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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Time To Scrap NorCo's "New" Website

This will be my fifth blog about NorCo's new website. I have reached the conclusion that it is nothing short of an unmitigated disaster. If the County can return to its previous version, it should do so at once while it works out some serious kinks.

My first visit to this page - the day it went live - was actually prompted by a reader who noticed that the header on the home page was advertising Lehigh County businesses. I wrote about that and the complete lack of direct links to online services.

Then, in response to numerous complaints about the online list of properties up for Sheriff's Sale, I told you the list was completely mangled and remained that way until the evening before the sale.

I have since begun a more systematic inspection of the new webpage, which was supposed to include all the data that existed on the old webpage.

I started with the elections office.The link to that office is buried under "County Administration," even though neither the Home Rule Charter nor Administrative Code makes the elections office a part of the  Department of Administration. Even more troubling, no ordinary Joe would think to look for the elections office under "County Administration."  There was no direct link to election results, something that is common in other counties.

Election results are now linked on the homepage  But they still only go back for four years.

After looking at elections, I went to County Council. That is the only office that includes pics of elected officials. But there's nothing else.No bio.No indication how long a Council member has served. No listing of the committees on which he or she serves.No contact information.

In another step backwards, only six years of Council minutes exist on the new webpage. Though these minutes exist on a server somewhere, the public has been deprived access. This makes government less transparent. This makes it more difficult to check on the numerous claims made by council members at meetings.For the controversial swaption, it was easy to go back and determine who said what and when.Now it is impossible. This only serves a government who wants to keep you in the dark.

"Who cares?" someone like Seth Vaughn might say. That's what he said when he missed an important budget hearing, and he went on to say you'll re-elect him next year, too. I'm sure he'll just love a website that keeps you in the dark.

Yesterday, I began looking at the County Guide feature of the website.

Under Health Care, it lists Easton Hospital , a for profit hospital in the Lehigh Valley, in addition to the nonprofit hospitals. It identifies and touts several businesses to the exclusion of others. It identifies and promotes some hotels and restaurants, while ignoring others. So public resources are being used, even on a county webpage, to create an uneven playing field.

The County Guide also goes into "Worship," talks about "religious tolerance," and then lists nothing but Christian Houses of worship within the Lehigh Valley. Not one synagogue, Muslim worship center or Hindu temple is mentioned, even though all exist within the County. So public resources are being used to promote Christianity to the exclusion of other religions.

So much for religious tolerance.

And so much for this "new" webpage. It needs to be scrapped and fixed. I am not interested in pointing fingers about who is at fault. I am interested in a functional website that is user friendly and promotes transparency.

Let's fix it.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like futility through committee, chaired by a Xerox flunky. What happened to the very useful County Directory that used to be on the old website? The Clown administration, featuring tax cheat crony Allen has no idea what they are doing, and could care less.

Anonymous said...

In fairness you have a clueless county council still trying to figure out what it is they do. Time to get some real leadership and brains in county government.

Anonymous said...

3:49, maybe you should run. 5 at large seats are open, I'm sure that county council could use someone with your abilities.

Anonymous said...

"The County Guide also goes into "Worship," talks about "religious tolerance," and then lists nothing but Christian Houses of worship within the Lehigh Valley. Not one synagogue, Muslim worship center or Hindu temple is mentioned"

as a druid, I find this intolerable. time to start sacrificing christians again.

Anonymous said...

How about the Recorder of Deeds general information buried under Fiscal Affairs? It took me 20 minutes to find it. A search on the website for Recorder of Deeds does not bring it up. Just searching Deeds does bring it up. Really convoluted organization of the website!

Jeff Fox said...

Boo Hoo! Why is everyone soooo very negative? A little cheese with all the whine? How about those who use the county website create a list of deficiencies you find and send them along in a helpful, teamwork, kind of way? Why not work together to make the site work for everyone? There is no need to publicly castigate the county for its' attempt to move forward. Let's try being helpful and positive and work together for good instead of always being so negative. All of you complainers, did you forward the problems you found with the website to the county? If you did, how was your attitude or demeanor? How did you treat the people you dealt with? How many Synagogues, Muslim Worship Centers, Hindu Temples or Druid sacrificial alter centers did anyone mention to add to the list the county has? It lists Christian Houses of Worship, how horrible! County Council is not clueless and they are not without brains. Anonymous at 3:49 AM How many meetings have you attended? How many council members do you know? Have you spoken to any of them? Why have they voted the way they do? Do you know? Whine, whine whine. Bitch and moan. 'Tis the world in which we live. Merry Christmas all! If that offends you that is not my intent. Please just enjoy the day anyway.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Jeff, I attend nearly every Council and committee meeting. My record is probably better than some council members. The new website is a disaster. I have written about it repeatedly, and HAVE BEEN TOLD by IT people to continue writing about it bc at least I am providing feedback. I'll leave the pom poms to you.

