Ten Year Anniversary

I’m pretty proud to say that this site has been around now for at least decade, in some form or fashion. The first post published on the site, the default WordPress Hello World post with some additions, was published on August 1, 2006. This was about the time I first started experimenting with self publishing online and web development, which lead to the formation of two awesome side businesses. Neither of those would have been possible if I hadn’t learned the framework of the internet, like servers, HTML, CSS, PHP, and MySQL, while teaching myself to develop WordPress websites. This experimentation has lead to countless opportunities, both professional and personal.

And while my posting has steadily diminished over the last few years (due to both professional reasons and family obligations, which I hope to detail in the near future in this space), I’m pretty proud of this accomplishment.

So, here’s to another ten years! I can’t wait to see what this space looks like then.

PS- Here’s what the site looked like back in 2007:

My Local Government Motivation

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If you work in local government management and ever need a motivational boost, these are the sources I look back to:

L.P. Cookingham on his management philosophy, originally published in ICMA’s Public Management magazine in 1956. Also see the ELGL’s post on the topic.

The Effective Local Government Manager from ICMA.

This City, This Man: The Cookingham Era in Kansas City by Bill Gilbert.

The State of Local Government Websites

Kansas classmate Josh Rauch and I wrote an article for the August issue of Public Management magazine. Josh and I opined “Overlooking Your Website? If so, residents and businesses may be overlooking you” for the International City/County Management Association members publication.

Ask yourself: Is your community’s website just a line-item expense? Or is it something your organization is using to give back to and engage with your community? Does your current design support users who visit your site? Does it look good? Can visitors read it? Can they use it easily? Are they getting the messages about your community that you want to deliver?

We believe government websites don’t have to be ugly. It may not seem like a pressing issue in the whirlwind of other responsibilities and challenges, but a well-designed website can be a tremendous help to staff, community residents, and visitors. Be sure to pay attention to it!

I’m really glad Josh asked me to help write this article. The two of us often discuss the state of local government websites, especially those of small towns. Many of these cities, towns, counties, and districts outsource their IT, and their website is an afterthought. And it shouldn’t be.

Josh and I are pretty passionate about providing small municipalities with a better option for a website, so I hope you’ll go read the article. I hope you’ll be hearing more from us on this topic in the near future.

Social Media in the Aftermath of Sandy

Before Sandy hit, I wrote briefly about Google’s use of a crisis map to help residents and responders.

Since then, we have seen actions across the social media boundaries that have helped those affected by Sandy.

And then there is Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, New Jersey. I’ve written before about Mayor Booker’s use of Twitter. During Sandy and the ongoing recovery, Booker has tirelessly worked to respond to citizens and deliver necessary supplies to those in need. And when a woman messaged him that her power wasn’t on, he invited her and any other residents to stay at his home. He provided wi-fi, his DVD collection, power outlets to charge phones, heat, and food. Pretty incredible in this day and age. For a collection of his best tweets, check out this link.

I think folks, and governments and companies, are really seeing that social media is a two-way street that can work in their favor. But in most of these cases, it seems as if one or two dedicated individuals go beyond the call of duty to help people. And I wonder if the responses would have been the same without these vital employees.

Retirement of Fairfax County Executive

The Washington Post has a great article on the retirement of Tony Griffin, Fairfax County’s county executive:

As Fairfax County’s county executive for more than a decade, Griffin has quietly managed one of Virginia’s most diverse and dynamic jurisdictions, a suburb of more than 1 million people that covers nearly 400 square miles. Only one person has held the post longer.

There is a reason I’ve gotten into government, and specifically city/county management. And Tony Griffin has lived a life of it. Go read the article, because this is what I want to do.

Great News for Kansas City, Kansas

Yesterday Google announced that Kansas City, Kansas, would be the first city to participate in the Google Fiber project. The Google Fiber project seeks to bring 1-gigabit internet access to every house.

Google will have to reach an agreement with the Unified Board of Commissioners, but when that is completed they will work to roll out access to 50,000 to 500,000 residents of Kansas City, Kansas, at a competitive price.

You can read about the news from the New York Times, Government Technology, and the press release from the Unified Government of Kansas City, Kansas (pdf file).

I couldn’t be happier for the residents of Kansas City, Kansas. I worked for a year at the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas, and it is a place with great citizens and great workers. Kansas City was hit pretty hard by the end of the industrial boom, and the city has never really recovered. I think Google Fiber will give them a leg up on other cities in attracting new businesses and great residents. I am extremely proud that Mayor Joe Reardon and the staff at the Unified Government won this project for their citizens.