May 19, 2009

Transparency in Ward 49

The alderman is holding a steering meeting tonight on a participatory budgeting process. The first meeting to start this ‘groundbreaking’ work was not sent in an inclusive email to everyone – only a select group. My name definitely missed the list. It’s rather odd that meetings that I may want to attend always seem to be held on the night of the Park Advisory Councils meeting. Coincidence? This one was re-scheduled. Ironically though, the ward office doesn’t always properly relay the correct meeting dates to people who call to inquire about council meetings. Misinformation abounds.

One neighbor posed a thought: “I feel, looking at the material, it is a backdoor way to get his Boys and Girls Club into Rogers Park, by making it one of the capital funding projects for the 49th ward.

Then he can say, see it was a 49th ward mandate from the public.”

If that’s on the ‘agenda’ the only question taxpayers should ask is where will this group be housed by this grassroots democracy with tax dollars?

If I’m not on the email list - how many others will be excluded in this process?

The roles of budget delegates, etc.!
Criteria?
Who will be eligible to vote on spending proposals? Maybe the person who was invited to the first meeting who lives in Evanston?


Or will this be presented as another ‘done deal’?

****************************
The email blast for tonight:

Dear Steering Committee Members,

Thanks so much for agreeing to be a part of this groundbreaking exercise in true grassroots democracy.

Our next Steering Committee Workshop will be next TUESDAY, May 19th, at 6:00 p.m. at the Rogers Park Library, 6907 N. Clark, 2nd Floor.

Please note the date change. I apologize for the last-minute notice, but an unavoidable schedule conflict forced us to reschedule the meeting.

At this "Writing the Rules" workshop we will decide together what the participatory budgeting process will actually look like on the ground. We will talk through issues such as:
· How many public assemblies will there be, and roughly when and where will they take place?
· What are the roles of neighborhood budget delegates, Steering Committee organizations, and the Alderman's office?
· What criteria will be used to select spending proposals?
· How will we ensure that minority groups and marginalized populations are fully included?
· Who will be eligible to vote on spending proposals?
· What will we call this process?
Although there will be opportunities to review and revise the plans after the workshop, please make every effort to attend Tuesday's meeting and come prepared to discuss these issues and reach agreements with your neighbors.

4 comments:

kyle said...

I was at the meeting last night and while I have some reservations as how this process is going to unfold (in particular the role of the steering committee and if the will of the majority is the best way to make all of the decisions of our ward improvements.)

I still think it is way too early to start hypothesizing that this is a backdoor way of getting any project done.

The consultants that Joe brought in (one of them from Brown University) seem very intent on making this process work in its original intent... giving the power to the people.

The real interesting thing to watch is: Are the people who can organize the best - going to have the best interest of the entire ward?

Because participatory budgeting has the strongest potential to be - whoever can get the most people to show up at the rally - will get the most money for whatever project they are rallying behind.

Joe said...

Is there going to be a web site documenting this process? I got some early emails, but I'm pretty sure I never got the one announcing that the event had been rescheduled.

Michael J. Harrington said...

I represent my Sherwin-Chase Block Club in this Participatory Budgeting process. There's a strong consensus among members of our new steering committee (about 30 folks so far) that our process vigorously adhere to the principles of resident empowerment and participation in decision making.

We are still in the very early stage of development. The Steering Committee is growing and currently includes includes Abundant Life Church, Asian Indian Coalition of Chicago, BYS, Centro Romero, Chicago Math & Science Academy, Democratic Party - 49th Ward, DevCorp North, Family Matters, Friends of the Rogers Park Library, Good News Community Kitchen, Good News Partners, Howard Area Community Center, Network 2424, New Directions for Change, Northside Power, Organization of the NorthEast, PACTT: Parents Allied with Children & Teachers for Tomorrow, PACT Block Club, Rogers Park Community Council, Rogers Park Community Development Corporation, Rogers Park / Westridge Historical Society, Sacred Heart Schools,
Sherwin-Chase Block Club
Touhy Park Advisory Council
Trilogy, Inc., and United Church of Rogers Park.

It is important to point out that the real strength of our community is reflected in our residents - that especially includes all the local school councils and parents with kids in our schools, those who are members of our community's churches, and the volunteers who work in our local park district advisory councils. There are even more groups in the 49th ward that I didn't list.

However, only a few institutions have sent a representative to work on the Participatory Budget Steering Committee!!!

The chair/president of these key groups should attend or designate a representative RIGHT NOW. I hope that residents reading this will contact their organization and ask to be assigned to represent it and then let the alderman's office know. Then, call the alderman's office or send an email to Alderman Joe Moore's staffer Wayne.Frazier@cityofchicago.org

The questions you raised in your blog post are very appropriate. They mirror some of the the agenda items we are currently discussing:

• How many public assemblies will there be, and roughly when and where will they take place?
• What are the roles of neighborhood budget delegates, Steering Committee organizations, and the Alderman's office?
• What criteria will be used to select spending proposals?
• How will we ensure that minority groups and marginalized populations are fully included?
• Who will be eligible to vote on spending proposals?
• What will we call this process?

I encourage all of us to think about getting involved and representing your group on the steering committee. At the very least, we should all definitely show up at the project's local neighborhood meetings which will start happening in the fall.

Toni said...

Yesterday morning Joe forwarded me an email from his staff person, Ms. Sullivan. She'd copied/pasted my post and sent to him.

He went into detail on who was included and explained why I was not...the list included the usual list of agencies, churches, CAPS, block clubs, park councils as you listed. I responded that I was the co-facilitator of Beat 2422 and an officer/member of Willye White Park Council. He responded that he was unaware of that I was a co-facilitator and was welcome to join last night.

Unfortunately, an appointment kept me from going. But I will attend the next one providing it isn't on a Beat meeting night (second Thursday of each month) or a park council meeting night (third Tuesday of each month).

Those two dates have not changed in my almost seven years living here.