Today in OpenGov: Power Rankings


In today's edition, CNN sues President Trump over Jim Acosta's press pass, push back on a high profile "smart city" project, corruption is a drag on democracy in Eastern Europe, and more. 

Washington watch

The White House's argument for revoking Jim Acosta's press credentials has evolved since last week. 
  • CNN is suing the White House for revoking correspondent Jim Acosta's credentials. Yesterday, "CNN filed a lawsuit against the White House for its revocation of reporter Jim Acosta’s press credentials, following a spat between Acosta and the president at a White House press conference last week. While the feud between Acosta and Donald Trump has been long-running, the suit aims at much wider implications—essentially seeking to ensure that Trump won’t be free to limit press access next time he fights with a reporter." (Columbia Journalism Review) Our take? It's terrible that this is necessary, but an important response by CNN to the White House's bullying tactics. 
  • In 2016 Maine voters embraced ranked-choice voting. Now this Congressman, facing defeat, is questioning its constitutionality. "U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, has a filed a lawsuit in federal court that seeks to block state election officials from conducting the nation's first ranked-choice voting tabulation in a federal race. The lawsuit asserts that Maine's ranked-choice voting law violates the U.S. Constitution in multiple ways. Among the claims: It does not award winners who obtain a plurality — or the most votes — but rather a majority by allowing voters to rank candidates in order of preference." (NPR)
  • A federal investigation into a land deal involving Jane Sanders, Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) wife, has reportedly ended with no charges filed. "Federal prosecutors have ended an investigation into a land deal overseen by Jane Sanders, wife of Sen. Bernie Sanders, without bringing any charges, an aide said Tuesday. Investigators had been looking into a $10 million real estate deal that Jane Sanders led when she was president of the now-defunct Burlington College between 2004 and 2011." (POLITICO)
  • New lawsuit is 8th to challenge North Carolina's Congressional map as a partisan gerrymander. "A new lawsuit in North Carolina alleges that the state's legislative maps are excessively partisan in favor of Republicans. Watchdog group Common Cause of North Carolina and the the North Carolina Democratic Party sued GOP mapmakers on Tuesday, accusing them of partisan gerrymandering, according to multiple news reports." (The Hill)
  • A week after election day, the outcome of races in Florida and Georgia are still mired in legal uncertainty. "One week after Election Day, high-stakes contests in Florida and Georgia remained mired in uncertainty amid expanding legal fights and political wrangling that could further prolong the counting of ballots. In Florida, where elections officials are conducting machine recounts in the races for Senate, governor and agriculture commissioner, Sen. Bill Nelson (D) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee filed a suit in federal court Tuesday evening seeking to extend the deadline to finish the count in all 67 counties…In Georgia, a federal judge late Monday barred the secretary of state’s office from immediately certifying the state election results there to give voters a chance to address questions about their provisional ballots…" (Washington Post)

states and cities

  • A Google backed "smart city" project in Toronto, Canada is facing renewed backlash, privacy concerns. "The world's most ambitious “smart city,” known as Quayside, in Toronto, has faced fierce public criticism since last fall, when the plans to build a neighborhood “from the internet up” were first revealed. Quayside represents a joint effort by the Canadian government agency Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs, which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc., to develop 12 acres of the valuable waterfront just southeast of downtown Toronto…From the start, activists, technology researchers, and some government officials have been skeptical about the idea of putting Google, or one of its sister companies, in charge of a city…In recent months, a series of prominent resignations from advisory board members, along with organized resistance from concerned residents, have added to the growing public backlash against the project." (The Intercept)
  • Chicago is the latest in a growing number of cities to launch municipal design offices. "Chicago has added a new design office and director to its municipal government, making it the most recent in a wave of cities embracing design philosophies to create services and platforms that better serve constituents. Chicago created its design office earlier this year, establishing it within the city’s existing Department of Innovation and Technology, where much of its gov tech and innovation work resides, at the behest of the department and mayor’s office." (Government Technology)
  • Outgoing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is looking for his next job. "Emanuel announced in September that he wouldn’t seek reelection as mayor and has since been largely mum about his post-mayoral plans. But he has attended meetings in New York with top executives at MSNBC and CNN in recent weeks, and discussed a potential future as a cable news pundit, according to several sources familiar with the conversations. In recent months, the outgoing Democratic mayor has been represented by agents with William Morris Endeavor, the talent agency and entertainment behemoth where his brother Ari Emanuel is the co-CEO." (The Daily Beast)
  • As states embrace evidence-based management, do wee need more evidence about how they're doing? "In an era in which the call for evidence-based decision-making is ubiquitous in government, we have been lacking any real analysis, or even description, of what states and local governments are doing. A couple of recent notable efforts, however, have moved to partially fill this void at the state level. First, a 2017 report by Pew and the MacArthur Foundation looked across the states at ways in which evidence-based policymaking was used in human services…The second notable effort is an ongoing study of the use of data and evidence in the states that was launched recently by the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO)." (Governing)

around the world

Image via Pixabay
  • Did the billionaire leader of the Czech Republic have his own son kidnapped to keep him from testifying in a fraud investigation? "Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš denied an allegation that his son was kidnapped in order to prevent him from testifying in an EU subsidy fraud investigation. The allegations, made by the prime minister’s eldest son Andrej Babiš Jr. to a Czech TV station from his home in Switzerland, led six parliamentary opposition parties to call on the prime minister to resign to enable the police to investigate the fraud charges…Although the 35-year-old said he did not know if his father had known about the alleged abduction, Babiš Jr. said he believed it was to prevent him from giving evidence in an investigation into charges that his father had illegally accepted €2 million in EU subsidies related to a farm and convention center called Storks Nest." (POLITICO)
  • With Brexit deal nearing the finish line, British Parliament pushes transparency around legal thinking behind negotiations. "As Theresa May struggles to finalize a Brexit deal with the European Union, her opponents in the British Parliament are warming up for a fight. The prime minister lost a key battle in Parliament on Tuesday, and it could make her struggle to get the final divorce deal through Parliament even trickier. Opposition lawmakers forced her to commit to publishing the legal thinking that guided her negotiating decisions." (Bloomberg)
  • New study blames growing corruption for lack of faith in Eastern European democracies. "Eastern Europeans’ faith in democracy has declined and German researchers think they know the reason why — corruption. A study by the German Economic Institute, a Cologne-based think tank, noted that support for democracy generally grows the longer people live under such a system. But, the study said, surveys show support for democracy has fallen in ex-communist Eastern European countries since 2006. To explain the difference, the researchers cited data showing that the extent of corruption in Eastern Europe almost doubled over the same period." (POLITICO)


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