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May 25, 2006

New ways in Davenport

When the Davenport City Council votes, Ald.-at-large Ian Frink and the 2nd Ward's Shawn Hamerlinck often take different sides.

Their differences are less the subject here, though, than their similarities. Both are young, rookies on the council, possessed of the blend of civic duty and ambition required to enter the political arena, and both Q-C pioneers in using the tools of the age to better do their jobs.

Hamerlinck's Second Ward Discussion and Frink's Ian Frink, Ald. at Large are opening new lines of communication with the people the aldermen represent, easy to use lines, too, for the ever-larger number of people who spend time on the web.

"Second Ward Discussion" has been around for nearly a year, first as a campaign tool and now as a ward forum. Pretty pedestrian -- and useful -- stuff. Graffitti reports, parking complaints, weed whines, sewer-backing-up-into-basement gripes and such. Hamerlinck reports on doings down at city hall, and floats ideas. (Anybody for a lifetime property-tax freeze for retirees 65 and up?)

There's reaction. Bunch of parking tickets got issued down on Hillandale. The foot-high grass on the island on Kimberly got mowed. City administrator Craig Malin has promised there'll a "report graffiti" link on the city's new website-in-the-making.

Frink's blog is new. He reports in the top post that he's in Kansas City for the Neighborhoods USA Conference, and promises a report when he gets home.

Be interesting to see the direction "Ald.-at-Large Ian Frink" takes as time passes.

What the aldermen are accomplishing was accomplished by whatever communication tool was available by good alderpeople in all times and places, but the aldermanic blogs lets everyone in on the discussion(s) in an unprecedentedly public way. That's a good thing, for the residents of a city and for their alderpeople.

In becoming bloggers, Frink and Hamerlinck join several other Davenporters -- of no official standing -- who have broadened the civic discussion in general. In total, they form a useful adjunct to traditional media. If I'm getting caught up, especially on political things, I'm as likely to cruise the blogs as the newspapers and/or their websites. (Latest posts from Quad-Citians who are blogging are displayed at qconline.com/qcbloggers.)

Speaking of getting caught up ... I gotta find time to find out a little more about all those guys running for Congress in the lst District. I'll start with Iowa's First where Scoop Iowa keeps a lively discussion going and where I'll find links to all the candidate websites.

Anyway, I digress. Hamerlinck and Frink get gold stars for using the new tools. Hope they're just the beginning.

Posted by jcb at May 25, 2006 03:30 PM