Today in OpenGov: Promotional Materials


In today's edition, why most cities won't share their attempts to woo Amazon's second headquarters, an actor uses the Pentagon Briefing Room, tracking Michael Bloomberg's 2018 political spending, and more. 

states and cities

An Amazon warehouse. Image credit: Elliot Brown.
  • Why haven't most cities in the running for Amazon's "HQ2" released their plans to woo the company? "Ecommerce leader Amazon says it will announce its second headquarters by the end of the year. With less than three months to go, the big reveal could come any day now. As 2018 enters its final quarter, only eight of the 20 finalist cities have released their proposals publicly, and of those, three were heavily redacted or incomplete. Most finalist cities cited the same two reasons they couldn’t share: that the city had to maintain privacy to keep a competitive advantage, or that outside, often non-public organizations were the actual entities handling the bid process. Those 'non-public' groups were usually a local Economic Development Corporation or Chamber of Commerce." (MuckRock)
  • Elected officials find ways to push back as citizens increasingly turn to ballot initiatives to achieve reform. "Over the past two years, governors and state legislatures around the nation have used an array of tools to overturn, delay, diminish or pre-emptively declare unconstitutional a variety of initiatives approved by the same voters who put them in office. Those moves follow a rise in efforts by residents to enact their own legislation, in a growing battle over who will make laws — legislators or voters." (New York Times)
  • Watch 4 cities explain how they improved outcomes through innovation. "Over the past four years, the City Accelerator has worked with 17 cities, each completing an 18-month journey of discovery and research, implementing pilot programs, sometimes failing and course-correcting, and always looking to scale solutions for citywide impact. These 17 city projects have included more than 70 local officials—everyone from front-line staff to fire chiefs, policymakers, treasurers and finance professionals. They’ve partnered with universities, local philanthropic foundations, art colleges, social workers and residents themselves. Together, they have identified innovative ways to improve city services, practices and policies, and they've discovered different and better ways to utilize human and financial resources." (Governing)


Actor Gerard Butler at the Pentagon. Screenshot via YouTube
  • Pentagon Briefing Room used for the first time since August 28th…to promote Gerard Butler submarine movie. "The Defense Department, which reporters have criticized over its infrequent news conferences, featured the actor Gerard Butler in the Pentagon Briefing Room on Monday to promote his new movie about a U.S. Navy submarine. The Scottish actor is publicizing his latest film, “Hunter Killer,” which will premiere the weekend of Oct. 26. The movie involves a group of Navy SEALs tasked with saving a kidnapped Russian president in an effort to stop World War III….Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last held a news briefing at the Pentagon on Aug. 28. Department spokeswoman Dana White has not held a briefing since May." (POLITICO)
  • President Trump raised $18 million for his re-election in the third quarter. "President Donald Trump’s re-election effort raised $18 million in the third quarter, bringing his total since taking office to $108.1 million, an unusual amount for a president in the first two years of his term. The sum included contributions to his main campaign fund and a pair of joint fundraising committees that benefit it and the Republican National Committee, Federal Election Commission disclosures filed Monday night showed. " (Bloomberg) His campaign also spent $1.6 million on legal fees, the most in any quarter. (POLITICO)
  • Trump administration announces plan requiring drug companies to disclose drug prices during TV ads. "U.S. health officials want to force pharmaceutical companies to disclose the prices of their products in television advertisements, setting up a clash with drugmakers who see the move as impinging free speech. Under the proposed rule released on Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services would require drug companies to share in ads the full list prices of any medication that cost more than $35. The move was telegraphed in a White House plan for lowering prescription costs that was put out earlier this year." (Bloomberg)
  • The latest Trump family conflicts include a lack of profits at Trump resorts and Jared Kushner's tax avoidance schemes. Lynn Walsh checked in with the latest, including "an investigation from Forbes looks at how President Donald Trump’s business is being impacted by his service in the Oval Office, the New York Times reveals that Jared Kushner may have paid little or no income tax from 2009 to 2016 and the Trump Organization has yet to turn a profit at its golf courses in Scotland." (Sunlight Foundation)

washington watch

Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City and notable political donor. Image credit: Ralph Alswang.
  • Michael Bloomberg promised to spend $100 million on 2018 elections. Here's how its going so far. "Billionaire Michael Bloomberg has pledged to spend nearly $100 million to help elect Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections, but a review of campaign finance records show that the presidential hopeful has yet to come close to that figure.  Independence USA PAC, the super PAC almost entirely funded by the former New York City Mayor, has so far spent $5.1 million dollars in independent expenditures, according to ProPublica’s Federal Election Commission filing itemizer." (Sludge)
  • Study finds that 99.7% of the real comments on the FCC's net neutrality repeal proposal were opposed to the Commission's plan. "Nearly 100 percent of unique comments made on net neutrality to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last year were in opposition to the agency's eventual move to repeal the regulations, according to a new study by a Stanford University researcher. After sifting through 22 million comments filed with the FCC and filtering out all duplicates and fakes, Ryan Singel, a media and strategy fellow at Stanford, found that commenters overwhelmingly supported the now-repealed 2015 Open Internet Order." (The Hill)
  • Former Senate Intelligence Committee staffer pleads guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts with reporters. "Former veteran Senate Intelligence Committee staffer James Wolfe pleaded guilty on Monday to one count of making false statements to federal agents. The guilty plea represents an about-face for Wolfe, 57, who earlier in the proceedings had vowed, through his lawyers, to 'vigorously' fight charges that he lied to the FBI about his contacts with reporters. Monday's hearing had been on the calendar as a routine status hearing, but the judge began by announcing Wolfe was in court to enter a guilty plea." (BuzzFeed)
  • Discussing federal FOIA with Melanie Pustay, director of DOJ's Office of Information Policy. "The number of Freedom of Information Act requests is at an all-time high. While the figures for this year are yet to be released, Melanie Pustay, director of the Department of Justice's Office of Information Policy, predicted the year's total for fiscal year 2018 is 'going to be near a million.'…FCW's Chase Gunter caught up with Pustay to talk about the changing nature of FOIA on the sidelines of a recent event at the National Archives and Records Administration." (Federal Computer Week)


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