18 June 2015

Mesa Launches MuniciPAL > What About People with No Web Access?

Your blogger is passing this along:
Press Release: Mesa launches MuniciPal
Post Date: 06/18/2015 9:11 AM
Readers please note that work was this done during the tenure of former mayor Scott Smith in 2014
Residents who want to participate in City Council meetings but don’t have time to attend in person or are curious about items being discussed that affect their home or business, now have a new way to learn more and provide feedback.
The City of Mesa is excited to announce MuniciPAL, a web-based application that makes it easier than ever for residents to engage with the City about items on City Council meeting agendas.  Residents simply input an address to view upcoming agenda items that affect both the area around that address as well as citywide issues.  Using the built in commenting system, users are able to ask questions or provide immediate feedback on each item.

"Cities are the new centers of innovation and Mesa is a leader in developing programs that engage our community through the use of technology.
We are excited to take this next step and partner with Code for America and Arizona State University to develop ideas and applications that better serve our residents."
- Former Mayor Scott Smith, City of Mesa 2014
During the tenure of Scott Smith in 2014 noted in above quotation, Mesa was selected as one of ten governments to participate in the Code for America Fellowship. The program pairs innovative local governments with teams of civic-minded technologists for a year of service; together the governments and fellows build applications, engage the community, and collaborate with other local governments. MuniciPAL is the culmination of Mesa’s Code for America Fellowship 2014 year - one of former mayor Scott Smith's initiatives, like H.E.A.T. started during his administration that are now producing results and benefits for both the public and private sectors - an example of planning ahead - not arriving in office with no ideas and calling your time in office "Next Mesa", with nothing specific.

Re: What about people with no web access? . . . or The Digital Divide?
Your MesaZona blogger would like to hear from any organization working to reduce or eliminate the Digital Divide

So who were these "teams of civic-minded technologists?  [see addendum below]
Code for America embeds tech and design professionals in local governments to explore new approaches to resolving local challenges.

Code for America is a non-partisan, non-political 501 organization founded in 2009 to address the widening gap between the public and private sectors in their effective use of technology and design.
Link > Code For America Project 

Yes,admittedly and let's face it folks, in the usual bureaucratic double-speak, there are so-called "challenges" and "widening gaps between the public, elected officials and the private sector" but they are not necessarily connected to the effective use of technology and design . . . it might be a better idea to examine why the public has lost confidence in participating in the process of democracy and why so few members of the public have become involved or active in issues here in Mesa. 
Has the public given up on demanding transparency and accountability?
Or does the public to prefer to take action in the old-fashioned way: meeting people face-to-face and talking.  
Does any member of the city council have an "Open Door" policy to welcome the public?

Visit the new application online at municipal.mesaaz.gov
For more information contact Ian Linssen, The Mayor's Chief of Staff, at
 480-644-3002 or

Here are the bios, supplied by CfA, for the tech/design professionals who were embedded in local government here in Mesa: every one on them uses the self-described words "hacking", "hackathons" or "hacker" in their bios . . . ["embedded" in local government?]

So, What's a Hacker?  ZDnet says:
"It is better to be described as a hacker by others than to describe oneself that way. Hackers consider themselves something of an elite (a meritocracy based on ability), though one to which new members are gladly welcome. There is thus a certain ego satisfaction to be had in identifying yourself as a hacker (but if you claim to be one and are not, you'll quickly be labeled bogus).

Tom Buckley is a researcher and developer focused on urban informatics. He worked in urban planning before hacking on data and doing research at Geocommons. Since then, Tom consulted for the World Bank, directed research at Casey Trees, taught a graduate class at The New School, and studied Geoinformatics.

Wendy Fong is a designer and educator. Recently, she was in Haiti working on a women's crisis call center platform. She's passionate about providing design solutions for non-profits and has collaborated with family services agencies, solar projects in rural Africa, and inner city youth programs. In her spare time she can be found at at civic hackathons, designing for good not evil.

Peter Welte is a hacker and organizer from Portland, dedicated to advancing environmental and community causes through the use of technology. Committing time to political causes, nonprofits, and advocacy campaigns, he specializes in front-end design and back-end development using Drupal. When not working, he enjoys he enjoys cross country bicycle touring.

Here's some information from The Open Knowledge Foundation about Mesa that you can find with this link> http://us-city.census.okfn.org/place/mesa


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