FROM: Kim Alexander
DATE: May 28, 1999
RE: CVF-NEWS Round-up

Hi Folks,

I've got several important items to share with you in this edition of CVF-NEWS:

* What's new at

* Secretary of State's Staff holds public hearing on California electronic filing format

* Internet disclosure status report available from the Center for Responsive Politics

* California PUC to decide on case that may cause an increase in Internet rates in California

* PBS to air program on California's Three Strikes law

* News on the Net & Politics from the Alliance for Better Campaigns

* FEC audited by PriceWaterhouseCoopers

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What's new at

The California Voter Foundation's staff and interns have been busy all year putting together new online public information resources. Over the past five months, we've added lots of helpful information to our web site -- here's a some of what's available:

* Where to send your Letters to the Editor

This page is an awesome and comprehensive compilation of nearly every newspaper in California, and includes hyperlinked email addresses where you can send letters to the editor, as well as the paper's web site address, street address, phone and fax number.

* List of California Interest Groups

This mega-list covers a wide variety of interest groups that participate in California's political process and have web sites, and is a good starting point for any political activist.

* New links page

We have completely revised our Links page, which now offers convenient links to some of the best sites on the Net -- the very web sites we rely on every day to find the information we need.

* California's statewide officers

Get to know California's statewide officers a bit better, from the Governor down to the Insurance Commissioner. This collection of pages features contact information, campaign promises, top ten contributors, video clips, important speeches and much more for every statewide officer in California.

* Round-up of 1999 local elections in California

Hundreds of municipalities and special districts are holding local elections in California this year. This page provides a list of when and where local contests are being held, plus helpful links to local county election resources where you can find more info.

* Updated State Senate and Assembly rosters

Stay in touch with your elected reps through our handy rosters, featuring hyperlinked email addresses and contact info for all of California's 120 legislators.

* 1999 State Legislative Calendar

The legislative session is heating up, and this easy-to-understand calendar provides important dates and deadlines that help the public follow the lawmaking process.

All these pages and more can be found at

CVF wishes to thank our interns, Casey Elliott, Debbie Rotenberg and Mike Devlin for their invaluable assistance with these resources!

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Secretary of State's Staff holds public hearing on California electronic filing format

Last week I attended a public hearing sponsored by the Secretary of State as part of SB 49, the Online Disclosure Act of 1997, which mandates electronic filing and Internet disclosure of California campaign finance data beginning with the 2000 election cycle. The Secretary of State's staff is in the process of developing a format, and is gathering input from campaign finance software vendors and public interest groups. The California Voter Foundation submitted a letter commenting on the proposed formats, which I'm happy to email to anyone who's interested in reading it. We will have much more to say when the Secretary of State's staff begins to plan how to present the campaign finance data online once it's submitted electronically. I hope that many CVF-NEWS subscribers, especially those who research campaign finance data, will also participate in the data output design process, and will be sure to keep you all posted as the program develops. For more information, visit the Secretary of State's web site:

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Internet disclosure status report available from the Center for Responsive Politics

Our friends at the Center for Responsive Politics recently published a new report on the status of electronic filing and Internet disclosure of campaign finance data in all 50 states. The report, titled "Digital Democracy" and now in its third edition, finds that a growing number of states have made great strides over the past two years in promoting computer access to campaign data, but that many states still remain mired in the era of paper records. The report is available at the Center's web site, (note: this is a new url), where you can also find awesome searchable databases of federal campaign finance and lobbying data and detailed campaign finance profiles of every major presidential candidate and member of Congress.

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California PUC to decide on case that may cause an increase in Internet rates in California

There's been some news coverage this week of an important case pending before the California Public Utilities Commission that's likely to impact the cost of Internet connectivity for all Californians. The case stems from deregulation of the phone industry, which put in place a set of complex rules that establish a system for phone companies to charge one another for completion of each other's calls. Currently, when someone logs on to the Internet via their local Internet service provider (ISP), that call is considered a local call. Now the PUC is looking at whether to reclassify Internet calls as long distance calls. If they decide to do this, ISPs will no longer receive income for completing those calls. This loss of revenue, which will be substantial, is likely to force ISPs to raise their prices.

The PUC was scheduled to take this issue up on May 27th, but one commissioner was absent and the decision has been put over until June 3rd.If you want to learn more about this issue, I'd suggest reading Clint Swett's story in the May 25th edition of the Sacramento Bee, available at:

If you'd like to submit comments to the PUC, you can find contact info for the commissioners on the PUC web site, or send email to the PUC's Public Advisor, at The PUC's web site is located at

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PBS to air program on California's Three Strikes law

P.O.V., the acclaimed independent non-fiction PBS film series presents "TheLegacy: Murder & Media, Politics & Prisons", which examines California's "Three Strikes" law. The promo for the show reads:

"Shocking murders, massive manhunts and win-at-all-cost political campaignspropel this extraordinary story behind the enactment of California's "ThreeStrikes and You're Out" initiative, which in 1994 became the nation's toughest mandatory sentencing law. Filmmaker Michael J. Moore follows the turbulent relationship of two grief-stricken fathers whose daughters' senseless murders sparked a political firestorm and media frenzy that would change the face of criminal justice in America. A chilling commentary on life in an age of sound-bite democracy, the film reveals the controversy behind laws of this kind and examines how the two men most responsible for "Three Strikes" went from being fervent allies to bitter rivals."

The program will air on Tuesday, June 1st on public television stations across the nation. Check your local listings for exact times -- on most California PBS stations, the show will air at 9, 10 or 11 p.m. and in some markets will be followed by panel discussions. Viewers are also invited to participate in an ongoing, online dialogue that will begin once the show airs on the P.O.V. web site:

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News on the Net & Politics from the Alliance for Better Campaigns

The May/June edition of the Alliance for Better Campaign's newsletter is all about the Internet and politics, and features interesting commentaries from Paul Taylor, Phil Noble, Jonah Seiger, and Curtis Gans about the state of the Net, voters, and political advertising. The newsletter also highlights some innovative efforts at different TV stations to use their web sites to expand the reach of their public affairs and election-oriented programming. Take a look:

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FEC audited by PriceWaterhouseCoopers

I just learned of a report completed by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) evaluating the effectiveness of the Federal Election Commission. The PWC report was completed in January 1999, and evaluates the overall effectiveness of the FEC, its organizational structure, personnel, its plan for information resources management, and customer satisfaction.

The report covers the FEC's system for public disclosure of campaign finance data, and concludes that "(S)ince 1996 the FEC has made substantial progress in enhancing and upgrading its computer capabilities, but much remains to be done" including "implementing methods to increase use of electronic filing techniques and replacement of antiquated software used for the disclosure database system." The report also finds that participants in the filing community are generally satisfied with the FEC's performance and believe the agency operates in a fair and nonpartisan manner.

The complete report is available in PDF format online:

Executive Summary --
Volume I: Report --
Volume II: Appendixes --

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I hope everyone has a wonderful, safe and relaxing holiday weekend!