in Houston, Texas
Useful links for citizen journalists
Saturday, Apr 21, 2012, 10:55AM CST
By Trent Seibert
 

Keeping a spotlight on city hall - A guide by investigative reporter Trent Seibert

832-316-4994

trent@texaswatchdog.org

www.texaswatchdog.org



The FOIA letter generator
http://www.rcfp.org/foia

This handy site will allow you to produce a quick letter asking a state, local or federal government entity for the public records you want. It also shows you example of records that are public at the state and federal level and provides direct links to your state’s open records law.

Follow the Money
http://www.followthemoney.org/

This site allows you to see how money flows through your state. The campaign contributions for statewide elected officials such as state representatives, state senators and governors are showcased here. There is also an analysis of those contributions and much more.

Open Secrets
http://www.opensecrets.org/index.php

Here is where you will find how money flows through Congress and the White House. There is so much more here, too: This site is a clearinghouse for data and analysis on multiple aspects of money in politics — the independent interest groups flooding politics with outside spending, federal lobbying, Washington's "revolving door", federal earmarks and the personal finances of members of Congress, the president and other officials.

Political Party Time
http://politicalpartytime.org/

This site collects and categorizes invitations to Congressional and Presidential political fundraising events. You can find out where the fundraisers are and (in some cases) who is expected to attend, often before they happen. You can also view the array of invitations that are emailed and faxed by the dozen to lobbyists, Political Action Committee representatives and others around Washington, D.C. and the country. These fundraisers vary from small receptions to lavish getaways -- and none are cheap.

Housing and Urban Development Audits
http://www.hudoig.gov/

See how well -- or not so well -- HUD is using your tax dollars in your state. Keep up with audits that many times put a spotlight on waste, fraud and corruption.

Your state auditor
Example: North Carolina

http://www.ncauditor.net/pub3/

Every state has a state auditor. You can find yours by Googling your state’s name and then “state auditor.” Auditors take hard looks at state and local agencies and find information that is often overlooked by the media. Investigative audits often show waste and fraud. Financial audits can give you detailed information about an agency, school system or city -- and can show you how much debt public entities hold and what tax hikes may be on the way.

Stimulus information and stimulus audits
http://www.recovery.gov/Pages/default.aspx

Recovery.gov can show you where stimulus money is being spent and how many jobs have been created. The “accountability” section of the site can link you to audits of waste and fraud in the stimulus spending, as well as to organizations that have received stimulus dollars but have not reported how they’ve spent the money.

FBI reports
http://www.fbi.gov/foia

The FBI’s FOIA page provides the form to fill out to find if a deceased individual or a closed case has an associated FBI file. The site also provides hundreds of links to the FBI files of many historical figures and events.

Video
KTRK: On Big Screens for Billionaires, Comptroller Susan Combs Silent
Related Blogs and Media
Comment of the Day: So Condos Are Forever? “My condo complex sits on about 6 acres of land on the western edge of River Oaks. We’ve been approached a few times by developers,...
Update:1 hour 41 sec
Swamplot
The Comcast-FCC Revolving Door With several former FCC employees in its lobbying ranks, including a former commissioner, the revolving door between Comcast and the...
Update:1 hour 12 min
Open Secrets
Banking Industry Has Connections to Shape Mortgage Overhaul As the Senate Banking Committee prepares to vote on a new bill overhauling the mortgage finance system, lobbyists from the banking and...
Update:3 hours 38 min
Open Secrets
Conroe Home Listing Photo of the Day: Pilot Light 11969 White Oak Run [HAR] … Read...
Update:3 hours 45 min
Swamplot
This Skinny 39-Story Apartment Tower Will Squeeze in Next to the New Marriott Marquis Downtown, Behind Discovery Green It looks like engineers have begun soil testing the thin strip of land left along Crawford St. downtown between the Hess Tower parking...
Update:5 hours 45 min
Swamplot
APRIL 18 / The four big issues are . . . . . . the national disaster known as Obamacare, the limping economy, unsustainable federal spending, and world disorder. So what are...
Update:5 hours 50 min
Unca Darrell
Did KHOU 11 ride the ethics line to South Texas? How a ride for a story subject from a KHOU 11 reporter has some other journalists seeing red There are some Houston media folks who are...
Update:6 hours 53 min
Mike McGuff
A $279K Updated Shepherd Forest Mod, at a Crossroads Corner windows sharpen the edges of a buffed-up 1956 home with mod-fied interior (top) located on a corner lot in Shepherd Forest. The...
Update:7 hours 45 min
Swamplot
Daily Demolition Report: Viking Defeat All these will come crashing or splashing down. Commercial Structures Hallmark/Wells Fargo, 4824 San Felipe St. 77056 Residences 1211...
Update:9 hours 45 sec
Swamplot
Houston’s Zombie Lots; Woodland Park Looking More Park-Like Some of the 6,000 Empty Lots Across Houston Abandoned After Housing Crash Show Signs of Life [Houston Chronicle ($)] New Hoarding...
Update:9 hours 46 min
Swamplot
Tweets
Karen Townsend | 1 year 7 months
"Patrick F. Kennedy is a career foreign service officer" - http://t.co/GOrCe0IS
Peter Corbett ✈ | 1 year 7 months
I'm at McCarran International Airport (LAS) w/ @almacy http://t.co/KvmId07i
KERA Public Media | 1 year 7 months
TONIGHT at 7pm on KERA TV: Presidential Debate: Learn more at PBS NewsHour. http://t.co/Z9kYdun8
PBS MediaShift | 1 year 7 months
Tech Snafus Make Bill O'Reilly/Jon Stewart 'Rumble' More of a Stumble http://t.co/4OfeBlrG (@kegill | @pbsmediashift) #rumble2012
Will Sullivan | 1 year 7 months
Great addition, been burned too much by bad subs. "Google Play Announces Free Trials For In-App Subscription Services" http://t.co/TOLgRVak
TxDOT | 1 year 7 months
I-35W/North Tarrant Express #constantcontact http://t.co/QDzrQumu
keyetv | 1 year 7 months
Serial shotgun robbers suspects arrested. http://t.co/ka8T4U9B
Karen Townsend | 1 year 7 months
Aren't State Dept career people suppose to be non-partisan? Not the political appointees, the career people. #Libya
© 2014 TEXAS WATCHDOG and USELABS. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use and Privacy Statement