The Town Council and its Administrative staff should be commended for getting their staff reports online – that sure does make it easier to find out what’s going on. The staff has also done a good job getting past agendas, resolutions and minutes up. And we’re betting the town staff are glad too, since it must save them a lot of time looking things up and making copies that people can now find and copy for themselves.
But there are things that still need to be improved before all COWs can easily find out what’s happening online. For example, while the agendas are online, they come in big documents with attachments clumped together (the last one was 66 pages long!). It sure would not be hard to use the approach used by such cities as Palo Alto or the City of San Mateo. That way people can click conveniently on reports if they’re interested, but don’t have to plod through 66 pages of material. Also, the Town should make searching a lot easier. The search page is confusing to use, and the search results come out in a format that is difficult to work with and has far too many non-applicable results.
While the Town Council materials are online, the Planning Department is far behind in getting up the Planning Commission and ASRB reports. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Planning Commission and ASRB staff reports were online with the agendas? And why are the Planning Commission agendas/minutes only posted through 2004? Why are the ASRB’s minutes only posted through 2002? Based on our past survey results, these are the least popular boards in our town. So it’s very important COWs start getting quick, up-to-date information about their work.
And last but not least, we noticed most towns have either web casts or cable TV broadcasts of town meetings. Busy COWs would really appreciate this type of easy access — not everyone can mosey over to the Town Council. Democracy requires an informed citizenry. The Town should do everything it can to facilitate public participation.