Here’s an early and useful dividend from the four-way race for the Democratic nomination for city comptroller: Candidate David Yassky, the Brooklyn city councilman who’s been eager for an electoral promotion for several years now, today released his own Web site of city budget info.
Yassky calls his site “It’s Your Money NYC” and here’s his own blurb on what it is and why he did it: “I have proposed that City government puts the entire City budget online in an easy-to-use, searchable, and fully transparent form. But I’m not going to wait for that to happen. This easy-to-use site will allow you to select many of the City’s agencies and explore their budgets broken down into easy, understandable units.”
In addition to breakdowns of city budget funding by agency and program, Yassky offers instant access to all the so-called “member items” that he and his fellow council members have doled out. (Yassky invites comments from viewers, and here’s one right now: Where’s the date on the member items?)
This Give-the-People-the-Data approach is similar to those created within the last year by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who put state budget info on-line via his “Open Book New York,” and state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s Project Sunlight. (Along with the excellent “See Through New York” site created by …yes, the Manhattan Institute).
Yassky is using his own campaign funds for the project, said his spokesman Danny Kanner. “He said it should be up and he just went ahead and did it himself,” said Kanner.
Hopefully, this will now spur similar useful information from the other three candidates — Melinda Katz, John Liu and David Weprin (all of them city council members from Queens).
Yikes, who needs investigative reporters anymore?
Don’t answer that.