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Advertising Hits Arizona County Government Website 239

Combuchan writes "Just when you thought that pages on your local government's website were the last bastion of the advertisement-free WWW, that may soon change. Maricopa County (seen on slashdot before), home to 3.4 million people in the Phoenix metropolitan area, has seen their GIS website "become an every day tool for realtors, developers, mortgage and title companies, appraisers, inspectors, attorneys and many other professionals associated with the real estate industry." As a result, they are now accepting bids for Web advertisements. As the county is one of the best-run in the nation, this could set quite the precedent."
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Advertising Hits Arizona County Government Website

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  • by Anonymous Crowhead ( 577505 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:43PM (#9817277)
    Someone's got to pay. I don't see the big deal.
    • Right (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:47PM (#9817323)
      This is a country by the corporations, for the corporations, and now paid for by the corporations! What a great country we live in.

      I'd much rather keep my money for myself to spend on the products the corporations make than contributing to the country I live in. What a horrible concept!

      Unfortunately, now I won't have anyone to complain to when things start going wrong, because I'm not paying them.

      • Re:Right (Score:3, Informative)

        by dasmegabyte ( 267018 )
        Uh, I love cynical posts like this. Hey brother, let me help you out. Government has a pricetag, and projects we like sometimes don't get the money they need. This is because government has to jump through a lot of hoops to get bonds and such passed, so generally they have a finitie amount of money for everything they have to do. For little projects like GIS datasets, which are EXTREMELY expensive to produce and yet most residents expect them to be free, people have to get a little creative. The US Gov
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Realistically, if this catches on it'll be ads AND taxes. Politicians will first look on it as an additional source of income, not a way to reduce taxes.
    • It's either ads or taxes.

      technically correct. more precisely, it's taxes. that the citizens pay. for the operation of their government.

      which, in theory, is not supposed to be a whoring billboard for the highest bidder.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Ads are good for covering costs, however they are also completely inappropriate for any service rendered by state authority. I'm not into US or Arizona or this particular county legislature, but if somebody would be able to promote itself on government owned web site, while somebody else couldn't, the whole thing could be seen as a governement endorsment of certain business. This in my eyes would be alost like Bush renting the White House lawn for McDonalds arches. He might be a monkey, but certain things e

    • Like a politician, you have overlooked the most obvious and efficient solution: cut spending. Reduce the scope and power of government. Let people decide for themselves where to direct their money.

      Personally, I don't recieve a return on approximately 95% of what I pay taxes for. Did you know that the average US citizen pays nearly 50% of their yearly earnings to government through federal, state, and local taxes combined? Do you really think government knows better how to spend this money than you, the one
    • The Mafia could also pay, but then the government would be responsible to them. That's the issue. It's not that they're being paid, but it's the fact they're being paid by a company. A private entity. That means they are in their pocket. They have a responsibility to their sponsors. Even if the responsibility is 0, it's still a conflict of interest, and something you should be very worried about indeed. They're public servants, not corporate servants. sheesh.
  • what is the point (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phantasma6 ( 799340 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:45PM (#9817289)
    How much revenue would advertising bring to the site? Would it be worth the degraded image that advertising will bring? Do they really need that extra money?
    • Maricopa County Supervisors Lower Property Tax Rate

      Says it all right there
    • by kevlar ( 13509 )
      How much revenue would advertising bring to the site?

      Answer: a decent amount!

      They know precisely WHO their audience is. They know they deal with Real Estate. Mortgage companies and companies like Home Depot I would think would be the first to jump on the band wagon.
  • by DAldredge ( 2353 ) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:45PM (#9817290) Journal
    This won't help lower taxes, it will raise them. You see someone (political connected) will 'have' to be hired to managed the ad program. And since the persons salery will come out of a different budget pool they will still make it look like the ad program is bringing in more than it is.

    Ain't goverment budgeting wonderful? It makes Enron's accounting look legal by comparison.
    • You've never worked for a county.

      See, the US government can operate on deficit spending. Many states can do this as well. A county cannot -- and counties just don't get that much tax. The budget is small and know exactly how much money and how much help you have for the year, and you make do with that. Many places will have some positions that are only allowed to work 10 or 20 paid hours a week.

