Got an email from Eureka City Councilmember Jeff Leonard the other day announcing his participation in Open Humboldt Government that Jeff describes as “a new on-line forum designed to increase dialog between local elected officials and the community.” Jeff and a few other local officials are currently participating in this web site which allows office holders to pose issues and allow constituents to voice their opinions on each issue. Currently there are 2 Eureka City Council members, 3 Arcata council members and 2 from Trinidad. No one from Fortuna or County Supervisors are online as yet.
The service is being provided by a company called Peak Democracy. Heraldo over at the Humboldt Herald says they are based in Humboldt, but the whois record for eakdemocracy.com says the domain is owned by VoterHub, LLC based in Berkeley. So, not sure where he got that information.
According to the site, there is not cost to taxpayers for this service. Though participating elected officials pay $10 per month to cover the expenses of running the site. I assume Peak Democracy expects to have lots of officials from all over the country participating in order to make this pay.
It’s a simple concept and could be a valuable tool in gauging public opinion and forming policy. Certainly more efficient that sitting through hours worth of 3 minute rants at meetings.
One disadvantage to it is it allows any given group the opportunity to mass their forces and get the most input into the comments for, or against the issue. That seems the case, last I looked, with the mandatory garbage pick up issue in Eureka.
Then again, the same can be done with attending city council meetings, as well.
The comments differ from a blog in that there’s no thread. Also, the potentially disputatious responses are mitigated by the separation of opinions into “agree with” and “disagree with” camps.
The advantage to this is that the comments are in response to the proposal, not to the other comments.
Thanks for clearing that up Robert. I hope it turns in to a valuable and useful tool used by many people.
I like the interface, and it seems like as good a way as any to connect with constituents.
Hi Bob –
I’m Robert Vogel, co-founder of Peak Democracy and webmaster for OpenHumboldtGovernment.com.
I am hoping that Humboldt County residents will find Open Humboldt Gov a convenient way to participate in civic discussion.
Indeed Peak Democracy is now based in Humboldt County – I recently moved up to Trinidad from the Bay Area, and haven’t yet updated all the records – hence the Berkeley address. I’ll clean that up; thanks for noticing that.
We’ll be inviting Fortuna and other councilmembers and County Supervisors shortly – hopefully most elected officials will participate shortly.