October 25, 2014

Council debates social media merits

Danedri Thompson
dthompson@gardnernews.com

City staff will likely create a city of Gardner fan page on Facebook. City council members debated the merits of using social media to inform citizens during a work session on Nov. 8.

Assistant City Administrator Melissa Mundt said staff has been gathering information about using social media as an additional form of communication since 2008, but recent layoffs have stymied the research.

The city currently uses a variety of methods to communicate with residents including the city’s newsletter, Utility news mailed with bills, a website, and through constant contact email blasts.

The newsletter, Inside Gardner, is the city’s most widely-used tool, Mundt said.

“The newsletter is very important,” Mundt said. “It’s a real value to the residents. They like having something to sit down and read.”

The newsletter is mailed to everyone in the 66030 zip code six times each year, and according to the city survey, 71 percent of residents get city information from the newsletter.

She said the website, www.gardnerkansas.gov, averages about 9,000 unique hits per month and 1,500 hits each day.

However, the addition of a social media outlet could allow two-way communication. She said users can comment and get responses from city staff via the Facebook page.

Quick response, monitoring a Facebook page and training staff to use the social media would require additional staff time, Mundt said.

“To develop unique information is a problem. That’s not something we have the staffing to do,” Mundt said.

That’s one reason council hasn’t been asked to approve a Facebook page to date.

She said the parks department would likely benefit greatest with a Facebook page. They could announce game cancellations quickly with one.

Mayor Dave Drovetta said given the staff time required, he didn’t think there was a way to do it at this time. However, city council member Kristina Harrison said the city of Edgerton has a blog and uses Twitter with far fewer staff.

“Edgerton’s doing it,” she said.

Drovetta responded that Edgerton staff once also sent an erroneous email about BNSF to everyone on its contact list and then followed that email blast with a personal apology to BNSF staff that it sent to everyone on its contact list.

Drovetta and other council members also worried a chat function could lead to questionable content on the city’s Facebook page.

“If we do it, we can’t allow chat,” Drovetta said. “…My concern is if we do this we’re going to create greater dissatisfaction because we weren’t responding.

We have certain individuals who monopolize staff time… It’s a time thing.”
City Administrator Stewart Fairburn said the page could be a one-way communication tool without a chat function.

However, Mundt said that’s not the preferred way to handle a city Facebook page. Without the chat function, it simply mirrors the city website.

“The Facebook thing – that’s an opportunity to interact,” Mundt said.

Patron Chris Morrow told council members Facebook is a good way to open the city up to people who might not otherwise pay attention, and council member Harrison agreed.

“This is just another way,” she said. “It’s a tool that doesn’t cost anything.”

Council members directed city staff to bring a proposal to council for consideration that would include a Facebook fan page without a chat function. Mundt warned that a Facebook page without two-way interaction would be weak.

“We want to do the best we can, but we have restraints,” council member Steve Hale said. “Our resources are limited and we have to be careful about staff time.”

Drovetta cautioned council members not to engage constituents on Facebook. He said they could potentially violate sunshine laws if a quorum of council members comment on the same issue.

Although the courts have yet to rule on Sunshine Laws and social media, “we don’t want to be the test case,” he said.

In other business, council members:

• discussed a new proposal to change city truck routes. Council originally discussed potential truck routes during a Sept. 15 meeting, but tabled the proposed routes due to school district concerns about using Waverly Road as a truck route. Council will address a new truck route proposal on Nov. 15. The proposal designates Center Street south of Gardner Road, 167th Street between Moonlight and Center Streets, Main Street, Moonlight Road north of Main, Old Highway 56, and 175th Street between Interstate 35 and the east city limits as truck routes.

• discussed proposed revisions for tighter restrictions on parking on residential streets.

Comments

  1. Maybe someone who already has a facebook page on council such as Kristina Harrison could volunteer posting to the facebook fan page which would not allow wall post just updates.. you can post to one and allow it to hit all media such as twitter, facebook, blogs etc via internet, cell … Look forward to it : )

  2. Do the citizens not realize that Drovetta, Hale, City Staff and others really are not interested in having an open forum with the people??? They always just want a controlled message being put out there along with stonewalling involving exorbinant fees for information like USD 231 School Dist. recently did, giving out half or less of the full information on issues, actually not giving information to citizens that they have even when they are asked about it or tell you that you have to wait 1, 2 weeks or more which is in violation of the Open Records law, not checking or having someone with financial experience fully analyze benefit analysis reports in order to protect the people, etc., etc. The City Hall bunch run things as they please and you are kept around as a financing tool – that is my opinion.

    These people are not going to give you the open and transparent government you are looking for – they are not working for you. The people need to get these so-called representatives and employees out of office and employment – that is my opinion based on my experience for the past 5+ years. I truly wish I could support them but I cannot based on their words, actions and voting record – they need to be held accountable but only the people can do that. Do the citizens have the spine to do that?