One problem is that the site was never properly tested. It was not provided in advance to people like me, who would have drawn attention to some serious problems. Another problem is that the information that was supposed to have migrated from the old site has not been migrated. There simply is no excuse for providing LESS information than the County did before, unless you are trying to hide things from the public. Council minutes and election results are things I would think any good citizen would want to see,including you.

Most of the criticisms here are constructive. You are not. How on earth would you expect someone to provide a list of synagogues and Muslim worship centers when no one had a clue that any worship centers at all were going to be listed. You are imposing an affirmative obligation on the public to anticipate what some government types plan to do. Why would any worship centers at all be listed on a government web page? The "new" site is a step backwards and has made government less transparent. This is not moving forward, but backwards. And yes, there is every reason to publicly castigate the county.

Anonymous said...

To Jeff. Since not all people can attend council meetings they depend on their elected representatives. Otherwise, why elect representatives? If they see problems they get concerned. As to bitching, well that is a constitutional right. You may want to read up on the rights of citizens to complain about their government any damn time they want.
That will not change even in the era of Trump!

John said...

Funny thing: we Quakers don't have a listing. We're on Bath Pike across from Wegmans and Weis in Hanover Township, Northampton County.

John said...

Or Mormons.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I noticed the absence of both, John.

Jeff Fox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff Fox said...

Anonymous at 3:35 PM Yes you indeed may bitch and complain, that is your right. I am also entitled to my comments. I was just tired of all the negativity all around me. I vented a little here. Bernie, you do good work. I am all in when it comes to transparency and the comments were not directed you're way specifically. NorCo does need to be accountable for the website. You're points and suggestions are indeed valid. Too many people like to throw stones and don't want to offer anything constructive. Worship Centers probably should not be listed on the county website, for several reasons. The new website does have a nicer look and feel, looking at it from a visitor perspective. The "innards" may need work. Eventually, with your help and suggestions, hopefully they'll get it right. Of course, there will always be room for improvement.

Anonymous said...

Who is this Jeff Fox and why is he defending such a poor end product by an administration that claims to be "high performance." Is he another Brown crony looking for a cushy job with the county?

Bernie O'Hare said...

When you are anonymous, you have no right to ask who someone who has the courage to identify himself is.

Anonymous said...

Why do you even allow anon comments if you just insult those who make them? Because without them your blog would die from lack of participation. Some of us remain anon to protect our jobs. Our comments are nonetheless legitimate and deserve respect.

Anonymous said...

Who is this Jeff Fox and why is he defending such a poor end product by an administration that claims to be "high performance." Is he another Brown crony looking for a cushy job with the county?

Perhaps he has an understanding of people and that sometimes they don't get everything right? In doing website migrations, it is often the case where information gets lost in the process and that items get placed in areas that do not make sense to people. Usually, this is because people doing the work have to make decisions on their own while their expertise lies in information technology and not the business of the entity they are working for. So, I'd say, give these people a break. It's like verbally castigating a waitress because your burger was undercooked and came with mayo. Make suggestions and I am sure someone will be listening and making changes where appropriate.

Does anyone know where the site came from? Is it developed internally or did the country contract it out to a marketing firm that is making educated guess as to the proper organization of information?

Bernie O'Hare said...

It is not IT that decided to go ahead with this website before it is ready. But as I said, i am not attempting to place blame on anyone. I am attempting to get the county to wither fix the mess or revert back to the old template.

Bernie O'Hare said...



I only insult cowards like you who use anonymity as a shield from which to launch personal attacks against people who are not even in office.

Jeff Fox said...

Anonymous from December 15, 2016 at 11:44 PM
After reading my comments and seeming to believe that I am "defending such a poor end product" because I may be "another Brown crony looking for a cushy job with the county." is quite the reach. Your post shows much disdain for the current administration. My posting was about negativity and the new NorCo website. Period. Who am I?, and why am I posting? Why do you ask? Who are YOU?

Bernie O'Hare said...

That's the irony, Jeff.

Anonymous said...

Do you even know the definition of irony, O'Hare? Yes, there is distain for this sorry administration. The revised website is just another example of their incompetence

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yes, I do know the definition of irony and also know what a coward is. Look in a mirror.

Jeff Fox and I are in different political dimensions, but he signs his name, does his homework and I will continue to rebuke anonymous cowards like you who personally attack good people simply bc their views differ from yours. Do us all a favor and go away.