever idea to stream social media during a council meeting, but they needed a moderator - it's unlikely the 'poop' message was appropriate. 

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States Train Officials in Public Records Access

States Train Officials in Public Records Access | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it
Some states are requiring that public officials who are subject to open government laws learn how they work.
Walter Neary's insight:

You have a lot to learn when you get elected to public office; it's smart that some communities require training. Washington just passed legislation to require most elected officials to learn about public records and open meetings laws. This should prevent a lot of problems in the future. Honestly, it's also going to eliminate an excuse for some people who say they didn't know records and meetings are supposed to be open. Wise move. 

There's a bigger problem - sometimes people get elected to a group when they've hardly ever been to meetings of that group. Without formal training, there's a lot for any elected official to learn. Making training easy, such as putting videos on YouTube, as the Washington Attorney General has done, is wise. 

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Los Angeles Commits $1 Million to Fund Employee Innovation

Los Angeles Commits $1 Million to Fund Employee Innovation | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it
The city’s new innovation fund will support employee-inspired projects to save the government money and improve quality of life for residents.
Walter Neary's insight:

This fund is designed to create an incentive for employees to do something about improving a city government. It's going to be interesting to see the results. Even if your city can't afford $1 million, what is your city doing to encourage innovation?

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Big raise not as bad as it sounds for Madison City Council : Editorial

Big raise not as bad as it sounds for Madison City Council : Editorial | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it
OUR VIEW: If $12,000 a year gets more people running for Madison City Council seats, it will be worth it.
Walter Neary's insight:

This article could be accused of damning a pay raise for city council members with faint praise. But the writer does not go the route of criticizing government for paying people, or expecting people to work for government for free. So that's impressive, and there's an nice explanation here of what the workload is for elected representatives. This is thus an article to have at hand for discussions about pay for elected officials. 

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Florida City Council Person Will Be Picked Out of Hat After Tie - NBC News

Florida City Council Person Will Be Picked Out of Hat After Tie - NBC News | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it
A city council position in a small city in Florida will be determined by chance on Tuesday night after the two candidates tied in the election. Incumbent Nic...
Walter Neary's insight:

This is another of those stories to keep on hand when someone tells you, "Oh my one vote doesn't count..."

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City official warns Council about texting during meetings

City official warns Council about texting during meetings | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it
Text messaging, instant messages and email have dramatically changed the way people—including public officials—communicate.But what effect do these new, less obvious, methods of communicating have on the openness of government?Last week, Cliff La
Walter Neary's insight:

The controversy in this story is interesting, but what I found fascinating is that is provides a look into what elected officials are doing during meetings on electronic devices. The prudent local elected official will probably read this story and elect to be a bit more conservative. 

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A lesson for all public officials: be mindful of public records rules

A lesson for all public officials: be mindful of public records rules | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it
To those who won election or re-election on Tuesday we offer our congratulations and a word of advice:If you haven't done so, get yourself three...
Walter Neary's insight:

Love the timing on this, since today is the day after election day. People new to office are now governed by another set of rules. We're seeing more and more articles warning local elected officials that the days where you'd use your home equipment or office stuff to conduct official business are either over, or threatened. Here's a POV from Everett WA with a couple of examples of how someone can go afoul of the law and of transparency in government. 

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Using Instagram to Address Blight, of all things

Using Instagram to Address Blight, of all things | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it

How one city used Instagram to address blight bit.ly/1Qy5Qoc pic.twitter.com/iUBMKqBfFZ

Walter Neary's insight:

Clever; love the mapping feature.

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State of Open Data - The Economist

State of Open Data - The Economist | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it
The open-data revolution has not lived up to expectations. But it is only getting started
Walter Neary's insight:

Deep survey into how the flow of "open data' is helping, or might help, government and citizens now and in the future. 

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Researcher uncovers inherent biases of big data collected from social media sites

Researcher uncovers inherent biases of big data collected from social media sites | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it
With every click, Facebook, Twitter and other social media users leave behind digital traces of themselves, information that can be used by businesses, government agencies and other groups that rely on 'big data.'...
Walter Neary's insight:

If you read this story carefully, the moral is that you should not rely just on social media for your public outreach and engagement on any given activity. You're only getting a percentage of the population. 

