The latest project from Comptroller John Liu's office, and it looks like a good idea to me:
Comptroller John Liu's www.checkbooknyc.com offers unprecedented access into how the City of New York spends its nearly $70 billion annual budget.
While it's catapulted the Big Apple to top in the nation in governmental financial transparency, that was never the end goal. The real goal is to simply compel more judicious spending of precious taxdollars.
The idea here is that opening up government's books and baring it all online empowers and enlists the public to keep an eye out. Then, when city agencies know that every penny spent is being watched, there is an inherent incentive to exercise that much more care in the spending of the public's dime.
The website breaks down city spending by department, vendor, contract, etc. See where your money is being spent by the city!
There, I said it.
I am fully aware that as a feminist I should be wagging my finger at Spitzer for the rest of his life for his stupidity and hypocrisy. You know what, though? I don't give a shit these days given how Wall Street is taking down the whole country with them.
To be honest, I miss Elliot Spitzer the Attorney General more so than the Governor. No offense to Cuomo who is doing a somewhat decent job. I just sigh whenever I read a column like this one:
But wait a moment, aren't we in the midst of reopening contracts all over the place to share the burden of this crisis? From raising taxes --income taxes to sales taxes-- to properly reopening labor contracts, we are all being asked to pitch in and carry our share of the burden. Workers around the country are being asked to take pay cuts and accept shorter work weeks so that colleagues won't be laid off. Why can't Wall Street royalty shoulder some of the burden? Why did Goldman have to get back 100 cents on the dollar? Didn't we already give Goldman a $25 billion capital infusion, and aren't they sitting on more than $100 billion in cash? Haven't we been told recently that they are beginning to come back to fiscal stability? If that is so, couldn't they have accepted a discount, and couldn't they have agreed to certain conditions before the AIG dollars --that is, our dollars-- flowed?
The appearance that this was all an inside job is overwhelming. AIG was nothing more than a conduit for huge capital flows to the same old suspects, with no reason or explanation. read more »
more like a shot of chocolate Ex-Lax.
Oh grock ... how I hate that site!
There is nothing appealing about it.
- It has a harsh monochromatic palette.
- It's too much a link and B2B directory
- It really doesn't tell me anything about New York state on that front page.
I have been thinking long and hard about Eliot Spitzer's battle cries of reform for Albany. I take it to heart that he means serious business. The problem is, there is no visible measure of how this change is happening.
Spitzer and Bloomberg are kind of cut from the same political rug when it comes to how they are not implementing technology as an agent of practical government change. Because, honestly, we should not ask what is government. and why it is not working. We need to ask who is government and why aren't they effective. read more »
So you already have heard about the new survey, haven't you? Mayor Bloomberg and Joseph Klein, surrounded by a cornucopia of Department of Education status quoers, unveiled the City's first-ever Learning Environment Survey, a tool (as in not another instance of paper-pushing) that is meant to gather the opinions of principals, teachers, parents and students about how wonderful or terrible it is to be in a NYC middle and high school. Which is why they will ask about whether schools are:
- setting high expectations
- creating effective environments for learning
The whole press release sounds like an unprecedented exercise in open government :
"Today, we are giving parents, students, and teachers an unprecedented opportunity: the chance to tell us if our schools are set up to help students learn and the chance to help us grade our schools," said Chancellor Klein. "Our ads say, 'When one parent speaks, schools listen; when one million parents speak, schools change,' and it's true. I'm looking forward to learning from our parents, teachers, and students."
Oh my blog! Klein and Bloomberg sooooooo want to know what I have to say. I am, like, so impressed!
Then, I got to the bottom of the page :
Survey responses are being collected by an external vendor, assuring the confidentiality of answers.
And there is nary a peep about who this vendor is.
Don't you think that anybody espousing platitudes about transparency and open government would at least have the clarity of mind to say who is the external vendor we are to hold accountable for such work?
Don't you want to know how much are these "external vendors" are being paid? Because, you know, accountability and accounting have the same latin root.
Well, I do. read more »
Lipris just called from Albany with some very intriguing news. Today, of course, is Reform Albany Day, and a large number of citizen lobbyists have descended on the capital to demand reform.
Governor Spitzer briefly addressed a gathering of these visitors and said that the legislature at this writing is debating a major reform bill; it's unclear just what that is, exactly, and Lipris unfortunately had no details. The governor intimated, however, that the bill contained major parts of his reform agenda, and if the legislature passes any of those, we're in much better shape as a state.
Stay tuned; details in comments are most welcome.
Update: Direct quote from Eliot Spitzer:
Today is the day when the New York State Legislature shows its true colors.
Update 2: Announcement expected at 3 PM; there are apparently two bills under consideration in the Assembly, one the Spitzer bill, the other a Silver-backed pseudo-measure. Lipris describes the latter as "nibbling around the edges". So we will get some measure of reform today, certainly on Assembly rules. The question, dear legislators, is whether that change will be real, or cosmetic. Please: we can't go on like this. Have courage. Vote for real change.
Update 3: The Spitzer bill is about campaign finance reform, according to Senator Malcolm Smith.
Update 4: The bill eliminates the LLC/corporate subsidiary donations loophole, puts caps on the amounts family members can give, and beefs up enforcement via the BoE. No word on lowering contribution limits.
Update 5: It's over. To quote Liz Krueger: "Bruno killed it". The Assembly, it appears, had been willing to go along; but the reactionary neanderthals in the Senate, well, they like things just the way they are.
Want reform? Overthrow the republican Senate majority in 2008.