City seeks online input

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 3, 2001

Austin officials want to hear the voices of residents loud and clear.

Tuesday, April 03, 2001

Austin officials want to hear the voices of residents loud and clear. Persons with access to a computer can be a part of a new city forum – an e-Forum to be exact.

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Don Tomlinson, management information systems administrator for the city, presented the newest addition to the city’s Web site at Monday night’s City Council meeting.

E-Forum is an online message board that citizens are encouraged to use to voice concerns or questions they have concerning the city. At least once per week, an employee of each city department will monitor the site and respond or find someone to respond to the messages posted.

For example, on March 28, Ellis Middle School teacher Tom Sullivan posed a question about the school board’s budget shortfall. Administrative Services Director Tom Dankert answered his question and the two men engaged in a conversation via messages posted on the e-Forum.

The benefit to the community at large is this conversation took place publicly, so everyone can see it and benefit from the shared information.

E-Forum is the latest addition to a city Web site that already receives more than 2,000 hits per month. These hits have come from 50 different countries, Tomlinson told the council.

Be forewarned though, any inappropriate comments or questions, or those not relating to the Austin community will be erased from the site immediately.

"This is a great way to get some information," Mayor Bonnie Rietz said.

E-Forum is located at: or it can be reached by going to the city of Austin Web site at and clicking on the "e-Forum" link.

For a forum to be successful, however, people must participate and more than one person must provide input. First Ward Councilman Wayne Goodnature said, "We have to train them to bitch. No, really. We need to beg people to tell us what they think."

Now is your chance, Austin. Your city is waiting.