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If Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray does nothing else for the rest of his tenure, he will be remembered with great fondness for his foresight, forbearance, and courage—-at least by LL.
For he has discarded the most unhelpful, useless, and frankly embarassing piece of governmental cyber-real estate around: The D.C. Council Web site.
Perhaps LL is speaking too soon—-the old Web site still still up today. Enjoy one of the few remaining patches of ’90s cyberchic while you still can. (Come on, blinking text? I mean, the tag was HTML taboo by like 1998! Sheezus!) The site still bears a 1997 copyright and a perusal of archive.org shows no meaningful changes at least going back to 2003, and probably as much as five years prior.
But reporters and staffers were give a preview of the new site at the council press conference on Monday. Only a few pages were shown, and reporters didn’t get a chance to click around on the new site, but boy, it sure looks like an improvement (click to enlarge):
On Monday, Council Secretary Cynthia Brock-Smith, told reporters LL last Thursday that the new site would be ready “in the next few weeks.” Why has it taken so long to get rid of such a universally despised piece of crap? The council maintains its own tech staff and tech budget and is separate from the rest of city government in that respect. So while the Office of the Chief Technology Officer has been pretty good about rolling out site updates and new technologies on dc.gov sites, the council hasn’t been included.
Now whatever gets launched in the coming days will only be the first phase. It won’t include a planned overhaul of the council’s legislative database system, LIMS. Improving that much maligned system is still months away. But Gray is also talking about expanding the scope to the database to the beginnings of the council in 1974 by scanning old paper documents into the system. Right now, LIMS only goes back to Council Period 13, which began in 1999.
What’s the biggest necessity? LL, for one, would like to see dynamic agendas for council and committee meetings, with links to legislation in the council database. He’d also like to see those, along with the weekly council calendars, archived and cross-referenced to the video provided on the Office of Cable Television Web site.