Another NewAssignment.net Post

So, the NYS Legislature released a text file of all the “member items” from 2004-2005. The NYTimes reported on some of the more glaring items in the list earlier this week. But at least one website – I’m sure there are more – has begun the task of combing through the list more thoroughly. They’ve even converted the Legislature’s release into a searchable document.

It is slightly fun to troll through searching for strange, big-ticket items, like $100,000 “to assist with operating aid” at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta. (Who knew there was a National Soccer Hall of Fame? Or that Marcelo Balboa moonlights from ESPN as a soccer ambassador? Kudos to Oneonta for that coup.) Or, the $50,000 that went to “recycle and renovate” a warehouse in Patchogue for use as an Elks Lodge.

That’s all good clean fun, but there is a problem. This document is huge and unwieldy! It would be nice to know how much Marcelo Balboa and those Elks may be collecting from state coffers via other “member items.” But, to do that we need a database.

Now, I’m sure that the Times will be working this thing over, finding all of the jewels that may be hidden within, but this seems like a perfect project for networked journalism. Jay Rosen, rally your mob to develop a people’s database of NYS “member items.” Maybe if we do it, the government will feel the need to release this stuff every year, not just every few decades. You could even give the database project a catchy name, like “The Marcelo Balboa Project” and get him on board as a celebrity sponsor, to raise interest.

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