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Californa state-level tracking

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  • Joshua Tauberer
    Speaking of putting together California data, it looks like www.aroundthecapitol.com, by Scott Lay, already has the data. I hope he will be interested in
    Message 1 of 4 , Jan 16, 2005
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      Speaking of putting together California data, it looks like
      www.aroundthecapitol.com, by Scott Lay, already has the data. I hope he
      will be interested in sharing the data he's collecting.

      I'm forwarding an article on that site, sent to me by Lay.

      --
      - Joshua Tauberer

      http://taubz.for.net

      ** Nothing Unreal Exists **
    • Scott Beardsley
      Excellent! Thanks for the tip. It looks like he s getting data from the same place I m getting mine. I ve emailed him to see if he needs some help. A couple
      Message 2 of 4 , Jan 16, 2005
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        Excellent! Thanks for the tip. It looks like he's
        getting data from the same place I'm getting mine.
        I've emailed him to see if he needs some help. A
        couple preliminary issues I see: no links to primary
        sources, a lot of his sources are not cited, no
        coauthor integration, and no committee votes (or
        they're just more than 10 days behind).

        On a side note: I've made a visit to The Research Room
        at the California State Archives
        (http://www.ss.ca.gov/archives/archives_about.htm)
        yesterday. That place has a ton of resources. It seems
        that the earliest digital legeslative info
        (publically) available is around 1993.

        As a side project my friend and I are going to begin
        digitizing the election results going back to the
        start of California in 1850. According to the
        librarian it's never been attempted. I estimate it'll
        take 6 months or so of full time labor. I'm interested
        in opening this data for historical reasons and
        possibly for later statistical analysis. Also it'd be
        nice to use as an 'unofficial' but reliable source of
        election results.

        One thing that I've noticed about both govtrack.us and
        aroundthecapitol.com is difficulty in browsing older
        data. Any plans to improve this?

        BTW - He's got a page of links to other state's
        legislatures also:
        http://www.aroundthecapitol.com/state_legislative_information.php

        Scott

        --- Joshua Tauberer <tauberer@...> wrote:

