We are switching up this week’s OpenGov Voices and giving you a chance to catch up with some of the major OpenGov Voices blog posts that you may have missed. It’s also a good opportunity for you to reconnect with the wonderful opengov initiatives happening around the world and perhaps inspire you to start the transparency conversation in your community. Without much further ado:
Derek Eder’s post on how you can keep tabs on your local city council using a tool called Councilmatic -- was one not to miss.
OpenGov Voices: Keeping Tabs on your Local City Council with Councilmatic:
In recent years, many city clerks have taken a big step forward by publishing this legislation online. However, the current generation of municipal legislative information systems are mainly built to help councilmembers and clerks’ offices manage legislation. They were not built to help the public to understand what their city council is doing. Well, like so many of our problems, now there’s an app for that: Councilmatic.
When we launched our OpenGov Grants program in June (you can apply for a grant here), it was only appropriate that we show you how these grants are already at work. What better way than to let you hear from our friends at TurboVote. Kathryn Peters’ post on how TurboVote (a previous Sunlight grantee) is shaping the future of voting that you don’t have to wait in line (and sometimes miss a chance to cast your vote) because their tool is changing all that.
OpenGov Voices: How TurboVote is Shaping the Future of Voting:
In 2010, my friend Seth Flaxman and I set out to create an electoral system that would fit the way WE live: TurboVote, a new user interface for voting, as it were, complete with push notifications about election deadlines and a Netflix-worthy delivery system for all that paperwork, so we didn't have to buy envelopes or track down stamps just to stay engaged.Continue reading
OpenGov Voices: Day of Action on Sunday: Know the influence behind your grocery purchase
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee thereof. Sunlight Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the guest blog.
Szelena Gray is the Executive Director of Rootstrikers, a new generation of activists founded by Lawrence Lessig to take a stand against the corrupting influence of money in politics. Found a good story about corruption? Use #Rootstrikers.
There are many ways to define smart consumerism — including being budget, GMO, organic, or fairtrade conscious. Why not add corruption to the list?
For companies whose products we buy every day, it's business as usual to spend millions of dollars to influence public elections. Yet most Americans don’t shop according to their views on money in politics, and if they would, might not know where to begin. On May 19th, Rootstrikers in fourteen cities across the country will aim to change that with a public education campaign about the money that flows into politics from some of our favorite brands.
Here's the plan: Rootstrikers will head to local consumer haunts and, with the help of a radical new app called BizVizz -- an iPhone app that provides people with data on corporate accountability including taxes, government subsidies and federal campaign contributions -- will shine a light on the connection between our shopping carts and congressional coffers.
BizVizz is powered by Sunlight’s Influence Explorer API with public data from Federal Election Commission filings, IRS filings and other government records.Continue reading
OpenGov Voices: “Don’t get mad. Get data!”
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee thereof. Sunlight Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the guest blog. Brad Lichtenstein is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and president of 371 Productions, a Milwaukee-based company that makes media and technology projects for the common good. BizVizz is a corporate accountability mobile app inspired by his latest film, As Goes Janesville, which premiered on the PBS series, Independent Lens. He can be reached at @bradleylbar In 1973, I got into a fight with an older, big, mean 8 year old because he (or more likely his parents) loved Nixon. In my squeaky kid-rage voice I screamed that Nixon was a criminal who lied to us. He pushed me down then promptly kicked me out of our neighborhood car city. I fought back by sneaking out that night to sabotage his area. I remember this story vividly some 30 years later because it reminds me of how intense the feeling of rage can be and how useless it is to vent it in destructive ways. BizVizz, our corporate accountability app, was born by a similar rage. Toward the end of As Goes Janesville, my PBS/Independent Lens documentary about a GM town trying to recover from their century-old plant’s shutdown, the city council votes to approve a $9 million incentive package for Shine Medical Technologies. That’s 20% of the town’s budget for a medical isotope startup that has pitted cities against each other to leverage tax breaks in exchange for the promise of jobs. The risk wasn’t what made me seethe so much as the way the city council and town leaders acted in the dark, subverting transparency by never disclosing the results of a third party audit of the company nor holding a public hearing despite the fact that taxpayers were footing the bill. Score another defeat for democracy.Continue reading