Be a Citizen Journalist -- No Experience Required!

seethrough.jpgThe New York Sun touts SeeThroughNY, a website from the Empire Center of New York that allows citizens to look up school district labor contracts, state agency expenditures (via another website, the state comptroller's Open Book), state and community budget line-items, and even your public servants' salaries.

The idea, says a senior policy analyst for the Center, is "to make government more accountable by allowing state residents to easily see how their tax money is being spent."

The Empire Center is a product of the right-wing Manhattan Institute, and obviously meant to provide earnest trawlers with the resources to find spending outrages with which to twit free-spending bleeding-heart State politicians. For example: did you know that last year the State Council on the Arts granted a $60, 300 contract to the Jamaica, Queens-based Afrikan Poetry Theatre, Inc., which wastes your children's time with balloon sculpture and African dance classes when they could be learning about George Washington? That's worth a blog post at least.

But it's all good -- valuable dollar-digging sites like Open Secrets and Newsmeat have been providing similar information for years, allowing those few taxpayers who go in for this sort of thing to twit the Party of their choice with corrupting financial associations. For instance, did you know Domino's Pizza CEO David Brandon has contributed over $207,000 to right-wing political action groups and politicians like -- disgraced adulterer Vito Fossella? That's enough to make someone's blood boil, for sure.

Runnin' Scared applauds this more equitable distribution of journalistic tools, but cautions against the overzealous use of them. Do you want to end up like us, roiling the internet at all hours to make copy for bored office-workers and shut-ins? Wait -- you already do? Grab a shovel, brother! There's plenty of dirt where this came from.

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