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City Council Tue Jun 04 2013
Ever wonder what, exactly, your alderman has been up to? Debuted this Saturday, Chicago Councilmatic makes it easy to search, browse and subscribe to anything the council has done in the last two years.
This information is technically already available through the City Clerk's website, but Councilmatic makes it much more accessible. You can "subscribe" to a particular alderman or piece of legislation and receive email updates on their activities.
Also, legislation is sorted by routine and non-routine measures on the site, making it easier to identify when something meaningful happens. It's easy to get lost among hundreds of "routine" actions that include everything from approving sidewalk cafes and awnings to "honorific" measures, like "Congratulations extended to Frances Misretta on 90th birthday" (Way to go, Frances!).
Looking at the "non-routine" measures surfaces more newsworthy events, such as the approval of a settlement with Julio Martinez, Jr. of $325,000. Martinez sued the City after accusing CPD Officer John Haleas of beating him and falsely accusing him of drunk driving back in March 2006.
Grouping legislation like this also makes it easier to identify trends. Some pointed out by Derek Eder of Open City, who developed the tool, include:
- Ald. Ed Burke loves proposing honorifics -- or at least he does it the most. Most recent: a Tribute to late Donald L. Duster, an executive and grandson of Ida B. Wells who passed away on March 11.
- Ald. Brandon Reilly sponsors more legislation than any other alderman -- probably because there are so many signs, awnings and benches that need to be approved in his ward downtown.
- City Clerk Susana Mendoza sponsors more bills than anyone else, as anything filed by Chicago residents and city agencies that don't have an alderman to sponsor them come through her.
Observances of the national hacking holiday brought citizens, software developers, and entrepreneurs together across the country to find ways of using government data to address community issues.