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Email Congress to Oppose H.R. 5882 and #FreeTHOMAS

June 4, 2012 - by David Moore

PPF has sought bulk legislative data & real-time bill info since we first conceived of OpenCongress in 2004 and launched it in Feb. 2007. 

PPF has been calling for #opengovdata since Nov. 2007. It is beyond the pale that we don’t have full access to public law information on the internet. What an avoidable severe shortcoming for participatory democracy. What a degraged, gridlocked representative democracy we live with today. What a systemically-corrupt, intentionally-closed-off 112th U.S. Congress. There is no legitimate excuse for this un-transparent state of affairs. (Background blog post: Liberate OpenGovData Now.)  

PPF is proud to stand with our allies the Sunlight Foundation, GovTrack.us, and many others in the #opengov & legal informatics community in calling for #opengovdata – specifically, to oppose H.R. 5882 (sponsor: Rep. Ander Crenshaw [R , FL-04]) as it’s planned to be brought to the House floor this week. In its current form, the bill takes huge steps backwards for transparency & basic access to information. How classically Beltway – throw up false hurdles, paranoid assumptions, and disregard expert tech testimony, all while creating a lip-service commission with no deadline while ignoring previous findings & even a Congressional order. What a bunch of crystal-clear bullshit. 

We called our long-planned wiki-whip-count effort on OC: #FreeTHOMAS. Now, we have the specific legislative item from the House Subcommittee on Legislative Appropriations: click here to email your reps in opposition to H.R. 5882. OpenCongress will automatically find your two senators and representative based on your address, and then you can compose a personal message about why you oppose this flawed bill – with handy access to some PPF talking points. Your letter will be delivered immediately over email, and you’ll get back a permalink to your letter that you can share immediately over social media and with your larger community. Josh Tauberer, the longtime GovTrack maestro, has assembled great additional resources & talking points, with a link to the POPVOX service for constituent communication - we agree, add some personal anecdotes about how you use OpenCongress to get the real story behind what’s happening in Congress and as a user-friendly front-end to legislative information. 

Also like Josh Tauberer, I left a message w/ Rep. Crenshaw’s office supporting aggressive steps towards opening up THOMAS’ database – and we’ve heard nothing back. Typical insular D.C. culture – completely ignoring (not even partially ignoring) the compelling, good-faith testimony we’ve submitted on behalf of bulk data. It is absolutely core to PPFs non-profit mission to use technology to re-fashion this fundamentally broken relationship between the public and elected officials who think it can ever possibly be acceptable to block off full transparency & timeliness for bill data. Can’t wait for the cohort replacement in Congressional leadership (e.g. House Approps Subcmte leadership.) – and in the meantime, while we hustle away the Luddites & anti-disclousre crew to retirement & pasture, email Congress now in vocal, principled, radical opposition to H.R. 5882. Then help us spread the word – OpenCongress needs open-gov-data. Questions, feedback – I’m david at opencongress.org, Skype / AIM handle: davidmooreppf. Thank you for your help on this vital issue. Baffling that we even have to fight this foundational issue when there’s so much more work to do on reforming systemic corruption in our national priorities, but we need to get the bill data first while we work on creating a more liquid democracy and mitigating the grotesque dominance of money in politics. Join us, #FreeTHOMAS now. 

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