What a winter wonderland of political punditry & nerd momentum ramping up across the city.
Not only have I been extra lucky to have returned to TO ready to tackle not one – but two – fab-u events on the subject of citizen engagement in the political process, but south of the border the upcoming Inauguration Day has hearts aflutter for all things civics.
On the micro-level, from a favourite source stateside, I”ll pass on a link to a Sunlight Foundation’s blog post about 2 bills on the books for the new Congress to tackle regarding transparency – The Presidential Library Donation Reform Act & The Presidential Records Act (Bush’s current Executive Order is keeping prez records top secret indefinitely…). Fingers crossed that this new BaraClimate ushers in an era of openness to public records. Let’s keep an eye on these for practical & symbolic reasons – they’re introduced in Congress’ 1st week back, they deal with Bush’s undoings/records literally & figureatively & they’ve got a connection to the actual tangible content that will make up American history – digital & IRL.
On the other hand, TechPresident reported that Republicans are using the ‘transparency’ buzzwords to push the Dems to release the proposed $700B stimulus package online for public vetting. So what is the transparency tradeoff for the Feds? We are all used to grand idealistic schemes winning hearts’n'votes during a campaign, but once the actual tactics need to be deployed…things aren’t as black’n'white as many hoped. (For some pretty prescriptive practical priorities Brits at MySociety.org have a Top 5 for ‘Next Government’ to implement digital solutions & The Atlantic cites open API – #2 on MS’s list – as the silver bullet to opening up government to the citizenry.)
Going through nutso levels of security & then enduring the Breakfast-Club-style-insanity of our province’s yearly budget lockup to be briefed on the Ministry of Finance’s yearly plans brings to light the importance of some materials, plans & statistics to be kept under-wraps for a certain period of time before they’re mature.
But what about the pre-maturity-time, you ask…the adolescence of our legs’n'regs? Well, Change.org’s 250K votes submitted as a part of the Change for America contest indicates that citizens are more than willing to contribute their 2cents & I’d assume that they have realistic expectations of the impact their submissions’ll have if they’re not echoed in many others (sorry to the sad interweb user who voted 1.39M times, they have these tracker thingers that can measure that stuff nowadays :S)
The *real* pre stages on the political side are the leadership races & grassroots level riding association cage matches…it’s one thing to encourage open data from the ‘crats…but why do we expect so much less from the politicos? I was encouraged to read that the Ontario Dippers had increased its membership by 25% ramping up for their spring leadership race. Think it helps when you’re soliciting sales for those lil’cards that you can promise all members a chance to vote for their leader in what’s called a ‘preferential vote contest‘, which lets voters rank candidates on a ballot (don’t get me started on voting & my love of rankin’family solutions for electoral disfunction).
More posts to come about the events themselves & how these transparency trends will no doubt change the game for government, NGOs, advocates of all stripes online…
Requisite Music Reference – This is the best radio station for hip hop mixes – Cerritos All Stars Live Interactive Mix Show. Amazing. Makes me wanna move into a bigger’do & invest in some 1s’n’2s