In today's edition, Washington's governor vetoes an opaque bill, President Trump ramps up his 2020 fundraising, how agencies can prioritize securing citizen information, how open government can empower youth, and more.
states and cities
- Washington Governor Jay Inslee vetoes bill that would have exempted the state legislature from open records requirements. On Thursday, Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) vetoed a public records bill, SB6617, that would have exempted the state legislature from Washington's Public Records Act. (Seattle Times) You can read Governor Inslee's letter to the state senate explaining his veto here. We hope that the Washington legislature holds an open debate with ample public comment on the issue before taking further legislative action.
- Maryland defends decision to remove police officer's names from public records. "Maryland’s Judiciary on Friday defended a decision to remove the names of police officers and other law enforcement authorities from the state’s searchable public online court database, saying the change was made in response to 'safety concerns raised by law enforcement.'" (The Baltimore Sun) Our take? This affront to transparency should be reversed.
- Flawed FCC data may be holding back Georgia's efforts to expand rural broadband. "As lawmakers try to push fast internet into Georgia's smallest communities, some state officials wish they had more specific information about what areas are most in need…a problem for state officials is that they have to rely on a map from the Federal Communications Commission that shows areas where nobody has access to broadband internet. There is a flaw with this information: The FCC's map does not get narrower than individual census blocks, which can be several acres large and contain many homes." (Government Technology)
- 14 media groups petition for NYPD body camera footage to remain open to the public. "The New York Post and 13 other news organizations are asking a Manhattan judge to keep open the public’s access to NYPD body-cam footage after the police union sued the city to keep the recordings private." Groups joining the Post include the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press, the Hearst Corporation, the Associated Press, Buzzfeed, CNN, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and more. (New York Post)
- Former Trump adviser Carl Icahn sold $30 million worth of steel-linked stock days before President announces steel tariffs. "Billionaire investor and longtime Trump confidant Carl Icahn dumped $31.3 million of stock in a company heavily dependent on steel last week, just days before Trump announced plans to impose steep tariffs on steel imports." The move was detailed in an SEC filing submitted on February 22. (Think Progress)
- President Trump launches first major fundraising initiative aimed at 2020 reelection campaign. Alex Isenstadt reports that on Saturday, President Trump appeared before major GOP donors at Mar-a-Lago "for the launch of a fundraising initiative that mimics the famed George W. Bush “Pioneer” program, according to three senior Republicans familiar with the plans. As with Bush, the president will reward donors who’ve bundled thousands of dollars in contributions, giving them an entree to exclusive dinners, political briefings, and future retreats." (POLITICO)
- During donor meeting, Trump praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for his recent move to do away with term limits. "President Donald Trump bemoaned a decision not to investigate Hillary Clinton after the 2016 presidential election, decrying a "rigged system" that still doesn't have the "right people" in place to fix it, during a freewheeling speech to Republican donors in Florida on Saturday. In the closed-door remarks, a recording of which was obtained by CNN, Trump also praised China's President Xi Jinping for recently consolidating power and extending his potential tenure, musing he wouldn't mind making such a maneuver himself." (CNN)
- Recipient of first border wall contract is owned by company with host of previous legal problems. "A tiny Nebraska startup awarded the first border wall construction project under President Donald Trump is the offshoot of a construction firm that was sued repeatedly for failing to pay subcontractors and accused in a 2016 government audit of shady billing practices." (Bloomberg)
- Data-level protections can help secure citizen information. John Landwehr explains, "Americans share numerous pieces of data about themselves every day with companies and government agencies, including personally identifiable information like Social Security numbers and health care information. With all this personal information being shared, protecting an organization’s network and infrastructure is no longer sufficient to protect this data. Government now needs to secure each piece of data at a document level to fully protect against cyber risks." (NextGov)
- Ethics complaint filed against House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) over text message leak. "A government ethics watchdog group has filed a complaint against Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) after a report revealed that a House Intelligence Committee Republican leaked Sen. Mark Warner’s (D-Va.) text messages to Fox News. The liberal watchdog group Campaign for Accountability announced Thursday it amended a previous complaint filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) against Nunes and called on OCE to investigate the Intelligence chairman for 'leaking information provided to the committee during the course of an official investigation.'" (The Hill)
- Lack of budget information leads to citizen mistrust. Paolo de Renzio and Joachim Wehner explain how "meaningful debate around spending and revenue choices can happen only in countries where sufficient budget information is publicly available, and where citizens have opportunities to influence decisions. Where budget information is not available, citizens have fewer reasons to trust their governments, perhaps leading to a vicious circle of poor transparency, weakened democracy and increasing public mistrust." They highlight the results of the most recent Open Budget Survey, which "show that levels of budget transparency are stagnating or declining across the world, for the first time since the survey started in 2006." (Washington Post)
around the world
- Political prisoner database sheds light on persecution of dissent in Vietnam. "Launched in January 2018, the Vietnamese Political Prisoner Database provides comprehensive and routinely updated information on the country’s political prisoners…In sum, this data supports a common sentiment, seen in news reports and on social media that persecution of dissenters increased in 2017, as did the proportion of harsh prison sentences handed out to writers and peaceful activists." (Global Voices)
- New report highlights importance of civic space and engagement opportunities for children. Tor Hodenfield and Ulrika Cilliers reflect on a recent joint paper by CIVICUS and Save the Children ‘Peers and Partners: Empowering Children to Take Civic Action’. They write that, to "ensure that all children survive, thrive and learn, we need open, inclusive and accountable governments to deliver quality services to children, including to the most deprived and marginalized children. To help ensure that services are of the highest quality, adults and children also need real opportunities to take civic action and influence policy-making and service delivery." (Open Government Partnership)
- Can regime change in South Africa fix its corruption problems? "Before being shoved from power last month, President Jacob Zuma enriched himself and his patrons while presiding over economic disaster for his citizens. The burden of public debt nearly doubled over the Zuma years. More than one in three working-age South Africans is jobless. Unemployed men turn to crime, tainting South Africa as one of the most unsafe countries on earth, worse than El Salvador, Honduras, or Pakistan." New President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised to "turn the tide of corruption," but it remains to be seen if he is up to the challenge, reports David Frum. (The Atlantic)
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