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Introducing the iCouncil

Original post made on Aug 17, 2010

In hopes of saving a lot of paper, three City Council members will be ditching their inches-thick weekly reports for slim electronic readers next month in an experiment.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, August 17, 2010, 1:36 PM

Comments (20)

Posted by GSB
a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 17, 2010 at 2:09 pm

I think this is a great idea. How can we live in Silicon Valley and not utilize this type of technology.

Posted by BZ
a resident of The Crossings
on Aug 17, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Don't they already have a computer that can read all the reports? There are lots of software out there, like Adobe Acrobat and etc., that can highlight and write notes. I believe that to use iPad is just a fancy and clueless way to waste taxpayer money.

Posted by Brent C
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 17, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Yes, PDF files have been readable on desktop computers and laptops
for years, so the iPad isn't really a requirement. On the other hand,
an iPad is much cheaper than a typical laptop, much easier to carry
around, and can be used in bed even after lights out without annoying
your spouse :-)

Posted by Alex M.
a resident of Willowgate
on Aug 17, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Interesting idea. The only problem I see is the issue of city property versus personal property. As I know from experience with PDAs, a device like an iPad tends to get extremely personalized, eventually containing all your important contact information, calendar, etc., making it really hard to give up the device. On the balance, however, I guess letting former councilmembers keep $600 iPads is cheaper than the other perks they get, and certainly cheaper than spending the money on copying paper.

Posted by Doug Pearson
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 17, 2010 at 5:33 pm

I think Council Members should use the "technology allowance" to buy themselves an iPad, computer or whatever to be their e-reader, but I certainly like the idea of making those documents available electronically. And, yes, I think it would be nice of each Council Member could mark up his/her own copy as desired.

I don't see the sense of giving Council Members iPads in addition to the technology allowance.

As for the public copies made available at the library, If I'm right and those documents are not loaned out but must be read in the library, the library has computers available to anyone with which to read them.

Posted by Ted
a resident of Whisman Station
on Aug 17, 2010 at 8:52 pm

"But it may be possible soon to download the entire weekly report packet in one click."

Hooray! The current method of going to each report and then downloading 75 pages at a time is tedious.

Posted by Michael
a resident of Rex Manor
on Aug 18, 2010 at 9:27 am

"But it may be possible soon to download the entire weekly report packet in one click."

Would be nice...

Posted by need_for_change
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 18, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Copying costs at $0.25 per page, yikes.
What are they doing at City Hall?
Any reasonable effort could have reduced that enormously.
Going forward the use of an Ipad (or laptop, etc) to reduce paper waste
and cost to the tax payers makes sense.

> "Its fine for me but not everyone may like it," Abe-Koga said of using the iPad.
> "Maybe people won't like the fact they can't scribble on the page."

This remark by a member of city council in Silicon Valley shows the need to
have Tech-savvy people elected to the council. There are various free software
packages that enable .pdf documents to be annotated: preview comes standard with
Macs. Also SKIM is nice for Macs. I am glad to see that two candidates for
city council are from Google. It is time for a change ... sweep out the
3 current council members trying for another term & vote in the 3 others.
I am happy to help campaign for you. Please call 650-964-1900 to establish contact.

Posted by Tony
a resident of Castro City
on Aug 18, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Read the whole story bere you post:

"If the idea gains support, council members already have funds buy their own iPads. Each member is given $3,600 every four-year term to buy electronic equipment, such as a cell phone, computer or fax machine, to use for council business.

Members receive another $500 a year for "management development," which could also go towards the purchase of an iPad, Kong said. "

This isn't taxpayer money, it is part of their income, so the city will not be buying the council members iPads, the city is not giving out iPads in addition to their funding. The council members have to use their own funding to purchase these devices. I think this is veyr responsible of the council members to use their funds for this type of purchase.

Posted by jupiterk
a resident of Waverly Park
on Aug 18, 2010 at 4:11 pm

We could save lot more money by not having these crooks running our city. WHy don't we elect people who really want to serve the community instead of all these overpaid crooks who use their memebership to advance their careers and retire with a big pension and then use the connections to work for big silicon valley company with a high paying job. These guys are stealing tax payer money in a big way.

Posted by Tony
a resident of Castro City
on Aug 18, 2010 at 5:06 pm

This isn't southern california. Villifying all government workers is as stupid as racial profiling. I mean, if one member of a race is bad, they must all be bad.

It's easy to jump on the uneducated band wagon and blame all government workers for the missteps of a few. MV has so many good things going for it that residents from other cities come here to take advantage of them. This is a wonderful city, due in part to the people running it.

