Wednesday July 31, 2013

County Legislator Presents Website that Navigates Government

Ambitious Internet project details all aspects of government
By Lou Sorendo

    “Oswego County’s Guide to Government” is here.

    You want to know about who your elected officials are in Oswego County, the New York State Assembly and Senate, and the United States Congress?

    Want to get educated on what the functions of a village, town or city are?

    You want to learn about upcoming elections and how to get involved in the voting process?

    Daniel Farfaglia, a county legislator who represents the 24th District in Oswego County, is unveiling a website which serves as a veritable Bible of Oswego County government.

    The new website—www.oswegocountygovernments.com—integrates all governmental information from the local to federal level. Not only does it present current information regarding present-day legislators, but goes back in time to explore the evolution of government and politics in Oswego County.

    “I want to make government as accessible as possible,” Farfaglia said.

    “I actually thought of this a number of years ago, but had no idea of where to go or how much it was going to cost,” he said.

    He approached a number of people doing pro bono web design work, but a modest estimation of how much data was involved was overwhelming for a volunteer to take on.

    That’s when Farfaglia turned to Melissa Blackburn of Blackburn Graphics in Oswego.

    “She was astounded at how much information was going into it and had never done a project like this before,” he said.

    Nonetheless, she accepted the project, and it is 95 percent complete. The only details remaining are placing the new redrawn county legislative maps and correcting some glitches.

    Farfaglia’s cyberspace creation integrates numerous resources into one domain. He does feature resources created specifically for the site that cannot be accessed elsewhere, such as district legislative maps dating back to the early 1800s.

    “It shows how much the district and our representation in Congress has changed over the years since Oswego County was founded,” he said.

    Farfaglia said he is hopeful other municipalities will check the site out and consider it an efficient way to identify elected officials and previous leaders as well.

    “It eliminates the grueling search to figure out who our elected officials are,” he said.

    Understanding government

    Not only does one gain an up-close look at their elected officials, but brief explanations of how government functions at various levels is presented.

    “If people go through this site completely, they gain far more knowledge of what their government does and what it is supposed to do,” said Farfaglia.

    Farfaglia links to many resources that already exist, such as www.oswegocounty.org and its government directory for Oswego County.

    “Those are huge resources in putting this together,” said Farfaglia, who credits the original sources in the acknowledgements section of the site.

    The site even features a voting information section where visitors can register to vote online.

    It cost Farfaglia $2,500 to put the website together, and that includes not only the original web design, but also people who put the maps together and did the redesign.

    SUNY Oswego student Amy Shutter is taking the site down the stretch drive as its web master. Once complete, the site will not need to be updated until January 2014.

    “When I first started doing this, many people said it would be near impossible to put something like this together,” he said. “It is a good feeling that it is 95 percent complete and a long-time dream of mine has materialized.”

    The challenge now for Farfaglia is getting the word out regarding the new website.

    “I am surprised at how many very educated people don’t even know who their elected representatives are,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how much schooling you have, it’s just getting to a resource out there that can make you aware of who your elected officials are.”

    Farfaglia, a Democrat, represents constituents in parts of the Fulton-Granby area. He is completing his first term and intends to run for reelection.

    Originally from the Fulton-Volney area, Farfaglia, 43, worked as a staffer for the legislature in Albany for 13 years before making his way back to Oswego County.

    He then teamed as a staff member with former state Sen. Darrel Aubertine when he was elected in 2008.