Thursday, January 20, 2011

Next Mayor Would Do Well to Take Note of Booker

As Indianapolis faces another rather pedestrian snow storm, there is sure to be a number of accidents on the road and shovels and snow blowers at work. When over a foot of snow blanketed Indianapolis a couple of years ago, Mayor Ballard was out of town and relied on a spokesperson to say, "You're on your own Indianapolis," when it came to digging out your cars and your driveways.

Well, that's just not acceptable in Newark, New Jersey.

Last month when a major snowstorm hit his city, Newark Mayor Cory Booker went to work. He scoured Facebook and Twitter and personally answered many of his citizens' pleas for help. He pushed cars. He slung snow, and, most of all, he pushed forward the idea that, "We're all in this together." On his YouTube account, the Mayor filed this report to his residents on how his city pulled together. That's Booker himself that appears around 1:40 in shoveling and pushing cars.

It's a new type of city leadership, and that's why Booker is at the head of the class when it comes to being a 21st century Mayor. He has an active Twitter account, and a vibrant Facebook page. That certainly is nothing new for a politician, but do you see things like this on a Mayor Ballard YouTube page?

No, no, no, and no!

There are scores of these types of updates, and things seem to be working. Despite Booker's city making huge cuts in their budget that have adversely affected public safety and a rise in violent crime, Booker is tied with Governor Chris Christie in a recent poll for a hypothetical 2013 New Jersey Gubernatorial race. In fact, he trumpeted the cuts on YouTube.

City size is certainly different, and Booker is clearly a one-of-a-kind. I'm just saying that when Melina Kennedy becomes Mayor of Indianapolis, she would be wise to look to Newark for some help when she sets up her administration. Transparency is one thing, but Mayor Booker takes openness and accessibility to a new level.

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