Or are you out fixing the sewers, planting flowers, keeping the roads clean, keeping the criminals behind bars, responding to emergencies, keeping our parks and recreation programs going, offering free services in our library and senior centers, improving schools, offering performing arts, offering teen programs, securing big events like happen at Shoreline, balancing the budget, cutting costs, and everything else we want our city government to do.

We all want these services but want to bite the hands that are working to get them to us.

Socialism never works. Educate yourself and stop listening to the talking heads who only want to push their agendas.

Posted by GSB
a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 18, 2010 at 9:56 pm


I would hardly call $500/mth "overpaid".

Posted by "Just Think About It"
a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 19, 2010 at 12:40 pm

I agree with BZ and Brent C.'s comments. This is another example of city government wasting time and money. The forest is on fire and they are worried about a $1.50 ream of paper. The boat is sinking folks and no one on the city council seems to care. Why aren't they having city wide discussions with residents regarding How, When and What they are doing to prevent the looming finical disaster that's coming........"Just Think About It"........There are cities that have out sourced fire and police services, Why not outsource the city government?.....It would be at a fixed cost and no retirement benefits to deal with in future years............"Just Think About It"........

Posted by "Just Think About It"
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 19, 2010 at 1:05 pm

In addition to being a resident I work for a small company in Mountain View. When I read the posting by "need_for_change" and saw the city was paying .25 cents per page for coping I almost fell out of my chair. Unless these are very large or colored copies we should fire the administrator who negotiated this contract. Like I said I work for a "SMALL" company. We currently have a contract with "Rabbit". Our cost for a 8 1/2" X 11" black and white copy is about .05 each. Sometimes I wonder if the city thinks about competitive pricing. If someone from the city council reads this posting I would suggest they talk to someone in sales at Rabbit Office Automation ("Just Think About It"............

Posted by "Just Think About It"
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 19, 2010 at 1:14 pm


Where do you think the money the city council and workers comes from?
Maybe it comes from the proceeds from the Farmers Market. Get a clue......"Just Think About It"..............

Posted by Cuesta Parent
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 19, 2010 at 2:47 pm

I would love this if it is easy to use. The current site for accessing City Council documents is so slow and awkward it is almost unusable.

Posted by Christine Bush
a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2010 at 6:06 pm

I think the Laserfiche system the City uses (of which I am NOT a fan) does allow you to export to PDF, but not in an efficient way. Hopefully the "iCouncil" will discover this fabulous 1990s era software for comments and markup regardless of what device they opt to use. (If you wan to save $$$: buy a netbook from Costco, folks.)

I suppose it is a bit much to ask the local reporter who covered this breaking news to be aware of industry standards in document collaboration? *Heaven forbid* the "iCouncil" discovers our locally grown Google Docs platform...

Posted by "Just Think About It"
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 19, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Most copy machines will allow you to scan a multi page document into a pdf. file format using an automatic document feeder. These pages/file can the be mass mailed as required. in a real crunch you could call up this file and even read on your city provided PDA. If we are wasting time and money for items like this I sure would like to what they pay for professional printing service....................."Just Think About It".....................

Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 20, 2010 at 10:08 am

This isn't taxpayer money, it is part of their income, so the city will not be buying the council members iPads, .....responsible of the council members to use their funds for this type of purchase.

Of course these funds come from taxpayer money. Where else?

Posted by "Just Think About It"
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Aug 21, 2010 at 8:43 am

If this is such a great cost saving idea I wonder why it hasn't been adopted by outside industry. Unlike the city government they do not have such deep pockets. With exception to Apple I don't know of any private company (that actually has to answer to its board/stock holders) that's providing iPads to its management. Sure they might be nice to have items but I would bet that everyone in our city government "With A Need" already has a city provided/paid for laptop. Soon all will want Apple laptops because they are supposed to be easier to use. Now we have software compatibility issues so we have to purchase new software. Next we will be informed regarding a pilot program providing electric cars to key members in city government because green is good. Now we need charging stations...Can you see where this is going?

It's true these small dollar items is not going to bankrupt the city but all these expenses add up and fall into a category of "wants" and "not needs" to perform their assigned tasks. When economic times are good I can see a proposed cost savings processes being implemented but lets perform an R.O.I. (Return On Investment) to verify cost savings. Just because council members are given $ for electronic devices must they spend it? I would also guess to say that the city provides a uniform allowance to our first responders. No one has brought this point up. Make over a 100K a year. Work the system so I can retire with 80%+ of my salary with free medical for life. Isn't Life Good?

Isn't the benefits we/the city are already giving/providing adequate? When is it time to say "Enough Is Enough"? The ship is sinking add the cracks in the hull are getting bigger and we are thinking about iPads. The next time you go by one of our elementary schools look at the size of the backpacks our kids are wearing. Maybe they need iPads as well.
...................."Just Think About It".....................

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