In-real-life data visualization of Chicago Budget


Originally from:

Sincere. Fucking. Curiosity. Above all things.

New Music for Early August

Janelle Monáe + Wondaland Records – Hell You Talmbout

This references a bonus track off of Monae’s 2013 release, I think.

Mick Jenkins – Wave[s]

Mother Cyborg – Tough Femme Mix

Aye Nako – White Noise

Here’s a Pitchfork review of the track. From the review:

Dixon elaborated on the song, saying it’s about how “whiteness is centered in everything, how it taught me to hate myself for being black, how when I was a kid I used to pray to God that I could be white… how it scares me that white supremacy doesn’t even need white people to perpetuate it.”

Tunde Olaniran – Transgressor


Gold Paint Boy – little engine

Programmatically reshaping data

Yesterday at work, my coworker needed to reshape a data table, from CSV. The data was a time series, with one row per date. He wanted to reshape the data so there was one row per day of the year with a column for the desired variable for each year. He observed that there were 93 distinct days of the year for each year and used some clever Excel functions and auto-fills to do this in about 5 minutes. I spend considerably more time figuring out how to do this in PostgreSQL, Python and R.

CPS School Budgets


On Monday, July 13, 2015, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) released preliminary spending plans for the 2015-2016 school year. Many schools face significant budget cups. We made a simple [news app to let users explore how different school budgets changed](

Additional coverage:

* [CPS Budget: Deep Cuts For Neighborhood Schools, Cash Infusion For Charters]( (DNAinfo Chicago)
* [Chicago Public Schools’ budgets spend $500 million district doesn’t have](

Chicago Police Department accountability coverage

Updated September 21, 2015

Video of a police raid on a tanning salon in 2013 shows Chicago Police officers engaging in potentially criminal activity. Some of that activity was reviewed by the Independent Police Review Authority, but other potential crimes by cops were ignored by the agency tasked with rooting out police misconduct in Chicago. It raises serious questions about IPRA and its commitment to police accountability, questions that IPRA has refused to answer.

Updated September 14, 2015

In a 2013 police raid caught on video, an officer makes racists comments to an Asian- American woman he’s arresting, and then he threatens her and her family with death. IPRA has recommended a 25-day suspension for the officer.

Andy Kang with Asian Americans Advancing Justice said Scott Ando defended that decision in a meeting Monday.

“For those that engage in police brutality, I think the message unfortunately, what it tells us is that those officers will get a slap on the wrist,” said Kang.

The police allegedly approached Roberts’ vehicle with their guns drawn, ordered him to exit it, and then pushed him to the ground.

Roberts says one of the officers said to him, “Don’t make me fucking shoot you!” even though he had done nothing but comply with the officers’ orders.

One of the officers pulled Roberts’ wallet from his pocket, and discovered Roberts’ identification as a supervising investigator with the authority.

“Moments later, Defendant Ellison ran back to his vehicle and turned off his vehicle’s video recording equipment,” Roberts claims. Police assert that there is no video or audio recording of what next conspired even though two other police cars were present.

The complaint states that Roberts, “who was approximately 315 pounds at the time, was placed in a single set of handcuffs that were clearly too tight.”

He says he pleaded with the officers to loosen the cuffs, but they refused.

Update August, 17, 2015

Update July 27, 2015

Update July 24, 2015, allegations by ex-IPRA investigators of pressure to change findings

Update July 19, 2015, more stories

A few weeks ago, the Trib published a story about the review of complaints against Chicago Police Department officers to which I contributed data analysis. This week, a couple of stories about Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) came across my radar, so I wanted to share them here:

Become a Better Programmer Through Mundane Programming

“Become a Better Programmer Through Mundane Programming” is a session that Dan Nguyen and I did at SRCCON this year. Here’s the description from the session page

One of the most difficult challenges for learning programmers is being able to go beyond basic lessons to building “the next Facebook”, or even just applying programming to your work projects. The secret is that programming can be practiced — and used — on everyday, somewhat “mundane” computational tasks. When you learn how to program to do things that are helpful to you, you not only become a better programmer, but you gain insight on how programming fits into the bigger projects you hope to build.

This session will involve both discussion of everyday programming and demonstrations of creating and refining “mundane” programming scripts, with the goal of brainstorming ideas and use cases to expand the scope of problems we can use programming to solve.

The most validating experience was one of the participants showing me some shell script she had written using the t Twitter client to auto-follow SRCCON tweeters.


Tribune analysis: Cops who pile up complaints routinely escape discipline

Activists bearing posters of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police Superintendent Garry McCarthy protest police treatment of residents during a demonstration in front of the mayor’s City Hall office in February 2015. (Nancy Stone, Chicago Tribune)

This is a story that Jeremy Gorner and I wrote from police complaint data that Gorner got from an FOI request. Read the story, Tribune analysis: Cops who pile up complaints routinely escape discipline

Introducing Clarify


Source has a blog post that Derek Willis and I wrote about Clarify, a small Python library for parsing data from Clarity Election Night Reporting (ENR) systems.

This was developed during OpenNews’ Elections Code Convening, which was really fun, productive and a compelling alternative to hackathons as a model for collaborative hacking.

Cleaner Data


Along with David Eads, I gave a talk on cleaning data based on my experience working with convictions and elections data at the Chicago School of Data Conference. The session detail page is here and my slides are here. You might find my speaker notes helpful. They’re in the GitHub repo for the slide deck.

Image: Mud Volcanos creative commons licensed (BY-ND) flickr photo by “Caveman Chuck” Coker