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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Jake Brewer on The Sunlight Foundation's support for the Public Online Information Act

The communication center at Hallandale Beach Blog received this very positive bit of news about government transparency and accountability this afternoon via an email from Jake Brewer and our hard-working friends in D.C. at the at The Sunlight Foundation about some far-reaching efforts by Sen. John Tester of Montana and Rep. Steve Israel of New York (Long Island).

www.sunlightfoundation.com
http://sunlightfoundation.com/people/jbrewer/

http://www.youtube.com/user/SunlightFoundation

I forwarded it to like-minded friends from coast-to-coast and am happy to share the news with you all today.


-----------------

From:
Jake Brewer
Date: Mon, May 10, 2010 at 12:21 PM
Subject: An easy fix

We're really moving.

Seriously.

We spend a lot of time talking about what government should do to become more open and transparent, and in this past week there's real movement in Congress on one of the things that we need to happen.

It's an easy fix to our current system which would simply make government work better.

Specifically, Senator Jon Tester has introduced the Senate version of the Public Online Information Act, which would revolutionize how the public can gain access to government information. And though we're going to have to build much more clout to actually pass the bill in the House and Senate, the introduction of this bill is a big step.

Keep the momentum strong by signing the Public=Online pledge and sharing it.

http://PublicEqualsOnline.com/Pledge

Numbers are one of the things that Congress listens to most, and we need to be as loud as possible. Thus, our goal is to get 25,000 pledge signatures in the next 6 weeks.

At the end of June, we'll take the Public=Online pledge to Capitol Hill and present it to the co-sponsors of the bill. This will show them that we not only support the Public Online Information Act, but that there are citizens everywhere demanding Congressional action on it.

They're waiting to hear from us, but we need to let them know what we want. By signing the Public=Online pledge, we're doing that.

We're just about to reach 4,000 signers. When we get to 5,000 we'll start making phone calls as well.

Much more to come in the months ahead. Thanks for all your support!

The Sunlight Team

PS If you want to see a short explanation of why the Public Online Information Act matters, check out this short video and other helpful resources from Sunlight's policy team which explain what the legislation does http://thePOIA.org

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See also: Tester behind measure for open records

By Ledyard King, Tribune Washington Bureau, May 7, 2010

http://www.greatfallstribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=20105070301

Washington Times
Editorial: Obama fails the transparency test
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/may/07/obama-fails-the-transparency-test/

On the campaign trail, Barack Obama made the bold promise that his administration would be more transparent than his predecessor's. More than a year into his presidency, however, not much has changed. The list of complaints about openness is topped by the well-known failure to negotiate Obamacare in public. The president's new deficit-reduction commission has followed the same lead and is conducting most of its deliberations behind closed doors.

Written documents also are closely guarded. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. refuses to release information about which of the Justice Department's attorneys did private legal work for Guantanamo Bay detainees and which have (or have not) been recused from such issues because of conflicts of interest. The administration also is holding back the names of released Guantanamo detainees who have returned to terrorist activities. Rep. Frank Wolf, Virginia Republican, meanwhile, is among those complaining that the department still has not adequately answered his questions about why it dropped or reduced serious voter-intimidation charges against affiliates of the New Black Panther Party. Freedom of Information requests from The Washington Times on the same topic also have been shunted aside.

Sen. Jon Tester, Montana Democrat, and Rep. Steve Israel, New York Democrat, want to force the executive branch to open up. On Thursday, they introduced the Public Online Information Act (POIA), which would require government-held public information to be posted online. Classified information and private deliberations still would be protected, but the bill would give citizens access to documents without the red tape imposed by the current process.

The nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation applauded the bill because it would make a number of important reports available online for the first time. These include lobbying disclosure reports filed by government contractors and grantees, the already-required financial disclosures of high-ranking political appointees and disclosures of third-party payments for the travel of executive-branch officials.

The more Americans know about the workings of their government, the better equipped they will be to make the right choices on Election Day. Until President Obama takes his promises seriously and opens up his administration, placing existing printed material online is a step in the right direction.

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