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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Daily journal, 08-31-11

Today was busy with meetings. Starting with former County Executive Doug Duncan, whom I always get great stories from about councils and issues past. We talked about the curfew legislation. My thinking at this stage is that there are some changes that are needed and we'll see how that shapes up. My aide Adam Pagnucco is also doing some research on how effective curfews are in reducing crime. Then, a discussion that I convened with Patrick Lacefield and Leslie Hamm of 311 and leaders from Senior Montgomery to discuss seniors transportation issues, and particularly how seniors can access information about what options are available to them, from bus service to free rides by volunteers. I was very happy with the discussion and the 311 folks valued the input. We are going to get back together to talk about how to make seniors more aware that they can access transportation by calling 311. Additionally, several meetings relating to the "OpenGov" issues I am developing (which of course 311 is a key piece), including Sean Carr and Jeanne Ellinport. One thing I am concluding is that while Montgomery County wins "e" awards in the county competitions, we are boxing below our weight, as the saying goes. We should be measuring ourselves against big cities --- Boston, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, DC. The cities provide a range of services closer to what we provide for our residents, and many of them are ahead of us in providing services, information, engagement, transparency with digital. We need to move towards a more citizen-centered digital strategy for the county.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Daily journal, 08-18-11

Are you in a farm share? For the past few years I have shared a
subscription to the Licking Creek Farm run by Esther Siegel and Mike
Tabor. From spring through late fall, we get a weekly pickup not far
from the house of organic produce from their farm in PA. It's been a
good experience although I will confess the extra trip for food is
sometimes a challenge.

In any event I was reading about a city council that organized a "CSA"
or farm share for council members and staff and I thought we should
try that! But maybe we could also persuade all county agencies to
host a CSA for their employees, from farms here in Montgomery County.
If folks could pick up the produce at their offices that would be a
big bonus. So I tossed the idea over to Steve Silverman and Jeremy
Criss at the Department of Economic Development and Bruce Adams in the
Office of Community Engagement. I was particularly inspired to make
the suggestion after reviewing an invitation to an event at The Red
Wiggler Farm, based in the Ag Reserve. These things all fit together.

We'll see where this goes...

And I would be remiss if I did not note that Karen Jackson Walker, my mother
in law, is working hard to promote CSAs from her position at USDA,
where the initiative is a big policy priority. All in the family!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Daily journal, 08-17-11

Today I continued working on my open government project. I am trying to figure out how to tackle our county's digital strategy. My plan is to do a general review of what we are doing and then make some specific recommendations for improvement, working closely with our excellent Department of Technology Services. I also met with a police officer to talk about morale in the force. We have made some tough decisions affecting our police officers this year and while I am fully confident in all of my votes, I am concerned the rank-and-file officers are not hearing that their county government stands behind them. People who put their lives on the line shouldn't have to wonder if they are valued by the county government or, by implication, the residents they serve so well.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Daily journal, 08-16-11

Today I continued research on open government and technology issues,
coming across some interesting advocacy from Phil Ting, an official in
SF, and an ambitious report produced by New York City about their
roadmap for digital (sorry no links in this post, hopefully in the
future). I asked our county tech group to come up with new ideas for
311 on our county website. For example, we could have a 311
livechat... A wiki tool for answers that are knowledge based and a
rating service for service responses by the county, all published
openly...

Especially in a time of fiscal crisis, we should focus on making more
efficient use of our existing services.