Reinvent Albany promotes open, accountable New York State government. We seek a state government that is clear and honest about its goals and activities, keeps its promises, and benefits from the collective genius and participation of New Yorkers. Our interest in government transparency and public participation is both practical and idealistic. Around the world, the governments that are the most effective and least corrupt are also the most transparent and accountable.
We strongly support the work of New Yorkers advocating for more ethical and fairer government. We share many of their goals. However, we also bring some new and different perspectives. We are particularly interested in the power of Information Technology to make our state government more responsive, open and effective. This technology — which includes the wireless internet, smart phones, social media, and open source “apps” development — is changing everyday life, and has the potential to strengthen our democracy and greatly improve our state government. Many of our initiatives propose using Information Technology to make Albany more understandable and cost effective.
Our work is focused on winning:
1. A state government that actively uses advances in Information Technology to become more responsive, open, effective and innovative.
2. An Open NY initiative that places the state’s vast wealth of digital information online in a usable format, and creates new opportunities for public participation and collaboration.
3. Agency and authority accountability, including online publication of clear public goals, priorities and performance measures for state agencies and authorities.
4. Fiscal honesty and transparency, starting with an end to the diversion of dedicated taxes and fees.
5. A full and clear accounting of all forms of state spending, subsidies and borrowing, organized coherently and published online.
6. Better basic democracy and clean government, including ethics reform, reduced barriers to voting, and fair election districts.
Day to day, we seek to take realistic steps toward making Albany more open and accountable. In addition to the issues listed above, we also have a strong interest in “generational borrowing.” For decades, Albany has borrowed from every possible pot of money to pay for ongoing government operations. This has transferred the costs of running past state governments to our generation and our children’s generation. Among other things, Albany has eaten the seed corn of our public infrastructure by raiding state dedicated funds for transit, highways and the environment. Albany has also underfunded capital plans and deferred maintenance for bridges, water plants, trains and the power grid. As a result, the state’s Highway and Bridge Trust Fund is functionally bankrupt, important bridges and roads are crumbling and New York City’s transit system is almost broke. Additionally, Albany has wracked up huge debts via state authorities and open-ended subsidies to select businesses, and deferred large amounts of state worker compensation.
Reinvent Albany has a small, experienced, professional staff and board of directors. We rely on a large circle of expert advisers from government, academia, business and the public interest world. We use our staff as project managers and enlist top tier consultants as needed to produce reports and original research and to help organize events. We also work closely with established advocacy groups and within coalitions dedicated to government transparency, transportation funding, ethics reform and independent redistricting.
Reinvent Albany is funded by donations from New Yorkers and charitable foundations. We receive an in-kind contribution of office space from Openplans.org. Reinvent Albany receives no funding from government or businesses.
Audits, Tax Returns
Our audits and tax returns are available below and at Guidestar.org. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or to let us know about any errors or incomplete information on this website. Reinvent Albany’s EIN is 27-1624621.
Board and Staff
Reinvent Albany was started in January 2010. Its founders include prominent members of New York’s environmental, transportation and urban sustainability movements, who were so dismayed by the dismal state of affairs in Albany that they decided to take action.
John Kaehny, is the executive director and founding board member, and is the co-chair of the New York City Transparency Working Group. In that role he helped create New York City’s Open Data Law. John has been immersed in New York freedom of information, open government and public participation issues for decades. Prior to co-founding Reinvent Albany, John was a transportation policy consultant for leading New York, national and international environmental groups, and was the longtime executive director of Transportation Alternatives in New York City. John spent many hours in the state capitol, and has written and passed legislation. John is also the co-founder of the national Alliance for Bicycling and Walking and has served on numerous city and state governmental advisory boards. His writing has appeared in many places including the NY Times, NY Daily News, NY Post and NY Newsday, as well as technical and scholarly journals.
Mark Gorton, founding board member, is the president and founder of OpenPlans, which creates civic empowerment software and publishes Streetsblog and Streetsfilms. He is a prominent voice for livable streets in New York City and other American cities. Mark is also the founder and chairman of Tower Research Capital.
Aaron Naparstek, founding board member, is the Visiting Scholar at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies, City Design & Development group. Aaron is the founding editor-in-chief of Streetsblog, and is a nationally recognized authority on green transportation and cities.
Reinvent Albany was founded in January 2010, and is incorporated in New York State. Reinvent Albany is a non-profit, non-partisan, tax-exempt charitable organization. It was awarded 501c3 public charity status by the IRS in October 2010. Reinvent Albany will post state and federal reporting documents for 2010 on Guidestar in late November 2011. Our Conflict of Interest Policy, Whistleblower Policy and Document Retention policies are downloadable at these links.