Introducing: Skywolf Political Intelligence
It's pretty freaking awesome ... Arresting reporters isn't cool, though ... And how many Legos are we talking here?
Today is a big day.
We’re finally able to let you in on a secret that we’ve been keeping from you. (Sorry!)
About six months ago, Hank rounded up a crew of some of the best minds in technology, digital product development, artificial intelligence and Arizona law and politics, and he pitched an idea.
Today, we’re excited to announce we’ve built a tool to revolutionize how Arizonans consume and utilize political and governmental data and information.
It’s called Skywolf.
Skywolf is still in its infancy. But it’s already pretty amazing.
It can instantly summarize every bill introduced at the Arizona Legislature.
It can search, sort and organize all 1,500 or so pieces of legislation filed in a given year.
It can track each bill through each stage of its life cycle and provide text, email or push notifications any time something happens to that bill.
It can group bills into tracking lists to cover all the action on any given topic and provide customizable reports on their status.
And it’s only just getting started.
Right now, Skywolf will only be available to a select group of Capitol insiders.
If that’s you, we’d love to show you around the system! Your competitors might already be on the list…
But what we’re ultimately building will go far beyond bill tracking, and it’ll benefit every Arizonan.
Before we get to that, a little background.
Skywolf started — as all Agenda ideas do — with the right people.
We’ve mentioned a few times that Tracy Townsend, a 17-year veteran of the Arizona News Service, has been helping with some late-night copy editing for the Agenda.
But what we haven’t told you is her day job has been building Skywolf into a bill-consuming machine. Tracy knows her way around the legislative process, having tracked bills through the muck of legislative minutiae for nearly two decades. And now she’s building the next wave of bill tracking with the help of supervised machine learning.
While Tracy is leading the charge as co-founder and managing director, the real power behind Skywolf comes from its tech.
Adi Jagannathan is about as geeked out on artificial intelligence as you can get — he recently moved to Seattle to be at the center of the artificial intelligence revolution and he sometimes wears a brain wave reader to our meetings. Yet he always manages to make us feel upbeat about our dystopian AI future. He has a master’s degree in global technology management from ASU, has founded several thriving tech and marketing companies and has shepherded countless digital systems and products into existence.
Adi has long held an interest in Arizona politics and democratizing access to information, and he immediately saw the potential in Skywolf. He’s our product development manager and a co-founder of the company.
Co-founder Jimmy Alejandro Gomez Cardenas is our lead developer, and we’re pretty sure he lives on a spaceship, which would actually make sense since he has a master’s degree in aerospace, aeronautical and astronautical engineering. He’s a developer, mechanical engineer and entrepreneur who does the heavy lifting around here. He coordinates with our experienced team of four additional independent developers and keeps the crew moving.
And we’re excited to announce that we recently added Kim Martineau to the team, bringing in another wealth of institutional knowledge about laws and the legislative process. For more legislative sessions than she cares to count, Kim has been cranking out succinct, accurate summaries of every single bill introduced in the Legislature, first for the Arizona Senate then for Legislation On Line Arizona.
Now, she’s training Skywolf’s artificial intelligence model to summarize those bills. She’s our quality control, keeping an exacting human eye on the robots’ work.
And Hank is, of course, in charge of as little as possible. He somehow got labeled CEO of this operation.
The ability to summarize, search, track and report on legislation is just the base layer of knowledge that we’re teaching Skywolf.
Soon, it’ll be able to do much, much more.
We’re building a repository of Arizona-specific political and governmental knowledge in relational databases connected by our own artificial intelligence model.
Essentially, we’re scooping up all the obscure and hard-to-find government and political data and making it very easy to query questions like: Which exact law makes bribery illegal in Arizona? Or, which lobbyist spent the most to wine and dine that lawmaker this year? Or, how much did Arizona spend on new cars last year and how many of them were electric?
With our institutional knowledge of government data and processes and today’s technological capabilities, the possibilities are literally endless.
Eventually, we believe it will be a tool of infinite uses, limited only by the amount of information we can teach it, and the curiosity of our users. At that point, our audience becomes a lot broader than Arizona Capitol insiders.
But first, we’ve got to perfect what we have. And the best way to improve a product, in our opinion, is to build it in the open.
Already, we’ve spent countless hours working with Arizona’s Capitol community to design and refine each feature in Skywolf.
We have a very long list of incredible features we’re building on top of the existing system. And each Skywolf user will have a voice in which features we build and which data we train it to understand.
We’ve already built a bill-tracking service. Now we’re building a true political intelligence application.
