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Thumbs! (3/5/15)

Two Thumbs! articles in less than one week means I’ve got some strong opinions. Let’s take a look at what direction the Thumbs! are heading this time…

If you guessed that there was a Big Board coming, it’s a Thumbs UP! for you.

  • Thumbs UP! to Danville City Councilman Lee Vogler for his latest idea regarding power outages. Here’s what he has to say…

I am proposing that the City of Danville create a mobile device-friendly website where citizens can report a power outage at their home. Currently, when your power goes out, you call the phone number provided by the city. If you get through, typically you have to leave a message or punch in your long account number. This is often tedious and can be confusing to some, especially if you cannot find your account number. While the phone number should always be an option, we need to create alternatives.

This proposed website could easily be accessed from a smartphone (which most citizens now have and use). Then you would enter your name and address. This can be plugged into an interactive map of the city that is updated in real-time and is sent to our Danville Utilities employees so they can have a complete view of where power is out. This map should also be made available to the public. That way, they, too, will know how prevalent the power outage is.

The city is close to unveiling a new open data platform that will allow citizens to dive into every aspect of our budget and expenditures. This is something I have long advocated for. Technology is a great tool that can be utilized in many ways. Recently, Danville rolled out a “text to 911” service that I believe could save lives. Now is the time to take the next step in other services, as well. This mobile website for power outages would be a step in the right direction.

  • Thumbs DOWN! to the Institute for Advanced Learning & Research for the large reduction in their public computer lab hours. Their computer lab has over 20 computers connected to their super-fast internet connection. It’s open to the public on Mondays from 8 AM to 5 PM. That’s the good part. The bad part is that is used to be open to the public Monday through Friday. This was one of the few things that got the public into the Institute and was a great service. I’m trying to find out their reasoning for this decision but as for now I feel that this massive decrease in public access hours widens the divide between the Institute and “the rest of us”.
  • Finally, Thumbs DOWN! to Danville City Council for their plans to tour the Norhurst building on Memorial Drive. Norhurst is one of the companies that received Tobacco Commission money and their time is about to run out. Danville City Council wants to take a tour of the place, but it seems that Norhurst doesn’t want any media coverage. To accept their request, council members will be doing separate tours of the building with no more than two at a time. If three or ore council members meet at a place for official city business, that’s a public meeting under Virginia law. That means it have to be advertised and the public has to be able to attend. Well, it appears that Norhurst doesn’t want that to happen. I’vetried calling them for media credentials, but have only gotten voice mails and no return calls. I understand why Danville City Council wants to see what’s going on, but I strongly believe the public has a right to see as well (even if just through media coverage). I understand that Norhurst is a private business and they’re well within their rights not to let people or media inside, but this is a company that’s taken Tobacco Commission money… and Danville taxpayers are on the hook for it if they can’t repay it.

That’s my Thumbs! for today. We’re got more coming up on SouthsideCentral!

1 comment to Thumbs! (3/5/15)

  • It would be interesting to get to the bottom of why the Institute has limited the hours in the computer lab. When the place opened that was one of the selling points for the community. It was a mighty convenient place to work, but last time I was there I definitely did not feel welcome.

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