Editorial: Bristol shares a wealth of information

Posted 12/31/20

If you’re the type of person who is curious about your community — and if you’re reading this, chances are, that’s you — then you’re going to love a new initiative …

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Editorial: Bristol shares a wealth of information

Posted

If you’re the type of person who is curious about your community — and if you’re reading this, chances are, that’s you — then you’re going to love a new initiative from the Bristol Town Clerk’s office. Beginning this week, most of the documents that pass through Town Hall on their way to a Bristol Town Council agenda are easily available for public perusal.

A new feature on the town’s website (bristolri.gov) contains all of the backup materials that town councilors receive prior to their meetings. Contained within are legal opinions, investigatory reports, license applications and so much more.

The upload of documents prior to Wednesday night’s council meeting included nearly 400 pages of materials. Some of it is tedious enough to dissuade you from every running for public office. But some of it is so interesting you’ll have something to tell your neighbors — even before they read about it in the paper.

Who’s opening a new brick-oven pizza restaurant on Wood Street? Who’s asking for a special handicapped parking space in front of their house? Who wants parking blocked in front of their neighbor’s house so they can have an easier time backing out of the driveway? Is Aidan opening a new restaurant in the old Gillary’s? Who are the Democrats putting on town boards?

All the answers are contained within this caché of documents.

Clerk Melissa Cordeiro deserves credit for this new feature — a campaign promise she pledged to keep, and did. Yet she’ll be the first to admit it’s not as good as it could be. While other cities and town use a sophisticated, searchable and itemized database to store these documents, she spent part of her day Tuesday figuring out how to engineer a massive .pdf upload and add it to the town’s existing site in advance of last night’s meeting. She is determined to make it better in the future.

However, rudimentary as it is, the new feature is a great addition to local government. Check it out on the Town Council page of the website — if you’re interested in those sorts of things.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.