OPINION LETTER — The Thursday, March 16 Peachtree City Council agenda on pages 18 – 23 outlines a new contract they want to sign with Zencity.
It’s under section VIII, Consent Agenda, item number 3, “Consider Citizen Engagement Tool – Zencity.” But Consent Agenda items are passed without any discussion. A Councilman would need to ask that this item is removed from the Consent Agenda so it can be discussed.
How is it the City Manager put this directly onto the “Consent Agenda”? This topic has never been on the Council agenda. It hasn’t been discussed. It references an annual contract amount of $64,000.
Zencity is a tech company that collects community input, to provide access to resident’s feedback. It pulls data from hundreds of external and internal channels and other sources.
What that means is that Zencity will monitor social media outlets and websites to gather comments made about Peachtree City issues and actions. It will gather what you say about your government, compile it into a report format, and give it to the Peachtree City Council, City Manager and other Department heads.
Essentially they will search through internet sources and tell our city leaders what we are saying about them. It’s a form of “spying” on us.
The irony of all this should not be overlooked. This new contract with Zencity is being proposed to find out what you say, as they continue to limit and silence us. City Council gives citizens just two minutes at Council meetings to make a public comment (and less time if there are more than 10 speakers). You cannot speak about an item on the agenda for that meeting.
And, this Thursday, March 16, City Council plans to change Ordinance 1206 which allows a citizen to put an item directly onto their agenda.
They are working to silence and limit our ability to address our grievances directly to them, in person, in public. At the same time, they are initiating a contract to find out what we are saying about them on social media, behind their backs.
Definitely spying, but not listening to us.
Why did City Council disband the Citizen Recreation Commission which gave them input from citizens about recreation programs?
It seems they don’t really want to hear from citizens, in public. Oh, you can write to them. Last month they said they read all their emails.
Reading them, reacting to them, and placing issues on the agenda are different things. When you address your grievances in an email to Council, your fellow citizens don’t know what you are concerned about. They cannot add their voice to yours if they agree, or outline a counter point, if they don’t agree.
Can’t one of the City’s highly qualifed tech staff simply examine social media sites periodically to compile pertinent comments for staff to see? Shouldn’t this have been introduced to Council, with a justification why current staff can’t do it? Does it require a competitive bidding process?
Do we want $64,000 a year to be paid to Zencity to spy on us? Please don’t point out the first year discount when it references the annual cost as $64,000. I don’t think the City Manager has the authority to spend that much money on a new line item, without Council involvement.
Plus, Zencity has direct ties to Alibaba, a Chinese Company, and Salesforce, an American Company heavily embedded into China with massive data storage inside China.
That brings up a serious concern for what will be shared with the Chinese government since they own all Chinese companies. Where will the data bee stored, in the US, or in China? And will they sell data to a 3rd party and not tell us?
Zencity recently acquired Elucd, a company that gathered data and compiled “Police Sentiment Ratings” of the New York Police Department. The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP) sued The New York City Police Department over their refusal to provide the data to support their reports and that the numbers were valid.
You may want to voice your concerns about the city signing this contract with Zencity.
But you’ll need to write to Council. You won’t be permitted to speak about this issue at the meeting on Thursday. You can comment on here about what you think. Who knows, if they approve the Zencity contract your comment may be included in their first report to the City Council. To get it to them sooner, you’ll need to write to them.
Tell them you don’t want them to spend YOUR tax dollars to spy on you.
You can also tell them your opinion on whether they should change Ordinance 1206 that currently lets citizens put items directly onto their agenda. They’re taking away your right to do that on Thursday night also.
Tell them what you think. Here are their email addresses:
Peachtree City, Ga.
I sure would have loved to hear the reasoning and rationale behind the desire to spend this $64,000 on the social media monitoring & reporting. I’m not going to call it spying because spying has the inference that something is being done in secret or covertness – this is neither, and they’re just searching to see what is stated and put out there publicly for anyone to see. But why……why is it so important to know this? If our politicians can’t lick their finger and stick it out the window to see which way the proverbial winds are blowing, then maybe they’re so out of touch (dare I say elitist) that they don’t really represent us – the citizens – anymore and only represent their own selfish and self-serving interests, and are trying to get away with as much as possible – as long as it doesn’t create a murmur on social media. To the mayor and council – you can save the $64k – I’ll tell you this point blank – your displaced left turn “solution” for 54/74 stinks, and no one that I know is behind it, and we pretty much all think you’re just kicking the can down the road and not solving anything.
