Many of the neighborhoods that use Front Porch Forum end up with some of their local officials on their online forum. Ten neighborhoods in Ward 5 of Burlington, Vermont, for example, have the following on board: 2 state reps., 2 city councilors, 2 school board members, and various city officials, such as a police lieutenant and a community development specialist.
Officials report to their constituents on hot topics. If they wander too far off the path and get into politics (vs. reporting on things), then they usually hear about it directly or through the neighborhood forums (so that lots of other citizens see the rejoinder too)… so they tread carefully. Taxpayers also toss questions to the officials through the forums… “I wonder if our city councilor can report on the status of the construction along Pine Street?”
Today The Local Onliner reported on an interesting development:
OhioElects performs targeted searches of state, local and national political Web sites as part of its broader political coverage. Hundreds of sites have been crawled and indexed in the site’s first go-round. The site itself hopes to serve as a portal for all types of contextual political advertising.
Further, I recently accepted an invitation to participate in a session at Harvard later this month focused on the internet’s role in local politics. The event is co-hosted by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society and the Sunlight Foundation. I don’t think it’s online anywhere yet.