Council pursues new webpages

Bainbridge Island City Councilman Steve Bonkowski revisited his initiative to develop webpages for individual council members on Wednesday.

Bonkowski hopes to have individual webpages for council members established on the city’s own website. The webpages would only serve one-way communication, offering statements on issues and perspectives from elected officials.

There would be no ability on the webpages for the community to respond on the webpages. Communication with the public would be handled as it currently is, through the city’s email system, he said.

“I’m not talking about putting a blog on the city website, but a forum where an individual can make a statement or a view of issues that are coming forward on the council,” Bonkowski said. “This helps solicit input on his or her views on issues.”

Bonkowski asked the council to instruct the city manager to organize the development of the online tool as well as to produce policies and procedures to govern online behavior.

The idea was raised by Bonkowski after joining the council early this year.

Councilman Bob Scales noted Wednesday that he appreciates the idea and had no concerns from a public records perspective, but did raise one concern with the ability of some council members to maintain their webpage over others.

“I don’t have time to manage a website, so I would be at a disadvantage,” Scales said.

Scales, who works as an attorney for the city of Seattle, said cities that host webpages for elected officials have advantages over cities like Bainbridge Island.

“In Seattle, each council member has a very extensive site but each member has three full-time aides and staff, so they have resources to do that. And obviously, we only have ourselves,” Scales said.

Scales added that if his fellow council members did desire the webpages, he would not object.

He did, however, abstain from the vote, which passed 5-1 with Councilwoman Anne Blair absent.

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