Net-surfing city government Anne Arundel County: Annapolis aldermen's laptops are no better than their users.

June 24, 1996

ANNAPOLIS RESIDENTS have a new way of contacting some of their elected officials. Six of the nine aldermen now have laptop computers and are reachable through the Internet. Not Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins, though. "I just don't like to deal with people electronically," he says. "I'd rather talk to them face-to-face."

Internet access does not necessarily mean better governance. But it is good for citizens to know that they can address their concerns -- at length -- to decision-makers at all hours of the day without having to leave cryptic telephone messages.

Even though the Internet is still in its infancy, the computerized clearinghouse is rapidly changing the way Americans communicate and do business. It allows computer users to contact people and resources worldwide and provides instant access to a growing variety of information. This means that if aldermen decide to make maximum use of their new laptops, they could discuss with other elected officials in faraway places solutions to problems now confronting the Annapolis City Council.

It is now up to the six aldermen -- Dean Johnson, Carl Snowden, Shepard Tullier, Wayne Turner, Ellen Moyer and Terrie DeGraff -- to show that their new laptop computers are not just toys but working tools that make them more accessible to citizens and their concerns. E-mail is good only if it is read and acted on in a timely fashion.

The new laptops and a training course cost the city more than $16,000. Monthly Internet access for the six officials costs an additional $132. That's not much money if it means better constituent service.

Several Annapolis aldermen have so far refused to participate in this computerization drive. Our guess is that in time they, too, will succumb. After all, the Internet is rapidly becoming as essential in people's lives as telephones. Not being connected to it is likely to become a liability for a politician.

Annapolis aldermen are the first local public officials in Maryland to be on the Net. If you want to reach them, here are their e-mail addresses: deanjohnnap.infi.net; tulliennap.infi.net; snowdennap.infi.net; wturnennap.infi.net; degrafnnap.infi.net and moyennap.infi.net.

Pub Date: 6/24/96

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.