Friday, October 19, 2007

More Campaign Website Reviews!

Good news, people who like my reviews of campaign websites! I'm doing it again!

I've exhausted the mayoral candidates of course, and even though one of our mayoral contenders has scandalously changed her website, I'm not going to focus there anymore.

Rather, it's time to dig deeper into the bowels of Fitchburg politics (yes I know that's a disgusting metaphor) and look at some of the city council candidates! Fun!

Incidentally, do you know how hard it is to find a good list online of just who's running for what? The answer: pretty hard!

Lucky for me a bunch of the candidates don't have websites, so we can just ignore them. And because I'm incredibly lazy, I got all these sites from the handy list Jason has posted over at Save Fitchburg. So if anyone's missing, blame him.

Now, let's begin!

Ward Six

Why Ward 6 first? Because there's just one candidate with a website. It's incumbent and City Council President Jody Joseph!Before I relentlessly make fun of Joseph's site, let me just say it is nice to see an unopposed incumbent who actually bothered to have a website. Way to go Jody!

Oh, but wait... I don't think it was made for this election. On the front page there's a link to something called Ward Six Contest Looms which is talking about an old election. There's also this thing:Also, nowhere does it mention that he's currently the City Council President, which seems like it would belong pretty well in his accomplishments section or something.

Also, as you can see, the site is flesh-colored! Gross!

Okay, in fairness it's not exactly flesh-colored. If my flesh looked like that I'd be concerned. It's more like the Crayola color called "flesh" than actual Caucasoid flesh. Still sort of gross.

Either way, I call foul on this website! It's old and not sufficiently updated for the current election (it does have the date right though).


Ward Four

Okay, moving on to a ward that actually has two active websites and no incumbents! Ward 4 is a hotbed of internet activity!

Let's go in alphabetical order!

Stephen Seney:
The first thing that pops out about Seney's website is that it's really incredibly ugly. I mean super-ugly. Fugly, even. It was apparently made by Kreative Dezign, who seem to suffer from color blindness in addition to dyslexia.

I used to live right near Kreative Dezign's storefront and I actually thought it was a car customization shop for quite awhile. Obviously I was mistaken, because they make websites and stuff! Seney's site would fit in pretty well at a custom car rally, though. It's like a Honda Civic with a gigantic spoiler and spinny hubcaps. Style but very little substance.

As I am wont to do, my first step was to examine his Issues page. This is what I found...
As you can see, Seney has no issues! That screenshot there is all you get, concerned voters! Incidentally, the "my site is always being updated with new information" bit seems to not be the case. This issues page hasn't changed in the few months since I first looked at it.

Well, maybe the issues are cleverly hidden elsewhere. Perhaps the terrible navigation is to blame! So I clicked on the thing that looks like a play button beneath the heading "Who is Steve Seney?" and was presented with five options to find out! Sweet!

First up was Background, where I learned little of interest. Seney likes ice cream and fishing. Also, Fitchburg is his "home by choice." I guess it's nice that nobody's forcing him to live here. So that's something.

Next we have Education. In addition to his formal education we get this awesome bit!
I also consider myself self-taught in many areas that interest me. Real estate and finance are two of these areas. Additionally, and at times more important is the education that my parents gave me. They taught me thru their example as well as by their rules.
Okay, here's my contribution to Seney's education: "Thru" is not a word! The word you're looking for is "through". I know it's longer and sort of ugly, but that's the way it goes.

Also, who isn't self-taught in areas that interest them? I'm interested in physics, self-taught even! That doesn't mean I'm going to get hired at CERN anytime soon. I'm also self-taught in how to find good internet porn. So what?

Third, "Additionally, and at times more important is the education that my parents gave me." is a terrible sentence. Fix that please.

Okay, the "Education" page sucked, what about the exciting-sounding Commitment page?


Okay, the page is summed up in this one quote: "The citizens of Fitchburg deserve results not rhetoric."

Ironically, the entire rest of the page is nothing but stupid rhetoric. Basically, take every cliched thing you've ever heard a politician say and cram it all into the same page. That's what you have here.


Alright, Vision! I love a candidate with vision! I crave a candidate with vision! Tell me about your vision, Steve!
My vision for Fitchburg as a whole is to work with the Council, the Mayors office, Department Heads, and City Employees to strengthen our city. We are all on the same team and we must act that way. Everyone must bring their best to the table for the benefit of the resident’s Fitchburg.

That's not vision, that's more rhetoric! Worse yet, it's rhetoric with bad capitalization and missing apostrophes! Fitchburg should be run like a business, blah blah blah. So it's another page of nothing but vapid rhetoric. God this is getting tiresome.

One more, please let it be good...

Experience... well here's a handy quote
Owning a business taught me several things about myself and my abilities. I am constantly pushing myself to achieve more. I have learned to set goals and achieve them.
Oh yeah, more rhetoric. To hell with this!

