Geeks for democracy

July 28, 2011

Geeks for democracy

“How do you enable people to have a louder voice within their communities?” asks Conor White-Sullivan. He answered his own question by developing Localocracy, a platform that hosts community-focused discussion boards seeking participants who are registered to vote and who use their real names. Localocracy gives citizens an opportunity to generate discussions to influence each other, their government and journalists.

Conor is one of 16 winners of “Champions of Change,” a contest the White House hosted in June that showcased the potential of Web apps that utilize data sets made available by federal, state and local agencies. Developers who were chosen to attend created applications that enable users to find and organize pick-up games at public facilities, guide citizens through zoning ordinances and direct parents to child-friendly locations, as well as numerous other services. See more of this wonderful project at

Jefferson County part 6

According to the Birmingham News the court-appointed receiver over the Jefferson County sewer system, John S. Young, announced late Wednesday that the bondholders had a counter-proposal for the county commission. This was a few short hours before the commission’s 1:00pm meeting today to decide to declare bankruptcy.

Mr. Young had not shared the proposal with the commission as of last night, according to county officials. But he was quick to speak to the press. I think Mr. Young should be communicating with the debtors rather than the media. The time is long past for this kabuki. All parties in this transaction must deal in the highest standards of good faith.

Coincidentally, the Securities and Exchange Commission will hold a field hearing tomorrow in Jefferson County to examine the state of the municipal market. County commissioners are expected to attend.


Bloomberg: Jefferson County Commission Expects Counterproposal From Bond Creditors

Birmingham News: Jefferson County considers pluses and minuses of bankruptcy (with poll)

Bloomberg: Jefferson County Stares Down Bankruptcy as Citizens Grow Weary

Anti-panic alert

The state of Maryland, amid great worries about the U.S. debt/deficit talks, delayed the issuance of $500 million of bonds for a week. The rating agency Standard and Poor’s had placed Maryland’s AAA rating on review due to excessive reliance on federal expenditures in their budget as well as the state’s high number of federal employees whose jobs would be at risk if the government slashed spending.

Even with the worries about the show in Washington, the $500 million bond issue was easily brought to market yesterday. Here is one part of the offering on EMMA, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board web portal. And here is the story in the Washington Times.

Twitter talk

@munilass:  All this madness over a meaningless number.

@GreeneBarrettAccess to retirement benefits? 64% of private industry employees & 90% of state/local govt employees #BLS

@AmyResnickNYS Comptroller says failure to raise US debt ceiling could hold up $7B in Medicaid payments to state, leaving huge hole in budget via @WNYC

@munimojoDrought may impact tax collections, official says

@MillerTabak: buyers who participated in yesterdays “AAA” state GO deal were looking for return of capital – some issuers have become “parking garages”

Good Links

Elsevier Global Medical News: Feds: Health Spending Growth Low in 2010

Marketplace Radio: Medicaid Spending by State

Fortune: 5 states at risk in the debt ceiling debate

WSJ: California Counties Reel From Tax Hit  Long-Stalled Mega-Mall Xanadu Gets $350M Backing

Kansas City Star: Rural America worried about post office closings

Bloomberg: New York’s MTA Plugs Budget Gaps by Freezing Wages While Increasing Fares

The Polk City Panel Moves Bond Issue Increase Proposal Ahead

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