Code for America-Will it help you? –

Read the full post with comments here. Originally posted 9/28/12 at 11:18 am.

Feeling suffocated by 24/7 productivity expectations? Hungry for a technological edge to make your life easier and your community better? Code for America Commons is a great resource for discovering community-driven civic applications for open government.

Think of it as a resource to discover who is using what, how it works, how successful it is, and how you can integrate it into your best practices.  You can look for applications and solutions by city or government agency, and you can even directly browse the apps themselves, which are neatly arranged by software type, license, and application function. It functions like a wiki—so add your two cents and share with the community the solutions you’ve found, too.

It really is as simple as that. The only thing left is for you to explore! They have a very clean site that is easily navigable (though they are still tweaking the site as it is in beta mode).

How will you leverage Code for America to find solutions in your community?

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Thanks for the old news, Twitter –

Read the original post with comments here. Originally posted 9/3/12 at 1:57 pm

A few weeks ago I noticed that Twitter kicked up their e-mail notifications. Because I have my “professional” Twitter account (@RedBootMedia….follow me and I’ll follow you back!), a personal account and an account I share with friends in a social group, I didn’t want to receive and e-mail each time I received a mention or direct message. That worked well until recently.

Now I receive not only a message about each new follower, but I have also been getting “@XYZ and 12 others have Tweets for you!” e-mails for all of my accounts. I’m sure they DO have Tweets for me, but most of them are either several days old or they are actually communications those accounts have with other users. I see almost no value to these e-mail round up messages.

Now, I’m a big fan of Twitter, so I’m a little confused by this move. Isn’t the point of this tool to have up-to-the-minute information? If I missed a week old “Top Tweet” what are the chances that information would be of value to me now? Does Twitter just want to send followers more e-mail?

Do you get these new messages from Twitter? Do you think the in-case-you-missed-it idea has value in the Twitter medium?

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A holiday for the workers…Labor Day –

Read the full post with comments here. Originally posted 8/27/12 at 2:15 pm.

Labor Day is next Monday, September 3.

I’ve often felt that Labor Day is kind of overshadowed by other seasonal events and holidays. Labor Day unofficially signifies…

I hope folks know that Labor Day is really a holiday for the American worker. Started in the 1880s by labor unions, the day slowly received recognition on local and state levels, and by 1894 was a federally recognized holiday to honor those who built America. Celebrations were to include “a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families.” (DoL)

You can read the history of Labor Day from the Department of Labor here.

What kind of Labor Day celebrations have you seen where you live? What do you think about a federal holiday to honor labor union workers?

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Pay your tax bills online! Yay! Oh…wait… –

Read the full post with comments here. Originally posted 8/15/12 at 2:00 pm.

Last weekend I received my personal property tax bill from my friendly county treasurer. (Argh. Car tax!) A day later I received an e-mail reminder about it, with a link to pay online at the Arlington Customer Assistance Payment Portal (CAPP) here

From the site:

Sign up now! With your own CAPP profile you can:

  • Receive email reminders for bills
  • Sign up for automatic bank payments
  • View your assessment and payment history
  • Provide us with a new mailing address or other info.
  • Pay and file business taxes, renew dog licenses, and more!

To sign up online you must have a valid email address and be an Arlington County taxpayer (owners of real estate, vehicles, businesses, or licensed dogs).

I signed in, brought up my bill, and paid it. Almost painless, aside from having the car tax in the first place. I’ve mentioned before that I’m glad I live in Arlington, and this is one of the reasons. Easy access to online services. Several months ago I asked about your last non-tax interaction with your local government. Well, now I’m asking about taxes!

Does your county or city offer online bill payments or other online services and if so, do you take advantage of them? If you’re not sure, take a few minutes to go to their web sites and share what you’ve learned in the comments below.

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What is the citizen’s responsibility? –

Read the full post with all comments here. Originally posted 7/26/12 at 10:39 am

I’m in Winchester, Kentucky now, visiting my friend Commissioner Rick Smith and his lovely wife Suzy. Rick has been an elected official in Clark County for more than twenty years. They are lifelong residents; Rick is a cattle farmer, Suzy is a former speech pathologist and they are involved in the community. We had a nice chat last night over dinner about citizen involvement and responsibilities.

Most people know, or think they know, what the elected official’s responsibilities are to the public. They serve the public good and provide services that will benefit the community in an honest and open manner. I asked Rick what he thought the citizen’s responsibilities to the public are in this context. Quite simply, he feels that it is everyone’s duty to vote. How sad that around 40% of eligible voters nationwide and 20% of eligible voters in Clark County come out to vote. Rick would like this to change. Voting determines leadership and future projects. With a population of approximately 34,000, decisions in Clark County are made by those individuals voters trust to act responsibly for the fiscal and social health of the county. More voices might make those in office nervous, but greater public involvement in the democratic process will lead to a better community.

What do you think? Do you agree with Commissioner Smith that an increase in voting will lead to overall improved citizen experiences? What is the public’s responsibility?

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