Why I’m Running for SoS

Pete Peterson
Dean, Pepperdine University Graduate School of Public Policy

Over the last six years (the first three heading up the bi-partisan non-profit Common Sense CA and the last three as head of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement at Pepperdine), I have seen Californians do amazing things. From citizens helping to solve a complex water policy issue up in Humboldt County to Bellians participating […]

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Interested in What Californians Really Think about Initiative Reform? Remember “What’s Next CA?”?

Pete Peterson
Dean, Pepperdine University Graduate School of Public Policy

With their developing super-majority, Assembly Democrats have turned their attention (once again) to something they’re calling “initiative reform” and more than a few people—on both sides of the aisle—are worried. The San Diego U-T opined, “The Democrats who team with unions to control Sacramento have no credibility on this issue. Direct democracy is the only […]

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In a Way, Judges Rule on Partisanship at SoS…

Pete Peterson
Dean, Pepperdine University Graduate School of Public Policy

In the intriguing December article, “Election Officials Defend their Partisan Status,” in the left-leaning American Prospect, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen defended Party affiliations for the statewide office meant to defend the civic voice of all voters: “It’s better for voters to know and to be able to hold their secretaries of state accountable.” […]

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Controller Chiang’s Public Pay Site: A First Step towards Transparency

Pete Peterson
Dean, Pepperdine University Graduate School of Public Policy

In a rather disturbing essay on the left-leaning website Slate—disturbing, at least for those of us supporting greater public sector transparency on issues ranging from budgets to transportation—government technology expert David Eaves notes that while “governments are releasing more information than ever,” these early efforts appear to demonstrate that “open data will not depoliticize debate. […]

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Government Workers are Ready for a Conservative Pitch

Pete Peterson
Dean, Pepperdine University Graduate School of Public Policy

Crossposted on The American Magazine At first blush, the headline on the Government Executive website seems unsurprising: “Poll: Obama leads Romney among government workers.” The article quotes Rasmussen Reports, which found that of the public sector employees polled, 54 percent said they would vote for President Obama, while 37 percent said they would vote for […]

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Palo Alto’s “Open Budget”: What Transparency Looks Like – Part II

Pete Peterson
Dean, Pepperdine University Graduate School of Public Policy

When we last left our intrepid transparency trailblazers at the City of Palo Alto (PA), they had just launched one of the nation’s most comprehensive open data platforms.  Using Census and municipal data, Open Data Palo Alto provided residents (or anyone for that matter) with information ranging from the percentage of Palo Altans under five […]

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Greetings from Portland…Wishin’ We Were Here

Pete Peterson
Dean, Pepperdine University Graduate School of Public Policy

Dateline Portland where I’m here to observe Oregon’s Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) process. As Joe Mathews noted in these pages a couple weeks ago after seeing this election cycle’s first review in Salem, the CIR offers an intriguing glimpse of what it’s like to hit an ostensibly democratic practice (the ballot initiative) with more democracy. Again, […]

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Palo Alto’s Open Data Platform: What Transparency Looks Like?

Pete Peterson
Dean, Pepperdine University Graduate School of Public Policy

“I have seen the future, and it works,” remarked the Californian, Lincoln Steffens, after returning from the post-Revolution Soviet Union. Of course, he was overwhelmingly wrong.  But after returning from meeting with the City of Palo Alto’s Chief Information Officer, Jonathan Reichental, and seeing the launch of their new Open Data Platform, I know I’ve […]

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SoS: A Chance at Reform?

Pete Peterson
Dean, Pepperdine University Graduate School of Public Policy

“The Secretary of State’s Office is comprised of nearly 500 people who are dedicated to making government more transparent and accessible in the areas of elections, business, political campaigns, legislative advocacy and historical treasures.” So reads the first sentence of the California Secretary of State’s “About the Agency” webpage. If this is the standard for […]

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How “Public” Is the Public Sector?

Pete Peterson
Dean, Pepperdine University Graduate School of Public Policy

Crossposted on New Geography You may have heard the old joke about the convenience store with a neon sign blaring, “Open 24 Hours”. A customer stops in one morning for coffee, and confronts the store’s owner, “Your sign says ‘Open 24 Hours’, but I stopped by last night at midnight for a pack of smokes […]

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