Santa Ana’s City website reflects dedication to a closed government

A city’s home page says a lot.  The City of Santa Ana’s website clearly states “our government is closed to you.”  Travel south to the City of Costa Mesa and their website shouts “we want you involved in our local government.”

For one thing, Santa Ana’s website does not offer information in Spanish.  That is alarming in a city that is 76% Latino, as per 2000 U.S. Census data.  The City of Albuquerque, New Mexico, where less than 40% of the population is Latino, has figured out a way to translate their website for free, using Google’s Language Tools.  (See the graphic below).  Why can’t Santa Ana do the same thing?  We could even offer translations in Vietnamese!  Of course the City of Costa Mesa offers a translation link on their home page too, which uses Yahoo’s free Babel Fish translator.

If you compare the home page of the City of Santa Ana’s website to the City of Costa Mesa’s home page (see the graphic below), the difference is startling.  Costa Mesa tells you right there on the home page what city meetings are coming up this week!  Click on the City of Santa Ana’s “City Meetings” link and you go to a page that tells you when the meetings are scheduled, for example the City Council meetings are held on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month, but there are no exact dates offered.  Click on the Santa Ana “Calendar” link and again you have to click on each day to find out what is going on.

Take a look at the City of Costa Mesa’s home page and you will see a world of difference compared to Santa Ana’s home page.  For one thing the weekly meetings are front and center.  But notice that you can also sign up for email notification.  Imagine what Santa Ana City Manager Dave Ream would say about that?  “Why would I want to tell our residents about our meetings – damn they might actually show up and complain!”

Costa Mesa also makes their video footage of their city meetings available in an onine archive. Santa Ana offers streaming video of some of their Council meetings, as they happen, but no online archive.  You have to go to our ONE public library to find the archived DVDs of the Council meetings.

Finally, compare Costa Mesa’s budget to Santa Ana’s.  There is no comparison.  Costa Mesa is a well run city, but they too are feeling the pinch of a bad economy.  According to the Daily News, they are looking to make a few cuts to deal with a projected ten million dollar deficit.  Santa Ana, on the other hand, has a massive budget deficit of some $28 to $40 million dollars.

It does not take a lot of money for a City to reach out to its residents utilizing the Internet.  Costa Mesa has figured it out.  Their home page says “we want you involved in our local government.”  Santa Ana’s pathetic home page is a reflection of City Manager Dave Ream’s dedication to shutting the door on city residents.  Why won’t our City Council stand up to this man and demand that the civic walls come down?  No wonder there is so much voter apathy in Santa Ana.

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.