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First POST: Organizers

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, April 9 2015


  • Longtime Googler Stephanie Hannon will be the CTO of Hillary Clinton's emerging presidential campaign, the first woman in that position on a major campaign, Philip Rucker reports for The Washington Post. Hannon is currently Google's director of product management for civic innovation and social impact.

  • Robby Mook, the soon-to-be official campaign manager of the soon-to-be Clinton campaign, is the first openly gay manager of a presidential campaign, Andy Kroll and Patrick Caldwell report for Mother Jones. Also, they write, "He's a political nerd who lives and dies by data and nuts-and-bolts organizing." He's also another veteran of the 2003-4 Howard Dean presidential campaign, the breeding ground for many of today's top Democratic campaign talent. As Kroll and Caldwell note:

    Jeremy Bird, a regional field director for Dean in New Hampshire, is one of the most sought-after consultants in Democratic politics, having masterminded Obama's Ganz-like organizing strategy during the '08 and '12 campaigns. Karen Hicks, the head of Dean's New Hampshire team, brought her grassroots chops to Clinton's 2008 campaign. Ben LaBolt, a Dean field organizer, went on to become the press secretary for Obama's 2012 reelection campaign. Buffy Wicks, who worked in Iowa and New Hampshire for Dean, played key roles overseeing Obama's get-out-the-vote efforts in '08 and '12; she now runs Priorities USA Action, the super-PAC aiming to raise upwards of $300 million to elect Hillary Clinton next year.

  • More people are talking about Ted Cruz on Facebook than Rand Paul, Stephanie Stamm and Dustin Volz report for National Journal.

  • With citizen video of Walter Scott's shooting still reverberating in the news, police are becoming more accepting of wearing video cameras, report Matt Apuzzo and Timothy Williams for The New York Times, in part because they realize citizens are already taping them. “The big push for body cameras has been driven in part by the sense that citizens have their phones and can record, and it was only part of the whole story,” says Chuck Wexler, the head of the Police Executive Research Forum in Washington.

  • Cop Watch, an iPhone app that automatically begins recording when tapped and then uploads video directly to YouTube, gets featured in a report on how tech is affecting police reform by Farhad Manjoo and Mike Isaac for The New York Times.

  • The National Police Violence Map, a project of, shows the disproportionate number of blacks killed by police in America in 2014.

  • GoFundMe, the crowdfunding site, has rejected a campaign that was raising money for the police officer charged with murder in the Walter Scott shooting, ThinkProgress's Lauren Williams reports.

  • Baltimore police have used an upgraded version of the Stingray cellphone surveillance device more than 4000 times since 2007, according to testimony in a criminal case, report Jack Gillum and Julient Linderman for the AP. They "are under orders from the U.S. government to withhold information about secretive cellphone surveillance technology from the public and even the courts, and are encouraged to seek dismissal of cases instead of divulging details about the program."

  • With Congress due to take up renewal of the Patriot Act before key surveillance-related provisions expire June 1, a broad coalition led by the Electronic Frontier Foundation has launched to try to shut down bulk phone data collection.

  • Taking just three months, the White House has responded to a We-the-People e-petition calling for an end to so-called LGBTQ+ "conversion therapy." The petition had received 120,958 signatures in the wake of the suicide of Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old transgender youth. (While it's great to see this response, there remain 20 unanswered petitions on the We-the-People site--many on substantive topics like GMO food labeling, reforming the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and pardoning Edward Snowden. Cherry-picking the ones that are politically convenient after promising a timely response is a recipe for increasing public cynicism, not engagement.)

  • One out of four American teens go online "almost constantly," reports Amanda Lenhart for the Pew Research Center. Nine in ten do so daily. We needed a survey to tell us this?

  • Some of the more intriguing findings in Pew's report: One-third of teens say they use Google Plus. Based on experience, I suspect these are the teens who were explicitly told by their parents they were forbidden to use Facebook. (The mother of one such 12-year-old called me one day to ask, "What's Google Plus?")

  • Wealthier teens are more likely to use Snapchat than poorer ones, who rely more heavily on Facebook. African-American teens are more likely to have smartphones than whites. Black and Hispanic teens use messaging apps like Kik or WhatsApp at twice the rate of whites. Girls dominate visually-oriented social media like Instagram while boys are more likely to play video games.

  • About that "Meerkat election" we were promised: Pew does not report any usage of Meerkat by teens.

  • China is planning to put 3D printers in all of its 400,000 elementary schools by next year, Brian Krassenstein reports for (He notes the US could do the same for $100million, not counting the cost of materials.)

  • Writing in the Harvard Crimson, undergrad Jenny Choi nails the problem with one-off civic hackathons, and cites Open Referral as a model. She argues: "The proper title for a person behind these projects is not 'hacker' but 'organizer.' They travel city by city, combing carefully through each one. They form relationships, build bridges, and open people’s imaginations to the impact that their information has on thousands of disadvantaged individuals. At the end of their data organizing campaign, the human chemistry behind their giant database will be quite the mind-blower."

  • Code4Ethiopia has launched.

  • Speaking at Civic Hall last night, "freelance civil servant" Carl Malamud connected the civil service reforms of Theodore Roosevelt with the need for government reform today, declaring: "I am always amazed by the talent and dedication of our civil servants, but we are failing them with contractors who build systems for personal profit not for public service, with legislators that will not take the time to learn the mechanics of government and boast proudly of having never sent email."