In today's edition, we find natural gas leaks with data, examine the post-Trump explosion in political fundraising, continue to explain the importance of the White House visitor logs, and more…
states and cities
- Mapping natural gas leaks. "Researchers from Colorado State University have been working with Google Street View to map pervasive natural-gas leaks. These leaks come from pipes that can be buried three-to-four feet below city streets. Many of the millions of miles of piping that deliver natural gas locally to urban and suburban homes are decades old—in some cases piping can be more than a century old." (Ars Technica)
- Fighting for press freedom and access to information in New Mexico. "Can government officials pick and choose hich news outlets they give comments and information to? A lawsuit filed by a New Mexico alternative weekly against the governor could expand the state’s press freedom protections with a broader definition of censorship. Or it could quash a newspaper-led effort at accountability and transparency in state government, giving elected officials license to ignore smaller media outlets asking uncomfortable questions." (Columbia Journalism Review)
- Two weeks left to comment on Sunlight's Tactical Data Engagement Guide! Alyssa Doom reminded us that the deadline for comment on Sunlight's Tactical Data Engagement Guide is only two weeks away. The guide is designed to address what we see as the the most critical challenge currently facing the open data movement: helping city open data programs build on a new infrastructure of access to facilitate the collaborative use of open data to empower residents and create tangible community impact. Read the document and comment here!
Money in politics
- House campaigns set record with nearly $100 million in Q1 fundraising. The massive haul, which tops previous records by 45%, is attributed to increased partisanship and Donald Trump's early actions as president. Sunlight's John Wonderlich weighed in: “Volatility inspires activism and increases donations…these are big policy questions that motivate donors. People are more likely to reach into their pocketbooks.” (Bloomberg)
- Georgia special election attracts $10 in national cash for every local penny. "But Tom Price, the district’s longtime Republican U.S. House member, stepped down earlier this year to join President Donald Trump’s Cabinet. That sparked Tuesday’s special election to fill his seat, which has suddenly made the district the unlikely focus of national political interests willing to spend unprecedented amounts of money." (Center for Public Integrity)
- White House on defensive over visitor logs, tax transparency. "The White House was forced Monday to defend its controversial positions to keep its visitor logs secret and President Donald Trump’s tax returns private." (POLITICO) Press secretary Sean Spicer defended the decision to keep visitor logs private by "blaming the Obama administration for not being transparent enough." (Huffington Post) We agree that Obama's visitor logs policy wasn't perfect, but that is NOT an excuse for abandoning disclosure.
- Sunlight's Alex Howard talked with Wisconsin Public Radio about the visitor logs. Get the whole story here.
- CREW expands lawsuit tied to Trump's business conflicts. "The amended complaint…alleges that Mr. Trump has harmed an organization that represents more than 200 restaurants and nearly 25,000 employees. Its clients compete directly with restaurants that Mr. Trump owns or in which he has a financial interest…" (New York Times)
- Overwhelmed ethics office struggling to find help from House Oversight. "Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub Jr. is calling on the chairman of House Oversight Committee to become more engaged in overseeing ethics questions in the Trump administration." His agency, which only has advisory power, has been overwhelmed by inquiries and complaints related to President Trump's potential conflicts of interest. (NPR)
save the dates
- #TCampAZ is coming up on May 22 in Phoenix. Learn more on Facebook and get your tickets here! This one-day unconference will bring together the government representatives, developers and journalists to solve problems relating to civic data access. TCamp participants design the agenda, present their ideas and dive into the challenges, success stories and new possibilities during morning and afternoon breakout sessions. It is being hosted by the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting with key partners including Sunlight, Galvanize, and the Institute for Digital Progress.
- April 25th: TICTeC in Florence, Italy. Hosted by mySociety and "Returning for a third year, the Impacts of Civic Technology Conference focuses on the impact that civic technology and digital democracy are having on citizens, decision makers and governments around the world." Learn more and register to attend here.
- May 17th and 18th: Reboot Congress 2017 and the Kemp Forum in Washington, DC. "Held in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, Reboot Congress 2017, is an invite-only conversation that will bring together a dynamic mix of problem solvers – civic tech innovators, engineers and designers, elected officials, senior staffers, policy experts, and other stakeholders working to modernize Congress." Learn more here.
- May 17th: The 2017 Door Stop Awards in Washington, DC. "Lincoln Network and The OpenGov Foundation are joining forces to present the 2017 Door Stop Awards for Congressional Innovation and Transparency. Awards will be presented on May 17, 2017 in Washington, D.C. at an evening party as part of Reboot Congress." Do you know a member of Congress or staffer who deserves to be recognized? You can submit a nomination here!
- May 19th and 20th: Global Legislative Openness Conference in Kyiv, Ukraine. "This 2-day event is hosted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, organized by the Legislative Openness Working Group of the Open Government Partnership and Open Parliament Initiative in Ukraine. The event will convene leading legislators, government officials, and civil society representatives to consider how legislative openness can strengthen public trust in representative institutions and build a responsive, 21st century legislature. In addition, the conference will explore how parliaments can best leverage the Open Government Partnership's new legislative engagement policy to develop and implement legislative openness plans and commitments." Learn more here.
- June 8th and 9th: Personal Democracy Forum 2017 in New York City. "The annual flagship conference brings together close to 1,000 top technologists, campaigners, hackers, opinion-makers, government officials, journalists, and academics for two days of game-changing talks, workshops, and networking opportunities to celebrate the power and potential of tech to make real change happen." Learn more about #PDF17 and get your tickets here.
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