FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 3, 2014 – 11am ET
Contact: David Moore, AskThem.io – email@example.com
Today AskThem.io is announcing that NYC Council Member Brad Lander is drafting legislation based on a constituent question from our website. AskThem is a free & open-source web platform for questions-and-answers with every U.S. elected official.
It’s the first instance of a question on AskThem resulting in a bill being drafted for the NYC Council, and a leading example of how a non-profit civic website can directly result in public collaboration on legislation in NYC government.
The news came in an official response from Council Member Lander, his second so far on AskThem, to a question from his constituent Elizabeth Adams, “How can NYC enact something like Seattle’s Race & Social Justice Initiative?”
Lander replied on AskThem, “I love the idea of New York City having something like Seattle’s Race & Social Justice Initiative or King County, WA’s ‘fair and just‘ ordinance. Thanks to your question, I’ve put in a legislative drafting request to begin working with New York City Council lawyers to craft it.”
Lander’s answer continues, “A ‘fair and just’ ordinance like Seattle’s would make this a part of how the City of New York thinks about governing… We’ll get to work drafting a bill, and reaching out to the de Blasio Administration to talk about it.” Lander’s response on AskThem contained 13 links to outside resources on racial justice and integrated housing policy.
In response to Lander’s answer, Elizabeth Adams told AskThem, “My co-conspirators at the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond and I feel extremely gratified that Brad Lander not only answered our question, but is actually drafting legislation in response to it! It’s as if representative democracy is actually working!” Adams continued, “Since the ’08 presidential campaign, I’ve been waiting for the internet to enable grass-roots civic engagement, beyond fundraising and petitions. AskThem really raises the level of discourse by enabling more of a back-and-forth. It feels like the beginning of what we were promised.”
Another member of her group, Maeve Carver, says, “We’re thankful Brad Lander is taking initiative to get this rolling, and we’re happy to be a part of a much larger push towards drafting more antiracist legislation.”
So far, eight New York state and city elected officials have signed-up to respond to popular public questions on AskThem. Participants include Senator Holyman, Assembly Member Goodell, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and Council Members Kallos, Lander, Levine, Reynoso, and Rosenthal. Over 70 elected officials nationwide have agreed to join the non-partisan AskThem, which works like a version of “We The People” for every U.S. elected official and any public figure with a verified Twitter account.
David Moore, Project Director of AskThem, says, “Council Member Lander has shown it’s possible for constituent feedback to inform and inspire the legislative process. With open web platforms like AskThem, we can surface good questions and ideas from our communities and funnel them into the legislative hopper for actual impact. Thanks to Council Member Lander for leading on responsive local government, and we look forward to more public responses on AskThem from our other NYC representatives.” AskThem is a free & open-source project of the Participatory Politics Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit that previously created OpenCongress.org.
Since its public launch on Feb. 10th, AskThem has been used to crowdsource questions for the journalist Glenn Greenwald at South By Southwest Interactive, and to publish responses from the Austin city mayor Lee Leffingwell and Council Member Mike Martinez, among others. Chris Hayes of MSNBC, the band OK Go, and other public figures with verified Twitter accounts are also signed-up to respond to popular public questions. AskThem has official government data for 142,000 elected officials nationwide at every level of government, the most of any open-source website. AskThem is the only open-source civic website where visitors can enter a street address and ask questions to everyone who represents them, all in one place.
David Moore, firstname.lastname@example.org, (917) 753-3462
AIM / Skype: davidmooreppf