Here’s the headline on a recent press release out of Gov. Charlie Baker’s office:
“Baker-Polito Administration Announces Redesign of Mass.gov, Seeks Public Feedback.”
Mass.gov is the state website. As a concerned citizen, I’m more than willing to offer a few suggestions on how to upgrade it.
First off, mass.gov should offer a master list of “non-essential” state employees, the hacks who get the day off whenever there’s a forecast of a snow dusting. I know, they’re now called “non-emergency” but nobody’s fooled. Next to the names, it would be nice to include their salaries.
Speaking of salaries, the state treasurer has a so-so website with both salaries and pensions. Let’s move it on mass.gov, and make it more user-friendly.
You know how you can set up a “Google Alert” to be notified whenever someone you’re interested in following turns up in the news? I want a “Pay Hike Alert” on mass.gov.
Let me give you an example. Salem State recently conducted a nationwide search to pick a local hack state rep, John Keenan, as its new president. Before his elevation, Keenan had some phony-baloney job at the college making $184,000 a year. How big a hack is he? He has a framed photograph of himself with Deval Patrick prominently displayed in his campus office.
Anyway, every couple of days, I have to go onto the treasurer’s website to check whether the statesman’s presidential pay raise has gone through yet. Not a big deal, but it’s a chore. Why can’t the software guys write a program to notify me automatically when Keenan’s pay raise goes through?
The other day, I was on mass.gov renewing my car registration. It cost $60. That made me recall that back when Bill Weld was running for the Senate, he cut the cost of renewal to zero. From nothing to $60 in 20 years – the hacks are running a little ahead of the rate of inflation, no?
So on all mass.gov transactions, I would like to see a notice on how much the cost has gone up. If Market Basket can inform its shoppers how much an ounce of their generic store-brand yogurt costs as opposed to Chobani or Dannon, why can’t mass.gov do pretty much the same?
Don’t you enjoy a countdown clock on TV? I want one on mass.gov., counting down to the moment when the gantries will come down on the Mass Pike. After all, in 1958 Gov. Furcolo told our grandparents that the toll booths would be demolished when the bonds were paid off – in 1988. Wasn’t that a glorious day, when the Pike became free… oh, wait!
Last week I got a press release from the governor’s office: “Baker-Polito Administration Celebrates 75 Roadway and Bridge Projects.”
Something was missing: completion dates. And I don’t mean the century or even the year, I want mass.gov to tell drivers the month when all these glorious updates will be finished. Information to be filed under pains and penalties of perjury.
The new mass.gov should post daily updates of every state worker on a junket – I mean, trade mission. And every morning there should be a list of the top 100 locations in dollar volume for EBT transactions the previous day. The Lottery Commission could even set up a betting site – who was numero uno on the first day of the month– Juan’s Bodega in Lawrence or Rosita’s Groceria in Brockton?
Where were more EBT transactions made – in Florida or Puerto Rico?
TMI is a common problem on many government websites. Too much information. Take job postings. Who has time to wade through endless listings of jobs where you actually have to work?
We only want to know about the good jobs at good wages, as Mike Dukakis used to say. I want some way for mass.gov to sort the new positions so I only get notice of, say, anything that pays over $95,000 a year, is at UMass Boston and has a job description of more than five words.
The reason that’s important is because, the more convoluted the job description, the less work it involves – there are no exceptions to this ironclad axiom of the hackerama.
Consider the recent hack hires at UMass Boston. Take “director of Institute for Community Inclusion.” Went to a hack state rep from Ashland for $175,000. Or “director of economic development and corporate outreach.” That one was grabbed by the former director of the state Democrat party for $96,663.
See what I mean?
We eventually find out this stuff, but it takes a while for tipsters to get around to dropping a dime on the latest no-heavy-lifting hire. I want the new six-figure hack hires in my inbox every morning, with the subject line – “You’ve got hack email.”
A good website needs bells and whistles to generate traffic. Cool flashing maps and so forth. How about a live cam at every New Hampshire border liquor store so our state legislators can wave to their constituents as they load up their trunks with tax-free booze?
We also need surveillance cameras at all the just-over-the-state-line malls like Pheasant Lane in Nashua. Taxpayers want to see our state tax dollars in action, I mean, inaction. GPS trackers on all state vehicles would be also be appropriate, their locations showing up on another state-of-art digital map.
The State Police post their arrests on mass.gov. As with job postings, it’s a waste of time wading through all the extraneous pinches. Gov. Baker, can you order the IT boys to set up a word search function on the MSP page for me?
Key words: “fentanyl” “heroin” and “driving without a license.” Matches with illegal Dominicans 100 percent of the time!
You can check out the in-construction website for yourself – pilot.mass.gov. Nice PC touch, Governor, putting the EBT-card application right there on the home page! Maura Healey is green with envy. But seriously, how can we appeal to the Third World when the website is currently available in only 10 languages? Charlie, the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center may soon be coming after you if you don’t add at least 40 more languages – at least to the Department of Transitional Assistance webpages.
I just thought of one last previously-unavailable public document I’d like to see posted on the new website:
Ex-Lt. Gov. Tim “Crash” Murray’s state cell phone records from November 2011, when he went airborne on I-190 in Sterling in his state Crown Vic at 108 mph into a stone wall, at 5:08 a.m. while attired in his footy pajamas.
Get right on that one, Governor! Nothing drives web traffic like a juicy scandal… or a good laugh.