$1,000 - Best SF 'open ethics' application

SF has plenty of disclosure laws and data sources promoting transparency in government. Their usability is a whole different story. CitiReport is offering $1,000 for the application that provides the best user experience for assessing the nexus of city contract awards and campaign contributions to SF's elected officials. 


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  • Here’s a report about some interactive data visualizations developed at the OpenData hackathon in Latvia earlier this month which tie together donors, politicians, and voting patterns.

    http://www.thenetworkthinkers.com/2011/12/innovation-happens-at-intersections.html
  • I’ll be working primarily on this one.
  • Thanks to Sebastian Cabrera -http://www.wiredtoshare.com/sebastianccsfgmailcom – for taking a look at the Planning data to see if the structured version is inclusive of active projects materials.
  • Is it possible to get any of this data in a tidier format?

    For instance — the SF Ethics Commission has a ton of useful data on their site, but it’s all behind a difficult to read web interface. A simple CSV, SQL or other open-format dump of their data would be hugely useful.

    Failing that… I guess it would be time to write some exciting wget/regex scripts.
  • From Larry Bush, publisher of CitiReport:

    Resources for tracking political money in San Francisco:
    Pay-to-play politics involves a wide range of City Hall decisions that have potential financial benefit to the contributor.

    There are a variety of information soruces, not all of which are complete and not all of which are able to connect well with each other.
    But based on the city’s requirement for full public disclosures, it should be possible to track:
    1. City contractors and permit applicants
    2. The lobbyists they hire and the specific projects
    3. The elected officials that the lobbyists meet with
    4. The dates of any committee meetings where the issues was discussed and who voted
    5. The dates and names of supes who voted at the full board.

    There should be some information from the mayor as well, through the sfmayor.org

    Here are other resources:

    Only one type is illegal, and then on very narrow grounds: Contributions from those negotiating a city contract are prohibited during the negotiation period and for some months afterwards.
    But while contractors may not contribute, they are not prohibited from bundling contributions from others or serving on a candidate’s finance committee.
    Also those seeking other City Hall decisions that confer financial benefits are not precluded by the law. This includes major projects and permits.
    Payments to Vendors is probably the best place to determine existing city contractors:
    http://co.sfgov.org/vpi/reports.aspx

    This list can be sorted by Department, and nonprofits versus other contractors.

    Here is the internet resource on city projects at the Planning Department.
    http://www.sf-planning.org/index.aspx?page=2673

    Here is the link to permits pending in San Francisco on a monthly basis
    http://sfdbi.org/index.aspx?page=214

    Here is the link to city lobbyists and their clients, including who each met with and on what topic.
    http://system.netfile.com/Sunlight/sf/

    Here is the link to the search system to find contributors to city elections. You will want to focus on either candidates or candidate controller committees.
    http://nf4.netfile.com/pub2/?aid=sfo

    Here is the link where you can drill down to see the minutes of every board meeting, which includes votes by supervisors.
    http://www.sfbos.org/meeting.aspx?page=2315

    Resources outside SF:

    Follow the Money
    http://www.followthemoney.org/

    Maplight (California section)
    http://maplight.org/california
  • The deadline for the challenge will be just before the close of the 24-hour CityCampSF Hackathon Dec. 10-11. We’ll have a panel of judges and award the prize at the end of the event. More details to come.
  • What’s the deadline?