Councillor Wants to do Away With Paper

Differences in opinion on costs and impacts on the environment were just a few of the issues raised Monday night as new District 3 Councillor Naomi Zabot pushed for the Council to ditch paper and go digital with tablets.

A proposal for councillors to be given tablets in an effort to cut down on paper was a no-go when former Councillor Luis Tejada brought the idea forward a few years back.

Councillor Judith Garcia shows how much paper a councillor is burdened with over the course of several months.

Although the Council voted to further study costs and possible implementation in committee at a future meeting, it was clear Monday night that there is no consensus on the issue.

Zabot said the large paper packets filled with motions, letters, and official decrees the council gets every week are unnecessary and not environmentally responsible.

“Most of what we need can be communicated digitally,” said Zabot. “(Tablets) are a productive way to transmit information and we can be environmentally conscious.”

District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero argued that the taxpayers should not be picking up the cost for tablets or other electronic devices. He also downplayed the environmental concerns of using paper council packets.

“You can recycle them,” he said. “They’re made out of a tree.”

Councillor-At-Large Damali Vidot agreed with Recupero, noting that the cost of the tablets would be well above the approximately $150 the Council spends annually on paper and printing costs. Vidot also said the environmental impact of going to tablets are also not as clear, since paper can be recycled more efficiently than outdated electronic equipment.

“I will vote against this, although I think we do waste a lot of paper, but at least paper can be recycled,” Vidot said. “I’m not in favor of putting the burden on the taxpayer.”

As Vidot was speaking, District 5 Councillor Judith Garcia plopped about a two-foot stack of folders in front of her, noting that was only a few months’ worth of Council paperwork. 

Garcia said using tablets would be greener for the city, and that there is $4,500 set aside in the proposed capital improvement plan for tablets for the Council.

“There are plenty of cities using tablets,” she said.

The issue was moved to a conference meeting where councillors could ask City technology experts about the real costs of buying and using tablets, and the pros and cons of their use.

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