At long, long last, the state is accepting lobbyist registrations and disclosures electronically. I gather that lobbyists must use this—they can’t keep filing on paper. Pssst, Virginia! Don’t make me FOIA these records, just let me download them! →
In perhaps a misguided effort, I started work a few months ago to create a site to round up all of the APIs for government data in Virginia. That inglorious website is Open Virginia. It’s easy to catalog all of them, because right now, I know of exactly two: Richmond Sunlight’s legislative API and my […]
Gratiot County Herald Letters To The EditorIthaca, Michigan school superintendent Nathan Bootz wrote an open letter to the governor to ask that his school system be converted to a prison, noting that Michigan spends $30,000–$40,000/year on each prisoner, but only $7,000/year on each student. WVEC: Taxpayers foot the bill when the governor flies on state […]
Letters of Note: On bureaucratese and gobbledygookThis is a delightful memo sent by Civil Aeronautics Board chairman Alfred E. Kahn to the organization's top staff in 1977, begging them to please stop writing in "bureaucratese," and to instead use "straightforward, quasi-conversational, humane prose." He provides some specific examples that still apply nicely today. Wikipedia: List […]
As I watch the first of the results of the election come in, I’m struck by the wide variety of options of websites offering data. Until this election, we’ve been left obsessively reloading the SBE’s website, hopping around from precinct to precinct, district to district, trying to remember what the numbers were when last we […]
Del. Chris Saxman (R-Staunton) is doing something impressive—he’s reporting every single contribution he receives, including $1 from one Richard A. Hotz. (I see that NBC-29 weatherman Eric Pritchett contributed $50.) Under Virginia campaign finance law, the only contributions that need to be reported are those that exceed $100, though a contribution of any size may […]
The implementation instructions for the stimulus bill requires all agencies to provide an RSS feed of spending. That’s transparency you can believe in.
I’m a proponent of overhauling the lobbyist disclosure statements used in Virginia. Lobbyists—and, more important, legislators—get away with having to provide vanishingly little information about who is seeking to influence legislation, who they’re trying to influence, and how they’re doing it. Del. Sam Nixon’s HB1883 proposes to fix this, though my understanding is that the […]
Republican and former candidate for Virginia governor Wyatt Durrette is puzzling over the tone deafness of House Republicans, looking specifically at their deeply foolish move of holding a 7:00 AM subcommittee meeting on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday to kill two “good government” bills that have broad public support. House Republicans might have wised up […]
The LoC’s THOMAS has added permanent URLs for all bills, replacing the URLs of Death that they used to use. These little steps do wonders for open government.