Above the Fold 04.21.09

Des Moines goes to Washington……Voting by Twitter?…St. Louis company gets the raised eyebrow…Louisiana legislators like tax cuts, maybe too much…NY CIO concerned about consumer sentiment…Smog hogs get the whip in SF…

Des Moines is getting their very own Washington Lobbyist, or team of lobbyists, the Register reports this morning. The city council voted to approve a $90,000 contract with Holland & Knight LLP to help the city get more money from federal programs, including the $787 billion Recovery Act. “It’s something we need,” Councilwoman Christine Hensley said. “The potential return on that investment is huge.”

Stephanie Condon at CNET News reports that more states are turning to Web 2.0 tools for the 2010 elections. California and Ohio are implementing social media to communicate with citizens and their own staff, according to their secretaries of state.”We look at 2.0 solutions as a way to increase access to democracy,” Ohio Secretary of State JenniferBrunner said. “There are so many ways to reach voters, and there’s no one silver bullet.”

Somehow, a company in St. Louis originally awarded a $90,000 contract has made away with about $1 million, according to a new state audit. The company, United Forensics, was hired to help operate the city’s computer network, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Despite the $90,000 cap, United Forensics collected $194,000 the first year (before their contract was expanded to $450,000 among) and collected $19,800 for ‘holiday pay’. Suffice it to say, the investigation is ongoing.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports today that the Louisiana legislators have proposed more than two hundred bills to expand existing tax breaks or create new ones. Apparently, they didn’t get the memo that the state is immersed in a recession, like the rest of the country, and tax cuts for FY 2009 were equal to 44 percent of the state general fund, Senate President Joel Chaisson, D-Destrehan, says.

Last Friday, New York State Chief Information Officer called for the FCC to begin tracking several items tied to consumer satisfaction other than geographic adoption, tech industry blog GigaOM reports. Some of the items Ms. Melodie Mayberry-Stewart suggested be tracked includes actual data transmission speeds, consumer sentiment regarding data caps or higher fees for high bandwidth users, sentiment regarding network management monitoring, and consumer preference of Internet access (fixed or mobile).

San Francisco is looking to crack down on smog certificate cheats, the San Francisco Examiner reports. Illegal smog certificates are availabel for about $300 on the Internet, prosecurotrs said, which is two or three times the price of a regular smog check – but much cheaper than fixing the problem if the check doesn’t pan out. District Attourney Kamala Harris doesn’t have much sympothy, however. “When someone cheats, they are responsible for adding more pollution to our air and the resulting health effects, such as asthma,” she said. “Consumers shouldn’t let them get away with it, and should file a complaint if a smog check technician is trying to cheat.”

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