      Local and regional governments get around this by buying packages of software and services with a
  • Oh no! (Score:2, Insightful)

    A government earning money instead of forcing its citizens to supply it under threat of force.

    What on Earth will we do?!

    Love it...
    • A government earning money instead of forcing its citizens to supply it under threat of force.

      If you don't like taxes there must be some country on Earth where citizens pay none. I mean it's just so outdated. The US Mint makes the money, why can't they just make extra and give it to the government?
      • This is a good point. We pay taxes for services. Want to live in a third world nation? Or forth world nation like Somolia? Go for it.
      • Hate replying to my own comments, but judging by replies to my comment I think I didn't make my sarcasim clear enough....
      • The mint only makes coin. Better to ask the BEP for paper money.

        And here are some stupid cliff (of cheers fame) fun facts:

        The mint and BEP are the only two goverment entities that consistantly make money. They create the stuff and they basically 'sell' it at face value. The margins on coin are low, but they still make a mint. nyuck nyuck.

        The United States Postal Service sell advertising. Put in a change of address recently and the confirmation letter's envelope from them contained serveral ad
    • by Anonymous Coward
      But where I come from, government providing preferential treatment to businesses or individuals in exchange for monetary sums is called "corruption".
    • Re:Oh no! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gspr ( 602968 )
      The government has a responsibility for its citizens. Its primary objective is to take care of them, not to earn money. To do the job, though, they need money, which should come from those it takes care of - the citizens.
      • Its primary objective is to take care of them, not to earn money.

        That is only the primary objective of a socialist government. The primary objective of the US Government is to defend the country, the people, and their freedom.

        To do the job, though, they need money, which should come from those it takes care of - the citizens.

  • by Edgebound ( 800110 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:46PM (#9817303)
    As long as my Adblock still works they can advertise all they want.
  • Adblock for FireFox (Score:2, Informative)

    by wyldeone ( 785673 )
    Just get AdBlock [] for FireFox. After a week or so of tuning it you'll almost never see an ad again.
  • Two words (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Safety Cap ( 253500 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:47PM (#9817309) Homepage Journal
    Ad-Block []
    • by xixax ( 44677 )
      I just tried their online mapping tool and:
      "This site is best viewed when using Internet Explorer.
      Your using: Netscape5"
      In this case, "best viewed" is a synonym for "borked with every other browser except the one we use". Ads? I can't see any ads...

      Oh, and that should be "you're".


  • Sheriff Joe Arpaio (Score:4, Interesting)

    by l810c ( 551591 ) * on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:48PM (#9817330)
    This is county with America's Toughest Sheriff []

    I especially like this:

    The same is true for his chain gangs which work six days a week contributing thousands of dollars of free labor to the community.

    • I appreciate the creativity with which he approaches his line of work...
    • Yes.. America needs a boatload of sheriffs like this guy. You know they used to have webcams in their city jail?! Sweet!! I can't seem to find them now..
  • It's really very simple, let the public decide, and then demonstrate exactly how the revenue generated will be spent.

    I would recommend that the itemized revenue be available online at any time.

    no big deal.
  • heh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Perianwyr Stormcrow ( 157913 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:50PM (#9817351) Homepage
    As ads suck less, I am less inclined to block them.

    I don't ever block Blogads. They're relevant almost 100% of the time.

    Your standard punch the fucking monkey in the balls to win a free root canal and lobotomy combo performed by a spider from Hell banner ad is why ad blockers were invented, and their mere existence is enough to make those who purvey standard size ads unworthy of my attention, ever. In my view, nearly all standard sized advertisements (banners, skyscrapers, blah whatever) are trash and get treated like the trash they are.
  • by TyrranzzX ( 617713 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:54PM (#9817385) Journal
    As always, ye who gives the county much needed revenue through advertising gets special treatment when you need a favor from the country should something go arwy. Same thing as cop cars with coporate advertising awhile back; if there was a protest at the local mcdonalds, and the cop cars adorn the corporate logo of mcdonalds, the cops would be there quicker to help out mcdonalds than, say, some local woman who just got raped.

