Transparency News 1/2/19



January 2, 2019


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stories of national interest

A new Interior Department rule could make it harder for news organizations and nonprofits to get public information from the government. Filed to the Federal Register between Christmas and New Year's Day on Friday, the suggested rule would change the way the agency must file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by relaxing timelines by which information must be handled and increasing the burden on requesters to be specific in what they are looking for. The changes, critics say, will ultimately make it harder for people to get the government documents they are seeking and could add to the already high number of FOIA lawsuits against the Trump administration.
The Hill

An algorithm predicts where potholes will emerge so road crews can resurface streets before cracks appear. Dog houses outfitted with cameras and temperature controls provide people a place to leave pets while they’re on a date or at yoga. And on Main Street, if a driver parks too long, a sensor alerts the police and a ticket is issued. In recent months, Kansas City has become an unexpected destination for technology companies looking for a place to test ideas. The city’s goal: To be what it calls a living lab. Far from technology centers on the coasts, Kansas City and dozens of other cities have begun competing for federal grant dollars and tech company attention. They want to remake themselves as “smart cities,” where technology is seen as a tool to help grow, improve school systems and air quality, and make traffic move faster. But the risks are daunting. Experts say cities frequently lack the expertise to understand privacy, security and financial implications of such arrangements.
The New York Times

In 2018, political theater came with a hefty price tag. Here's what the graftiest government workers in the Swamp have been up to.



"The changes, critics say, could add to the already high number of FOIA lawsuits."


editorials & columns



"No one we know has torn up a winning multi-million-dollar lottery ticket and opted for peace, quiet and lower taxes."

IF MOST of us have only a finite amount of sympathy, we probably can only offer a milligram or two at best to lottery winners. Everyone knows what he or she would do after winning the Mega Millions or Powerball jackpot. We are all sure that we would use our newfound gains wisely, and that the “curse” of winning the lottery only applies to other people. Unfortunately, the best way to ensure a happy ending after one gets rich overnight is probably to keep that windfall as quiet as possible to avoid the attention of long-lost third cousins and newfound “friends.” Potential hardships notwithstanding, however, no one we know has torn up a winning multi-million-dollar lottery ticket and opted for peace, quiet and lower taxes. Somehow, the winners grit their teeth and soldier on. They’d prefer, though, to do so in relative obscurity.
The Free Lance-Star