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
In Harris County Sheriff primary, best choice is Ron Hickman Here we go again. Harris County Republicans have to pick a candidate to run for Sheriff in November. Hopefully our nominee will cross the...
Update:3 hours 14 min
Big Jolly Politics
FOX 26 KRIV sheds management positions FOX 26 KRIV assistant news director and managing editor jobs cut TVSpy is reporting that FOX 26 KRIV eliminated two newsroom positions...
Update:3 hours 50 min
Mike McGuff
Woodlands Home Listing Photo of the Day: Climbing the Walls 26 Palmer Crst. [HAR] … Read...
Update:4 hours 27 min
Swamplot
Some Helpful Tips for Placing A Park On Top of an Underground Freeway Meanwhile, in Dallas: What goes into the equation to span a park across a multi-lane underground freeway tunnel, as TXDoT’s latest...
Update:4 hours 57 min
Swamplot
Family Solar Farm Prepares Harvest for Market on FM 3013 near Sealy These crop duster-height shots of 12 acres of solar paneling were snagged above FM 3013 half a mile south of Gebhardt Rd., where Harvest...
Update:6 hours 27 min
Swamplot
Comment of the Day: Making A U-Turn on Rerouting I-45 “I was for this reroute plan early on initially, but as time has gone by I’ve grown against it. This massive freeway is going to...
Update:8 hours 11 min
Swamplot
Starting Over on Bidding for a Billion-Dollar IAH Terminal Expansion Mayor Turner announced this week that bidding will start over for the first few contracts for a $1.5-billion expansion to United’s...
Update:9 hours 11 min
Swamplot
Swamplot Sponsor: Nos Caves Vin Our Sponsor of the Day today is the wine-storage experts at Nos Caves Vin. Thanks for your support of Swamplot, NCV! Nos Caves Vin caters...
Update:9 hours 41 min
Swamplot
Eric Dick likes to play, is willing to pay Gotta love Eric Dick. I mean, with the last name Dick, he’s had to live with a lot of jokes. But he’s learned to take them with...
Update:10 hours 59 min
Big Jolly Politics
Progress on Those Limestone Slabs Getting Screwed Onto the Mecom Fountain Here’s a late-afternoon look at the limestone slabs that have been working their way around the concrete oval basin of the Mecom...
Update:11 hours 12 min
Swamplot
Tweets
Karen Townsend | 3 years 7 months
"Patrick F. Kennedy is a career foreign service officer" - http://t.co/GOrCe0IS
Peter Corbett ✈ | 3 years 7 months
I'm at McCarran International Airport (LAS) w/ @almacy http://t.co/KvmId07i
KERA Public Media | 3 years 7 months
TONIGHT at 7pm on KERA TV: Presidential Debate: Learn more at PBS NewsHour. http://t.co/Z9kYdun8
PBS MediaShift | 3 years 7 months
Tech Snafus Make Bill O'Reilly/Jon Stewart 'Rumble' More of a Stumble http://t.co/4OfeBlrG (@kegill | @pbsmediashift) #rumble2012
Will Sullivan | 3 years 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 | 3 years 7 months
I-35W/North Tarrant Express #constantcontact http://t.co/QDzrQumu
keyetv | 3 years 7 months
Serial shotgun robbers suspects arrested. http://t.co/ka8T4U9B
Karen Townsend | 3 years 7 months
Aren't State Dept career people suppose to be non-partisan? Not the political appointees, the career people. #Libya
© 2016 TEXAS WATCHDOG and USELABS. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use and Privacy Statement