    I spose this is what we get for putting people in power who want government to make good business sense.
  • discrimination (Score:2, Insightful)

    by slothman32 ( 629113 )
    Has anyone noticed that the site actually prevents non win98/nt/xp/me/ie4 from viewing it. It doesn't just not work it actually is prevented. It smells like discrimination to me. OF course /.ers won't think so because they acn change. But then /.ers are wrong and stupid. Hint mod this down so I don't have excelent karma and get more mod points.
    • It uses a MapGuide plugin which isn't available for anything beyond IE. When you're dealing with GIS data, I'm not sure you can really be that choosy about the format. If there's only a reasonable cost to make the data more accessible you have a shot at converting it, but I don't think that's likely.
  • Bit late now.

    The IETF's myopic mantra of "everything must be free" has inevitably failed and in its place is a system where the best sites have to pay for the privilege of having a big audience.

    A more practical economic model would have ensured that the consumer paid instead of the producer. Now having married these systems in haste we get to repent at leisure.
  • by Jeffrey Baker ( 6191 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:55PM (#9817398)
    Maricopa County is only "well-run" if you think it's a good idea to build a city of millions in the middle of the desert, hundreds of miles from the nearest renewable source of water and sustainable agriculture. If you consider those minor matters of survival, it's a fucking disaster.

    Let Maricopa County have advertisers on their real estate website. That will distract people from the fact that they're buying land in the desert

    • Come visit in October. You'll love it.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The truth of the matter is that there is quite a bit of agriculture in the Phoenix area. Mostly citrus (it's on the state seal), but you can also see corn and various other things being grown if you drive to some of the outlying areas of the city. There are also a number of lakes within an hour's drive of the city. The Salt River used to run right through Tempe (until they dammed it up for some reason or another--a number of canals run through the city). You can, however, bring your own beer and tube do
      • by Jeffrey Baker ( 6191 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @09:00PM (#9817864)
        Yes, I am painfully aware of the agriculture practiced in Arizona. My tax dollars are subsidizing it to the tune of about $1000 per dollar of produced crop, mostly in the form of water projects.

        Here's some stats for you on Maricopa County's water supply. The basins and aquifers contain about 175 million acre-feet of water. This is the bit the county has rights to. The county's water use is over 2 million acre-feet per year. The groundwater recharge rate is a pathetic 150,000 acre-feet per year, on average. The aquifer will be depleted in 60 years, according to Maricopa County's own, very optimistic estimates.

        Now, riddle me this. Is it wise to invest in real estate in an area that will have pissed away its water supply in less than a century?

        Furthermore I'd like to point out that much of Maricopa's and Arizona's surface water supply, for the bastardization of agriculture they tend to practice in that region, is piped in from the Colorado River, which aquatic system had to be ruined to support ambitious Arizona land owners, at the expense of everyone else.

        Here's a nice book to read: Cadilalc Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water []

    • you're thinking of las vegas

      there's plenty of well water here
      • you're thinking of las vegas

        there's plenty of well water here

        There's plenty of well water in Las Vegas, too. But no source of well water in a desert is going to survive millions of people drawing on it for centuries.
    • Come on.
      Everyone from Phoenix remebers that it goes:

      Go ahead and call the 5th largest city in the country a disaster because its in the middle of the desert. You can even make fun of the Good 'Ol Boy sheriff.
      But never under any circumstances disrespect the greatest TV show of all time!

    • Obviously, you don't know much about Phoenix history. Phoenix has been a rich place of agriculture with plenty of water to sustain multiple cultures throughout history.

      The prehistoric Hohokam Indians first settled the area about 300 B.C. and dug a system of extensive irrigation canals for farming. This system included over 300 miles of major canals, which took its water from the Gila, Salt, San Pedro and Santa Cruz rivers. This water was then used to support thousands of acres of farm land. Much of Phoenix
      • by Jeffrey Baker ( 6191 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @10:38PM (#9818439)
        The Hohokam had a peak population of less than 50,000 people, and their society collapsed. Some people think the Hohokam society collapsed because their irrigation technology overextended the population, which was then wiped out by drought and poor soil management. I see a parallel with Maricopa County. Yes, technology allows 4 million people to live in the desert. But in adverse conditions, the Maricopa County society is just as apt to evaporate as the Hohokam did 600 years ago.
        • If they start to run out of water, then just send them up to live in the frozen tundra, eh.
        • The Hohokam had a peak population of less than 50,000 people, and their society collapsed. Some people think the Hohokam society collapsed because their irrigation technology overextended the population, which was then wiped out by drought and poor soil management. I see a parallel with Maricopa County. Yes, technology allows 4 million people to live in the desert. But in adverse conditions, the Maricopa County society is just as apt to evaporate as the Hohokam did 600 years ago.

