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The Breakdown:

Santa Cruz Economic Development Coordinator and former Metro Santa Cruz staffer Peter Koht brings home an award for an interactive government website.

By Curtis Cartier

Santa Cruz Economic Development Coordinator and former Santa Cruz Weekly staff writer Peter Koht put a fancy feather in his geek cap early this month when he took home an "O'Reilly Gov 2.0 Award" for the user-integrated city budget website he helped launch in May. The award ceremony and two-day conference was held in Washington, D.C., and featured folks like Jack Dorsey, the architect of Twitter; John Markoff, technology writer for The New York Times and just about everyone who worked on President Barack Obama's campaign website. Koht, who also gave a talk at the conference, says of the experience:  "It was simultaneously overwhelming that the city of Santa Cruz, with its small and targeted project, was allowed to participate and encouraging that the federal government is trying to tackle the same problems we are."

The site, which is still up at, allowed local residents to post and vote for constructive suggestions on saving money that city leaders considered when they penned the drastically cut annual city budget in July. More than 109 users submitted suggestions on the site, and 1,735 votes were cast. And thanks to limits on how many comments could be made, and rules on how they were posted, the forum didn't devolve into a round-table insult competition.

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