PolicyMap.com launched last month. It's a very cool and fun site, especially if you're into mashing up maps with demographics...And which public policy geek isn't? It's an online mapping tool that allows you to easily research market and demographic data by geography throughout the United States - down to a census tract level. It includes literally thousands of indicators related to demographics, real estate markets, money and income, education, crime and more.
The site is a project of The Reinvestment Fund (TRF), a non-profit community development financial institution that works across the Mid-Atlantic region financing affordable housing, schools, businesses, supermarkets and other projects "that build wealth and opportunity for the people and places that need it the most." They say that they have long recognized the need for good data and analysis about neighborhoods. And through PolicyMap, they are generously sharing information they've collected over the past decade with the public.
Much of PolicyMap is free to the public. They offer subscription options for the features and proprietary data that they are not allowed to give for free. That part we don't like so much, but hey, this is worth a look.Continue reading
Like Swimming in Molasses
We are not naïve. At Sunlight, when we learned that Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was convening a task force to address the issue of earmarks, we knew the odds of progress were slim. McConnell is an appropriator, a champion of earmarks and an ardent foe of almost every conceivable good government reform. He also has a keen political ear. So by forming a task force on earmark reform, he could arguably demonstrate action without actually moving. As "The Hill" reports here, Senator McConnell not only continues placing obstacles to moderate reform, but he is resisting a push for earmark transparency coming from within his own party.
How did McConnell undertake the issue without putting his caucus at risk of actually having to change its ways on earmarks? He appointed a working group with members on such opposite ends of the earmark spectrum odds were against success. Then he told them to come up with a unanimous recommendation. When they did that, McConnell moved the goal line again, saying he would attempt to work with the Democratic Leader to consider creating a Senate Rule the encompassed the suggestions. Even the most casual political observer wouldn't be surprised to find that those "negotiations" came to nothing.Continue reading