Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Let The Sun Shine

New York Attorney General Launches "Project Sunlight"

Tracking lobbyists, special interests, state contracts and elected officials? Hmmm.

Are we talking about New York State, where we can't keep track of official vehicles being taken for less than official rides, and State Senators using public aircraft to tote them to and from private functions?

An official database making transparency more apparent?

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo thinks so, as do we -- at least in theory.

Imagine a public database that, like a GPS attached to a lobbyist's posterior, tracks the likes of campaign financing, how charities spend your money, who's lobbying whom, and the flow of member item dollars.

Sounds nifty, but where's the data coming from, who's collecting and verifying it, and will we be shown only what they want us to see?

Seems we'll need a Task Force On Oversight, Sunlight, & Transparency just to keep watch over those watching the database.

Cynical? Nah. Just realists in the world of New York politics.

Well, its worth a try, anyway.

Keep a lookout for the Project Sunlight database (currently, access is limited to "authorized users." And who would they be? Lobbyists, special interest groups, and elected officials?).

Okay, its a work in progress. Hopefully, Project Sunlight will take our government out of the shadows and into the cleansing light of day.

In the meantime, just remember, folks -- when in New York, sleep with your eyes open, and your hand on your wallet!

From the North Country Gazette:

Cuomo Proposes "Project Sunlight"
ALBANY---The person who has been a government watchdog for the past 25 years has now become part of the government.

Blair Horner, who served as the legislative director for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) has been named by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to be a special advisor on policy and public integrity where he will oversee the development of "Project Sunlight", the state's first-ever comprehensive Internet database tracking donors, lobbyists, special interests, state contracts and elected officials and the links between them.

NYPIRG is a non-partisan, research and advocacy organization.While many databases are currently public domain, they are difficult to navigate, Cuomo claims. Additionally, the current process of accessing public information can be burdensome and time consuming, he says.

"Project Sunlight goes well beyond the existing systems in making public information accessible. By combining multiple databases into a single, easy-to-use Internet resource, New Yorkers will be able to quickly examine elected officials' voting records and campaign contributors, and find out which entities may have benefited from their actions", Cuomo claims.

There is no timetable about when this database will become available.

© 2007 North Country Gazette
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Check out the Sunlight Foundation

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