Today in OpenGov: Oppressive

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In today’s edition, President Trump picks up a dubious honor, outside money starts to flow into the midterm elections, Little Rock explores open data, and more.

A quick reminder before you dig into today’s news: On Thursday, January 11th the Sunlight Foundation along with Transparency International, Global Integrity, and the OpenGovHub will be hosting the second installment of our “Democracy Dialogues Series”. Populism and Corruption: Comparing Europe and the U.S., will take place at the OpenGovHub from 4:30 to 6:00 PM and will be followed by a reception. The event features speakers from TI-Hungary, TI-EU, TI-UK, Represent.Us, George Mason University, and Life After Hate. Learn more and register to attend here.

states and cities

Little Rock, Arkansas. Image Credit: Bruce W. Stracener.
  • How Little Rock, Arkansas is moving forward with its open data program. “After participating in Bloomberg’s What Works Cities program, Little Rock has a new open data policy, an open data portal, and momentum toward improving internal efficiency with data while also building public-facing tools for engagement and transparency.” (Government Technology)
  • Only two states lack lawmaker financial disclosure requirements. Both could change that in their next legislative sessions. “Legislative sessions kick off this week in Idaho and Michigan…Despite ongoing efforts to bring about reform, the Great Lakes State and the Gem State are the last remaining holdouts that don’t require lawmakers to disclose anything about their personal finances.” Bills have been introduced in both states to require such disclosures, but as Kristian Hernández reports, “the prospects for change under the capitol domes in Boise and Lansing are uncertain at best.” (Center for Public Integrity)
  • Urban mobility data is increasingly important, but ensuring appropriate access to it is a thorny issue. David Zipper explains the increasing value of urban mobility data to policymakers and planners. Specifically, “there are a number of specific questions that can’t be answered without access to trip information from Uber, Lyft, Limebike, and the like. For example, without such data it’s hard for policymakers—or the general public—to decide if it’s a good idea to convert a parking meter to a ride-hailing drop-off point, or to ensure pedestrians aren’t obstructed by heaps of dockless bikeshare bikes on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, new mobility services have generally refused to let the public sector see inside their data vaults.” (CityLab)
  • What this reporter learned from sending over 1,000 public records requests in six months. Sandhya Kambhampati shares that “In my first six months at ProPublica Illinois, I’ve sent over 1,018 requests for information, to everyone from the Department of Transportation to the state lottery.” She goes on to pull out four tips to help anyone looking to make a records request in Illinois. (ProPublica)

trumpland

  • In response to President’s “Fake News Awards”, Trump “honored” for Overall Achievement in Undermining Global Press Freedom. “Amid the public discourse of fake news and President Trump’s announcement via Twitter about his planned “fake news” awards ceremony, CPJ is recognizing world leaders who have gone out of their way to attack the press and undermine the norms that support freedom of the media.” The dubious honors highlighted dangerous actions by leaders in Turkey, China, Myanmar, Poland, Egypt, and more. (Committee to Protect JournalistsIt’s worth noting that Erdogan and Putin have much worse records on press freedom to date, jailing and murdering journalists, whereas Trump has only used anti-democratic rhetoric in ways no President of the USA should.
  • Mueller likely to seek interview with Trump as part of probe. “Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has told President Trump’s legal team that his office is likely to seek an interview with the president, triggering a discussion among his attorneys about how to avoid a sit-down encounter or set limits on such a session, according to two people familiar with the talks.” (Washington Post)
  • Trump is set to release results of his physical, but details are likely to be scant. “President Donald Trump gets his first physical since taking office on Friday, but Americans may not find out much about the health of the 71-year-old chief executive with a taste for McDonald’s and an aversion to exercise beyond golf.” Shannon Pettypiece explains that, while Trump will stick with presidential precedent and release the results of his physical, the “medical reports are typically brief, with an overview of a few basic metrics — cholesterol levels, weight, blood pressure — and sometimes a note about idiosyncrasies.” (Bloomberg)
  • A college football team spent a week at a Trump hotel, renewing emolumental problems for the President. “A week-long stay by the University of Wisconsin football team at a Florida resort owned by President Trump is providing new potential fodder for a lawsuit alleging that the president’s private business has put him in violation of the Constitution.” (Washington Post) Don’t forget that we’re continuing to track President Trump’s conflicts of interest as they continue to make news.

washington watch

  • Senate bill to reverse net neutrality repeal gains enough support to force vote. “A Senate bill that would reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to repeal net neutrality received its 30th co-sponsor on Monday, ensuring it will receive a vote on the Senate floor.” As Harper Neidig reports, the bill, which leverages Congress’s authority under the Congressional Review Act, has “60 legislative days after the FCC submits its regulations to Congress to pass” and faces long odds in both chambers. (The Hill)
  • House to consider bill requiring disclosure around “Zero Day” vulnerabilities. “The House will debate legislation Tuesday requiring the Homeland Security Department to report on how the government decides whether it will exploit newfound computer software vulnerabilities against U.S. adversaries or disclose them to manufacturers to be patched.” The Trump administration has previously announced plans for an annual report on the topic. (NextGov)
  • Democratic mega-donor to drop $30 million on midterm House races. “Billionaire Tom Steyer pledged on Monday to spend $30 million through his NextGen America organization to help Democrats win congressional seats in the 2018 midterms.” (Bloomberg)

 

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