Local Sunlight

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Every week I climb into the depths of the local political blogosphere to find the Sunlight. I use this series to highlight local blogs that do a great job of covering local, state, and congressional political news. This week I have highlights from South Dakota, Texas, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Delaware, and Washington. South Dakota Watch has a great post on the state of media in South Dakota.  The great part of this post is that he no longer wants to sit back and watch the main stream media fail the residents of South Dakota.  The posted letter he sent to bloggers, asks the citizen journalists of South Dakota to seriously consider joining forces in order to cover the news that is important to people who count on it.

In Texas, Matt Glazer at Burnt Orange highlights a news story about the cost of improvements to the private Texas House Members Lounge. The furnishings totaled $140,000 for a room that the public has no access to but are fitting the bill for.

In Massachuesetts, the Red Mass Group highlights the proposal from the State House to beef up ethics reform this includes lobbying disclosure and having redistricting done by an independent body.

In New Mexico, Mario Burgos points to an earmark in the Bailout Bill for people who bike to work.  He wonders why this was included in bailout legislation aimed at Wall Street.

Delaware Liberal has a great post about starting a conversation with state elected officials about open government. They then proceed to list state senators and their home phone numbers. Good Luck!

In Washington, OlyBlog points to a City Counselor’s Facebook page. The Counselor apparently updated his status one day as “Jeff is listening to an Idiot at the moment.”  When asked to expound on the status he said he was a City Counselor and was at a hearing and a citizen he was listening to at that moment was an idiot.   Is this good transparency or bad transparency?

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  • Snowflake Seven,

    Thanks for the information on the Bicycle Commuter Act. It definitely clears up a few questions I had.

    What I found interesting about the post Mario did was that he was asking about why this bicycle legislation was in the Bailout. We all know now that the Bailout bill was stuffed with lots of earmarks and unrelated legislation to appease lawmakers and get the bill passed.

    The Bicycle Commuter Act sounds like legislation that deserves its own hearing and vote and not to be secretly shoved in a bill that was supposed to help Wall Street.

    For the secrecy is the issue. From a while now there will be people digging into the Bailout legislation and finding provisions that were sneaked in for no reason other than to appease lawmakers. When a lot of this legislation should have been brought up individually to allow time for debate and a vote. Citizens should have been allowed to see this legislation before it passed.

  • One last thing. I think it may be a misstatement to call the Bicycle Commuter Act an “earmark” as it was proposed legislation that could have stood on its own.

  • Here is some more on the subject:

    House passes bailout bill; bike commuter tax benefit becomes law

    And a later follow-up:
    Senate sweetens bailout bill with Bike Commuter Act

    Remember, the idea behind the Bicycle Commuter Act was a “matter of equity”. It offered the same tax incentives received by employees who carpool or use public transit.

  • On the issue of the Bike Commuter material in the bailout bill.

    It was added by the Senate to sweeten the deal for Rep. Earl Blumenauer who has been working to pass a bicycle commuter tax break for years. Notably, Rep. Blumenauer was disappointed (my characterization) to see it thrown into the bailout bill.

    Additionally, the bailout bill made no appropriation to provide for the tax break and there for is essentially un-implementable as it stands. Very frustrating for those of us who have been working to support bicycle commuting.

    Personally, I was furious to see it thrown in as bait by the Senate. The Bailout Bill was just plan wrong.