Chicago Sun-Times Editorial re: CityPayments:”You too can track city spending”

Here’s an editorial from today’s Sun-Times.www.suntimes.com/news/commentary/1653034,CST-EDT-edit06b….Chicago Sun-Times Editorial re: CityPayments: "You too can track city spending"July 6, 2009Ever hear about the City of Chicago spending money on something and think to yourself, that’s just goofy?Just the other day, Ald. Ed Burke griped about the city paying a contractor $915 every time it hauls a body to the morgue, while noting that other cities pay far less.Most of us don’t have Burke’s soapbox. But now, in a more modest way, you too can let the world know when you think the city’s blowing your money.In a clever use of technology to bring information to the masses, two civic-minded, tech-savvy guys — Daniel X. O’Neil and Harper Reed — have set up a Web site, citypayments.org, that offers a searchable database of thousands of city contracts for a variety of goods and services, from Chevy Impalas to toilet seats.The City of Chicago offers much the same information on its Web site, but the database on the independent citypayments.org is easier for the average citizen to use.And here’s the best part: Taxpayers can comment on the spending they find at citypayments.org and even flag an expenditure as "goofy."You might wonder if this will accomplishment anything other than providing hours — or at least minutes — of entertainment.Who knows? Maybe a business aced out of a city contract by a clout-heavy rival will anonymously drop a dime at the site. Maybe a city employee, frustrated by waste in her department, will point out a few interesting secret facts about a contract — again anonymously.This could turn into a fine fishing ground for reporters and prosecutors.At the very least, it offers an education on how Chicago spends our tax dollars.The more folks who plunge into the site, the more interesting things might get.Get snooping.