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April 18, 2009

New technology connects constituents with information, provides greater transparency

Thank you to Jennifer and Talk of the Town for giving me an opportunity to ramble a bit about my experiences as an elected official and a student of local, state and national government.  I’ve waited far too long to take this opportunity despite the gentle prodding from Jennifer to get on the ball.  Though I’ll be surprised that anyone more than my grandma will take the time to read this, I will do my best to regularly update you at Talk of the Town about some local issues and other musings along the way.

 

At every Whitley County Council meeting, I learn a great deal more about how our county government works.  I appreciate the patience and respect that my colleagues have shown so far in helping me to understand the ins and outs of our roles. 

At a meeting in February, we approved funding for a new refrigerator for the jail, a new computer for our county engineer, new trash receptacles for our only county park located at Tri-Lakes, and approved the annual request of support for the Whitley County Transit program administered by the Whitley County Council on Aging.  During the meeting I used my Blackberry to “tweet” a few updates about what we were up to, becoming the first elected official in Indiana that I’m aware of to use Twitter to update the public during a council meeting.  Many of you might have noticed a number of congressmen typing away at their Blackberries during President Obama’s State of the Union speech employing the same technologies. 

 

My hope is that through this one small step I can help educate the public more about the important decisions made in county government that affect us on a daily basis.  Simple tools like these can bring more transparency and accountability to government and hopefully encourage folks to get more involved and active in the political process.

 

I hope that by employing tools like Facebook, Twitter and writing this column for Talk of the Town that more local residents might become more aware of what is going on in local government.  Decisions are made daily that affect us in big and small ways.  While sometimes intimidating to test new technologies like the before mentioned, most friends I talk to have come to appreciate how simple and easy it is.   However, my grandma did tell me how frustrated she became trying to set up a Twitter page.

 

I’d like to write more about building better “transparency and accountability” in local government, but I’ll save that for another day.  Be sure to follow me at Twitter and Facebook and please don’t hesitate to let me know how county government is doing to serve you.  I am available any time via email at jbanks@hagermangc.com or by phone at 248.8406.  Thank you & God Bless.


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