Survey asks for input to improve Memphis' website - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Survey asks for input to improve Memphis' website

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - An email circulating across the city of Memphis from Mayor A C Wharton's Research and Innovation office is asking residents to take a survey to make the city's website better.

"The first step toward rebuilding trust is openness," Wharton said Wednesday.

Wharton's Research and Innovation aid, Kerry Hayes, is circulating the email.

"In Mayor Wharton's entourage, she's been particularly focused on this kind of stuff," media and politics expert Joseph Hayden said Sunday.

The five-question online survey asks readers to tell the city what to do to get public information into their hands more quickly.

"A lot of data that should be publicly available kind of is, but it's not easy to get to," Hayden said.

The initiative comes after Wharton officially declared all city government business transparent to the public and the media.  Hayden says it's a far cry from the media's past relationship with City Hall.

"It was to the point it wasn't just dysfunctional, it was toxic," he said. "We saw with the interim mayor, Myron Lowery, he took a step in the right direction, and Mayor Wharton is doing the same thing now."

Hayden says easier access to information could help business.

"One thing that Fortune 500 companies probably don't want to see is a lot of old boys networking and back-door deals where you never really know what's going to happen unless you're tight friends with somebody in the mayor's office," he said.

Hayden believes that openness could change Memphis' image, if people begin to perceive that government can be trusted.

"Public officials all across Tennessee don't have a good reputation when it comes to open meeting laws, when it comes to open record laws, sunshine laws," he said. "And so the kind of actions we're seeing both the interim mayor and current Mayor Wharton taking are definitely moving us in the right direction."

But don't expect all the transparency to put the media out of business. Hayden says nothing is perfect and government always needs a third party to serve as a watch dog.

If you'd like to take the survey, click here.

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