Archive for September, 2011

Online county spending data could create citizen auditors

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

The Mississippi Center for Public Policy has unveiled the lasted addition to the SeeTheSpending.orgwebsite.  Last year they announced the web site which has very user friendly features for searching state spending data in Mississippi.  Searches can be done by vendor, category, agency, date with other options as well - and the data is updated quarterly. Now the site is enhanced with county spending over the past six fiscal years also easily searchable.  Most of Mississippi’s counties have responded to their records request which costs the county nothing (MCPP pays for the associated costs with private funds). I write about the new county data this week in the Madison County Journal: Madison leads transparency.  The web site is also the topic of Charlie Mitchell’s column this week: Potential is strong for ‘See the Spending’ website.

Another interesting item on the web site is a beta version of a full archiveof each day’s floor action for the 2010 and 2011 legislative session for the Mississippi Senate and House of Representatives.  You can check that out as well (may be helpful to cross reference the state’s billstatus web site when looking for particular items of action).

Gill & Hyde-Smith harvest Ag Commissioner votes

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Over the years one of the most enjoyable aspects of my work has been the opportunity to write a political column for the Madison County Journal and other newspapers in Mississippi. I’m excited to again be writing and this week marks the return of “Reasonably Right.” I have a passion for journalism and great respect for journalists; but I am not one. I write an opinion column which I hope goes beyond just opinion and offers compelling and informative thoughts. I often miss the mark but I hope you’ll enjoy the columns from time to time either through agreement or through opposition.

This week I review the candidate forum for candidates seeking the post of Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce hosted by the Stennis Press Luncheon: Hyde-Smith, Gill harvest votes.

MCPP To Reveal How Tax Dollars are Spent by County Governments

Monday, September 12th, 2011

The Mississippi Center for Public Policy has announced a press conference to introduce an expansion of its web site that will put all county government spending online for Mississippians to examine. Previously, their data provided detailed search capacity by vendor, account, or agency for the State of Mississippi for review. Here are details of the press conference:

Mississippi Center for Public Policy Puts County Spending Details Online for the Public
Who: Mississippi Center for Public Policy, an independent, non-profit think tank
What: News Conference to Present Addition of County Spending Data to MCPP’s
Spending Transparency Website,
Where: MCPP Offices, 520 George Street, Jackson, MS 39202
(park in adjacent parking lot)
When: 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Why: Demonstrate how the web site works and answer questions about the data
Details: For the first time ever, Mississippians will be able to see online exactly how county governments spend their money – even down to the transaction level. Mississippi Center for Public Policy’s transparency website,, which currently features a searchable database of state spending, will be updated on Tuesday to include spending by 62 of Mississippi’s 82 counties. Join us to learn more about the site, its features, and the benefits to the media and the public.

This is great news for citizens interested in how their tax dollars are spent, reporters, bloggers, campaigns, vendors who want to compete in government contracts, and elected officials concerned about over spending.

American Chestnut: Appalachian Apocalypse

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Many of my friends and colleagues are amused intrigued by my fascination with the American Chestnut tree and my membership in the American Chestnut Foundation. Because the chestnut blight struck so fully and quickly, few realize today the role that tree played in the ecosystem and economy of the hills and mountains of the Eastern United States.

Here are two great videos under 15 minutes a piece that look at the history and impact of the American Chestnut.

If you would like to know more about or support the efforts in restoring the American Chestnut Tree through a blight resistent breeding program, please contact the American Chestnut Foundation.

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