Lynn Olanoff has an article out this morning about municipal governments using Facebook and Twitter to connect with citizens. This is a great trend, but it should really be a complement to full data transparency on municipal websites, not a replacement. Social media is nice for local governments because it creates the illusion of transparency, responsiveness and accountability, but there is much more important data out there that many local governments do not publish online.
For instance, Hellertown Borough’s website has zero budget information on their website. They don’t have their zoning ordinance or the text of any other laws uploaded. Presumably you need to go to their office to access this stuff. But why?
If you don’t have the resources to upload budget data in machine-readable XML format or upload your zoning code as a searchable PDF, then you do not have any business being incorporated as a municipality.