          So you are basically sayin

  • by dustinbarbour ( 721795 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:56PM (#9817400) Homepage
    Eh.. That's why I installed the AdBlock extension for Firefox. problem solved..
  • Are there any examples of government entities accepting ads in their publications before the Internet existed (or in print nowadays)? If so, this might not be so weird. If not, this is weird.
  • Hmmmm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    My first thought here is, what happens if the John Kerry for President campaign comes to these people and asks to buy ad space? Do they accept? Would it be ethical for them to accept? Would it be ethical for them to decline?

    Isn't Arizona supposed to be one of the big contested states in the next election?
  • .. they NEED the ad revenue... seriously. It's wicked expensive/overpriced.

    • ... and kick ass

      what's better? throw something together with grass and gmt? right

      people are willing to pay (i work with gis people that work with that .gov (we all happen to live/work in maricopa county as well)) because arc stuff is hands-down kickass

      now ... getting esri's bundled flexlm to not crash all the time is another thing =9 (flakey e220r is the prob imo)
      • ... esri desktop products do kick ass... that is if you buy the "kick ass" extension for another 2,000 smackers... now their online ArcIMS products are a buggy bandaid at best =)

        but hey that's just my opinion... if there was an opensource way to take my orgs desktop .mxd files and serve them up with dynamic data from a database , i'd be all over it...

        but i digress... GIS is very useful, more towns should take advantage of it... and any savings from man hours spent dealing with paper map requests at town
    • And a piece of shit... ArcGIS 9 is such a pain in the ass, I've found and registered two bugs with ESRI in the month I've had it...
    • Expensive, yes. Overpriced, no. ESRI's stuff is far and away the best integrated and best functioning suite of GIS tools I've used...much easier and more flexible than the tools from MapInfo, and lightyears -- milllions of them -- ahead of anything the OSS community has come up with.

      As soon as something can approach the functionality and usability of ArcInfo, I will gladly agree with you. But as it stands, ESRI's stuff isn't overpriced so much as everything else is under-engineered (and it shows!)

      I don
      • ArcGIS 9 can actually be called a real GIS again, 8 lacked a bunch of stuff. I'm not expecting to see a OSS contender any time soon, the pool of likely users is not comparable to something like OOffice or GIMP.

        On the web-end OTOH, GIS is a commodity (i.e. WFS, WMS) and the OSS alternatives to things like ArcIMS are very capable, and in many instances much more stable/reliable.

        I'm also interested to see where ArcSDE goes, it's chief advntage over things like Oracle Spatial is the tight integration with the
  • Government is here to make people happy, right? Well, people are happy when they have money. People only have money if the economy is good. The economy is only good when people are buying. People only buy things when they want something want. People generally don't need things they want and soon forget about those things. Ads remind people of those things. Thus, advertising on a government web site is a community service.

    So what's the moral of this story? I guess it's that politicians are irresponsible/a

  • by cleverhandle ( 698917 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @08:13PM (#9817538) seems that few people are actually following any links before posting corporate conspiracy theories.

    Now, I will admit that there's something slightly unsettling about a government giving official coverage to particular businesses. Though, as pointed out above, it may be better than taxes.

    But in any event, these ads are specifically for their GIS (Geographic Information Systems) portal. That's relatively specialized stuff - people visiting it (property owners and developers) have a pretty high probability of needing some kind of service the businesses advertise there. If they don't see the ad there, they'll go to the Yellow Pages - so who do you want the money to go to, the local gov or the telecoms?