That’s exactly why I voted against the SPLOST, there is already so much money wasted by elected officials now they want to mine social media so that they can file lawsuits against some one posting to their family what they think because they randomly decided it defames them. They have an extra 60,000 to spend to try and silence any opinion that isn’t theirs. Then they will find waste more money to litigate someone’s opinion. If you don’t want one to talk negatively about you don’t run for office.
Could not agree more about wasteful spending such as this, and I too voting against SPLOST for the same reason. I don’t personally care whether they are “spying” or not, but it is absurd to spend that kind of money when the mayor and council clearly do not care what their electorate have to say. To pretend they do, with something as absurd as this, well it is beyond insulting.
PTC can barely enforce the rules and regulations specific to golf carts and golf cart paths. SB is just chick little, the boy who cried wolf, and a fan of Q-Anon. If she is so afraid of the government teat, she should just refuse her federal retirement check that comes monthly, or all of the federal benefits, she receives. And why do you overuse the phrase, “in other words…”
All things said “why are we paying some company $64,000(a discount for the first year) to collect social media which is really not important?
Get some college student to mine this online info as a city intern this Summer…save the $64K…and hire another Cop where it will produce results.
Folks like SB make local leaders:
A. More interested in hearing from citizens
B. Less interested in hearing from citizens
Most of us can ace this test 😎
Researching and collecting information from comments or opinions you push out on social media or public news outlets is not spying. If it was every person reading your opinion letter is spying on you. 😂
I think Ms. Brown is auditioning for a reporter position on Fox News. She discovers something absolutely innocuous, asserts a nefarious intention, escalates its importance, and broadcasts it to an audience open to even the most inane conspiracy theories to scare the wits out of them. Somehow, she omitted the descriptor “woke” to further drive her audience into hysteria.
Let’s put this into simple language: If you don’t want people to know what you are saying on the internet, don’t post.
Truth is stranger than fiction.
You are fascinated with FN for sure. That seems to me me the only take you have, and it has nothing to do with the subject at hand, do better. I am sure they appreciate you mentioning them constantly.
That said. “Spying ON JS ” LOL…this letter to the editor is laughable. That we agree on.
Spying on us…oh for an edit.
Zencity’s “spying” amounts to automated internet searches for topics of interest as defined by their customers to get a more robust picture of issues their citizens are talking about. It amounts to “spying” the way customers of Publix or Kroger can “spy” on the store’s products or customer service by “sneaking in” during business hours and “spying” by which I mean “shopping.”
In other words, if you’re keeping an active internet or social media presence, open for all to see, Zencity (like tens of thousands of other companies) is aggregating comments or hastags their client (city governments) want to know about. For awareness, such a hideous motive.
In other words, they’re simply organizing relevant data that people are already putting into the public arena which can be seen by anyone with an electronic device and internet access. Nefarious indeed. When your eyes get covered by your tinfoil hat, conspiracies are everywhere.
And this is supposed to accurately reflect the sentiment of Peachtree City? Or just that of the social media junkies with nothing better to do? Would you trust your elections to be decided by Twitter or Facebook?
I’m not a social media fan, and why I maintain a minimal exposure on social media. Should other limited-social media users have their voices ignored? Or should we create bot armies to influence social media issues to give the city council a distorted impression of Peachtree City residents think?
If the City Council is truly interested in public opinion, perhaps they should get out and talk to the constituents, rather than relying on a 3rd party to tell them what the public thinks about them. As with most consultants, they typically will tell you what you want to hear and provide you with data to back that up. I expect the same from ZenCity.
Would you be in favor of giving Cal $64 grand to let him tell the PTC council what’s on the mind of PTC residents? Isn’t this sort of what they are asking ZenCity to do?
Perhaps a better assessment might be municipal non-binding ballot measures. These don’t carry a $64,000 annual price tag either.
Too bad the public wasn’t permitted to comment on this during the PTC council meeting before it was passed. I guess they really aren’t concerned with public opinion after all.