Archive for Friday, January 26, 2007

County expands Web offerings

January 26, 2007

Leavenworth County commissioners are testing the waters of the World Wide Web, but they aren't diving in head-first by any means.

At their meeting Thursday, Jan. 26, commissioners unanimously decided to post their weekly agendas and minutes in portable document format (pdf) to the county's Web site, leavenworthcounty.org. Working drafts of minutes will be available to department heads on the county's Intranet, while approved minutes will be posted to the public Web site.

But when presented the opportunity to do a test run with streaming audio of their meetings, Commissioners Clyde Graeber and Dean Oroke balked.

Commission Chairman J.C. Tellefson, who took his seat on the board early last month after winning election in November, spurred discussion of the county Web site improvements. He asked the county's information services director, Larry Malbrough, to show commissioners what the county was doing, what other counties were doing and how the county could expand its Web offerings.

"I'm trying to make government as transparent as it can be," Tellefson said.

Graeber countered that county government already operated at a high level of transparency, noting the commission's weekly agenda is disseminated widely to the media and public, and that anyone can walk into a commission meeting to see government in action.

Malbrough showed streaming video of the Sedgwick County Commission on that county's Web site and audio streaming of the Shawnee County Commission on its Web site. When he showed how Leavenworth County's Web site could easily stream audio of commission meetings, Graeber was not impressed.

"If I could drink a double scotch and soda, I could listen to that," he said.

Neither Graeber nor Oroke were convinced anyone would be interested in such a feature. And Oroke noted those most interested in county issues - elderly, rural residents - generally don't even have Internet access.

But if streaming audio were available and the commission discussed an issue of importance to elderly, rural residents, "they will go to their grandkids and tell them to 'get that for me.'" Tellefson said. "If it's there and they're angry enough, they'll do it."

Malbrough indicated posting the commission's weekly agenda would take place immediately; a target date of Feb. 15 was made for posting of approved minutes to the Web.

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