Under proposed new state regulations all-night vigils by off-campus groups would be allowed outside of Seattle Central Community College, but a no-camping proviso already enacted would stay in place and a series of other guidelines would be enacted around the exercise there of First Amendment-protected free speech rights. Non-college protest groups such as “Occupy Seattle” – whose wild and wooly days-long encampment on the college’s grounds in fall 2011 sparked conflict with the college and neighbors while inspiring declarations of support from faculty and students – would be subject to a registration clause. They’d have to comply with provisions to limit noise; clean-up; pay costs for any litter left and damages caused; and refrain from blocking students and faculty from using college facilities. There’s also a long list of what constitutes prohibited “camping,” as well as a ban on leaflets with obscene language or incitements to violence, and a strong suggestion such flyers include author or group contact information, to encourage accountability.
Collaboration in Civic Spheres
Archive for the ‘Dialog And Deliberation’ Category
by Matt Rosenberg February 24th, 2013
Admitting local state legislators have already warned their colleagues will likely approve electronic tolling on Interstate 90, Mercer Island City officials are still poised Monday night to approve a work plan to battle the move.
Council bill 4809 would OK an initial appropriation of $150,000 from the city’s $2.34 million general contingency fund to hire experts on the economic and traffic impacts to the well-off city of planned state tolling on I-90, plus federal and state lobbyists and a communications and government affairs consultant to fight the plan. Mercer Island has already engaged the high-powered Seattle law firm of K&L Gates, which recently completed a letter to the the Washington State Department of Transportation outlining what should be examined, and how, in the planned Environmental Assessment, or EA, on I-90 tolling.
by Matt Rosenberg February 5th, 2013
Since it debuted last week, more than 850 Washingtonians have signed up to use a new feature on the state legislature’s Web site which allows registered users to comment directly to legislators on a bill’s merits from the bill history page rather than hunting around for a series of email addresses and having to go into a new window to send the emails. The pilot project will run through the 2013 legislative session, after which officials will evaluate its usefulness to lawmakers and the public. In the meantime, among the pending bills upon which you can comment are several which would further restrict disclosure of public records.
by Matt Rosenberg December 20th, 2012
The Sunlight Foundation reports that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is seeking public comment until December 31 on the possibility of loosening regulations stemming from a 1986 federal amendment which restricts the use of armor-piercing bullets in handguns. Body armor such as bullet-proof vests is typically worn by law enforcement personnel. The current law allows an exemption to the ban if the U.S. Attorney General finds the use of particular armor-piercing bullets in a handgun is “primarily intended” for recreational purposes.
The issue had arisen prior to the December 14 mass murder in Newtown, Connecticut, which has propelled a new and urgent national dialog about gun control, semi-automatic weapons, and mental illness. At issue here is that as the firepower of handguns has increased, more are now able to use such ammunition, which is already legally used in rifles if deemed for sport shooting.
An alert to members from the National Rifle Association advances arguments in favor of firming up the “sporting purposes” exemption, to allow for use of “rifle-caliber projectiles made of metals harder than lead” in high-caliber handguns.
The request for comment was published on ATF’s website. An ATF backgrounder found there explains the issue has actually been under review since at least August, 2011. ATF has been holding meetings with law enforcement groups, gun owners and others on the potential exemption.
RELATED: Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group
by Matt Rosenberg September 26th, 2012
Assistant civil engineering professor Cynthia Chen of the University of Washington and Sammamish City Council member Don Gerend are among 20 experts serving on a new state committee charged with overseeing a preliminary feasibility assessment of a revolutionary transportation funding method based on charging vehicles for all miles driven. The Washington State Road Usage Charge Steering Committee will meet seven more times between now and June, 2013, when it is to finish a first phase of work for state legislators who will then decide whether to fund more study that could lead to eventual implementation of what some also call the vehicle mileage tax. Employing on-board devices or other technical tools, the RUC/VMT would be a radically different kind of pay-as-you approach to funding surface transportation system maintenance and expansion. In the last decade, there have already been a series of preliminary pilot projects to test it out in Puget Sound, Oregon, and across the U.S. Some implementation has occurred in Europe. Following are details and links on how to track the current Washington study’s work and get involved.
by Matt Rosenberg March 19th, 2012
With a planned discussion of a recent citizen survey and a presentation of what could be the final draft of a new ordinance, the Shoreline City Council March 19 is poised to move one step closer to a scheduled vote March 26 to ban all tobacco use in all parts of all the city’s parks and other city outdoor recreation spaces. Enforcement would be voluntary, by parks patrons, not police, and city costs for signs would range from $3,000 to $5,000. Although almost 70 percent of respondents in the online survey supported the proposed blanket smoking ban in Shoreline city parks facilities, comments varied widely. In a special information packet on the policy, for the council’s review March 19, city staff provide the survey results including a broad sampling of residents reactions; while also sharing the proposed final draft of the smoke-free parks ordinance.
In the non-scientific survey accessed at the city’s Web site, ban opponents argued that smoking is legal, not very harmful outdoors, and that peer-to-peer enforcement would be risky. Among their comments:
by Matt Rosenberg March 10th, 2012
Don’t confuse government “open data” with open government, warn two graduate students from Princeton and Yale in a new paper. Harlan Yu and David Robinson say open data may actually improve government transparency but it also:
…might equally well refer to politically neutral public sector disclosures that are easy to reuse, (and) have nothing to do with public accountability. Today a regime can call itself “open” if it builds the right kind of web site — even if it does not become more accountable or transparent….Technology can make public information more adaptable, empowering third parties to contribute in exciting new ways across many aspects of civic life. But technological enhancements will not resolve debates about the best priorities for civic life, and enhancements to government services are no substitute for public accountability.
What open government needs to look like in the coming decade and beyond involves at least three core considerations: 1) inclusive dialog around potential changes to laws on open records and open meetings; 2) the melding of Internet and mobile technologies with ideals of government accountability; and 3) nourishment for a reformulated news and information ecosystem to fulfill the public interest with robust accountability-driven reporting, teaching and collaboration. We’re going to focus here mainly on 2), and a bit on 3).
Voluntary government disclosure is growing
Baseline voluntary government transparency utilizing the Internet has grown impressively. A wide array of meeting documents, special reports and data are routinely posted online by governments at all levels, in the U.S.