Conclusion: Stephen Seney's website really sucks. He doesn't say anything at all about the issues, gives no specifics about anything, and does nothing but bullshit us with the very rhetoric he derides. Bad website! Bad!

Okay, now his opponent!

Kevin Starr:

So what's the first impression here? Well, Starr clearly likes the color red. Red signs, red website. Also, the black-and-white picture of him on the top of the page looks almost identical to the color picture of him in the middle of the page, but I think is different. But I'm not sure! It's kind of creepy if he can pose the exact same way in two separate photos, but maybe that could be considered a political skill. Sort of creeps me out.

Also, while the picture of his family is nice and all, I don't know what's propping up his daughter! She appears to be levitating between them somehow! Yeah, I know he's probably holding her, but I prefer to believe she's somehow magically floating there.

Anyway, this is a much more simple site than Seney's. No fancy but horribly-conceived navigation here, just a few pages. Is it a case of substance triumphing over style though? Let's see!

Wait a second! I was going to put a link here to another page, but there's trickery afoot! All the links are controlled by Javascript, so no matter what you click on the page still claims it's just Sneaky! Points lost for this, because it means that when I went there with Javascript disabled none of the links worked and I saw this:... which isn't very appealing.

Why the subterfuge? Digging into the site reveals the horrible truth! It's all hosted on the domain! Yes, Joe McCarthy! Probably a Joe McCarthy who makes websites and not the Joe McCarthy who gave birth to McCarthyism (and who died in 1957), but still scary! I wonder what Mr. McCarthy thinks of Starr's red theme...

Oh well, on to the About Me page. Note that if you follow that link it's not actually the way the page looks if you just go to the website and click the link, but I couldn't freaking link to it otherwise!

It's the basic background/biography page. He went to meetings at city hall when he was five? That's child abuse!

Nothing terribly exciting there, but it does have this bit:
My focus now is working with Councilor Boisvert and others to create a World War II Honor Roll. Over 11,000 city residents answered the call of their country. The Honor Roll will list each of those brave people, including my grandfather Peter Starr. We have a long way to go to raise an estimated $200,000.This monument would eventually be placed in Riverfront Park.
I didn't know about that before, and that's actually pretty cool. So way to go!

Still, the page is a throwaway, on to the similarly crazy-linked Issues page!

Okay, the page is pretty slim. Better than Seney's, but nothing to write home about. Basically he focuses on financial stuff, which is pretty sensible at this time. He does the same "treat the city like a business" bullshit that it seems like everyone running for everything anywhere does. Man I'm tired of hearing that. The only real specific on the page is this:
I will ask our mayor to have each city department make public quarterly financial reports stating the goals and objectives of each department. This would give the residents the opportunity to see how their tax dollars are spent every three months.
Decent enough idea. Still a pretty slim page.

Okay, one page left, but it's the one that may put Starr over the top! So far things have been pretty slim, but now we get to his Blog! It actually pops up in a new window and has a bit different design, but I'm going to consider it part of the site anyway.

Starr is the first candidate whose site I've examined who has a blog, and it's a good move on his part.

It's only been active since early October, but he comes across well in his posts. Positive, articulate, etc. Good things to be! It also gives him a bit of humanity, which is something that can often be missing from candidate websites. It could use a few more posts, though.

Conclusion: This is definitely not the fanciest website in the world, and could really use some more information on the issues. It is clean and simple though, and doesn't irritate or insult you with giant flag pictures and pages of rhetoric (there is rhetoric, but it's minor). The site doesn't really do anything wrong, but it doesn't really impress either. The blog is a very nice touch.

So who wins the showdown for Ward 4 website? Easy, Starr does. Not that either website is fantastic, but Seney's was actually annoying while Starr's was just sort of plain.

(On a side note, you may be interested in this information about Seney, which is also sort of disheartening.)

Anyway, that's it for this installment of campaign website reviews. I'll be getting to the candidates for Councilor-at-Large in a bit, but we have four websites to review for them and the post would just be way too big with all that in it! I might even deal with the school committee candidates. Anything could happen!

Stay tuned!


stah said...

Thanks for the positive review, I think!

Joe McCarthy is a good friend of mine who put my site together. I'm not sure why his name comes up on it but I'll ask him.

I wanted to put some kind of site together but keep it simple. The blog page is something that I had to have! I enjoy reading them so much, that I wanted to control my own! I would like to keep the blog active to create a better way for constitutants to see what's going on and to share their thoughts. I'm sure that I may need to include moderation if elected.

I plan on posting something at least once a week. Topics will be mostly based around activities in the city but you can count on a few posts regarding our local teams and anything else that I feel like sharing.

Basically I'm saying that I think blogs are fun! I'm sure that you agree.

fitchburg-shuffle said...

I like that blog idea. Why don't more elected officials utilize something like that?