    While this still strikes me as a little odd, it's not like Aunt Tilly is going to be checking a web site for the garbage pickup schedule and be confronted with flashing ambulance chaser ads or something.

    • by geek ( 5680 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @08:21PM (#9817601)
      "Now, I will admit that there's something slightly unsettling about a government giving official coverage to particular businesses"

      Ever seen a bulletin board at a public library? Been to a city hall anywhere? They have tons of info on local business. Part of local governments job these days is promoting the local business community for sake of tourism and economic growth. It's nothing new or strange.
      • The issue isn't gov. showing ads. so much as 'gov taking money from businesses (in a business relationship, as opposed to taxes) that the gov is supposed to regulate.'

        Might businesses withdraw their ads if they don't like a particular bit of legislation?

        Chambers of commerce are supposed to advocate businesses. At issue is how much money a government is allowed to collect for its advertising.
    • "better" than taxes because you're not paying for them, "worse" than taxes because the government no longer represents you, but their sponsors.

      If that's really "better", than, well, sheesh. vote bush - he sounds like your sort.

  • "As the county is one of the best-run in the nation, this could set quite the precedent."

    Sure does look like an ad to me. Do county-generated press releases, like the one glorifying the county supervisor, count as political advertising?

    Or did the county supervisor have to pay to have that press release posted to the county web site?
  • All for it (Score:3, Funny)

    by mmmmmhotpants ( 800341 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @08:20PM (#9817585)
    If only this story hadn't leaked until they actually had advertisers. They'd probably make twice as much from the slashdot effect than from a years worth of normal use.
  • Why not help me build such a thing? Anyone not in the USA gets an automatic invitation... last person took all of 19 minutes to get connected.

    Oh, anyone from the US that's interested needs to drop by my undernet channel, chances are someone would invite you. ;-)

  • My other job, my non-geek job, is that of firefighter. Its a volunteer "on call" community. I see the fights they have go through to replace a $50 coupling let alone a few thousand dollars of hose line.

    As far as I'm concerned, if NIKE wanted to put their logo on a few hundred feed of high quality inch and three quarter line, I know a whole lot of departments that would be very very happy about it.

    What to a small town fire department is a huge expense, is less than sending a sales guy to a meeting for corporate America. Think of the impact that could make.

    -- ME.
  • My father in law lives in Phoenix. Since the income from the ads won't lower his property or sales taxes, he thinks it sucks.
  • So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lunartik ( 94926 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @09:21PM (#9817963) Homepage Journal
    They put ads on city buses too.
  • It is hard for me to decide on whether to be for or against this.

    I think I would totally agree that the Government should have advertisements to raise revenue IF AND ONLY IF there is a "non-advertisement" text only version for website that is available on a splash page, before any advertisements are viewed.

    If you look at other government events, they often will partner with other commercial entities, heck even government literature is often sponsored by third parties who are partners. What is the logic be
    • I'm torn also.
      I dislike that while I'm forced to sit in the MVD, that I also have to be subjected to advertisements on the overhead screens and banners. It will be interesting to see if the government ever gets sued for "suggesting" a particular company in this way.

      But... I like the idea that perhaps my property taxes will not go up as fast, or *gasp* go down, if I (and others) click on these ads on a regular basis.

      My problem with ads in government is that if the government forces me to a particular place
  • by bobalu ( 1921 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @09:36PM (#9818059)
    If you think about it, anyone looking for info (say you're thinking of moving there) might appreciate some links to local real estate agents, plumbers, etc.

    Obviously there's room for graft and abuse, but I'm from NJ so I guess we're used to that. (bada bing)
  • As the county is one of the best-run in the nation,...

    As a resident of Maricopa County for almost twenty years -- and one who has been waiting about that long for a proper public transit system -- I cry Bullshit. Phoenix has a wide variety of things going for it... but good government is not one of them...
  • If the USPS (Postal Service) can give a contract to AOL so that space is allowed for AOL CD's with a USPS sticker, why can't every state, county, city or even the water department office sell advertising?

    The USPS says AOL is providing a service by letting people know there is an easy way to get on the internet (or some trivia like that). Note that we pay taxes to support the USPS and a place to hold AOL CD's.

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong