Tag Archives: Liberty Activism

Exclusive Interview: OpenTheBooks.com Shines Light on Corruption

It’s our money, and we have the right to know how our taxes are being spent.

Don’t you agree?

Adam Andrzejewski, of OpenTheBooks.com, does. Government transparency is at the very core of his organization:

“The mission of OpenTheBooks.com is quite simply to take every dime that is taxed and spent at every unit of government, so that’s the federal, the state and local units all across the country, agregate it and post it online, so that all of us can use it to make activism easier and to hold our elected officials accountable for tax and spend decisions,” he explained in an interview with BenSwann.com’s Joshua Cook.

This idea was one of his campaign messages when Andrzejewski ran for governor of Illinois in 2010.

Illinois knows a thing or two about corruption. In Illinois, their governors make their license plates in jail, he joked.

“I ran on a robust transparency slogan: to put every dime online, in real time,” he explained.

Though he did not win, he did keep that campaign promise, first at a local level and now nationwide.

“We have no idea where our local tax dollars are going. Or our state tax dollars. Or our federal tax dollars,” he said.

OpenTheBooks.com gave Illinois a rude awakening.

“When we opened the books in Illinois on our local officials, we found that there were 5,000 six-figure pensions in the State of Illinois.,” he explain. On the site, those pensions were mapped so that residents could easily check up on things like this.

The site also shows the hyper localization of federal tax money. He said that you can input a zip code and see who is receiving federal money.

“In my zip code, we found that $3.64 million flowed to our local Rolex jeweler, $1.5 million flowed to our local Lamborghini auto dealer and a $1 million grant went to a community foundation where my daughter takes dance.” he said. “It’s just plain wrong.”

“We found a school district treasurer right next to where I live, and he went from $163,000 in one year up to $296,000 the next year,” he said.

That’s when people started asking questions and that person was indicted for stealing $1.5 million of taxpayer money over 20 years.

“And that’s what transparency gives you — the hard data. The bad apples can’t hide any longer,” he said.

OpenTheBooks.com gives activists the information they need without all of the Freedom of Information Act requests necessary to compile it. Like during the Department of Veterans Affairs scandal, the site became the de facto repository for salary information since the VA wasn’t answering, even to congress.

“More often than not there is waste, abuse, corruption and unnecessary spending that needs to be squeezed out of the system,” he said. “And the squeeze can only happen with citizen engagement.”

Click here to hear the entire interview.


Update: NH Liberty Activists To Feed 1500 People This Thanksgiving

Manchester, NH- Shire Sharing, a volunteer-run charity organized by New Hampshire liberty activists throughout the state, completed their annual Thanksgiving basket assembly and delivery of meals this weekend. The organization, founded by Amanda Bouldin in 2011, provides Thanksgiving dinners to needy families. Shire Sharing relies entirely on donations and volunteers to locate families in need, gather food, and assemble and deliver the meals.

The organization reached their fundraising goal with enough money to deliver meals to 500 homes, and this year has seen a large expansion in numbers of volunteers as well as areas being served. In Shire Sharing’s first year of operation in 2011, meals were delivered mostly to homes in the Manchester area. The organization has continued to grow over the last few years, and this year families were served in the areas of Manchester, Concord, Nashua, Keene, and Grafton.

Shire Sharing locates families in need by working with various human services organizations. Bouldin learned late last week that one of the organizations would not be providing her with a previously committed list of families in need.

“About 72 hours before we were set to make deliveries, we found out there was a problem with the data for about 300 families on our list and we couldn’t get the information in time,” Bouldin told Benswann.com’s Annabelle Bamforth. “We readjusted our food orders and scrambled to find more families. We located about 100 more in one day. By then, it was far too late to make any changes, so we went with what we had. All in all, we delivered to over 330 households.”

Despite the circumstances, the leftover resources from Shire Sharing will not be going to waste. Bouldin was contacted by Liberty House, a homeless shelter for veterans located in Manchester, and learned that about 300 homeless veterans are in need of Thanksgiving meals. Bouldin plans to use the remainder of the Thanksgiving supplies to provide those veterans with dinner on Thanksgiving Day.


Liberty Activists Organize For Thanksgiving Charity

Manchester, NH- Benswann.com’s Annabelle Bamforth recently spoke with New Hampshire resident Amanda Bouldin to discuss Shire Sharing, a charity organization founded in 2011 with a mission to deliver hundreds of Thanksgiving meals to needy families in the areas of Manchester, Nashua, Concord, Keene and the Upper Valley.

Bouldin moved to New Hampshire in 2009 as an early participant of the Free State Project. She founded Shire Sharing in honor of her father Kent, who passed away in the spring of 2011. When Amanda was growing up in Texas, Kent had organized a project called Basket Brigade where volunteers delivered meals at Thanksgiving to families in need. Amanda decided to organize her own New Hampshire version of the “Basket Brigade” and launched Shire Sharing about six months after her father’s death as the Thanksgiving season was approaching.

In 2011 Bouldin set up a webpage for donations to the cause. She was able to raise enough money that year to purchase dinners for 52 homes. In 2012, the organization gained momentum and Shire Sharing delivered meals to almost 200 homes. The video below documents the Shire Sharing volunteers in action during the 2012 season.

2013’s effort showed even greater success with nearly 400 homes receiving Thanksgiving meals. Bouldin said that each household has an average of 3.5 people, which equates to at least 1,300 people in the Manchester area being able to enjoy a holiday meal last year.

Shire Sharing 2013
Thanksgiving dinner bags set for delivery in 2013. (photo courtesy of Amanda Bouldin)

Bouldin said that the organization is run entirely by volunteers and private donations for expenses such as web hosting for the Shiresharing.org website and buying food for the Thanksgiving baskets. Space to store food and assemble bags is also donated, and a yearly comedy night fundraiser is held to receive additional donations. Bouldin said that the school her daughter attends showed interest in the organization, and will be participating this year by having student volunteers assemble food bags.

Shire Sharing’s efforts illustrate what can be made possible through voluntary action. One impressive aspect of Shire Sharing is that nearly all of the pre-delivery organizing occurs within their Facebook group among the largely self-motivated volunteers. Bouldin, with the help of dedicated volunteers, has utilized the close-knit yet expansive network of liberty activists participating in the Free State Project and other pro-liberty groups to gather the food, assemble food baskets, and travel in cars and buses to deliver the meals. Bouldin said that she reaches out to social service groups in the area to locate families in need.

Shire Sharing volunteers. (photo courtesy of Amanda Bouldin)
Shire Sharing volunteers. (photo courtesy of Amanda Bouldin)

Bouldin said that while the Shire Sharing Facebook group focuses mostly on delivering Thanksgiving meals there have been smaller fundraising initiatives accomplished, such as raising funds to purchase a wheelchair for a person in need, handing out backpacks filled with warm clothing and first aid supplies to the homeless during the Christmas season, and raising money for a family experiencing a difficult financial situation.

The Facebook group, which now exceeds 500 members, is full of enthusiastic, ambitious volunteers. Shire Sharing’s goal this year is to deliver to 500 homes. Bouldin said that so far about $7,000 has been raised, but at least $10,500 is needed to reach this year’s goal.

To donate online, visit Shire Sharing’s donation page here. For information about volunteering or making a food or cash donation, email ShireSharing@gmail.com.