February 26, 2010
Amherst residents need to be heard - especially during election and when a tax override is on the ballot. Now, there's another outlet for expressing all views political: It's called "Localocracy," and it's now up and running on the World Wide Web. You can visit the site through a link on the top right of the home page at www.amherstbulletin.com or go directly to http://amherst-ma.localocracy.org.
Localocracy - a site created by University of Massachusetts students Conor White-Sullivan and Aaron Soules - gives visitors a chance to sound off on the Proposition 2½ tax-cap override in the March 23 election, as well as comment on candidates for all elected offices.
Residents who sign up at Localocracy can cast "votes," and explain their reasoning. Comments left by participants are categorized into two opposing sides, and then the opinions are ranked by site visitors. Those most persuasive opinions rise to the top of the Web site based on votes gathered.
Unlike some blogs and Web sites, anyone commenting on the Localocracy site must be a registered voter and must use real names when signing up and sounding off. That is a feature we especially welcome, given the plague of anonymous rants that exist online.
We also welcome the expanded forum for civic debate. Only so many letters can fit into the Bulletin's commentary pages. That's one reason why - during periods when letters and columns abound - we often run opinion pieces online. Cyberspace isn't dependent on inch counts and page limitations. It allows for a greater range of viewpoints, published more spontaneously and in the authentic voice of the writer.
Given that Internet sites often draw a different audience, the Bulletin commentary pages and www.amherstbulletin.com will be featuring the "best of Localocracy" on occasion, sharing with our readers views and opinions posted on this start up. (See the Opinion page for our first installment.)
Log on to Localocracy, and vote early and often. It's one more way to get involved in an open and ongoing dialogue about local government and public issues, about which there is no shortage of opinions.
We look forward to seeing how the experiment of Localocracy plays out, and encourage participation in the latest marketplace of ideas.