City Councilors Want to be Your Friend
Or at least some of them do.
Last night, councilors sent to committee a proposal by freshman Councilor Justin Hurst to start up a City Council Facebook page. Hurst had suggested the page as a way for councilors to connect with their constituents.
What initially might have seemed like a controversy-free suggestion, however, sparked some debate, leading to the vote to send it to committee for further review. Much of the morning-after buzz (and, let’s call it what it is: snickering) focuses on questions posed by Clodo Concepcion, the councilor from Ward 5 and the oldest member of the body, about what a Facebook page would cost the city. Facebook, as users know, is free—not counting the small piece of your soul you sell to Mark Zuckerberg every time to click on an attack-cat video clip.
But let’s give Concepcion the benefit of the doubt; perhaps he was concerned about who would handle the work of maintaining the page and whether it would add the staffing costs in the Council office. (Heck, let’s go even further and consider that perhaps Concepcion’s hesitancy stems from a recognition that the youngsters these days view Facebook as Momsville, and that younger voters would be better reached by some hipper social media platform that we squares don’t even know about yet.)
Concepcion wasn’t the only councilor with questions; Ward 6’s Ken Shea suggested the Council ought to check in with state ethics officials to make sure that conversations among councilors on the page wouldn’t amount to a violation of Open Meeting laws—a very valid concern, in this age of cyber communications.
I, for one, hope that the proposal doesn’t die in committee. Assuming it’s done correctly, a Facebook page would be a useful way for residents to keep track of what the Council is up to. Lots of elected officials and candidates already use the tool; heck, even the office of Mayor Domenic Sarno—who, while indisputably dapper, is hardly a hipster—has started a Facebook page and uses it to pretty good effect, sharing press releases, announcements and photos.