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Oakland PEC's Lauren Angius Wants Open Disclosure, Just Not Her Politics

The Oakland Public Ethics Commission's Staffer Lauren Angius wants you to know her, and about her Oakland political app, but not her politics.

"Open Disclosure" was the term and is the name of the new Open Oakland App rolled out last night. But prior to that event, a press release on the new system was issued, and before anyone could absorb it, Oakland Mayor's Race candidate Joe Tuman took to his own email blast (and web page here) with this message:

According to a new report by the independent “Open Disclosure” – an organization dedicated to “shining light on the funding that fuels Oakland’s electoral campaigns” – the majority of money being raised by the leading Oakland mayoral candidates doesn’t actually come from Oakland. With one glaring exception: the Joe Tuman campaign. The numbers don’t lie: Fully 74% of the funds we’ve raised come from Oaklanders – compared to a low of just 38% to a high of only 57% by my leading competitors. Inquiring minds want to know: Why are my opponents so dependent on out-of-town donors? And why are these donors so interested in influencing Oakland politics?

And so the political game of using supposedly objective political data by a candidate has started. Just don't mention that to the team at Open Oakland. After this blogger informed Open Oakland via meetup message that they should disclose their politics, or it would be done for them, rather than respond, the organization hunkered down, hid, and avoided the issue. But the fact is, one can't release a large presentation of election data in the middle of a white-hot Oakland Mayor's Race, and expect to go unnoticed for long, or expect not to have their data used for partisan political purposes.

But, it appears that's what Open Oakland's Open Disclosure Program is trying to do. What it does is show how much money each Oakland Mayor's Race Candidate has raised, and it's broken down such that you know how much came from within Oakland, and from what places in the Bay Area money was gained.

It lists the candidate in order of money-leaders, as opposed to the politically-safe approach of alphabetical order. Moreover, one can't see the most important information of all: who was behind the project, and what their politics are.

At last night's Oakland Public Ethics Commission meeting in the Oakland City Council Chambers, this blogger raised the question of what the politics of the Open Oakland participants were who built Open Disclosure. Then, the Oakland Public Ethics Commission's Program Analyst Lauren Angius stepped to the podium and said that one could press on a link and see the answer to the question. When this blogger said “I sent an email,” Ms. Angius, tersely said “I got your email” while at the podium, with the live mic. At that point, the professional became personal, as this blogger never knew who Ms. Angius was prior to the meeting Tuesday night.

Afterward, as the Open Oakland participants spilled out into the forward public area in front of the Oakland City Council Chambers, the discussion with this author revealed that the Open Oakland participants apparently see coding, or the act of building a web app, as some ticket to objectivity. That's not a universally-held belief, and certainly not by Steve Spiker, Open Oakland's founder, but it does seem to be a view held by Lauren Angius, who represents the Oakland Public Ethics Commission.

When she was approached by this blogger for her to join Mr. Spiker in a short video about the Open Disclosure Project (the one in this article), Ms. Angius said “Is this for your blog?” To which the reply was “of course.” She pouted and said “I don't think I can do that,” as a rather surprised Mr. Spiker looked on. Lauren was informed that the videos done at Zennie62 on YouTube for Oakland political matters don't attack politicians while they're being interviewed, as a rule. To which she turned and asked Mr. Spiker, fully ignoring what she was just told by this blogger, “Has he ever attacked you?” “No. Not to my knoweldge,” he said. To which this blogger replied “Well, I did use your head and match it to the devil from South Park.” At that point, Lauren said she didn't want to do it, this blogger said that was fine, and Mr. Spiker gave the interview.

That Lauren would go to such lengths was totally hilarious. But equally unfunny is the fact that Open Disclosure does not have a direct, up front, presentation of who's who working on it, and what their politics are. Without that, Open Disclosure is anything but that.

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