But building it in the open means being transparent with our users about its flaws. This is new, cutting-edge tech. It’s going to have some bugs.
So we’re creating an open message board where any user can report any problem, and all users can see it. We’ll fix it quickly and let you know when we’re done. That’s the kind of company we want to be.
We created Skywolf, like the Agenda, because we saw a need and an opportunity to provide value. And just like the Agenda, we can only do this with the support of Arizona’s civic core.
If you’re a political professional who watches the Arizona Legislature for a living, hit us up! Let’s chat about Skywolf. We want to hear your ideas!
Together, we can build something to make Arizona government accessible to every Arizonan.
Arizona is a top destination for jobs and people, but there are challenges on the horizon. Learn more in the new Free Enterprise Report, from the non-partisan Common Sense Institute.
First Amendment foul: The Pima County Sheriff’s Office arrested KJZZ reporter Alisa Reznick and 25 others while she was covering a pro-Palestinian protest at the University of Arizona’s Tech Park, KJZZ’s Ben Giles reports. Reznick was wearing a press pass and looking very radio reporterly when a deputy handcuffed her. She was cited for trespassing and was released a few hours later. Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos defended the deputies involved, saying everyone was warned to leave after protesters blockaded the road.
Turmoil in Navajo office: Several women working in the administration of Navajo President Buu Nygren report sexual violence and abuse, the Navajo Times’ Krista Allen reports. Former appointees also report excessive travel, spending outside of the Nation and rampant turnover.
Youth gun deaths continue: Firearm injuries have again emerged as the leading cause of death for 15 to 17-year-olds in the state for the second year in a row, per the Arizona Child Fatality Review Report, 12News’ Colleen Sikora reports. In Arizona, 59 teens died from firearms in 2022, up from 56 in 2021. All those children had access to firearms that weren’t stored properly.
The lion, the witch and the ballot box: The far-right group Lions of Liberty, based out of Yavapai County, will have a booth at a Phoenix Turning Point USA conference in December, per the Republic’s Laura Gersony. The group was sued last year for voter intimidation in its armed ballot box-watching campaign, and now they’re pushing a coupon code for half-off admissions to the Turning Point event.
Amkor chips in: Tempe-based Amkor Technology Inc. is building a 500,000-square-foot factory in north Phoenix where it will test and package chips for Apple while helping fill the gap in the country’s semiconductor supply chain, Axios’ Jeremy Duda reports. If Peoria City Council approves the facility in early 2024, the $2 billion project is expected to bring 2,000 jobs to the Valley.
A massive park makeover: Phoenix wants to know how it can improve its parks system as it works to develop a Parks and Recreation master plan for the next ten years, the Daily Independent’s Mark Carlisle writes. The last master plan was approved in 1988, and to come up with a new plan, staff estimates it will cost $800,000-$900,000. You can give your input here: parksmasterplanphx.com/
Remember the $500 Lego set controversy?
Republic columnist Laurie Roberts wrote an op-ed about it. Gov. Katie Hobbs retweeted the story, writing “Your taxpayer dollars are being used to buy $500 Lego sets because partisan politicians refuse to place limits on school vouchers.”
In our “What We’re Laughing At” section a few weeks ago, we even included a clip of an ESA supporter telling lawmakers: “If (my daughter) wants a $500 Lego set, I’m going to buy her a $500 Lego set.”
The $500 Lego set talking point originally stemmed from Save or Schools Arizona, a public education advocacy group that fights vouchers. It tweeted a screenshot of an ESA parent Facebook group including an inquiry from a voucher parent who asked: “Are all Lego sets covered?”
Take a good look at that tweet before we move on.
State schools superintendent Tom Horne is accusing the group of doctoring the image to mislead people, calling the Lego tweet a “falsified document” and evidence of a pattern of deception from the group.
That’s because under the screenshot, SOS photoshopped in that Amazon listing of a Star Wars Razor Crest set for $559.
“(N)o ESA parent has been reimbursed $500 to buy Legos,” he said. “(T)hey fabricated a document to make it look like a parent made a $500 purchase when she did not.”
To be clear, it’s not that voucher parents couldn’t buy a $500 Lego set. That would be perfectly legal. It’s just that nobody has, Horne says.
SOS fired back accusing Horne of throwing a “tantrum” that “shows he wants to hide this from taxpayers.”
Tyler Kowch, the group’s communications manager, said he never intended to make the post misleading — they were just showing an example of the outrageous stuff vouchers can buy.
We’ll let you be the judge. Leave us a comment!
Was the photo misleading or fair game?