Flagler Seaside Rejects Realtor’s Outlandish Supply to Run Metropolis Data Web site That Solely He Would Personal

More and more involved by a perceived or amorphous failure of communication between the town and residents, the Flagler Seaside Metropolis Fee on Thursday evening entertained the potential of contracting with an area realtor in a “private-public” partnership that may had enabled the realtor to run what quantities to the town’s PR operation on a publicly accessible however privately owned web site.

Commissioners have been equally involved by the proposal, submitted by John Horan of Palm Wave Realty, particularly because it grew to become clear that no such proposal was opened to different corporations or people doubtlessly involved in offering an analogous service, and similar to price, possession and transparency. points grew to become points.

Commissioners in the end determined to reject that method and focus as an alternative on two different avenues: a brand new app the town is launching Monday, a brand new Flagler Seaside metropolis authorities Fb web page that shall be created on the approaching weeks or months and efforts to create the town’s web site, a comparatively gentle and user-friendly data portal, simpler and friendlier to make use of.

The choice to create a brand new Fb web page was unusual: the town already has an especially in style and well-run Flagler Seaside Police Division Fb web page, which has 13,000 followers (in comparison with Palm Coast’s 24,000, though Palm Coast has 20 occasions the inhabitants of Flagler Seaside), and is up to date half a dozen occasions a day with bulletins, ideas, assembly reminders and different articles concerning the metropolis.

The fee additionally thought-about hiring Cindy Dalecki’s Advertising and marketing 2 Go, a number one social media, advertising and PR company, to coordinate and channel its message to the general public, however the $24,000-a-year price determined commissioners in opposition to that method.

Commissioners proceed to have combined opinions about issuing a publication, with most of them considering residents will not learn it. Metropolis Supervisor William Whitson has issued one thing of an digital publication, sending “information” of data to Flagler Robust, the native nonprofit that serves as a volunteer adjunct to the town’s civic efforts, nevertheless it has had restricted publicity.

All of this factors to a fee and an administration nonetheless grappling with a Babel of approaches, none of them coherent, complete or compelling sufficient to counsel that the town’s communications points are able to be solved. That is assuming there it is a communication downside: Commissioner Jane Mealy, for one, does not see it, and neither has the remainder of the fee outlined the character of the issue with greater than anecdotal examples drawn from residents’ complaints throughout public remark durations.

Commissioners have criticized Whitson’s solely evaluation thus far of poor communication. However that is one other matter: it needed to do with communications between Whitson and the fee particularly, like when the commissioners ask for this or that piece of data, or need to know one thing earlier than revealing it to the press. Whitson has been working to enhance that facet of his operation, with some success.

At occasions, the commissioners mentioned the 2 spheres—the communications of the Whitson fee, versus the communications of the townspeople—as in the event that they have been one and the identical. However general, the prolonged dialogue that took up most of a three-hour workshop on the subject Thursday evening was about residents’ wants.

“Communication has improved within the three years I have been right here. It is not the place it must be, nevertheless it’s getting higher,” mentioned Commissioner Deborah Phillips. She wished to “see the place we’re and the place we need to be sooner or later.”

Whitson drew up a listing of initiatives. He talked about a pair of city halls the town was ready on for hurricane restoration (to not point out that the primary drew extra criticism for being extra window dressing than substance) and the app the town was making ready to make out there to the general public. He mentioned Vern Shanks’ native radio station would welcome doing podcasts and interviews with metropolis officers, although if such applications on WNZF, that includes county officers, are any indication, they are not precisely gold rankings. (Shanks produces the town’s First Fridays.)

Horan’s proposal is not lifeless but: As commissioners see it, they need to attempt their home choices first and see the way it goes. Horan mentioned he purchased flaglerbeach.information and has been engaged on it for months. He was involved in growing it “in reference to my enterprise” and with the enterprise of the town. Horan describes the positioning as a “public-private partnership.” (The location just isn’t lively.)

But it surely was Matt Morton, former Palm Coast Metropolis Supervisor and now an affiliate of Horan’s, who pitched the web site thought in additional element.

“We are able to by no means talk sufficient,” Morton informed the fee. Framing his presentation as such — he was introducing it, not launching it — he mentioned the proposal was to make the positioning “probably the most trusted, most well-liked and accountable supply of reports and data for the residents of the town of Flagler Seaside ”, making it “adaptive” to points, seasons, occasions and emergencies. However then he described what constitutes a PR effort — or propaganda — quite than a information supply, a website that may “promote the competence, vibrancy and pleasure of residing in Flagler Seaside.”

