Monday, April 12, 2010

Why I Blog

There have been some questions about why I blog, with some folks suggesting that my blogging makes me untrustworthy. They don't articulate exactly what the concern is, but I feel I should at least explain to the public why I do this. You can then assess for yourselves whether this blog is a good thing or not.

I ran on a platform of improved communications with the public. Indeed, my first contact with the School Board was over an issue where I felt the district's actions lacked fairness and transparency. Having told the voters that I would seek to improve communication, what better place to start than right here, with me?

First, I share what I'm thinking. In this case, I've shared the principle reasons why I was prepared to vote no on a contract. I knew at the time that my actions might not be crystal clear to everyone. My actions might be misinterpreted by our teachers, and parents and community members might also want to know why I was voting the way I did. Not everyone can make it to our Board meetings every week (though I have a feeling our next meeting may be busier than usual). By posting a blog, I felt I could increase the number of community members who could hear about my thinking on a topic of interest.

The second reason I blog is actually to listen. Communication is a two-way street. In the several days since the original post went up, more than 70 comments have been posted to the blog. I've also received in excess of 50 emails on the topic. Listening to the public is extremely important, particularly when facing a tough decision. I care about what the teachers have to say, about how parents feel this will affect their children, and about what the community at large thinks about how we're managing the tax dollars they have entrusted to us. Thoughtful feedback allows me to understand those feelings. Even negative feedback has value. It may indicate that we need to adjust our thinking. I some cases, writers cite incorrect or incomplete data to support their arguments. In those cases, it tells me where we need to improve our communications. (I plan to write some follow-up posts to address some of these topics in the coming days and weeks.)

I'm not a ground breaker in the use of technology to communicate with voters. I receive a mass email from Anna Eshoo (our US Representative), every few weeks. It's an environmentally responsible alternative to sending out mass mailings, as was the custom in the past. I also know of a number of other blogs, both locally and across the country. Some of the blogs might surprise you:

The White House (Note that on the right, you'll find a list of 10+ other blogs, with topics ranging from High Tech to Trade to the economy)
US Senator Barbara Boxer
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Our State Senator, Joe Simitian

Even local school boards like ours, and Alameda (Mike McMahon)

One final note about my disclaimer. I am only one member of a five member board. My disclaimer reminds readers that this is my opinion, but that it may not reflect the opinions of the Board as a whole. That seems to be a reasonable caveat. I don't speak for my colleagues- only a vote of the board conveys official board action. That seems like a worthwhile reminder.

Blogging has become the media through which elected officials can reach their constituents. I really do feel that more communication is better. I hope that the presence of my blog inspires people to participate, to be active in their local government, and that people feel like they've been given a way to express their opinion. Since my post went up last week, more than 700 people have read my thoughts and many of them have shared ideas about how we might address all or part of this crisis. That's a huge win in my book.

1 comment:

  1. I contribute to a local aggregation blog site where I post a recap of the Board of Eduction meeting. See

    My other blog that you referenced is targeted to help school board members keep on track of events impacting California school districts and governance issues.


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