Access

Presidential access no longer holds a premium; D.C. civil servants face online trolling; and more.


  • This is civic tech: Philip Roje reports for Inside Philanthropy on the ongoing work of the Funders Committee on Civic Participation, which has been around since 1983 and still works to improve the health of American democracy.

  • Roje also reports on the emerging work of Twilio.org’s Impact Fund.

  • Food for thought: At a time when the concept of “smart cities” is ascendant, Eric Gordon, the director of Emerson College’s Engagement Lab makes the case to our Angel Quicksey for the “meaningful inefficiencies” of civic life that both humanize and give meaning to community engagement.

  • If you haven’t noticed, le civic tech is a big deal in France. But as this story by Calypso Vanier in Socialter suggests, advocates for the movement are beginning to have second thoughts about its impact.

  • Apply: PL+US, a new organization focused on winning paid family leave for everyone in the US, is looking to hire its first state director.

  • Trump watch: Before meeting with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Donald Trump Jr. was told that the information was part of a Russian government campaign, The New York Times reports.

  • Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer Trump Jr. met with last year (along with other top campaign officials), is no ordinary lawyer. As Martin Longman points out for the Washington Monthly, she represented a key figure in “the biggest tax heist in modern Russian history” and is better described as “an attorney for murderous Russian mobsters with high-level connections to the Russian Ministry of the Interior.”

  • The power game inside the Beltway has changed, writes Mark Leibovich in The New York Times Magazine: “Since Trump is everywhere, ‘access’ in the traditional sense holds much less currency than it once did. Getting close to him requires sucking up to fewer people than it did with pre-Trump presidents: The most direct path might be to suck up to a cable-TV booker, get on one of ‘the shows,’ say something nice about him and wait for the thank-you tweet. The ability to ascertain ‘’what the White House is thinking’ or ‘the president’s mind-set’ once accounted for many hours (often billable) of analysis. Now it only requires a Twitter account.”

  • Career civil servants in Washington, especially in the foreign policy apparatus, are facing “online trolling from alt-right bloggers who seek to portray them as clandestine partisans plotting to sabotage the president’s agenda,” Kate Brannen, Dan De Luce and Jenna McLaughlin report for Foreign Policy magazine.

  • Your moment of zen: Saturday evening, beachgoers at Panama City Beach in Florida formed a massive human chain to save nine people who had been swept out by a rip tide.

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