        > Speaking of putting together California data, it
        > looks like
        > www.aroundthecapitol.com, by Scott Lay, already has
        > the data. I hope he
        > will be interested in sharing the data he's
        > collecting.
        >
        > I'm forwarding an article on that site, sent to me
        > by Lay.
        >
        > --
        > - Joshua Tauberer
        >
        > http://taubz.for.net
        >
        > ** Nothing Unreal Exists **
        >
        >
        >
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        > ATTACHMENT part 2 message/rfc822 name=Sounds like
        we're doing similar things...
        > From: "Scott Lay" <scott@...>
        > To: <tauberer@...>
        > Subject: Sounds like we're doing similar things...
        > Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2005 22:06:35 -0800
        >
        >
        >
        > .albeit me for California.
        >
        >
        >
        > Digitizing Sacramento
        > With ElectionTrack, Around the Capitol and the newly
        > unveiled Roundup, Scott
        > Lay helps bring state politics to the online masses
        >
        > By Jeff
        >
        <http://www.newsreview.com/issues/sacto/authors/jeffkearns.asp>
        > Kearns
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > Photo By Larry Dalton
        >
        >
        > Scott Lay's online efforts all share a single
        > mission: to cut through the
        > clutter of state politics.
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > In 2003, the secretary of state paid an outside firm
        > $200,000 to create a
        > new version of Cal-Access, the online database of
        > campaign-finance reports.
        > But during the last round of elections, many
        > campaign workers, reporters and
        > political junkies looking for fund-raising totals
        > instead turned to a Web
        > site built by an education lobbyist in his spare
        > time.
        >
        > Scott Lay's site, ElectionTrack (at
        > www.electiontrack.com
        > <http://www.electiontrack.com/> ), offered
        > up-to-date tallies of how much
        > the major campaigns had raised, which is harder than
        > it sounds. Getting the
        > information from the secretary of state's site
        > requires users to download
        > files that can number in the dozens during campaign
        > season and then do the
        > math.
        >
        > "It's something that a staff person on a campaign
        > would spend a couple hours
        > doing each day," Lay said.
        >
        > His site automates the process by querying the
        > secretary of state's
        > database, finding new reports and adding them to its
        > database. Users can see
        > all of the most recent transactions, find totals for
        > each campaign and have
        > the information delivered daily to their e-mail
        > in-box.
        >
        > It's one of several ways in which Lay, who has no
        > formal computer training,
        > is beating state agencies and pricey information
        > vendors at their own game
        > by providing a way to make sense out of mountains of
        > data--for free.
        >
        > Caren Daniels-Meade, a spokeswoman for the secretary
        > of state, hadn't heard
        > of ElectionTrack. "That's amazing," she said after
        > checking it out.
        >
        > Lay also runs Around the Capitol (at
        > www.aroundthecapitol.com
        > <http://www.aroundthecapitol.com/> ), another site
        > devoted to the clear
        > presentation of information about state politics and
        > government. The site,
        > which quickly became a favorite of political
        > professionals and has 500 to
        > 1,000 readers a day, is a portal site with a front
        > page users may customize
        > to show constantly updated campaign gossip,
        > newspaper editorials and blog
        > entries.
        >
        > "It's especially important because there are
        > surprisingly few sources of
        > information about state politics compared to other
        > states," said Jack
        > Pitney, a government professor at Claremont McKenna
        > College. "If you want to
        > follow California politics, and you're not in
        > Sacramento, you really need
        > this site."
        >
        > Around the Capitol features discussion boards for
        > legislative races, where
        > users can post information (or snide comments) about
        > candidates. The site
        > also offers a simple bill-tracking service.
        >
        > As an information provider working as a lobbyist,
        > Lay has loaded up the site
        > with links to plenty of opinions--editorials, blogs,
        > message boards,
        > etc.--but he usually avoids expressing his own.
        >
        > "Scott's done a fabulous job of putting all the
        > information in one place,"
        > said Matt Rexroad, a political consultant for the
        > Assembly and Senate
        > Republican caucuses. "If he were to ever charge a
        > fee for it, I'd pay it."
        >
        > Lay spends about two hours each morning on the site
        > before going to work. He
        > doesn't charge for anything right now, though he
        > does recoup some of the
        > $320 a month he pays for Web hosting. He plans to
        > sell more ads once he adds
        > new features.
        >
        > Earlier this month, Lay and Anthony York, editor of
        > the Political Pulse
        > newsletter, unveiled a new daily e-mail bulletin
        > called The Roundup. Modeled
        > on The Note, a popular ABC News online publication
        > for political junkies,
        > The Roundup is a daily digest of political news that
        > includes links to
        > political stories and reporting on other insider
        > tidbits.
        >
        > And it fits with the mission of Lay's other online
        > efforts: cutting through
        > the clutter.
        >
        > For nearly 10 years, Lay, 32, has lobbied for the
        > Community College League
        > of California, a nonprofit group that represents the
        > state's
        > community-college districts. He has a personal
        > connection to the schools.
        >
        > Lay grew up with chronic asthma that kept him
        > hospitalized for months at a
        > time, forcing him to drop out of high school--but
        > also giving him a chance
        > to pursue other interests.
        >
        > "I had a lot of time. I wasn't going to school," he
        > said. "I'd sit around
        > and listen to talk radio, read the L.A. Times and
        > learn to program
        > computers." He later earned a general equivalency
        > diploma and enrolled in a
        > community college near his home in Orange County.
        >
        > Paul Mitchell, who met Lay 13 years ago when they
        > were both students at
        > Orange Coast College, helped Lay found a Democratic
        > club at the school.
        > Mitchell, an occasional collaborator on The Roundup
        > and Around the Capitol,
        > said party activism seemed to keep Lay healthy. "As
        > long as he had a
        > political campaign he was working on, he had a
        > reason not to get sick,"
        > recalled Mitchell, who's now a lobbyist for EdVoice,
        > a nonprofit
        > education-advocacy group.
        >
        > Back then, Lay already was tinkering with the
        > Internet, using it to
        > distribute the Donkey's Mouth, an online publication
        > for college Democrats.
        > Lay finished college at UC Davis, where, as an
        > undergraduate, he made a
        > failed bid for the Davis City Council.
        >
        > During the recall of Gray Davis, he started a Web
        > site, RecallWatch.com,
        > that kept fund-raising totals for candidates and
        > committees. He tallied the
        > information manually and posted it on the site,
        > which became a handy tool
        > for reporters and political operatives trying to
        > follow the complicated flow
        > of money.
        >
        > Later, when he built ElectionTrack, Lay wrote a
        > script that grabbed new
        > information from the secretary of state's database
        > every hour.
        >
        === message truncated ===




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      • Joshua Tauberer
        ... Wow, good luck. That would be great to have online. ... That s a good point. There isn t a way on GovTrack to see who held what positions before this
        Message 3 of 4 , Jan 17, 2005
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          Scott Beardsley wrote:
          > As a side project my friend and I are going to begin
          > digitizing the election results going back to the
          > start of California in 1850.

          Wow, good luck. That would be great to have online.

          > One thing that I've noticed about both govtrack.us and
          > aroundthecapitol.com is difficulty in browsing older
          > data. Any plans to improve this?

          That's a good point. There isn't a way on GovTrack to see who held what
          positions before this year. I'll add that to my list of things to do.

          --
          - Joshua Tauberer

          http://taubz.for.net

          ** Nothing Unreal Exists **
        • Scott Beardsley
          ... Hah, I don t know why people keep telling me that; maybe I m about to find out. I ve just found PURL (http://purl.org/) from reading a bit on RDF. It d be
          Message 4 of 4 , Jan 17, 2005
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            --- Joshua Tauberer <tauberer@...> wrote:

            > Wow, good luck.

            Hah, I don't know why people keep telling me that;
            maybe I'm about to find out.

            I've just found PURL (http://purl.org/) from reading a
            bit on RDF. It'd be nice to get an all-encompassing
            structure for government data sources.

            something like
            /gov/us/legislature/(bill|hearing|resolution|...) for
            most of your stuff.
            then /gov/us/ca/legislature/(election|bill|...) for
            mine.

            I'm betting this was already part of the plan, but I
            wanted to throw it out in case it wasn't.

            Scott




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