Monday, December 11, 2006

Internet activist targets lawmaker

Julielyn (you are out now, girlfriend!) once said that blogs can be "a campaign's best friend". Well, blogs can also be a politician's worst nightmare- a group of people dedicated to watching every move and recording it all in one convenient place. No more digging through mounds of records or old news articles to find out what your congresscritter is up to.

What a wonderful tool for accountability. A focused group of people can (and will) go places that the traditional media will generally ignore.

A Web log targeting U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, is the latest site of its kind to focus on the political scene in Livingston County and the 8th Congressional District.

According to its founder, Julielyn Gibbons, who grew up in Green Oak Township and now lives in Lansing, the Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood blog will document the congressman's every move in order to keep his constituents up to date.

Gibbons' political leanings are clear - her computer nickname is LiberalLucy and her other blog is called Liberal, Loud and Proud - but she insists her latest effort is not meant to smear or disparage Rogers. In truth, she said, her goal is to be educational.

"Since he is, in fact, working for all of us, the government should have an inherent level of transparency," Gibbons said. "This is just helping to make Mr. Rogers' record more transparent."

"I'm not saying Mike Rogers hasn't done anything good for the district, but there's a lot more good that he could be doing," she continued. "If nothing else, we who helped create the blog hope he understands, by us paying attention to him and publicizing what he does ... we are going to hold him accountable."

The blog's motto posted at the top of the site reads: "The people of Michigan's 8th Congressional District deserve better than Mike Rogers. Here is where the change begins."

Rogers spokeswoman Sylvia Warner declined to comment for this article.

The blog - - has been up about a week. So far, it has posted the rankings of Rogers' record from several interest groups, and highlighted quotes from Rogers in various newspapers. Gibbons said about a half-dozen bloggers have signed on to track what the congressman does, including the campaign contributions he receives and his votes on the floor of the House.

Kudos to the Livingston Daily Press & Argus for doing a story on this- although I noticed they put in a pitch for their own comment section, something that the media is quietly adding to their websites as a way to combat the growing diversion that the blogs are creating. Still, they can never be as issue/person specific as a blog can be, and that is where the blogs will win.

Question is: What happens if Rogers is tossed out? Will this group of people continue to focus on that district? My own blog could be renamed "Who's Hassling the Governor Today?" at this point, and I intend on keeping my attention on what happens in Lansing these next four years because I have turned loyalty into a character defect. After that, who knows.

Something to consider.