Kindles for council?
Should Rye City Council members each get a Kindle, the Amazon.com ebook reader, to keep-up with the flood of documentation that goes along the each issue they confront in a green, paperless fashion?
It was just last year that Rye City began to make the council's "Friday Packets" – the documentation that accompanies each city council agenda – available to the fair citizens of Rye via electronic PDF (MyRye.com always posts these for your reading pleasure). Before this great day, a motivated citizen had to visit the city clerk or find the single sad three-ring binder that sat on a table in the back of each council meeting.
Even though the citizens of Rye have gone digital, it turns out our fine city council members still receive their "Friday Packets" – a plethora of paper – dropped off by the Rye PD each Friday evening.
That's right. A pile of dead trees is copied and then driven by our men and women in blue to each council member's house. It turns out the city has not yet figured out how to scan the non-public documents (example: legal matters) that our council members must review and send it to each of them in PDF. If PDF is good enough for the people… Hmmm…
We see Mayor French as a new Communications Management group to help keep us all informed by using the "Internet, social media, e-mail, and other media".
The group might want to look at the Kindle debate happening in Cincinnati:
"Cincinnati taxpayers will buy Kindle e-readers for the mayor and city council members to read documents on – and to save more than $25,000 a year in unused paper.
A Kindle DX costs $489.The city will pay a one-time purchasing cost of $7,200 for the 10 units and accessories, plus an additional $120 a month fee. Now, the city spends more than $2,616 a month in copies of ordinances put in council members' packets for committee meetings and weekly council sessions, Clerk Melissa Autry said. That math means the city will save $25,632 a year in paper, she said…
There might be a learning curve – Councilman Charlie Winburn wasn't sure Monday what a Kindle is.
Later Monday, Winburn sent an e-mail to Mayor Mark Mallory and council members that said he wanted the administration to return any Kindle bought for him – “for its lack of future use.” He asked that the clerk “cease and desist” on the purchases.
“To be frank, I am speechless that we would make such expenditures that by most appearances seem reckless and irresponsible to the average taxpayer,” his statement said. “Although my opinion wasn’t consulted, my personal preference is to have a hard copy of all my documents. I would be surprised if I am alone in this.”…
PDFs of documents will be e-mailed to City Hall employees without Kindles. Some paper copies also still will be available in the clerk's office, Autry said, for people without computers."
Old habits die hard..