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    5th District Councilwoman Schipske Using Internet -- Including "Blog" -- To Communicate With Eastside Residents; Recent Meeting On Broken Sidewalks & Needed Fixes Draws Large Crowd

    (Oct. 28, 2006) -- After making the internet part of her successful campaign to succeed two-term Council incumbent/Vice Mayor Jackie Kell, web-savvy 5th district Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske is now using groundbreaking online techniques to communicate with constituents in her sprawling eastside district.

    Councilwoman Schipske's City Hall webpage at has rapidly developed into the most detailed among LB's nine Council office pages with the largest number of informational (left column) links...and appears to be growing.

    And Councilwoman Schipske is the only one of her Council colleagues to post a continually updated "blog" (internet jargon for "weblog"), a journal written by the Councilwoman on a wide variety of issues and frequently posted before dawn.

    All LB elected officials have web pages on City Hall's master website; virtually all have email and Councilmembers' pages routinely include district announcements and press releases...but Councilwoman Schipske takes pains to update her webpage frequently...and she's the only Councilmember to post an ongoing "blog" journal.

    Titled the "District 5 Journal," Councilwoman Schipske's postings are archived back to September.

    One of the more recent items is a report on Councilwoman Schipske's Oct. 25 eastside community meeting on infrastructure improvements/repairs to sidewalks and streets. The first-ever "5th District Infrastructure Advisory Committee" meeting at the El Dorado Senior Center (which previewed online) drew nearly 150 people. Councilwoman Schipske promptly followed-up by posting a report on her "blog" giving her personal account of what took place.

    "Wednesday was a success." Councilwoman Schipske wrote. "It was the first 5th District Infrastructure Advisory Committee. More than 135 people attended. The room was packed (and a little too warm until we found the air conditioning). Everyone in attendance currently has a specific infrastructure problem that needs fixing: streets, curbs, gutters, standing water, tree trimming, sidewalks..."

    Councilwoman Schipske's 5th District Journal continued:

    I appreciated them coming out on an evening to share their concerns. Many brought photographs. One household brought chunks of asphalt from the pothole outside their home to illustrate just how far things have deteriorated in the 5th Council District. (Because all of the files containing their prior complaints to the 5th District office had been destroyed before I took office, it was helpful for residents to bring in letters and photographs so we can get up to date on their problems.)

    Christine Andersen, the City's Director of Public Works gave an excellent and blunt presentation on the state of infrastructure throughout the City: pretty bad and in much need of repair. Residents were upset to learn that the 5th District has the most sidewalks needing repair and has percentage wise had the fewest fixed over the past 10 years. Some homeowners were especially upset about the large trees in their neighborhoods that are uprooting streets and sidewalks -- not to mention the trees themselves are breaking and falling over.

    Where do we go from here? December 14th is the next meeting and we'll review where the City has proposed to continue fixing problems in the 5th District. We will also discuss some possible "pilot projects" to speed up some repairs.

    My staff and I are putting together a newsletter on 5th District Infrastructure that will be available on line in at the library and our Neighborhood Office.

    Councilwoman Schipske’s office says it mailed invitations to 5th district residents whose requests were on file with the Public Works Department or called the Council Office since her July 18 swearing-in.

    "Budget constraints, politics and what I feel has been an inequitable allocation of funds for repairs for many years has brought us to this place," Councilwoman Schipske said in a separate release. "I am working with my fellow Eastside council members to correct that. We will also continue to hold meetings of district residents with the goal of establishing a schedule of repairs that addresses the most dire needs as well as making repairs in a systematic, economical fashion, street-by-street, instead of the politically-driven method used in the past."

    She added that every person at the meeting had an outstanding (and probably long-standing) request "for some kind of street, sidewalk or curb repair or tree trimming...and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It is the No. 1 concern among residents in the 5th District."

    Councilwoman Schipske said the next meeting of the 5th District Infrastructure Advisory Council will be held in early December...and notices will go out to the same mailing list and others who have asked to be included.

    And it will almost certainly also be posted on Councilwoman Schipske's 5th district website.

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