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Mayor untangles from city web

CITY HALL: Fontana spends office budget money to create own, more nimble website


Last Updated: January 26, 2012 7:36am


Joe Fontana may love London — but Well, that’s another matter entirely.

Irked with the perceived limitations of city hall’s website, Fontana has launched a new mayoral site that’s at a distinct remove from London’s official web presence and paid for by his office’s expanded budget for community engagement.

“I got so frustrated, I said I’m doing my own,” Fontana said. “I think you’ve heard me on many occasions talk about how antiquated our technology platform is, so I got frustrated.”

The new website,, is built and maintained by a pair of private firms that were involved in Fontana’s 2010 campaign. The mayor is defending the move as crucial for getting information out to Londoners.

“(I’m) determined to make sure I as mayor could do what I needed to do — and that’s to make sure that if I had an announcement to make, if I was doing something and wanted to inform Londoners tomorrow, I could do it,” he said, adding: “it was taking me weeks to put something up on the city website.”

The new site, launched just weeks ago, is run by Susan McElroy & Associates, a communications outfit, and the local Internet company PrimeWeb. Both were involved in Fontana’s 2010 mayoral campaign.

McElroy has been on contract to the mayor’s office to handle communications work, including such projects as Fontana’s online town hall meetings. She declined comment on the website, citing client confidentiality.

Raphael Metron, an owner of PrimeWeb, said he believes the website allows Fontana to reach out to Londoners more quickly.

“It’s an opportunity for him to chat a little more personally” with citizens, Metron said.

Metron declined to say what it cost to build the website. One local web developer estimated they’d charge $5,000 to $7,000 to create such a site.

The cost was covered in the 2011 mayor’s office budget that was infused with $30,000 in one-time funding to help Fontana cover community-engagement efforts.

That budget is set for $50,000 in 2012 after a request from Fontana was endorsed in principle during a recent budget debate. Only a small amount of that new money will go to maintaining the website — $100 or $200 a month, the mayor said.

Public-relations help is vital, Fontana said, noting the city’s six-person communications team works for the City of London, not the politicians.

Fontana makes no apologies for taking the unusual step of establishing an independent website.

“I’ve done a lot of things that are different than before. Why? Because I wanted to make sure I could do things as quickly as possible.”

The long-standing mayor’s page at, meanwhile, will remain active, staff say.
Mayor Joe Fontana’s new website


The city’s website

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