Citified reported yesterday that 5th Square, a new urbanist, progressive political action committee, has squatted on primo URLs for half of City Council.
Clicking on CurtisJonesJr.com, or BlondellReynoldsBrown.com, or six more URLs ripping off or riffing off the names of other council members redirects web browsers to the PAC's slick homepage. Some of the city's urbanist progressives tittered at the move. But not all.
Jennifer Kates is a senior staffer in the office of Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez (yep, The 5th Square got her too). She's also a Land Bank board member and a highly respected policy pro, so it's not surprising her critique of The 5th Square's cybersquatting was noticed.five
Not so, the 5th Square replies in a new post on their blog, titled "Why We Cybersquatted City Council":
Our plans for these domains are not trivial. As the election nears, we plan to issue scorecards for candidates and provide analysis of their records on the issues our supporters are concerned with – more transportation choices, safer streets, better public spaces, and higher quality governance. Candidate domain names will direct users to the relevant score cards. In many cases, we will be filling these pages with more substantive information than the candidates themselves might have, had they bothered to register them.
Our two core missions of The 5th Square are educating voters about important built environment issues in this election, and (re)electing the best leaders on those issues to public office.
Better leadership comes from an informed electorate. It is critical that voters know where members of Council like Jannie Blackwell or Bill Greenlee have supported progressive urbanist policies for Philadelphia, and where they have fallen short. We will be using their domain names to highlight the relevant voting history of these politicians on these issues that built environment voters care about.
Our intent is not to smear candidates or waste these spaces on political attack ads. We believe several of the candidates will come out looking very favorably from an urbanist perspective. We will be highlighting candidate records on urbanist achievements like the land bank, safe streets, assessment reform, and zoning remapping. We will also be highlighting candidate positions we oppose – blocking and slow-walking safer street plans, downzoning growing neighborhoods, and hoarding city-owned land.
Candidates' voting records and public behavior are all fair game as we seek to help voters make good informed choices about the city's political direction in the voting booth this May, this November, and beyond.