Right to Petition City Government (Electronically) Denied

Posted February 3rd, 2014 @ 8:27 AM by

For the past year – minus two days?

I recently started a change.org petition asking Captain Lengfeld not to oppose the Tiny House Village until he at least looked at the project. It really took off and we had around 200 signatures in the first 48 hours. At about 150 signatures, I apologized to Larry Palm and the Mayor for including them on the petition. At which point Larry Palm asked me – what petition? Hmmmm . . . I sent him, the Mayor, Police Chief Randy Gaber and Captain Jay Lengfeld a spreadsheet with the 150 signatures and comments. They hadn’t received them.

Alder Palm, to his credit tried to find out what happened.

I didn’t get any petition. I think a while back all emails from some petition site were redirected to a google account because of crashing our systems.

What was the site?

He also got this answer:

Good Morning Ald. Palm,

I had my staff check our mail system to see if any of these e-mails passed through our system. It appears that we did not receive any messages from the change.org site. As you may recall, this site overloaded our system during the Officer Heimsness issue, so we made some changes to our system to prevent this from happening again. However, none of the aforementioned changes caused these messages to be blocked. Please let me know if you have further questions regarding this issue.

Rich

I thought that was weird, so I asked Scott Resnick about it. He also reminded me about an issue I had blogged about a year ago. I guess at that point I had thought they only diverted one petition – not blocked everything.

I also added my name to the petition – and guess what, I got the emails . . . I’ve forward 14 emails with 5 signatures and 2 emails with 10 signatures.

And then Scott and I did a test, I sent a petition to his private email and his council email. He got the one, not the other.

So, I sent this email to the alders:

4 people who I am sending this email to should have gotten contacts from 200 people in the last 48 hours . . . but you didn’t. How does that make you feel? (Ok, I know at least one of the recipients could care less, but the other three I would think might care.) Wonder what they had to say? Who they were? Why they tried to contact you? Why you didn’t get your emails?

IT staff had this to say:
I had my staff check our mail system to see if any of these e-mails passed through our system. It appears that we did not receive any messages from the change.org site. As you may recall, this site overloaded our system during the Officer Heimsness issue, so we made some changes to our system to prevent this from happening again. However, none of the aforementioned changes caused these messages to be blocked. Please let me know if you have further questions regarding this issue.

So, I added myself to the petition as a recipient, and I got the emails from change.org. So, its not a problem on change.orgs end of things. I think city IT staff may be wrong. I think they are blocking emails, they may not realize it, or there has to be some other explanation . . . I can forward the petition emails to the intended receivers in the meantime, but how many other times has this happened? How many other emails haven’t you gotten in the past year? What issues were they about? Were they your constituents? What did they have to say? How would they feel if they know their messages weren’t getting through?

I hope this can get fixed soon. People should have the right to (electronically) petition their government.

2 alders replied (Mo Cheeks and Ledell Zellers) and then Scott has this to say:

Hello,

Several of us spoke today about the email issue Brenda is describing. I can confirm her description of the situation is correct. For my interactions with IT, this has been an ongoing issue since February of last year. Mayor Soglin and I spoke late this afternoon, including several alternative solutions. We will meeting with IT ASAP (hopefully Monday) to find a solution.

If others would like to join us for this meeting or are interested in chatting further, please send me an individual email.

Thanks,

Scott

So . . . the alders are all over it, thank you. Meanwhile, keep signing the petition, they will get the signatures as I will forward them and download the spreadsheets to send them when I close the petition.

NOTE: I should blog more about the actual issue with Captain Lengfeld thinking that people shouldn’t live in residential areas, that they belong in industrial areas – well, certain people. I started the petition after a 2 hour meeting in which I barely got to say a word.


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