FROM: Kim Alexander
DATE: February 10, 1999
RE: CRS reports, Webby awards, and more
I have lots of news to report, so please excuse the length of this email message.
In this issue of CVF-NEWS.....
* CRS reports available online!
* Still time to vote for the Webby Awards
* CVF in the News -- NY Times, Chronicle of Philanthropy and more
* More California campaign finance data coming online soon
* Two minor political parties dropped from California ballot
* CVF Membership -- please join!
* * * CRS Reports Available Online! * * *
Those who follow Congress are familiar with Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports -- in fact, these reports are considered gold by anyone looking for concise, factual information about public policy issues. That's because CRS reports are produced by a "think tank" staffed by hundreds of public policy experts whose job is to produce these reports for members of Congress -- at taxpayers' expense.
Open government and freedom of information advocates have for several years demanded immediate, public, Internet access to these highly valued CRS reports. Though legislation last year failed, an advice letter from the U.S. Senate Rules Committee cleared the way for members of Congress to post CRS reports on their own web sites. That's exactly what Senator Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota) and his staff did, dumping some 300 CRS reports onto Senator Daschle's web site, where they are available for public searching or browsing. You can access this goldmine of info at:
But wait, there's more! I recently learned that another collection of CRS reports is available online -- this one compiled and maintained by Professor Gary D. Price of George Washington University, available at:
And that's not all...a little web surfing turned up lots more CRS reports published by the House Judiciary Committee (http://www.house.gov/judiciary/crs.htm), featuring many reports on the impeachment process; and the House Rules Committee (http://www.house.gov/rules/crs_reports.htm), where you can find a collection of reports on how Congress works -- including one called, "How to follow current federal legislation and regulations". Other sizable collections are being maintained by the Federation of American Scientists (http://www.fas.org) and the Committee for the National Institute for the Environment (http://www.cnie.org/).
Of course, while these various collections are a great start, the best solution in the long run is to require that all CRS reports be published immediately online. That's what Gary Ruskin, who heads the Congressional Accountability Project is pushing for, and he recently announced legislation (S. 393 and H.R. 654) that would put all CRS reports on the Internet. Gary has been watchdogging this issue for several years now, and if you want to follow it too I suggest subscribing to "Congressional Reform Briefings", his free, electronic newsletter. You can find out more about the Congressional Accountability Project's effort and subscription instructions on their web site at http://www.essential.org/orgs/CAP/CAP.html.
And, while legislation is pending, it never hurts to acknowledge the important, voluntary efforts of Senator Daschle and his staff, which will certainly help give the public an idea of what we've been missing out on all this time. You can write to Senator Tom Daschle via email at: email@example.com
* * * Voting Deadline for Webby Awards extended to Feb. 28th! * * *
The deadline for voting for the Webby Awards has been extended! You now have until February 28 to cast your ballot for the "People's Voice" awards in a variety of categories, including "Politics and Law", where the California Voter Foundation is one of five nominees.
Because online voting is a new experience for many of us, below are step-by-step instructions for how to cast your ballot.
* Step One: Register to vote (sound familiar?)
To register, go to http://www.webbyawards.com/peoples/register.phtml, scroll down the page, type in your name and email address, and click on "Register"
* Step Two: Receive confirmation of your registration via email
After you register, the Webby Awards will send you a confirmation email providing you with your personal voting password and the web page address where you can vote (just copy this address and paste it into your browser). It should only take a few moments after you register until you receive this email.
* Step Three: Cast your ballot
To cast your ballot, type in your email address and your password and click "Enter"
Next you'll see the voting menu, featuring the 21 voting categories. Click on the "Politics and Law" category, and make your selection.
If you don't have time to vote in all the categories at once, you can return later to finish voting, as long as you still have your password and it's before Feb. 28th. To record your vote, Click on "Cast my vote and log me out".
That's all there is to it. Thanks to all of you who have already voted!
