Open door, huh!

I sent the following email to my At-Large Councilor and current City Council Chair.
Dated 02/23/12 @ 10:05 AM
Dear Council Chair,

As you are aware, I have questioned the Council about the Consolidation Committee in the past.

The issue of the IT Department in the recent news and debated at Council has prompted me to
write and request that a Consolidation Committee, either as a standing Committee of the Council
or as an Ad Hoc Committee, as in the past they were, be created by Ordinance or Resolution, to
investigate and recommend solutions for the IT Department needs in the City of Methuen.

I recommend that members, as occurred in the past, be brought in from the Council and the School Committee to look into this.

Thank you for your consideration of this recommendation

I have never heard a word.
Not even an acknowledgement that the email was received.
I even wrote a Letter to the Editor, published in the Lawrence Eagle Tribune,along the same vein.

Municipal IT services for the long term.

As with most things in life, one can take a reactive, conservative or proactive stance on Municipal issues. I offer these thoughts to move the dialog forward.
The Conservative stance consists of leaving things to basically continue as before applying minor tweaks here and there and continuing to fund at substantially the same,however inflationary adjusted rate.

The reactive stance is to hire someone to come in and “assess” the current status. Using this pre-biased tool, one can then arbitrarily make drastic changes that have no basic plan in place but appear, in the short term to offer cost savings. The end result of knee-jerk reactions are often higher long term cost and the creation of a cycle of assess-gut reactions which do not benefit the long term functionality of a municipality.

A proactive approach is often more difficult to achieve but has substantial real long term benefits.
This could start by looking at the Municipality as a cohesive unit. In today’s muni-structure it is often that the CEO views his organization as two separate entities, the Town/City and the School. Step back and look at it from a taxpayer perspective, One does not pay separate tax bills for these entities. It is one tax bill and then the CEO splits the funds as required to support both entities. To consolidate should be the first goal.

One approach would be to create two teams. One team is tasked with creating a consolidated resource. The second team is tasked with defining the requirements of or create a business model for the IT department, as a service provider for the muni’s future.

My recommendation, with endless caveats, would be to define an IT model with and for the State. This would view the 351 cities and towns and the 391 school districts as customers. The State would become a hosting service. They would set up server farms and upload standard open source software that could be downloaded and customized by each of it’s customers as required. Each customer would pay a hosting fee to cover the cost of the servers. This plan is very similar to the business model used by hosting service companies, Go Daddy being among the most well known.

Let’s create the model and then move into the future confident that we have considered the consolidation and economy of scale of regionalizing. This may be the most economic process but is time consuming and does not make political hay in the short term. It should provide long term stability and cost savings to an always struggling populace.

It is not just the City Council.
All email addresses have been removed from the City website. All email traffic is directed to the Mayor’s office. [Guess the Open door policy is so the email has somewhere to go after piling up.]
The Mayor does not respond to email addressed to his official email address.
I have heard from no one who has written to Mayor Zanni and received a reply.

I accidentally, (yeah right), posted about email on Facebook.
A newly minted Councilor called my house and said, ” I spoke with the Mayor and he will put email addresses for Councilors back on the website that day.”
Never happened.
After a week, or so, I called the Councilor and asked if I had misunderstood.
No was the reply.
He had received an update from the Mayor that due to Hackers and SPAM, email was being “managed”.
I asked how many hack attacks and how much Spam? Dead silence.
I have been hacked once in 6 years.
I have spam filters and that has greatly reduced the incidence of spam.
Even so, I still do most of my business over the internet.

I don’t see a sense of Open government principles being promulgated in the opening months of this administration.
Just saying…

admin posted at 2012-3-1 Category: Uncategorized

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