Wandering Eye: Americans get the partisan government they deserve, Bloomberg helps cities use data, and more

If American democracy these days seems to be infused with a political culture of hooliganism, there's a reason for that: an electorate gets what it begets. As a new University of Kansas study now reveals, partisan voters, the most active participants in a democracy, tend to think and behave out of unblinking loyalty to their respective teams—even to the point of endorsing illegal tactics such as lying, cheating, stealing, voter suppression, and physical violence—and such policy-blind, thuggish political behavior yields a leadership with similar values. "This is the first research to show that strong partisans who are motivated by partisan conflict are endorsing uncivil attitudes about the political process," says co-author Patrick Miller, so "if our politicians are polarized and uncivil, maybe it's because many voters are polarized and uncivil." (Van Smith)

 

The Pulitzer Prizes were announced this week, and congratulations to all the winners. You are all truly winners—winners of the ultimate prize in journalism, the career-making prize that announces to the world that you are among the elite. But it's hardly an honor to be elite in an industry that, on average, does not pay its employees enough to live independently as an adult and does not respect their time. Two of this year's Pulitzer Prize winners left journalism for PR. Rob Kuznia of the Torrance, California Daily Breeze won for exposing corruption in his school district. But he left journalism after his stories hit—and before the award was announced—because he could not pay his rent on what the 63,000-circulation Breeze paid him. Slate highlighted that here. Then the Columbia Journalism Review stepped in to report that Natalie Caula Hauff, who shared a Pulitzer at the Charkleston, South Carolina Post and Courier for her work on a series about domestic violence called "Till Death Do Us Part," also left the newspaper for a more lucrative, less demanding job in PR. She said she loves the newspaper; leaving "was more of a personal decision that I made for just my family. What I was doing was really demanding, as far as the time on my family. So I wanted to find that balance between work and family, and an opportunity came up that was always something I wanted to try and give myself a new challenge." Expect the best. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

Former New York Mayor and data billionaire Michael Bloomberg is putting $42 million behind an initiative to help mid-sized cities use data better to make policy, The Washington Post reports. "There's very little data on the use of data and evidence in local governments," James Anderson, a former Bloomberg mayoral aide who leads the government innovation program for Bloomberg Philanthropies, told the Post. "Mayors are just hungry for tools and resources that help them use data more effectively. What we've found is there's a gap between what they'd like to do and what they can do." Baltimore is, of course, among the world's shining examples of using better data to make better policy. From its vaunted CompStat system keeping police focused on the important things, to various municipal offices using CitiStat to create best practices, Baltimore has already shown the world that, as Mayor Martin "Data Boy" O'Malley always says, "this, my fellow citizens, is the new way of governing." (Edward Ericson Jr.)

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