Wonks Of The World Unite!

Anthony Pignataro:

Anyone out there who can’t get enough information about the confluence of money and power in state government need to check out this new MAPLight.org website dedicated to California politics.

“The goal of MAPLight.org/California is to give Californians a simple dashboard view of their government,” MAPLight executive director Daniel Newman said in a press release sent out today. “In the past, citizens faced the daunting task of navigating complicated government websites to figure out how their lawmakers voted and track the interest groups influencing the government. Now, MAPLight.org’s transparency tools allow quick and easy access to information so people can research the issues they care about.”

For fun, I tested the site by searching for a favorite bill — Assembly member Julia Brownley’s AB 1998, which would have banned grocery stores from giving away plastic or paper shopping bags for free. I started at the homepage, then clicked on Bills, which took me to this page.

I keyed in “AB 1998” in the search box, which brought up this extremely detailed rundown on the bill. It listed organizations that supported and opposed the bill and, more importantly, gave this list of legislators that included how much money they took from these organizations and how they voted. There’s even a timeline showing when the bill-related contributions came in.

You can also click on “Legislators,” which takes you to this page listing all our esteemed lawmakers. click on someone like, oh, Assembly Speaker John Perez, and you get this breakdown of which interests and organizations contribute to him, how much, etc.

Truth be told, it’s actually kind of fun to navigate your way through it. Though be warned: nothing you find on this site will make you happy, which is pretty much the point.

SEPT. 28, 2010

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