  3. Here is another example of how your City Hall gang are so afraid of open communication. On at least two occasions I have asked that citizens be able to ask questions or make comments prior to new business items being voted on by the Council. I believe this is very much needed in addition to the open comment section of a Council meeting since after a new business item is fully discussed by staff and the Council then the people should have the full opportunity to discuss that particular new business issue right then and there. The Jo. Co. Commissioners afford this privilege and right to Jo. Co. Citizens on their items up for discussion and I have always felt this is the way it should be at Gardner City Council meetings – the people should always have the last opportunity to ask questions and make comments before that vote is conducted – it is their government.

    Why does this Council, Mayor and Staff not want this type of open government for their citizens? Probably for the same reason they don’t want open discussion on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail or wherever – the picture should be very clear for you. You should be asking yourself that question and many others in my opinion.

    Kristy Harrison promised me that she would place my request for videotaping of all city meetings be done and placed on the city’s website at the work session held last Monday. I have an e-mail to her right now to see what happened to that request since from this article it appeaers this request was not discussed. This videotaping would make all city meetings available to all citizens at a time when it was convenient for them to watch the meetings and be informed. This truly opens up your city government to ALL CITIZENS, even those without a computer because they could go to their library and use one of their computers at a time convenient for them. These videotaped meetings also need to be archived so citizens may refer back to them when they want and need to. This request probably also scares the City Hall Gang to death and I am sure they will say we cannot afford to do it – as I told the County Commissioners several years ago, I am very much willing to pay for this communication method. They had to be pushed to the table on this issue but they finally did it and now I know they crow about this open communication to citizens. You have to love or hate the lovely politicans………….

  4. Facebook pages are very customizable. You can set them up to where comments won’t post unless they are approved. An email will be sent to someone in the city, that person will approve the message and it will post. Not that big of a deal. The chat option is for personal pages and not really relevant for company or city pages. I would welcome a facebook page for the city.

    Here’s the city of Olathe’s http://www.facebook.com/CityofOlatheKS

    A little extra free communication with the residents of Gardner may even save a time and money.

  5. I’m totally pulling a Judith by commenting on my comments, but I think we need to remember that the average age of an adult in Gardner is 33. It seems younger people use social media a lot more and since that makes up a majority of the residents of Gardner I think it wise to look hard at the option. Basically make it work.

  6. Ryan, you are not answering the question I put out there. What is the real reason the city is avoiding the use of Facebook or any means of communication that would make the city government more transparent and open? I have given you several instances or examples of simple requests to improve the communication but you don’t see the City Hall bunch doing anything to accomodate such simple requests – again ask yourself why????? Who owns city government? Whose city is it? Who works for who? I know what type of government I get from an appointed council, a city staff that works for the mayor, council and special interests only and a mayor that totally doesn’t work for the people but for the special interests and other worthless politicians – that is my opinion. All you have to do is look at the words, actions and voting records of the City Hall Gang and you have your answers to these questions.

  7. Olathe’s fan page has 166 fans. Is that really worth the time? We’re paying many of the peopel at city hall six figures, and they are already overworked. If they set up a page that’s fine. If they ask for raises and to go to facebook training, thats not okay.

  8. I hope all citizes do not just think of their age group but take into consideration the wants and needs of everyone. It is called consensus building or having respect for all entities within a community. That has been one of my biggest complaints of the City Hall Gang – they are not governing for all. Far from a partnership or working for goals that will improve the community for all citizens.

  9. Pixie, you bring out a good point. 166 Fans for a city with a population of at least 125,000. Once again the 166 seem to be a special interest rather than the whole community being involved or even a bigger number of the community. I still will go for the opportunity of citizens to have the last word before the council votes on new business items and videotaping city meetings so citizens may view the meetings at their convenience and for reference. It doesn’t look like we will get any of the requests – the City Hall Gang does not govern for the people as shown by their words, action and voting records.

  10. Chris Morrow says:

    @Pixie
    here are a couple of examples of nearby cities with robust FB fan pages … Lawrence has nearly 2000 fans and allows comments, Lenexa has 1151 and does not allow comments.

    City of Lawrence FB page: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/CityOfLawrence
    City of Lenexa FB Page: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/cityoflenexa

    Anyone who posts to the City can easily post to FB in a couple of moments with just a few mouse clicks, it is not a job it is simple and free communication.

  11. Dave Drovetta says:

    Pixie,

    Just a clarification no one on the Gardner City payroll is paid 6 figures. There is only one position that could possibly make $100,000 and tha is City Administrator.

  12. Come on Dave we all know you’re pulling down 6 figures under the table from BNSF and TAG. Wink wink.

    And as far as getting people to follow a Gardner City Facebook page. If Smoke’n Babes BBQ can get 1,500 + followers the City should be able to get a couple of hundred people following them, if not more.