This is another reason why I plan on voting for Starr.

1970s Abraham Lincoln said...

Why don't more elected officials utilize something like that?

If you've ever been to a city council meeting, you'll know that nearly half of the councilors are functionally illiterate. That's why each councilor is furnished with a helpful set of self-inking stamps. The one with the smiley face stamps a big "OK!" in green. The one with the frowny-face stamps a big "NO!" in red. The stamp with the question mark icon means, "Please have Robert Pontbriand explain this to me later" [this is reserved for the mayor] and the stamp with the dollar sign icon is only distributed to councilors who have real estate and other business interests in the city. I'm not entirely sure what that one means.

The few candidates and councilors who do know how to read are largely bereft of ideas, which makes talking and writing about ideas all but impossible. I'm hopeful that future councilors will be less embarrassingly stupid and more technologically savvy, but I don't really hold out hope that we'll ever see anything beyond campaign rhetoric in a politician's blog.

The only candidate I've encountered among the current group who seems likely to actually say what's on his mind is Shaun Cormier. I don't know if that's because he's twelve years old, or if he's just naturally immune to political affectation. Either way, I trust him more that any of the other current or would-be councilors who have had the misfortune of stumbling into me during this election cycle.

Shaun C. said...


Thanks man...Your right i'm probably the least political of any candidate running. In fact ironically I don't really care for politics, I'm running because I'm sick of what I see going on, and I feel like someone needs to step up to the plate. I'll always give it to you straight. However, I'll always be considerate for the other councilors. I know that may sound corny, but it's the truth. Oh yea I just turned 13, sorry to have to correct you on that, but i'm proud to be a teenager finally.

While I'm writing, Unicow, I'm looking forward to seeing what you say about my site, the anticipation is killing me. I already know a few things on what you would say, but it sounds funnier coming from you. Yea I know it's weird that I'm waiting for someone to criticize me, but honestly it's funny shit.

Oh yea if anyone is interested in what happened at the downtown forum on Saturday, go to fitchburg's voice blog, i wrote a little something on it.

The Unicow said...

One response to everybody!


Yeah, it's basically a positive review. Frankly, just having even a simple site puts you ahead of most candidates. Having one that doesn't annoy and/or insult me gives you extra points!

I totally support you keeping the blog active. Great idea. And yeah, moderation is a good thing (I learned that the hard way).


What 1970s Lincoln said. Lots of dumbasses. But I too like the idea of our elected officials actually communicating with the people.


I want some stamps like that. They'd have all kinds of uses around the house.


You know what I'm going to say? Sorcerer!

You welcoming my inevitable abuse of your site is a good thing though. I like that we've got at least two candidates around here who have a sense of humor.

Anyway, the councilor-at-large sites should hopefully be coming sometime this week. It's a full group, so will probably take me a couple days to get through.

1970s Abraham Lincoln said...

I just turned 13, sorry to have to correct you on that, but i'm proud to be a teenager finally.

Awesome. If you get elected, we're all going to chip in and buy you a bike. Not a great bike or anything - maybe like a Huffy or something with a banana seat.

Shaun C. said...

Sweet...then I would really be part of the cool kids, with my fancy "new" Huffy.

Unicow, yes I am a sorcerer and my demonic horse creature (see post to see of what I speak) and I will rid this city of evil.

Ok so this is getting a little too off topic, but it's fine.

The Unicow said...

All hail emperor Butterscotch!

stah said...

One more thing,

Red theme? I'm a Red Raider dammit!

JoeMac likes the theme because he's one too!

The Unicow said...

So not a communist then?

1970s Abraham Lincoln said...

JoeMac likes the theme because he's one too!

I watched a video on Youtube about a week ago of Bob Dylan and John Lennon in the back of a limo, circa 1965. Dylan was incomprehensibly drunk, and Lennon was typically smug. I'm pretty sure that Dylan actually mumbled these same words, to which Lennon tittered and then said something really droll.

stah said...


I'm not sure this Joseph McCarthy can even spell communist.


I saw a surprisingly coherent Dylan open up for the Greatful Dead in '95. He seemed much more alive than Garcia! Makes sense since Jerry was dead a few weeks later.

1970s Abraham Lincoln said...

I saw a surprisingly coherent Dylan open up for the Greatful Dead in '95.

Really? I've seen Dylan several times, most recently a week or so ago at the DCU center, and I've never found him to be coherent.

stah said...

I saw him one other time in '98 at UMASS. He reverted back to his incoherent mode.

I sang "Tangled up in Blue" better than him!

ReallyRachel said...

Generation gap here.

Dylan rules. Poet laureate of my generation.

It was a different time. We really didn't have the kind of freedom of speech back then that you guys enjoy. Really. It had to be done through music and subliminal messages in the lyrics.

But for poetry and music with a message, I'll take Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.

Mensches all! :-)

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