Today in OpenGov: Mix of sunshine in cities, shadows in DC, and storms over press freedom in Montana

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In today’s edition, we check democracy’s pulse, decry assaults on press freedom, get updated on the FBI’s ongoing investigations, look at a new study that the best cities for high performance, check out Brazil’s open data index, and more. Please keep sending your tips, links, comments, news, data and other feedback to TodayInOpenGov@SunlightFoundation.com and have a great weekend. We’ll see you on Memorial Day.

THREATS TO PRESS FREEDOM ESCALATE

From Montana to DC, American political leaders need to speak out & defend the freedom of the press.

Alex Howard: “The anti-press rhetoric that has escalated over the past year, led by the President of the United States, has now led to a flashpoint in which far too many politicians and commentators condoned the violence or  remained silent in the face of a physical assault or trivialized its meaning.

Silence or trivialization of what happened in Montana is shameful.

In the wake of this incident and established pattern, it’s important for US politicians everywhere, at every level of government to reaffirm the role of the free press in a democracy and make it clear that this is unacceptable behavior. (Sunlight Foundation)

 

DEMOCRACY DIMINISHED

1,126 political scientists view America’s democracy as healthy, but — for the first time in recent history — ailing. [New York Times Upshot]

Washington watch

  • A bipartisan group of Senators urged quick passage of IT modernization bill. “Fresh off its unanimous passage in the House, a bipartisan cadre of senators are pushing for immediate action on the Modernizing Government Technology Act in the upper chamber.” (Nextgov)
  • Cruz failed to properly disclose campaign loans from Goldman Sachs, Citigroup. “U.S. Senator Ted Cruz improperly accounted for loans he received from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc. during his 2012 campaign, saying the funds were his own personal contributions to the Senate race, the Federal Election Commission said Thursday.” (Bloomberg)
  • Fake anti-net neutrality comments spark request for FCC investigation. “In a letter sent today, several people who had their personal information used to post fake anti-net neutrality comments asked the FCC to investigate.” (The Verge) You can see if your name was used to file a fake comment here.
  • The Election Law Blog Podcast discussed the danger of President Trump’s “Election Integrity” Commission with former White House Counsel Bob Bauer. 

THREATS TO PRESS FREEDOM ESCALATE

President Trump’s approach to transparency is causing him more problems that it avoids, writes Jeremy Vanook.

“Trump behaves as though ethical guidelines are optional (which, in some cases, they are). This in turn creates a dynamic in which, rather than resolve controversies, the administration escalates conflicts by questioning the need for compliance.” (The Atlantic)

  • Jared Kushner is being scrutinized as part of the FBI’s Russia investigation.

    “Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and one of his senior advisers, has come under FBI scrutiny in the Russia investigation, multiple U.S. officials told NBC News…Investigators believe Kushner has significant information relevant to their inquiry, officials said. That does not mean they suspect him of a crime or intend to charge him.” (NBC News) Kushner’s lawyer confirmed that he plans to cooperate if contacted by the FBI. (The Hill)

states and cities

North Carolina is trying to spread reliable internet using new mapping tool. “The state will be better able to identify and address places that lack reliable Internet service using a tool launched Wednesday by the N.C. Department of Information Technology’s Broadband Infrastructure Office.”
  • A new study for “high-performing” cities in the United States is good for thought as we consider what certifying good governance would mean. “For the first time ever, the nonprofit Living Cities partnered with Governing to study how cities measure up to their definition of a high-performing government. The authors of the study, which is called ‘Equipt to Innovate,’ hope it will help the best ideas and practices spread.” (Governing)

around the world

New partnership betwen Open Knowledge Brazil and Fundação Getúlio Vargas led s a Brazilian edition of the Open Data Index. “The Brazilian edition of the Open Data Index has been used as a tool to set priorities regarding transparency and open data policies, as well as a pressure mechanism used by civil society to encourage governments to enhance their performance, releasing sets of essential data.” (Open Knowledge)

  • The Open Government Partnership reacts to civil society withdrawal from Mexican OGP platform. “The decision yesterday by Mexican civil society organizations to leave the national OGP platform is a statement that challenges everyone working on open government around the world. OGP represents a truly global network of reformers, and we stand ready to offer all our resources, energy and solidarity to Mexican actors to come together and find a way forward.” (Open Government Partnership)

save the dates

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.” Check out the panels and Learn more about #PDF17 and get your tickets here.
  • June 12th through 14th: Canadian Open Data Summit in Edmonton, Canada. “The Canadian Open Data Summit (CODS) is an annual event where the most pressing challenges facing the open data and open government communities are addressed on a national scale.” Learn more here.
  • June 27th: Legislative Data and Transparency Conference in Washington, DC. “The Legislative Data and Transparency Conference 2017 (#LDTC17), hosted by the Committee on House Administration, will take place on Tuesday, June 27, 2017in the Capitol Visitor Center Congressional Auditorium. The #LDTC17 brings individuals from Legislative Branch agencies together with data users and transparency advocates to foster a conversation about the use of legislative data – addressing how agencies use technology well and how they can use it better in the future.” Learn more here.
  • June 29th: DATA Act Summit 2017 in Washington, DC. “The fourth annual DATA Act Summit, hosted by the Data Coalition and Booz Allen Hamilton, will bring together supporters of the open data transformation from across government and the private sector.” Learn more and get your tickets here.
  • September 11th and 12th: TicTec@Taipei in Taipei. “TICTeC@Taipei is the first ever conference about the influence of civic tech to be held in Asia. We’ve invited members of academia, business, politics, NGOs, education to participate, and discuss their research. We hope through this event, we can build a global network of civic tech enthusiasts.” The event is being held during #CivicTechFest 2017. Learn more, submit a session proposal, and register to attend here.

 

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