Website Design and DeKalb’s “Suitcase Mentality”

The city council voted Monday on a measure to waive the customary bidding process and award a contract to out-of-towners for a new custom website. Staff insisted only CivicPlus could make DeKalb’s official website comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) rules within a 4-month deadline negotiated with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Some city employees, including the city manager, have worked with CivicPlus previously and elsewhere.

Some city residents have questions about this deal and Bessie Chronopoulos offered a list of hers in a letter to the editor.

Now for some questions, comments, and suggestions:

1. Why is there a rush to meet a deadline if the city was aware of this back in 2013?

2. Is it proper for the city attorney to sign an agreement without Council approval?

3. The city’s Commission on Disabilities should be called upon to assist with making the needed adjustments guided by a designated staff person. In fact, has their input been solicited? This is not just about the website, but a matter of improving our procedures and practices involving ADA issues.

4. The website can be brought up to the proper standards with but a few adjustments costing much less than $50,000 and later, a bit at a time, improvements can be made.

5. Why do I get the feeling that some of our top level staff people are pushing CivicPlus to be selected as the web developer? Certainly there is enough talent in DeKalb given the fact that we have a major university and dozens of talented people who could help develop our website.

The video below shows the portion of the meeting where Ald. Lash argues for extending the search for a website designer and resident Mac McIntyre talks about the impact of carpetbaggers (my term, not his) on the morale of the community.