Tom Susman, a former partner with Ropes & Gray law firm, initiated the start of the D.C. Open Government Coalition, the Washington Examiner reported. Melissa Davenport, who provided pro bono services during the conceptual stage and took a one-year "public interest fellowship" from the firm to serve as executive director of the coalition, is meeting with various communities to drum up membership. The coalition is also working on a citizen's guide to the FOIA.
Melissa Davenport will tell you that the recent controversy surrounding Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s unwillingness to disclose information about a variety of things, including the cost of his trip to Dubai, didn’t motivate the founding of the D.C. Open Government Coalition.
“Our effort is not pegged to any administration,” she told me earlier this week. “We happen to believe the best mechanism for holding the government accountable is openness.”
Residents agree. But often they lack the knowledge, financial resources or political clout to tangle with a powerful executive. It took Judicial Watch, a national group, to squeeze from the Fenty administration details surrounding his out-of-town junkets.