    (By the way, we love Smoke’n Babes BBQ)

  13. I just keep hoping Fairburn gets another job somewhere else and takes quite a few of the City Hall Gang with him. I keep hoping Drovetta moves to Baldwin to set up another kingdom for biz and the developers there. Hope – at this point that is about all I have but my expectations are little, if any, because it would probably be my luck to get the same or entities even worse because 61% or more of the people in Gardner are not even voting. Apathy gives you LOUSY GOVERNMENT.

  14. Well Judith there were A LOT of people who had “HOPE!” this last election and look where it has got us. Wouldn’t this be so much more fun on Facebook?

  15. Ryan, you and your lowlife cronies are just getting ready for the next election in my opinion with this Facebook thing. Your words and actions have shown me what you stand for and it certainly is not to my liking and never will be.

    Drovetta is against the Facebook thing because he knows what happened with Dillner in Edgerton could be happening here in Gardner so easily by a slip of the finger. He knows about the e-mails being sent to and from developers and biz right in his City Hall and he sure doesn’t want that truth ever put out there – that is my opinion.

    P.S. Obama still gives me hope and I know who is out to destroy him just like you went about with your lies and hate here in Gardner – that is my opinion.

  16. Charlotte K says:

    Maybe city administration is against twittering because they don’t want us to know how they’re spending our tax money. Just imagine: twitters from coffee breaks, lobbying trips to Topeka, all the many “make work” tasks that keep our well-paid adminstrative employees occupied and help build resumes. And what if several twitters show up at the same place at the same time? I’m all a-twitter just thinking of the possibility. Of course, it’ll probably take them several more years to research the option, and several additional employees. Maybe a social media coordinator with an administrative assistant. And if adminstrative people don’t pull down six figures, I wonder what the median income is? Are salaries posted online like Johnson County? I believe there is a tab that lists employees and salaries paid.

  17. For citizen who perhaps aren’t aware of Dillner’s goof in January, 2010, here is the e-mail he was sending to Skippy Kalb with BNSF but instead he put it on the city’s blog. If there was ever a doubt in your mind who these cities, their personnel, the Mayors and Councils are working for then I would think this would erase all doubts from your mind. Note that Dillner doesn’t ask for approval from his Council or the citizens of Edgerton – he is asking for approval from the company that is going to own that city and its citizens from here on out – that is my opinion. Also keep in mind Berkshire Hathaway was not going along with Buffet purchasing BNSF and if my memory serves me correctly there was a lawsuit involved on that issue. If citizens think their taxpayer funds for city administration are for their best interests or if you think these jerks work for you, then you might want to reconsider that thought process – that is my opinion.

    *********************************************************************************

    From: David Dillner
    Date: January 22, 2010 7:15:47 PM CST
    To: info@edgertonks.org
    Subject: [Edgerton Insights] News Release – KC Business Journal Article Correction

    Skip,

    I was going to post the following on the City’s blog, but first wanted to get your approval. Believe me when I say I did not mean to create the confusion. I have emailed Rob Roberts and left a message on his office phone, but I don’t have his cell phone number so I don’t know when he’ll get the message. Please let me know what I can do.

    Thanks.

    David

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    City of Edgerton, Kansas
    Jan 22, 2010 6:55 PM

    The recent article “Edgerton dodges restrictions, plans to annex intermodal land within two weeks” in the Kansas City Business Journal contains inaccurate information that needs to be corrected.

    The Project Agreements concerning the BNSF Intermodal Facility, which will soon be located in Edgerton, are being processed for execution by BNSF. The proposed merger between BNSF and Berkshire Hathaway has nothing to do with the review of the existing agreements. BNSF expects to have the agreements with Edgerton and the Allen Group executed within the next one to two weeks.

    Berkshire Hathaway is not reviewing the agreements. Further, Berkshire Hathaway will not have any say as to their execution. The execution of the Project Agreements have nothing to do with the proposed Berkshire Hathaway and BNSF merger.

    The Edgerton City Council approved the Projects Agreements between BNSF and the Allen Group at their September 10, 2009 meeting. The agreements are in the process of being executed by all three parties.
    Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


    Posted By David Dillner to Edgerton Insights at 1/22/2010 07:20:00 PM

  18. Rhonda Humble says:

    Dave thanks for commenting on The Gardner News website. I checked the published salary ordinance (“2351, Sept. 2010) which lists city employee salaries, although not by names. The top range of salary for city administrator is $9,170 per month, public works and public safety directors $7,920, and assistant city administrator/community development director is $7,540. I believe this excludes benefits.

  19. @Chris
    Lawrence has a population of 92,048 and 2000 fans. Lenexa has a population of 40,238 and 1151 fans. Their FB is reaching less than 3%.

  20. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    You don’t have to be a “fan” or click the “Like” button to read their webpages. I would suggest thousands of others are also viewers without being linked. I have lots of FB sites bookmarked to look at when I choose without being a “friend.” Sometimes a person just likes to be a casual lurker.

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