Local Sunlight


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 Virginia, Maryland, Delaware

In Virgina, Shaun Kenney writes about Virginia part time legislature and the conflict of interest that grows from it.  Virginia has a part time legislature which creates a lot of examples of conflict of interest, for instance, “Delegate Jennifer McClellan continues to hold her seat despite her professional employment as a lobbyist for Verizon.”  This post was in response to Waldo Jaquith‘s post about  a Virginia legislator who basically wrote himself an earmark- “Hamilton had Old Dominion University hire him as a consultant, using funding he’d allocate from the state budget.”  Jaquith suggests that Virginia should make their state legislature full time and pay their lawmakers more.  Shaun counters that more time and money won’t make lawmakers more ethical, so he suggests a shorter legislative session with no pay.  For the several state legislatures that are part time (Montana’s meets once every 2 years for example) this is an important discussion.  The question of  what kind of lawmaker you want to represent you is one of the defining debates of any republic. 

In Maryland, Annapolis Politics has a post about analyzing campaign finance reports.  “You don’t really need intelligence–what you really need is time.and a cynical attitude.”  It’s an excellent summary of what to look at:  Key notes of information: amount of donation, type of donor, location of donor, amount of money raised, and ending cash on hand.

Kilroys Delaware has a post about school district transparency new legislation would require school districts to post, on their Web site, a check register of every check they write and update the register every three months.  This is a great first step for school district budget transparency.  Even though three months is pretty decent disclosure time schedule, they should really aim for real time disclosure, since checks are all done electronically real time shouldn’t be a technical problem.