Today in OpenGov: Falling behind.
In today's edition, Baltimore's entire city council encourages their embattled mayor to resign, organized labor looks to maintain its political clout during the 2020 election cycle, President Trump's "acting" subordinates skirt senate scrutiny, and more.
states and cities
An LAPD cruiser. Image credit: Chris Yarzab.
- The LAPD will halt some of its data analysis programs in the wake of a critical audit. "Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore plans to end a program that uses data to identify individuals who are most likely to commit violent crimes, bowing to criticism included in an audit and by privacy groups. In a memo sent Friday to the Police Commission, the civilian panel that oversees the LAPD, Moore detailed changes in response to an audit by Inspector General Mark Smith." (Government Technology)
- California is suing the Trump administration for data tied to its attempts to roll back fuel emissions standards. "The state of California sued the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Friday, demanding to see the data and research that was used to inform the Trump administration's latest attempt to roll back future fuel economy standards…The California Air Resources Board (CARB) submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in September 2018 to both the EPA and the NHTSA. In its recent complaint, CARB says that NHTSA responded to the FOIA with incomplete information and with inadequate justifications for why it held back what it did." (Ars Techinca)
- All 14 members of the Baltimore City Council are urging the city's embattled mayor to resign. "The Baltimore City Council on Monday called for Mayor Catherine Pugh (D) to resign over an ongoing scandal involving the sales of her self-published children’s books. In a letter signed by all 14 members, the council called on Pugh to resign effective immediately." (The Hill)
- Juul made a high profile addition to its government affairs team as Massachusetts investigates their teen marketing tactics. "Former Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is joining the government affairs team for vape company Juul, a move that comes less than a year after her successor, Maura Healey, opened an investigation into the company last July on Juul’s marketing to teens. Juul is one of a number of companies—though the primary one—being investigated by Healey’s office for its advertising practices, which the attorney general believes are intentionally targeted toward minors." (Sludge)
Chart via Roll Call.
- Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), facing her toughest re-election bid ever, raised $1.1 million in donations over $200 during the first quarter, but less than 1% of that total came from her home state. "Maine Sen. Susan Collins, one of the most vulnerable Republican senators in 2020, raised more than $1.1 million in itemized contributions during the first three months of the year. But less than 1 percent of that money came from her home state. Collins raised $9,200 from 17 itemized donations ($200 or more) from Maine during the first three months of 2019. Those came from 15 Pine Tree State residents." (Roll Call)
- Despite recent setbacks, labor unions are holding on to their political clout ahead of the 2020 elections. "Following the 2016 presidential election, unions witnessed a barrage of attacks on the labor sector. Most notably, the Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME gave public workers the choice to opt out of unions and not pay membership dues. Many labor organizers predicted the adoption of such “right-to-work” laws would be a death call for unions, which have already seen their share of workers decline over the last 35 years…Overall, union membership stayed steady and financial consequences have yet to be seen. Despite recent blows, unions have dug in and continue to wield financial influence. On the political front, contributions from labor groups continue to play a significant role in elections." (Open Secrets)
- High ranking Labor Department official resigns amid ethics probe. "A Labor Department official who continued legal work against an Ironworkers’ union after joining the agency has stepped down from his post. Associate Deputy Labor Secretary Michael Avakian resigned effective April 5, a Labor Department official told Bloomberg Law. The move comes less than one month after Bloomberg Law reported that Avakian was briefly suspended following an ethics inquiry…Avakian’s resignation also comes after House Democrats requested information about his work on the lawsuit for more than three months after joining the DOL last year." (Bloomberg Law)
- Democrats that swore off corporate PAC money didn't necessarily give up corporate lobbyist cash as well. "…a larger trend of Democratic lawmakers who have promised to steer clear of corporate PACs allowing the same corporations’ lobbyists to write them personal checks — and in some cases even host fundraisers for them…43 House Democrats — nearly a fifth of the Democratic caucus — …pledged not to take corporate PAC money, according to End Citizens United PAC, which encourage Democrats not to take such contributions." (POLITICO)
Entrance to the Government Accountability Office building in Washington, DC. Image credit: Cory Doctorow.
- Agencies dealing with energy and climate are falling behind on requirements to ensure scientific integrity according to new GAO report. "At a time when the Trump administration is under fire for shunting aside agency science, a survey by the Government Accountability Office found that most in a review of nine relevant agencies are implementing long-standing White House guidance for enforcing scientific integrity…All agencies and sub-agencies in a performance review between March 2018 and April 2019 had established policies generally consistent with directives from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the 2007 America COMPETES Act, said the report requested by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. But there were exceptions, particularly in offices that deal with energy and climate." (Government Executive)
- Agencies are reporting more leaks of classified information under the Trump administration. "Newly obtained figures from the Justice Department show that average annual referrals of leaks of classified information from various agencies during the Trump administration have more than doubled compared to those under President Obama…Agencies forwarded 120 leak referrals to Justice in 2017, and 88 leak referrals in 2018, for an average of 104 per year, the data show. By comparison, the average number of leak referrals during the Obama administration was 39 per year." (Government Executive)
- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) is supporting a push to access President Trump's state tax returns. "For more than two years, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has railed against President Trump, attacking his policies on everything from immigration and reproductive rights to his handling of the disaster response in Puerto Rico. Now, Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, has said he would throw his weight behind an attempt to obtain what may be some of the president’s most sensitive secrets: those that could be buried in Mr. Trump’s state tax returns." (New York Times)
- President Trump's cabinet is increasingly filled with "acting" members, skirting senate scrutiny. "Temporary status is a seemingly permanent condition of the Trump administration. The resignation of Kirstjen Nielsen as homeland security secretary on Sunday means that another cabinet officer who reports directly to President Trump will have the word “acting” next to the official title at a major department of government. Interim secretaries are also in place at the Departments of Defense and of the Interior, and at the Office of Management and Budget, the Small Business Administration and ambassador’s office at the United Nations. Mick Mulvaney, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, is also serving in an acting capacity." (New York Times)
- One of those "acting" leaders, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, is facing questions over his continued meetings with industry representatives. "Recently posted versions of acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s daily schedules contain at least 260 differences from his original schedules, with the newest records showing meetings previously described as “external” or “internal” were actually with representatives of fossil fuel, timber, mining and other industries, according to a review by CQ Roll Call…Lawmakers are interested in his calendars because of his previous career as an energy lobbyist, which required him to sign an ethics agreement when he joined the Interior Department in August 2017…" (Roll Call)
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