Leading Open Government Elected Officials in Our Nation’s Capital Join Nationwide Coalition Reinventing U.S. Lawmaking for the Internet Age
September 11, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Free Law Founders (FLF) today announced that two new municipal open government leaders have joined the coalition: D.C. Council Members David Grosso and Tommy Wells. Grosso and Wells are at the vanguard of modern, accessible District government, from collaborating with their constituents online to build smarter city laws with MadisonDC, to breaking down the barriers between residents and their laws with DCdecoded. They join municipal elected officials NYC Council Member Ben Kallos, San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell and Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza in the FLF, and will assist its work to improve how democracy works for citizens living in our increasingly Internet-based society.
“Promoting an open and transparent government is among my top priorities as a lawmaker,” said D.C. Councilmember David Grosso. “I am pleased to join the Free Law Founders and support this national movement to make the legislative process accessible and accountable to all. Along with ethics and electoral reforms that I am pursuing, I believe open government efforts are critical to enriching our democracy and engaging residents within the community.”
“I am thrilled to join this nationwide coalition of local leaders working to make government information and data more accessible to the public,” said D.C. Council Member Tommy Wells. “Municipal governments are historically inefficient and paper-based; they exclude citizens from playing any meaningful role. Through innovative tools, like MadisonDC and DCdecoded, we can now educate District residents, collect feedback and engage citizens in the legislative process from the ideation stage through successful passage. As a Free Law Founder, I’m excited to connect with government leaders across the country and to share ideas. We can learn from one another’s experiences rather than reinvent the wheel.”
“Just months after starting, we are pleased to welcome two Founders, DC Council Members David Grosso and Tommy Wells, who are committed to being free law leaders in their legislature,” said Free Law Founder Co-Chair, New York City Council Member Ben Kallos. “Part of our mission has been to bring the free and open source model to government, so that innovation from one Founder can be replicated in other cities. I look forward to working with Council Members Grosso and Wells to expand to cities nationwide.”
D.C. Council Member David Grosso
A native Washingtonian, Grosso was elected to the Council of the District of Columbia as an at-large councilmember on November 6, 2012 to represent residents in all eight wards. David brings a wealth of experience having worked with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton as her chief Counsel and former D.C. Councilmember Sharon Ambrose, in addition to his experience in the private sector. David is committed to continuing school reform efforts, improving health outcomes throughout the city, addressing inequities within the criminal justice system, and enhancing job opportunities by supporting a robust successful workforce development and public higher education system. David has also pushed for good governance, including sweeping ethics reform, transparency and open government, and strengthening civic engagement. He helped pilot a collaborative legislation platform, the Madison Project, in D.C. and is very supportive of the Council’s efforts to engage residents in the legislative process, such as the new Decoded D.C. website and the new Legislative Information Management System.
D.C. Council Member Tommy Wells
In just six years since joining the D.C. Council in January 2006, Tommy Wells has won support throughout the District for his vision of a livable and walkable city for all. He is a passionate advocate for innovative solutions, and D.C.’s leading voice for progressive change.
Tommy started his Washington career in 1983 as a social worker in the D.C. foster care system. In 1991, he took the helm of the D.C. Consortium for Child Welfare, where he was a force for creating neighborhood based-family service collaboratives that coordinate the delivery of city and nonprofit resources. During his 15 years with the Consortium, Tommy also served as an ANC Commissioner from 1994 to 2000 and a member of the D.C. Board of Education, representing Wards 5 and 6, from 2000 to 2006.
Since joining the DC Council in January 2007, Tommy has been a tireless advocate for smart growth and social justice. He spearheaded efforts to ensure that transit prioritized connecting neighborhoods to give DC residents access to jobs, instead of just moving commuters in and out of the city. He led the way in establishing the Housing First program, a proven way to get homeless people back on track by providing a stable place to live.
Currently, Tommy chairs the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety. As Chair, he has championed landmark legislation to decriminalize marijuana possession and “ban the box” in private sector hiring, giving returning citizens equal opportunities for success.
Tommy is the former chair of the board for Jan’s Tutoring House and the previous chair of the Local Government Advisory Committee for the Chesapeake Bay. He graduated from the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University in 1991 and earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Minnesota in 1983. Since 1988 he has been married to Barbara Wells, a writer and arts enthusiast who is a tutor for Jan’s Tutoring House and a judge for the Helen Hayes Awards.
- Julia Robey Christian, D.C. Council Member Tommy Wells, 202-724-8063, JChristian@DCcouncil.us
- Dionne Calhoun, D.C. Council Member David Grosso, 202-724-8105, dcalhoun@DCcouncil.us
- Seamus Kraft, Executive Director, The OpenGov Foundation, 760-659-0631, email@example.com
- Sarah Anders, NYC Council Member Ben Kallos, 617-281-0447, firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Free Law Founders
Citizens, technologists and public officials working together to transform state & local lawmaking for the 21st Century
The Free Law Founders is a nation-wide, collaborative effort open to all people who want to improve how laws and legislation are produced and presented to citizens of American states and cities. Our goal is to modernize how democracy works in the United States from the ground up. To get there, we’re creating open source tools and open data formats government workers need to get their jobs done efficiently, effectively and accountably.