* * * CVF in the News * * *
This Friday, Feb. 12, California CapitolWeek will feature a story on the Capitol Fellows program, with profiles of former fellows (including yours truly). You can catch California CapitolWeek, hosted by multimedia news guru Jack Kavanagh on many public television stations in California (KVIE in Sacramento, KQED in SF; KOCE in Orange County; KEET in Eureka, KLCS in L.A., KVPT in Fresno, and KIXE in Redding). For those of you starved for "real news" on the State Capitol, this is the program for you. If it's not carried on your local PBS station, you can still watch it on the Web with RealPlayer -- log on to http://www.capitolweek.org, where you'll also find air times for local stations.
Other recent stories featuring CVF include.....
* Record Chesbro-Jordan spending -- Candidates' expenses totaled $6.4 million
Feb. 9, 1999
By James W. Sweeney, Santa Rosa Press Democrat
No, that is not a typo above...recent disclosure reports for California's Senate District 2 reveal that the Republican and Democratic candidates in last November's election spent a combined $6.4 million on their race -- that's more than twice as much spent on the most expensive race in 1996 ($3.1 million), and more than was spent in several U.S. Senate races last year.
* Internet May Reshape California Ballot Initiatives -- Feb. 5, 1999
By Rebecca Fairley Raney, New York Times Cybertimes
This article examines the potential for collecting petition signatures for ballot initiatives over the Internet, and features comments from Secretary of State Bill Jones and school choice initiative proponent Tim Draper.
* Do S.F. mayor funds skirt laws? Willie Brown raises millions for gifts, junkets, activities -- January 25, 1999
By Erin McCormick, San Francisco Examiner
This is an excellent investigative piece, exposing several funds controlled by San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown that don't appear to be subject to campaign contribution disclosure laws.
* A New Guard Emerges: Savvy, pragmatic young leaders are reshaping the non-profit world
Chronicle of Philanthropy -- January 14, 1999
This is a major package profiling many young people under 35 across the country who are leading non-profit organizations. It's a fascinating and inspiring read, and includes a small feature on my work with CVF.
* * * More California campaign finance data coming online soon * * *
CVF and Compaq are updating our 1998 Campaign Contribution Database to include the recently filed year-end reports that were due Feb. 1. In addition, we're updating our Top Ten Contributors lists for statewide races and ballot measure campaigns. Unfortunately, the process is slow-going, since many statewide campaigns have yet to file their disclosure reports in a digital format, as required by state law. The laggers include five defeated statewide candidates (Tim Leslie, Michela Alioto, Curt Pringle, Dave Stirling, and Diane Martinez) and several ballot measure campaigns (including both sides on Prop 5 (the Indian gaming initiative), No on 10 (tobacco tax), No on 4 (ban on traps) and Yes on 6 (ban on horse slaughter). CVF will stay on the case until we get all the data, and will announce to CVF-NEWS when our database and Top Ten lists have been updated. In the meantime, lots of new data is available from the Secretary of State's Voluntary Electronic Filing web site, located at:
* * * Two minor parties removed from California's ballot * * *
Due to an insufficient number of votes received in the last election, California Secretary of State Bill Jones announced last week that the Peace and Freedom Party and the Reform Party have been removed from the California ballot, bringing the number of official political parties in California to six (Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, American Independent, Green, and Natural Law). According to a story by Bob Salladay in the San Francisco Examiner, the Reform Party should be able to get back on the ballot without too much trouble; the Peace and Freedom Party, on the other hand, will need to register 13,000 new members in order to requalify. For the whole scoop, read Salladay's story on the web at http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/examiner/archive/1999/02/06/NEWS14562.dtl
* * * Join CVF!! * * *
We Want You!! Please visit our new and improved Membership page and sign up to join CVF. It's fast, it's easy, it's tax-deductible, and we would really, really appreciate it :) To join CVF, visit http://www.calvoter.org/membership