Cerritos College
Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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Community Commentary: Deliberate Incompetence

A concerned citizen sits defeated by an archaic government website.
Marcos Jerez
A concerned citizen sits defeated by an archaic government website.

Imagine it: you, a concerned citizen, want to contribute to the civic process by using the wonder of modern technology. But what’s this?

As you hop on to your city’s website, rather than a succinct and efficient display of relevant information, you are bombarded by an outdated word salad of items that passed out of relevance months ago. Welcome to the wonderful world of modern civic web design.

Now, a senior geared institution (as the world of local government most certainly is) fumbling with new technology is hardly anything new.

Behind every badly designed website is some poor, clueless intern chained to a desk, after all. But if one visits these sites with the intent of actually trying to affect change in their community, a slightly sinister aura begins to dawn.

Want to look up some city council meetings to keep up to date on what important things were said at the latest meeting of the minds? Good luck finding the minutes section on the website and scrolling through the dozens of meetings.

Trying to parse the relevance of a newly debated topic? Enjoy this link to an update from several months ago that has seen no revisitation. Looking to get in contact with your local representatives? May your epic journey into the dark lands treat you well, my friend.

It is certainly easy to imagine all this coming from a place of maliciousness, conceived in a closed-door session where city councilmen ponder how best to keep the public in the dark while lighting cigars with your tax dollars, but the truth is far more mundane and exists in the realm of happy accidents.

Website design is a legitimately low item on any local government’s long list of priorities and if keeping things, the way they are means fewer angry, informed voters to worry about, then why fix what is not broken?

And that’s where things get humorously ironic. Should one wish to do something about this and get any sort of ball rolling, it is imperative to skip over any sort of online process entirely and make a fuss in person.

As already discussed, the websites are labyrinthine and ineffective, meanwhile, you would have better luck unearthing the remains of Jimmy Hoffa than landing an email or some other form of digital public comment on a representative’s desk.

To truly effect any sort of change on this issue, complaints must be firmly lodged where lawmakers and the public can see them.

Go to your city council meetings, be that gadfly, make that fuss. So long as you remain silent, the city has no incentive to fix its mistakes, and future generations will face the same problems as you.

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About the Contributor
Lukas Luna-Arellano is the co-community editor for Talon Marks. He plans to shore up his literary credentials while at Cerritos before transferring. He enjoys reading, working out, and listening to various types of metal.
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