July 16, 2007
City campaign finance reports now available online

About time.

City of Houston campaign finance reports are due this afternoon and for the first time candidates will be required to file them electronically.

Users can search filings by several criteria, including candidate name, contributor name and expenditure payee.

But navigating the database requires some technical skill. Typing in a candidate's name does not immediately reveal his or her contributions and expenditures. Rather, it allows users to view an entire filing as either a searchable PDF file or as XML -- a common format in Web development and database programming that requires some skill to process.

If users search for an "original filing," however, the information can be downloaded in spreadsheet format. Also, searching for a particular contributor yields a grid showing specifics about each donation.

I'm not sure why you'd return XML code and not do the courtesy of an XSL transform to make it into nice, readable HTML code, but whatever. At least it's online now, which is a huge improvement over what we had before. Took about a year to get to this point - better late than never. Reports for the first six months of 2007 are due today at 5 PM, so check back tomorrow to see who gave what to whom.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 16, 2007 to Local politics

It would be nice for the state to require this of county elected officials. Folks would learn who's really running the county - toll roads, flood control, etc.

Posted by: Charles Hixon on July 16, 2007 7:17 PM