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Mary Bathory Vidaver

987 days ago
Unfiled. Edited by Mary Bathory Vidaver 987 days ago
Mary's MuniMiner CDA Mining Project
Mary V Hi all,
I told Katy at the Safra Center that I would check in with you all and see if you wanted to work up an exhibit for the icorruption conference on May 2nd.  If so, then we should probably figure out a time and means to talk about what we might set up. 
993 days ago
  • 5 minutes in length!
Team: BillFinity
Project Description: We can't hold representatives accountable for how well they represent their constituents unless we get constituents participating in their political process.  Our plan to get citizens to participate in their political process and thereby produce engaging and important metrics such as to get them to do that we need to produce engaging metrics for them - such as identify their political ideology, their district ideology, how their representative's voting behavior aligns with their district.  (EDIT AR: These metrics create a clear picture of where you, the bills that are being voted on, and the representative stand in relation to each other with respect to fiscal and social dimensions of the political spectrum. With this picture in the hands of constituents, ordinary citizens now have a powerful tool to determine if representatives are accurately representing them. Accountability is created and corrupt, non-representative legislative actions become politically costly. In addition, accountability is also created with respect to legislative Bill's creators and co-signers by showing you the kind of legislation they are creating and how it aligns with your political spectrum.)
Team Members: Nick Mastronardi, Tim Booher, Don Kahn, Mark Coyne, Lia Mastronardi, Dylan Cooper, Kyle Rivers, Adam Rosszay, Leo Blondel, Juan Mena, Betty Lo, Kriz, Ari
Nick M Team Resources:
Robert L Team: Schoolhouse Ethics
How can we improve the U.S. House of Representatives annual ethics training of congressional staff? The team is looking at alternative to the current proprietary method. The new system would have a number of advantages: It would be open source, reducing cost; provide a more interactive experience; have better analytics; and would be designed to promote dialogue and discussion, unlike the current system.
Team Members: Marcelo DeCastro, Carl Spagnoli
Safra Fellow: Robert Lucas
Mary V Team:  MuniMining
Project Description: The team is developing a means to free data locked in pdf files so that it can be easily downloaded into an Excel file for analysis and comparison.  The proposed mechanism has the potention not only to enable expanded data consideration of Community Development Authorities, the original research subject, but a whole range of bond issues on the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board website.  Such analysis can better educate citizens, local government officials, and buyers of municipal bonds and shine a brighter light on the financial products created and sold by Wall Street.
Team Members: Jeff Keeling, J. Adrian Zimmer, Shane Runquist, 
Safra Network Fellow:  Mary Bathory Vidaver
Project Description: Studies have shown that bankers often collude together to manipulate the the London Interbank Offered Rate(Libor). Since banks are not required to make their transaction prices public, the interbank offered rate is calculated by simply asking banks the rate they would borrow at - a system that is easily gamed. Our project goal is to develop a benchmark interest rate based on the closest available public data that is of comparable term and risk category. This will be a website where the public can view the benchmark interest rate for the current day.
Team Members:  Katherine Sliz Carson, Naushard Cader, James Butler, Quan Do, Mike Dombroski, Attal, John,
Nikin T Team: ProfessorCert
Project Description:  The Academic Independence Project at the Edmond J. Safra Research Lab is run by Szelena Gray and Sujay Tyle. It is a one year study of academic capture, or potential bias in the research undertakings, publications, and teachings of academicians — and new proposals to combat it.
Regulatory capture, a well-defined term, is the bias that regulators have when monitoring and assessing the individuals and groups who they are indirectly receiving compensation from. For the first time, this is being applied to the academic setting. With the prevalence of influence from the private and public sector on academics, there is no doubt of the potential of bias to pervade findings in research investigations, topics and tone of publications, and choices of lessons plans even with current disclosure requirements present at several of these academic institutions. Consulting arrangements or board memberships, for example, have the power to potentially influence one's research on a particular industry. Similarly, the availability of confidential data sets or external opinions and interviews can skew findings or undermine notable negative results towards the providers of such crucial information.
Through this capstone project, Szelena and Sujay with attempt to determine whether there are solutions to academic capture and what these potential remedies are. 
ProfessorCert (http://professorcert.co.nf/) is a website created by Nikin Tharan to help professors prevent bias in their research publications. They log-in with their LinkedIn account, complete their profiles and answer a questionnaire. Upon completing the questionnaire, they receive an embed link of a certificate from the Academic Independence Project. The professors may integrate the certificate into research papers, personal profiles and other methods of expression to assure readers that they are not biased. 
994 days ago
Project Datasets - Lightning Talk Notes
We need your help automating the data gathering of the index to help scale from a pilot to a global governance system. We manually gathered the data for the pilot. It is very time consuming! 
The database served as a backbone to a New York Times investigation and accompanying visualization.  But it isn't yet available for lawmakers, journalists and others who might want or need to know if a think tank has financial ties to a foreign government. It also needs to be updated annually, which Brooke is eager to do but needs help with methodology due to the wide variety of sources and formats. 
Brooke W A few ideas: 
++A mobile app that would enable lawmakers, journalists and others to quickly check--even during a meeting or hearing--whether or not a scholar or expert before them belongs to an institution that has received funding from any foreign government, and if so, which one and possibly how much and for what. 
++ A web app that would enable people to search and visualize the data. With methodology in place, Brooke would update annually, or as new think tanks disclose their funders. 
++A related idea for a new tool involves a new House rule requiring anyone who testifies before a committee to disclose on a standardized "truth in testimony" form any money they've received from foreign governments. These forms are held within each committee, and while some publish them online, others don't. Brooke wants to gather and publish these disclosures in accessible, meaningful ways, also enabling others to track and analyze them. 
ying.quan.tan@gmail.com Szelena Gray & Sujay Tyle
Working on the Academic Independence Project - creating a system where academics could positively assert their independence, where independence is defined as a commitment towards non biased research and opinions that could be derived from outside engagements. 
  1. Create a system where academics can assert their independence, as well as a system where they can be publicly held accountable.
  1. Create a site where public can verify the academic independence of researchers.
Paul Jorgenson
Paul would like to find ways to identify missing links between unidentified donors and their campaign contributions.
Weekly FEC Data updates can be found here:
Here is some motivation:

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