Transparency Groups testify on success and challenges of NYC Open Data Law

Last week, TechPresident published a thorough and well-written accounting of the city council’s hearing on the New York City’s open data law, the progress made in implementing it, and what remains to be done. Reinvent Albany and various members of the NYC Transparency Working Group attended and provided testimony about their experiences finding and using city data.

Reinvent Albany’s testimony begins, in substantive part:

Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 4.32.05 PM “We strongly support the NYC Open Data Law and its intent. It’s a smart-phone era tool for opening up the valuable government information that has been gathered at great public expense. It makes that information vastly easier for everyone, in and out of government to use. The NYC Open Data Law is widely considered one of the best in the world, and we urge the council and the next administration to fully fund and support its implementation.

“The Open Data Law is working. It has led to the release of long sought datasets like the PLUTO and ACRIS tax lot and real estate databases, and 311 complaints. The City’s open data portal is being used by the public, advocates, apps developers and journalists. The NY Times and National Public Radio regularly cite and credit the open data portal. NYC Big Apps has given open data in NYC a big push, and apps like Roadify, Yelp and NYC Building Violations make government information more easily accessible. Government agencies are starting to use the city’s Open Data Portal for their own, easy, data retrieval. TLC has published data on medallion vehicles and drivers.”

Read Reinvent Albany’s entire testimony here.

To read the New York City Transparency Working Group’s report, NYC Open Data Law: Progress and Challenges, click the thumbnail above or right here.

The Explosion of NYS Tax Credits in Two Charts

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Source: State of Politics

Lawsuit over In Bloom

We’re posting the complaint and memo of law online for this lawsuit, because it raises timely issues of data privacy and security. This case is significant because it directly bears on security for data stored in the cloud. Information management stored on premises or with BOCES isn’t more secure. Whether or not In Bloom is a good platform, we don’t know, but it does speak to a need for more clarity and transparency about how New York State manages data.

In Bloom: Memo of Law

In Bloom: Request for Temporary Restraining Order

Money in Politics in New York: November 18 Edition

The Brennan Center regularly compiles the latest news concerning the corrosive nature of money in New York State politics—and the ongoing need for public financing and robust campaign finance reform. We’ll also be linking to dispatches from around the country highlighting the national scope of this crisis. This week’s links were contributed by Katherine Munyan and Syed Zaidi.

For more stories on an ongoing basis, follow the Twitter hashtags #moNeYpolitics and #fairelex.

Moreland Commission Co-Chairs Support Public Financing
In recent press interviews, two members who head the anti-corruption commission appointed by Governor Cuomo, Democratic Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice and Republican Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick, said that they are in favor of public financing of elections as a means to reduce the dominance of big money in state politics. Rice told Newsday that recent hearings and investigations conducted by the commission have made her “more confidant that public financing of campaigns has to be part of any meaningful campaign-finance reform.” Large amounts of private contributions for public service “is a recipe for disaster,” she continued.

Fitzpatrick said that he believes public financing for elections could reduce the pay-to-play culture so prevalent in the state legislature. When asked about the costs to taxpayers, he replied that he is a fiscal conservative and believes the “savings would ultimately be astronomical in the long run.” He went on to criticize aspects of New York politics that reformers have long called problematic, including the inappropriate use of “housekeeping” accounts, the LLC contribution loophole, the lack of enforcement by the State Board of Elections, and the undisclosed outside income earned by state lawmakers. The commission’s report of its findings and recommendations is set to come out on December 1. Good-government groups have proposed that the report include comprehensive reform, including harsher penalties for corruption and public matching funds for small donations. Read more…

Response to Governor Cuomo’s Veto of the Statewide Transit Lockbox Transparency Bill

Governor Cuomo’s veto of the Transit Lockbox Bill (S.3837/ A.5084) sends the wrong message to New Yorkers who ride buses and trains, and who seek fiscal transparency. The veto means that taxes and fees dedicated to public transit will remain extremely vulnerable to budget raids. The Transit Lockbox has the support of hundreds of civic and business groups, and it passed the legislature unanimously. The public and the legislature recognize that diverting specially-dedicated transit funds to plug budget gaps is simply wrong.

The Transit Lockbox is solely a transparency bill. It creates a “diversion impact statement” which details how the diversion of transit funds impacts service, safety and maintenance for transit systems across the state.

Supporters of the bill would like to thank State Senator Marty Golden and State Assemblyman Jim Brennan for their hard work championing this bill.

The following 200 plus New York State transit, good government, business, budget watchdog and labor groups support the creation of a Transit Lockbox for transit dedicated funds.