The organization uses free information to empower citizens fighting corruption in local government.
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Reclaim New York aims to be a resource for empowerment in the struggle to end government corruption. The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization provides citizens with the tools to understand how their government works, as well as information and training sessions on how to demand transparency from their local leaders. According to the organization’s executive director Brandon Muir, their mission is to “give people the ability to engage government from their couch” and “reclaim” government from corrupt leaders.

How exactly can we reclaim government?

Through their site, ReclaimNewYork.org, the organization offers two useful tools: an affordability calculator and what Muir refers to as their “transparency platform.” The calculator allows users, after inputting both their location and income, to calculate how much they’re paying the government in taxes yearly. The site also offers affordability reports on different regions of New York State presented in a simple and easy-to-read format. These reports break down the various taxes a resident of a particular region could expect to pay, along with the average amounts owed.

Another tool on the website is the transparency checklist. As a resource used to combat corruption, the checklist ranks how transparent local governing bodies are. It provides information specific to cities, towns, counties, villages and school districts. You can quickly look up the place you live to see how your region measures up. Also, the site has instructions for how to report corruption, as well as ethical recommendations for governing bodies and a database with records of local government spending.

What is Reclaim New York doing?

Reclaim New York also holds regular instructional seminars. Upcoming events include “New York’s Affordability Crisis: How Do We Keep Our Neighbors From Moving?” and “Making The Empire State A Place For Young People.” The former event is focused on a general audience, while the latter is hosted at colleges. These events are part of Reclaim New York’s mission to ensure the future of the state through giving all people the tools to enact change and remain active participants in government for the rest of their lives.

The organization also advocates on behalf of citizens. They’ve worked to obtain documents, often submitting FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) requests, which have recently allowed them to access a previously hidden list of members of a town’s Board of Ethics and could soon publicize the fund balance of Broome County.

Takeaway

By providing information and advocating for transparency, Reclaim New York hopes to empower and enlighten New York citizens. They hope that by encouraging public awareness and pushing back against corruption in government, political power will flow back into the hands of citizens, where it rightfully belongs.

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Header image: Reclaim New York

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Posted 11.01.2017 - 01:00 pm EST