Flagler Seaside Rejects Realtor’s Odd Bid to Run Metropolis Data Web site Solely He Would Personal

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

Commissioners turned equally troubled by the proposal, put forth by John Horan of Palm Wave Realty, particularly because it turned obvious that no such proposal was opened as much as different firms or people doubtlessly interested by offering an identical service, and as value, proprietary and transparency issues turned points.

Commissioners lastly determined to reject that strategy and focus as a substitute on two different avenues: a brand new app the town is launching on Monday, a brand new Flagler Seaside metropolis authorities Fb web page to be put collectively in coming weeks or months, and efforts to make the town’s web site, a comparatively simple and pleasant portal of knowledge, simpler and friendlier to make use of.

The choice to develop a brand new Fb web page was puzzling: the town already has an immensely common and well-run Fb web page–the one run by the Flagler Seaside Police Division, which has 13,000 followers (in comparison with Palm Coast’s 24,000, although Palm Coast has 20 occasions the inhabitants of Flagler Seaside), and is up to date a half dozen occasions a day with city-related bulletins, ideas, assembly reminders and different gadgets.

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

Commissioners proceed to be of various minds about issuing a e-newsletter, with a majority of them pondering residents is not going to learn it. Metropolis Supervisor William Whitson has been issuing one thing like a e-newsletter electronically, sending “tidbits” of knowledge to Flagler Robust, the native non-profit that serves as a voluntary adjunct to the town’s civ efforts, however that’s had restricted publicity.

All of which factors to a fee and an administration nonetheless wrestling with a Babel of approaches, none so coherent, complete or convincing as to recommend that the town’s communications points are about to be resolved. That’s assuming there is a communications drawback: Commissioner Jane Mealy, for one, doesn’t see it, nor has the remainder of the fee outlined the character of the issue with greater than anecdotal examples culled from residents’ complaints throughout public remark intervals.

Commissioners have criticized Whitson is his one and solely analysis up to now for poor communications. However that’s a distinct matter: it needed to do with communications between Whitson and the fee particularly, as when commissioners request this or that bit of knowledge, or search to know one thing earlier than they discover out about it within the press. Whitson has been engaged on bettering that facet of his operation, with some success.

At occasions, commissioners mentioned the 2 spheres–Whitson-commission communications, versus city-resident communications–as in the event that they have been one and the identical. However on the entire, the lengthy dialogue that took up a lot of a three-hour workshop ion the topic Thursday night needed to do with residents’ wants.

“Communication has gotten higher within the three years that I’ve been sitting right here. It’s not the place it must be, but it surely’s getting higher,” Commissioner Deborah Phillips stated. She needed to “see the place we’re at and the place we need to be sooner or later.”

Whitson drew up a listing of initiatives. He cited a pair of city halls the town hosted on hurricane restoration (not mentioning that the primary one drew extra criticism for being extra window dressing than substance), and the app the town was getting ready to make obtainable to the general public. He stated Vern Shanks’s native radio station would welcome doing podcasts and interviews with metropolis officers, although if such packages on WNZF, involving county officers, are a sign, they’re not precisely scores gold. (Shanks produces the town’s First Fridays.)

The Horan proposal isn’t fairly lifeless but: the best way commissioners see it, they need to give their in-house choices a attempt first and see how that may go. Horan stated he’d acquired the positioning flaglerbeach.information and has been engaged on it for months. He was interested by growing it “along with my enterprise,” and with metropolis enterprise. Horan describes the positioning as a “public-private partnership.” (The positioning shouldn’t be energetic.)

However it was Matt Morton, the previous Palm Coast Metropolis Supervisor and now an affiliate of Horan’s, who introduced the web site concept in larger element.

“We are able to by no means talk sufficient,” Morton instructed the fee. Framing his presentation as simply that–he was presenting, not initiating–he stated the proposal was to make the positioning “the trusted, most popular and most responsive supply of stories and knowledge for the residents of the town of Flagler Seaside,” making it “adaptive” to points, seasons, occasions and emergencies. However he then described what quantities to a PR–or propaganda–effort moderately than to a information supply, a web site that will be “selling the competency, the vibrancy and the enjoyment of dwelling in Flagler Seaside.”

It might achieve this by counting on publicly obtainable data that it will curate and disseminate via varied means. Horan stated he would assign one worker at his workplace to working the positioning, along with himself and Morton, and would weekly harvest data from the town with a contact on Mondays.
Whitson stated a web site consultant might sit in on employees conferences to assemble data.

