Rafael DeGennaro’s blog

Read the mobile phone bill 2

Submitted by Rafael DeGennaro on Thu, 2006-06-01 21:01.

Back on May 2, I wrote about how our organization’s cell phone bill did not include the $50 credit promised for the second, monthly bill. At the time, we were promised it would appear on the mid-May bill, and be raised to $75 for our trouble. Well, it wasn’t there. When I contacted the reseller, he gave me the same vague promises of someday. Then, after emails, phone calls and some yelling, he got the $75 credit processed in one day.

This is how most Americans live — reading their bills, catching problems and saving a few bucks here and there. Why is it normal in Washington, D.C. for Congress to pass a thousand-page bill that costs hundreds of billions of dollars without anyone properly reading it?

Measure Z in Napa County, CA: Make them read

Submitted by Rafael DeGennaro on Wed, 2006-05-31 13:21.

In California, the Napa Valley Land Stewards Alliance is promoting Measure Z. They call it the “Read and Understand Initiative”. It would require county supervisors to certify in writing that they have read proposed ordinances before voting in favor of them. It does not discuss Internet posting of such ordinances (I don’t know if they do that currently).

Coburn wants time to read bills

Submitted by Rafael DeGennaro on Mon, 2006-05-08 08:42.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) seems to understand that he needs help. His talented staff are good at ferreting out wasteful spending, but they cannot do it alone. Moreover, it can be hard to make judgments about which projects have merit, and to persuade other senators of those judgements. The Daily Oklahoman of May 6, 2006 says that Coburn may even “hold a filibuster to delay Senate action — so lawmakers have a chance to read the bills and find the projects before votes are taken.”

But one senator should not have this burden. The 72 Online rule should be in the Senate rules.
Here’s what the article says:

Good news: House rejects refinery bill

Submitted by Rafael DeGennaro on Mon, 2006-05-08 05:00.

On May 3, 2006, the House failed to muster the required 2/3 majority (it failed on a vote of 237-188) to pass H.R. 5254, the refinery bill. A 2/3 majority was required because the bill was considered under “suspension of the rules” — a special procedure intended to be used for non-controversial bills. As noted in a recent post, the bill was not available until the day it was considered and was never reported by any commitee.

House should reject refinery bill

Submitted by Rafael DeGennaro on Wed, 2006-05-03 00:05.

Right now is a great example of what’s wrong with Congress. It’s 12:10 am EDT on Wednesday, May 3. The Congress Daily email for May 3 (sent 17 minutes ago) reports that Congress will consider today a bill to “speed up the permitting and approval process for petroleum refineries”. Congress feels under pressure to do something quick and dirty about gas prices.

Congress Daily says the bill was introduced Tuesday, May 2. I just searched the Library of Congress Thomas system (thomas.loc.gov) for bills introduced by Reps. Joe Barton (R-TX) and Charles Bass (R-NH). No refinery bill is listed. The bill is not on the website of the House Rules Committee as of 12:47 am.

That means that the general public and independent experts cannot know what is in the bill. I assume the standard committee report does not exist at all. Even if a few members of Congress and independent experts could have obtained copies of the bill from the Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday, there is not enough time to understand it properly before is scheduled consideration today.

Tags: Energy

Read the mobile phone bill too

Submitted by Rafael DeGennaro on Tue, 2006-05-02 00:49.

It just goes to show. Our organization’s cell phone bill did not include the $50 credit promised for this, the second, monthly bill. It’s unclear if the problem was the small reseller or the major provider, so I won’t name either company. When contacted, the reseller (who’s been very good otherwise) reported that the $50 credit hadn’t gone through due to processing problems. He very nicely added an additional $25 for the inconvenience — all to appear on next month’s bill. But even with those you trust, you still need to read it! Next month we’ll be looking for that $75.

Imagine the big bucks that Congress and its pals are wasting because nobody really reads the bills in Washington, DC!

More cosponsors & website upgrade

Submitted by Rafael DeGennaro on Mon, 2006-05-01 15:07.

In recent weeks, we’ve been working on upgrading the website and filling out content. On the column at right, you can use the handy boxes to search by state, party or keyword.

We’ve also added cosponsors for H.Res.688. As of today, the official count is 25, and we hope to get many more in coming weeks. If you haven’t contacted your member to cosponsor H.Res.688, please do so (see the column at right).

Daily Kos post about ReadtheBill.org and reading bills

Submitted by Rafael DeGennaro on Sun, 2006-04-09 22:03.

Here’s a post from b tex on April 8, 2006 at Daily Kos. He and those commenting have some excellent suggestions on how those interested could read legislation and process findings during the 72 hours. ReadtheBill.org would love to implement some of these ideas as we build the organization (and its budget!). Great to see it’s getting attention there.

Tags: Democrats

"Unleash the power of the Internet" on the Congress.

Submitted by Rafael DeGennaro on Thu, 2006-03-30 16:38.

I guess Congress is beyond irony. The AP reported March 27, 2006 that congressional Republicans pushed to put documents from the Saddam Hussein government on the Internet:

The U.S. government is making public a huge trove of documents seized during the invasion of Iraq, posting them on the Internet in a step that is at once a nod to the Web’s power and an admission that U.S. intelligence resources are overloaded.

Republican leaders in Congress pushed for the release, which was first proposed by conservative commentators and bloggers….

….The idea of the government turning over a massive database to volunteers is revolutionary and not only to them. “Let’s unleash the power of the Internet on these documents,” said House Intelligence Chairman Peter Hoekstra.”

Read the AT&T phone bill, too

Submitted by Rafael DeGennaro on Thu, 2006-03-30 15:12.

Our organization’s March 15 phone bill from AT&T mistakenly charged a federal subscriber line charge for the 800-number line. AT&T also failed to fix the international rate, for the second month in a row. The AT&T customer service rep immediately admitted both mistakes, but they’re annoying. It just goes to show: big, unresponsive institutions like AT&T and Congress need careful watching.

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