Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Insubordinate Volunteer?

During the July 12 Longmeadow Select Board meeting (see previous posting for video clip of discussion) it was made very clear by Chairman Rob Aseltine that there was a need for a significant revamping of the Longmeadow.org town website and institution of new policy guidelines for allowable website content and links.

Key discussion points made by SB members at this meeting included:
1. The town website should primarily reflect the official business of the Town of Longmeadow.
2. There should be no links or connections to any business related ventures.
3. Inclusion of any non-town government related groups should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

With my normal rapid response to website issues and problems that I have demonstrated over the past 13 years, I spent a considerable number of hours during the past two weeks (of course, in my volunteer capacity at no cost to the town) separating the Longmeadow.org website into two entities in anticipation of some new guidelines

1. http://www.longmeadow.org/ - the new official Town Government website with a new masthead reflecting a new focus. All of the information related to Town Government was left untouched and easily accessible.

[click above to enlarge]

2. http://www.longmeadowma.org/ - a newly created privately supported website for all of the components that probably didn’t belong on Longmeadow.org given the strongly expressed views of the majority of the Select Board.

The website changes were made on Sunday night so as not to cause any inconvenience or confusion to town residents and was online Monday morning with an explanation as to what happened.

For the past thirteen years that I have been maintaining the town website as a unpaid volunteer, website changes have been made without the need for any formal approval
…. even today, there are no policy guidelines in place so I didn’t feel that I needed any approval.

What happened on Monday morning was completely unexpected given my best intentions and the situation quickly got out of hand… The Select Board Chairman issued a direct order to regain control of the website which meant changing the password for the town website server and the webmaster@longmeadow.org  email account. This happened by 10 am Monday morning. By the end of the Select Board meeting Monday night, Jim Moran had been officially removed as town webmaster for becoming an “insubordinate volunteer”. Interestingly enough, there was no attempt on Monday morning or any time during the remainder of the day to communicate by phone or email to inquire as to what had happened.

Below is a video clip (courtesy of LCTV) of the Select Board discussion.

Longmeadow Select Board- 7/26/10 Longmeadow Select Board- 7/26/10

Anyone who has followed this heated discussion and is familiar with the situation knows that the issue was not about the town website and how it was maintained. The issue was about removing easy access to information not readily available on the town website (namely the LongmeadowBuzz blog). Anyone who says otherwise is not familiar with all of the facts.

It is interesting that the link to the LongmeadowBuzz blog which has caused all of this furor has been on the town website for about 2½ years. Only when information and commentary about some town officials and employees involved about the High School Building Project was posted on LongmeadowBuzz did it ignite the current heated debate. When asked to remove all links to LongmeadowBuzz from the town website on July 14, they were quickly removed without objection.  There had been no request to remove the LongmeadowBuzz link by the Select Board or Town Manager prior to July 14.

Now that the Select Board chair Aseltine has successfully removed me as town webmaster…

Will his next move be to have my name removed from the plaque in the Longmeadow Town Hall recognizing my selection as Citizen of the Year for 2005 for my outstanding community service work on the town website?


Alan Dove said...

What we have here is a failure to communicate. From my perspective as an outside but technically aware observer, this really doesn't look like a personal attack, just a disastrous misunderstanding. Apparently the Town Manager was trying to copy files off the old site, and suddenly everything got moved around and revised. Then the Select Board reacted without contacting you to figure out what was going on. People need to talk to each other when they're working on the same team.

Jim Moran, LongmeadowBiz said...


From prior posts that you have made I know that you are pretty competent with regard to technology. However, your guess as to what happened is wrong.

As Town Manager Robin Crosbie stated at Monday night's SB meeting, our sole town govt IT resource (Victor Roule) was instructed last week to backup website files "to prepare for a transition to town control and management of the website". For obvious reasons, this forward plan was not shared with me.

Backup of the town website has been my sole responsibility for the past 13 years and as far as I know has not been the responsibility of any town employee until now. Until Monday night I haved regularly maintained and updated backup files for the town website.

As Mr. Barkett stated at the SB meeting, the website on Monday morning had a new look and some non town government sections were missing but the operation and access to files seemed normal.

Obviously, yesterday, Mr. Roule was instructed by the Town Manager to use his backup files to restore the website to its previous "look and feel" and content and obviously overwrote existing files on the web server. Given the Longmeadow.org current appearance- he was not too successful.

I do not agree with your assessment that this is not a personal attack.