“We’re not seeking to be the only real proprietor of knowledge,” Morton stated. “We’re simply seeking to additionally seize data that the town already would or in all probability is sharing with any e mail websites, information sources. It’s all PR, we’re not on the lookout for sole proprietorship if we come to some relationship with the town on data. We’re simply on the lookout for stuff within the public anybody has entry to.”

Whitson described it in phrases that didn’t essentially make the positioning’s case: “as a further layer” on prime of the town’s web site and the police’s Fb web page, to not point out different Flagler Seaside-related Fb pages which have their very own copious following, resembling Flagler Seaside for Buddies and What’s Taking place in Flagler Seaside, to call simply two. There are extra.

Whitson stated the realtor’s web site could be an addition to the town web site, an “further layer.” However it will not belong to the town, even when it was populated with metropolis data and, after a time, an settlement fell via: Horan wouldn’t give the positioning to the town. If an settlement have been to be labored out, Drew Smith, the town legal professional, stated it will require a “full-blown contract.”

Commissioners, choosing up on the oddity of the proposal, have been in a short time skeptical. “I believe it’s going to be a fantastic promotion for your enterprise,” Commissioner Jane Mealy stated. “I don’t see what it’s going to do for the town authorities, if we nonetheless must have our personal web site, and I imagine we do.” She disputed the notion that the town’s web site is tough to navigate: “Each time I search for one thing, I can discover it.”

Mealy requested whether or not the town’s coming app would duplicate what Horan’s web site is proposing. “Sure,” Whitson stated, “there could be duplication of knowledge,” with lots of the knowledge already being on the market. Whitson and Horan weren’t on the identical web page on that rating: Horan stated he noticed no redundancy, although it wasn’t clear how he was able to inform, not realizing what data could be on his web site. Whitson, in distinction, did know.

It was within the context of Horan’s web site that the town mentioned using advertising and marketing 2 Go, whose expertise could be used to assemble data. The town estimated that work would entail 12 hours every week, for $2,000 a month.

“My thought is $2,000 monthly is a really excessive value. We have now a Fb web page, run by our chief of police, on prime of being the chief of police–for nothing,” Mayor Suzie Johnston stated. Any such proposal must be put out for bid, she stated, stressing that the value was “completely” out of the query.

“It’s unbelievable it’s stunning I believe our residents would adore it, however I simply get very, very involved about getting information to you,” Phillips instructed Horan, waving a distinct purple flag.

Horan stated he’s spent “hundreds of {dollars}” to construct the positioning up to now, and must spend “between $5,000 and $7,000 to “construct out” the town’s portion. However his presentation didn’t embody a marketing strategy, nor a listing of {qualifications} to do what he was proposing to do. The dialogue didn’t enterprise into the slippery territory of a non-public firm operating a city-information web site within the context of the open-record legislation, which requires all such data and their channels, together with the best way they’re acquired, curated and chosen, to be open to public inspection.

Cooley reminded his colleagues that the growth of communications was already deliberate and budgeted effectively earlier than something like Horan’s proposal emerged. “It hasn’t occurred but,” he stated. “So I suppose the place my heartburn is on lots of this stuff is, these are new issues that we’re going to should spend cash on after we’ve already achieved a funds that features lots of communication stuff in it.”

He stated he’d choose the fee to exhaust all of the priorities it set out for itself, and to focus some consideration on making the town extra clear. He favored “any concept that aren’t $20,000.” That turned the dialogue away from Horan’s proposal and again to what the town both had at its disposal already, such because the police division’s Fb web page, or enhancements it might make from inside.

“We’re launching this app subsequent week, the week after. I wish to see what sort of utilization we get from that,” Mealy stated. However she cautioned: the town might disseminate all kinds of points: that doesn’t imply residents would care. “Every individual on this city has various things they’re interested by. Or they’re interested by getting up, trying on the dawn, going to the seashore, trying on the sundown, and watching tv, and hopefully the town simply goes on its approach.”

Search for that app subsequent week. Search for an improved web site. Search for metropolis tables at First Friday. Look, presumably, for town-hall fashion conferences the place residents might collect data. Search for the town’s Fb web page at an indeterminate time sooner or later. Whether or not there’s sufficient bandwidth in residents’ minds to make room for all that’s an unanswered query.

Flagler Seaside Rejects Realtor’s Odd Bid to Run Metropolis Data Web site Solely He Would Personal