February 18, 2011

Transparency Review (2/14 - 2/18)

• Fallout from the sick leave scandal in the Clark County fire department continues to spread. County commissioners are now looking for reimbursement from the firefighters' retirement program for increased contributions made because of sick leave abuse.

• TransparentNevada has released 12 years worth of operating budgets for the Nevada System of Higher Education to educate the public on the true fiscal state of Nevada's higher education system. My colleague Victor has a bit more to say about it here.

• Secretary of State Ross Miller has introduced two bills to reform the campaign finance system in Nevada. AB81 requires candidates to file expense reports before early voting begins and AB82 requires candidates to file their campaign contribution and expense reports electronically to make them easier for the public to view.

• The Las Vegas Sun reports that former CSN construction chief Bob Gilbert will spend one year in jail for using his position to take equipment and manpower to build a "8,200-square-foot house, a 2,500-square-foot guesthouse, stables and a lighted basketball court on more than four acres in Kyle Canyon."

• In a victory for transparency advocates, a federal judge has ruled that unsearchable PDF documents do not meet FOIA requirements. As someone who has dealt with unsearchable and hard to parse PDF documents in the course of building TransparentNevada, I'm glad this ruling came down. In this day and age, the only reason to produce unsearchable PDFs is to make your operations opaque to the outside observer.

• Think you can do a better job of redistricting than your elected officials? Well now's your chance. Dave's Redistricting is the best redistricting app I've come across. It incorporates real states and real population counts to make the exercise as life-like as possible.

• The Sunlight Foundation has launched an exciting new project that compiles state legislative data and makes it available in an easy to use format. TransparentNevada is still exploring it, but it already contains some good work with Nevada's legislature. We might be incorporating it into the site soon.

• TechPresident looks at Congress's role in standardizing governmental transparency requirements at both the federal and state level.