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How mobile impacts local government communications -

How mobile impacts local government communications - | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it
America’s appetite for mobile information has moved the needle on digital local government from ‘because we can’ to ‘because we must.’
Walter Neary's insight:

As more and more citizens use phones in their daily lives, government has to adjust. This is a nice review of the state of mobile communications in local government. 

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Gahanna mayoral candidate’s win gives new life to old tweets

Gahanna mayoral candidate’s win gives new life to old tweets | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it
Win the election, face the scrutiny. In Gahanna’s mayoral primary, newcomer Joseph Gergley soared to the top of the five-candidate list on Tuesday, unofficially capturing more than one-third of the vote.
Walter Neary's insight:

Fascinating example of a local government candidate with comments in his Twitter feed that are rather embarrassing. The thing is, you really shouldn't say this stuff to begin with. If you do, and you want to delete it, it's probably best to do so before it gets into the attention of the public ... 

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Free website expands open government - allows people to search notices

Free website expands open government - allows people to search notices | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it
Here’s an important website to bookmark on your Internet browser: WisconsinPublicNotices.org.
Walter Neary's insight:

This is a great idea; a website that collects public notices in one place. Every state should have this. 

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School board member resigns after 'shoot kids' joke/comment

School board member resigns after  'shoot kids' joke/comment | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it
Clawson board member Linda Grossmann resigned after being criticized for joking that students with allergies should be shot
Walter Neary's insight:

One of the tough things about local elected office is that some of the qualities can that get you ahead in life can get you in trouble. Normally, a sense of humor is a good thing. But you have to be sensitive when you're an elected official. Right now, It's probably also a good idea to extra scratch any jokes about guns and schools. 

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'The Power of LOL': Panel at NJ municipal convention explores humor in ... - The Star-Ledger

'The Power of LOL': Panel at NJ municipal convention explores humor in ... - The Star-Ledger | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it
Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick took part in a panel today called "The Power of LOL: Using Humor to Solve Municipal Issues" at the 99th annual New Jersey League of Municipalities convention.
Walter Neary's insight:

This is yet another thing to be conscious of when serving in local office - are you using humor, and are you using it carefully? Humorous comments aloud can easily be misconstrued in print; and yet if we don't exercise humor, we're not being human. Some good advice in here. 

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Jennifer Davies: Las Vegas' head of social media. Foodie. Social storyteller ... - TechRepublic

Jennifer Davies: Las Vegas' head of social media. Foodie. Social storyteller ... - TechRepublic | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it
What happens in Las Vegas usually gets tweeted. Jennifer Davies tells TechRepublic about running social media for the iconic American city.
Walter Neary's insight:

Very nice case study in how social media can help a municipality, whether it's helping people grieve after a tragedy, or share a mayor's state of the union. 

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Texas teacher resigns over Ferguson tweet

Texas teacher resigns over Ferguson tweet | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it
The teacher said her tweet was a reaction to "threatening and racist attacks" toward her.
Walter Neary's insight:

Repeat after me: ""Yes, I am one person looking at a screen, but people will read what I write. Yes, I am one person looking at a screen, but people will read what I write." Etc

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Williamson official accused of carrying gun on school property

Williamson official accused of carrying gun on school property | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it
Purse reportedly belonged to County Commissioner Barb Sturgeon
Walter Neary's insight:

First off, I don't have any personal knowledge of the facts of the case. But if the media reports are correct, it sounds like this elected official posted a photo on Facebook of a purse she uses for concealed, permitted carry of a firearm. This is another reminder that people actually read what we post on Facebook. The story goes that someone recognized this photograph and then saw the purse in an area where it perhaps should not have been. Think, think before you post on Facebook. 

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Officials' texts during meetings violate law

Officials' texts during meetings violate law | Local Government Policy & Practice | Scoop.it
Indiana's public access counselor says city and county council members and other public officials who text each other during meetings are violating the spirit and letter of the state's Open Door Law.
Walter Neary's insight:

We're in an odd period when some of us don't quite know what to do when we see public officials using a digital device during a meeting. What does it mean? we wonder. And we probably should

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