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24 days just isn't enough. I can write a blogpost every day for a whole year about all the great bloggers across the country keeping an eye on government.
So today I am thanking all local political bloggers who keep writing day in and day out.
The decline in local newspapers and investigative journalism left a gap that local bloggers are helping to fill. Even though investigative journalism is still essential, it is good to know that there are hundreds of people willing to keep tabs on what power is doing.
As Sunlight starts to move into the states these bloggers are the leaders on the ground who will bring their communities and states into the sun.
So thank you local bloggers and transparency advocates! I hope everyone has a very happy and healthy New Year!
The blog is dedicated to covering Virginia; especially infastructure, transportation and taxes. Bacon's Rebellion has a few contributors but the person I have highlighted the most is James Bacon.
I like the post about a fellow transparency advocate retiring. The post about the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority lobbying for more state money with state money; is a great example of how some potential conflicts of interest can fall through the cracks. Even if using public money to lobby for more public money isn't illegal it should be questioned and blogs are the perfect place for that kind of digging.
Bacon's Rebellion's posts are always thoughtful and focused on how best to deal with the nuts and bolts that make up Virginia.
Today I want to give a shout out to Washington state's Olympia Time.
Olympia Time is a local blog written by Emmett O'Connell. Emmett focuses on Thurston County, WA-03 and other state level issues. I really like this blog because of the special focus he puts on local government using the internet to better communicate with citizens. He uses the blog to give suggestions for how government should engage citizens. For example, this post that explains why there should be online resources that give people the ability to participate in public hearings. Emmett also participated in a group to make Thurston County's Web site better.
I love this blog's emphasis on engaging with government using internet tools and asking local government to think outside the box to engage citizens. His tag ClueTrain pretty much says it all.
There are only a few days left and so many people to thank.
In Arizona, Espresso Pundit is one of my favorite local blogs. Written by Greg Patterson who has been an elected official and worked extensively in public life. Greg focuses on spending, earmarks, and public records. He is also a fan of putting information online and also sharing information about legislative workshops on how bills become law.
In Kentucky, PageOne is a great blog for stories and investigating. Written by Jacob Payne and several others, they write stories on public records and lobbyists who influence Frankfort.
In Mississippi, Y'All Politics is an online news magazine that covers all of Mississippi's news. They make sure to cover local ethics issues and lobbyist influence. It is a great one stop shop for aggregated Mississippi information.
Written by Sally Jo Sorenson, she keeps track of what is going on in Minnesota. What attracted me to Bluestem in the first place was the focus on keeping track of Rep. Tim Walz from MN first district. Sally did a great job of looking into his record and the announcements that would come out of his office. Now the blog has evolved to focus on Minnesota in general and lately they have been doing great research on stimulus spending in Minnesota.
Today I want to send some appreciation over to New Mexico's FBIHOP.
Written by Matt Reichbach, FBIHOP keeps track of all news New Mexico related. Matt does a great job keeping on top of the issues of the day and relating them back to New Mexico. He also does some digging on his own from looking at earmarks to sharing ways to get muckraking resources. One of my favorite posts was this one about how the New Mexico State Legislature is set up to exclude citizen participation. When a system makes it harder for people, who are not employed full time as lobbyists, to have influence then how can regular people make an impact?
One way is to utilize the internet to expand your voice. Matt has definite beliefs and writes about them day in and day out and spends time getting himself heard. The great thing about the internet is that it makes room for regular people to influence government in their free time.
Between the Lines is written by Jeffrey Sadow, who is a political science professor Louisiana State University. He also writes Louisiana Legislature Log which keeps track of what is happening in Baton Rouge. Jeff does a great job keeping track of ethicsnews from around Louisiana. The posts are thoughtful and he writes about things with a practical lens. For example, this post about disclosure requirements for contributions from political appointees or this post questioning earmark reforms and offering new solutions.
I am definitely glad to read the perspective of a political science professor on local transparency issues.
