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IPad is on the agenda

Councilwoman is pushing toward going all digital with weekly meeting postings.

September 20, 2010|By Melanie Hicken,

CITY HALL — Regular followers of the weekly posting of agendas for city meetings may have noticed a new addition in the past month — agendas especially formatted for Apple's iPad devices.

The new agendas were requested by Councilwoman Laura Friedman, who is pushing the city to go digital in an effort to save paper each week.

Every week, the city clerk's office produces copies of meeting agendas and related documents for individual City Council members.

Beyond meeting agendas and the city reports, City Council members also regularly receive paper copies of project plans or environmental reports that number in the hundreds of pages each, which Friedman says is a waste of paper and staff time.


"The whole goal is to reduce the incredible amount of paper and staff time that it takes to duplicate," she said. "We get so much information, so much paper."

While the agendas have always been available online, the new PDF format makes them easier to view and navigate on electronic devices.

"It turned out to be not very difficult for us to do," said Information Services Director Ed Fraga. "We simply put all of the agenda and the documents in a single file and make that a PDF file."

Although the agendas are listed as iPad agendas online, Friedman said they will work well on any electronic device, such as a laptop or desktop computer.

"It's much easier for the public to see everything electronically," she said.

With the test phase almost complete, Friedman said she soon plans to forgo picking up a paper packet and view all documents on her iPad device, on loan from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, for which she serves as a board representative.

The water agency operates paper-free and has provided each board member with an iPad to view agendas and documents.

"They just did an analysis of eliminating all of the printed material; the cost savings they were looking at was over $140,000 per year," she said.

Metropolitan is one of many public agencies across the country that have gone paper-free in an effort to become more environmentally friendly while also cutting costs.

Friedman did not advocate for the city to buy iPads, but she said she did hope more elected and city officials would choose to go digital.

"My goal is at some point I would like to see us eliminate almost all the paper that the city is buying and duplicating and throwing away," she said. "We need to be mindful of resources and mindful of money. Trying to eliminate as much paper as we can is a good first step."

Alek Bartrosouf, co-founder of nonprofit Coalition for a Green Glendale, agreed that it was a good start, but said he hoped to see more green initiatives come from the dais.

"I definitely applaud her effort for helping those on the City Council be a little more green," he said. "But I would say that I hope that along with Laura Friedman, the other council members jump on board and have a greener initiative for Glendale as well."

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