Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Orland Village officials to buy iPads for their trustees and mayor

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The Village of Orland Park plans to spend just under $6,000 to purchase 11 iPads that their elected officials will use during board meetings. The Village Manager, Paul Grimes, who I admire, has argued that it is a cost savings move and is a part of the villages' continued efforts towards "Greening." (They purchased the iPad 2s, which are the newer ones from Apple.)

Grimes and Deputy Village Clerk Joe LaMargo -- who I think is the real village clerk in Orland Park based on his leadership and activism -- also explained that the village is providing internet access so the Mayor, Dan McLaughlin, and the trustees can access the Internet to review past village documents.

It's not that it is a bad idea. It's a smart idea in concept. I have an iPad. I used to use it all the time, until my wife and son discovered the real benefit of owning an iPad. You can watch great movies on it and play fun games like "Angry Birds" which is the latest online gaming fad, kind of like Cabbage Patch Kids for the Internet's kids. (You use a sling shot to shoot a bird at a structure that collapses and you get points for destroying things -- something I think politicians would love to do.)

They're cheaper than PCs and laptops, which have gotten to be cheap over the past year, but they have limitations. And the Orland iPads don't have 4G access but instead rely on WiFi -- the 4G iPads are really the best because they allow you to access the internet for only $25 a month from anywhere in the United States (I have AT&T). Orland is providing WiFi to the Officials' iPads through Comcast, who are the most expensive monopoly on cable and internet and poor service one can find.

What will the Mayor, trustees and other officials be doing with their iPads? Well, I know Grimes and LaMargo and they are both professionals so you can bet they'll be scanning documents during the meetings. In fact, they will be sharing iPads which means they probably won't be taking them home to play the online games.

But the rest of the officials? How will we know? Well, just watch their faces. The next time the Village Board of Trustees votes to revoke a property tax rebate, or to increase the costs of vehicle stickers, or to increase water fees, if they are not sad-faced, you can bet their probably deeply involved in a game of Angry Birds.

The only other thing the Orland Park officials will be able to do is connect to the Internet using the unreliable Comcast Internet service and check their web site for updated documents, I guess. Or you might catch them at Starbucks using the gadgets in the free WiFi zone. 

Just check to see if they are smiling. I hear Angry Birds is a lot of fun.

- Ray Hanania

(Update -- the purchases were approved by committee but must be approved by the village board)

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