Fighting 29th is a blog that focuses on the activities of its representative Eric Massa. Written by Rottenchester who also maintains Congressdb, which you can use to compare congressional votes. One of my favorite posts is the one that Rep. Massa voting against Time Warner even though they are one of his major donors. Another greatseries of posts was about the previous occupier of district 29th's seat, former Rep. Kuhl and they were highlighting how difficult it was to find out how much congressional travel to other countries costs. This blog is a great example of how to really follow your member of Congress.
South Texas Chisme is "a collection south Texas political gossip". I like reading it because you can find a wide variety of different information not the least of which transparency related. I have highlighted posts about personal financial disclosures and campaign finance reports. It is very neat to be able to stop at one blog and see what is going on in a whole region. I hope people see my local sunlight's that way too. A snapshot of transparency in the local level.
Triad Watch is keeping an eye out on North Carolina, by doing research and keeping an eye out on what is going on on the local level. Like this post about local developers giving free rides to local elected officials to Washington, DC or posting the City of Greensboro's disbursements online to see what government money is working locally.
I have highlighted Above Average Jane a few times. I like her summaries of what is going on in the Pennsylvania State House and how she has looked into FEC data. This week she had a post highlighting an email about PA health centers that are getting stimulus funds. I think this is a great way to share information for a busy blogger. Sometimes all you need to do is repost because sometimes information shouldn't stay in the inbox.
Tom Cusak goes above and beyond the call when it comes to blogging about Oregon. He has three blogs and I have highlighted them all: Oregon Earmarks Blog, Oregon Housing Blog, and Open Government News and Issues, Oregon. Tom’s perspective is interesting to me because he used to work for Department of Housing and Urban Development. It is interesting to see what a former bureaucrat cares about post retirement. He has done his own research into earmarks and spending as well as discuss open government issues in the state of Oregon. He is a great asset to Oregon's blogosphere.
South Carolina's SC6 is written by Mike Reino and is a great blog to read for a wide variety of political information; local and federal. He did a fascinating investigation into campaign donors. One of my favorite posts of his, is this post on a seemingly frivolous bill that was considered in the House. I really enjoy posts about people looking at bills being introduced and finding interesting things or ridiculous legislation.
Rhode Island’s Twelfth is a great hyper local blog by a woman named Eileen Spillane. Dedicated to all things in Rhode Island Senate's 12th district she covers a wide variety of subjects. I like when she covers local transparency issues like open records issues and local Web site reviews. It is always nice to read hyper local blogs because it becomes less about pure politics but about people and how politics effects communities.
I''m a little behind on my thanking so lets cover a few today. I'm thankful for:
Left in Alabama, a group blog with several excellent contributors, but my favorite is Moon Cat (or Sherry) who is a watchdog at her core. Her recent posts about misuse of discretionary funds, how much the Alabama congressional delegation or a past post about putting grants online shows a commitment to transparency that would benefit everyone in the state. This blog is a great place to stop by to get what is going on in Alabama through out the state and the federal level
Another favorite Advance Indiana, writes stories about ethics and corruptions ripped from the headlines. Their posts tend to be a little longer than the average, so they can cover the issue fully and also ask questions or give an opinion. A great example is this week's post on local corruption. One looking into the Tim Durham's, a local businessman, corruption charges by looking into all his donations to candidates, especially the ones the main stream media forgot to look at. The other about how a local deputy constable pleading guilty to corruption charges and how they is more to look into. I like this blog because it gives me a good idea what is happening in Indiana from a different perspective.
Ian Lind of Hawaii's iLind.net is a former investigative journalist, knows his way around and government information like no other. His posts are mostly about FOIA documents, meeting minutes, or hearings that he has either requested, combed through, or went to. This blog is a great source of information about Hawaii and also shows how important having a journalistic eye is. For example, recently he went digging into the mediation "between trustees representing unions and the public employers, the state and counties" at the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund. Apparently the powers that be thought that by entering a particular kind of mediation they could do all negotiations in secret, without being susceptible to sunshine laws. Ian is staying on top of this and other potential stories, providing Hawaii with some much needed sunlight.