He would do that by counting on publicly out there data that he would curate and disseminate via varied means. Horan mentioned he would assign an worker in his workplace to work on the positioning, along with himself and Morton, and would obtain weekly data from the town with a Monday contact.
Whitson mentioned a website consultant might sit in on employees conferences to assemble data.

“We’re not seeking to be the only real proprietor of the knowledge,” Morton mentioned. “We’re simply additionally seeking to seize data that the town already desires or possibly is sharing with each e mail website, information supply. It is all PR, we’re not in search of particular person possession if we attain some type of relationship with the town for data. We’re simply in search of issues within the public area that anybody can entry.”

Whitson described it in phrases that did not essentially make the case for the positioning: “like an additional layer” on high of the town’s web site and police Fb web page, to not point out different Fb pages linked to Flagler Seaside which have their very own following, similar to Flagler Seaside for Buddies and What’s Occurring in Flagler Seaside, to call simply two. There’s extra.

Whitson mentioned the realtor’s website could be an addition to the town’s web site, an “further layer.” However he wouldn’t belong to the town, even when he was crammed with details about the town, and after some time a deal fell via: Horan wouldn’t give option to the town. If a deal have been to be reached, Drew Smith, the town legal professional, mentioned he would search a “full contract.”

The commissioners, realizing the strangeness of the proposal, have been shortly skeptical. “I feel will probably be an awesome promotion for your enterprise,” mentioned Commissioner Jane Mealy. “I do not see what it should do for metropolis authorities if we nonetheless need to have our web site, and I consider we do.” She disputed the notion that the town’s web site is tough to navigate: “Every time I search for one thing, I can discover it.”

Mealy requested if the town’s subsequent software will duplicate what Horan’s website is proposing. “Sure,” Whitson mentioned, “there could be duplication of data,” with lots of data already on the market. Whitson and Horan weren’t on the identical web page on that time: Horan mentioned he did not see redundancy, although it wasn’t clear how he was in a position to inform, not figuring out what data could be on his website. Whitson, in contrast, knew.

It was within the context of Horan’s web site that the town mentioned utilizing 2 Go Advertising and marketing, whose expertise could be used to assemble data. Town estimated the job would require 12 hours per week, for $2,000 a month.

“My opinion is that $2,000 a month is just too excessive a worth. We now have a Fb web page, run by our police chief, accountable for being the police chief — for nothing,” mentioned Mayor Suzie Johnston. Any such proposal must be put out to bid, she mentioned, stressing that worth was “completely” out of the query.

“It is nice, it is lovely, I feel our residents would like it, however I am very, very anxious to get enter from you,” Phillips informed Horan, waving a distinct purple flag.

Horan mentioned he has spent “hundreds of {dollars}” to construct the positioning thus far and might want to spend “between $5,000 and $7,000 to ‘construct'” the town portion. However his presentation didn’t embrace a marketing strategy, nor a listing {qualifications} to do what he proposed to do. The dialogue didn’t enter the slippery territory of a non-public firm working an internet site for metropolis data within the context of the open data regulation, which requires all such data and their channels, together with their acquisition, curation and choice, be open to public inspection.

Cooley reminded his colleagues that the communications growth was deliberate and budgeted lengthy earlier than something like Horan’s proposal got here up. “It hasn’t occurred but,” he mentioned. “So I feel the place my heartburn is for lots of these items, these are new issues that we’ll need to spend cash on after we have already made a finances that features lots of communications stuff in it.”

He mentioned he would favor the fee exhaust all of the priorities it set for itself and deal with making the town extra clear. He favored “any concept that is not $20,000.” That turned the dialogue away from Horan’s proposal and again to what the town both already had in place, just like the police division’s Fb web page, or enhancements it may make internally.

“We’re launching this app subsequent week, the week after. I would prefer to see what sort of use we get out of this,” Mealy mentioned. However she cautioned: the town can unfold every kind of points: that does not imply residents would care. “Each particular person on this metropolis has issues various things they’re involved in. Or they’re involved in getting up, seeing the dawn, going to the seaside, seeing the sundown, and watching TV, and hopefully the town will simply proceed on its manner.”

Search for that app subsequent week. Search for an improved web site. Search for the town tables on First Friday. Look, maybe, for city hall-style conferences the place residents can collect enter. Search for the town’s Fb web page at some unspecified time sooner or later. Whether or not there’s sufficient bandwidth within the minds of residents to make room for all that is an unanswered query.

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