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September 2006

October 2006

Membership Meeting (Sue Miller)
Transit Update (Charles Carole)
Progress on Solid Waste Management (Pearl Johnson)
Wisconsin LWV Sets an Example (Pearl Johnson)
Election Day Workers Needed (Pearl Johnson)
Welcome New Members
Passage of Transparency Bill Illustrates Citizen Power (Pearl Johnson)
Honolulu City Charter Amendment (Jackie Parnell)
Candidate Information Online

Passage of Transparency Bill Illustrates Citizen Power

On September 7, the US Senate passed a bill to create a public, searchable database of all federal grants and contracts. The tale of how concerned citizens made possible the passage of this bill should hearten all us Leaguers who want better government

A hold was placed on Senate bill 2950 after it had passed unanimously out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. According to Senate rules, the bill would never come to a vote as long as the hold continued. Who had placed the hold? No Senator would admit to placing the hold.

How citizens did it

This is where the power of the Internet comes into play. Bloggers Porkbusters.org and TPMMuckraker.com urged their readers to call their Senators and politely ask if they had placed the hold.

Some Senators would neither confirm nor deny complicity. The blogs published the names of the deniers and kept count. As the tally of the innocent got to 90, Senators who would not deny came forward to deny.

Majority Leader Bill Frist publicly requested that all Senators deny or confirm. With the count at 96, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said he would make a rare exception to his rule not to discuss holds. Then Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah) also denied. With the count at 98, only 2 Senators could have placed the hold.

So Senators Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia) acknowledged that they had placed the hold and lifted it. The bill passed the Senate 100 to 0.

Websites which helped

TPMMuckraker.com is published by TPM Media LLC (publisher of Talking Points Memo and TPM Café). It is funded by paid advertisements and contributions from readers.

Porkbusters.org was founded by University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds. The site invites readers to "identify some wasteful spending in your state or (even better) Congressional District. Put up a blog post on it.” Go to Porkbusters.org and list the pork, and add a link to your post."

Does any reader have a blog? The next time you get really indignant about some government action, go to these two websites and see if you can get public attention focused on it.

Pearl Johnson
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