Last week, CBS 2 investigative reporter, Pam Zekman continued her ongoing series on alleged abuses of aldermanic “Menu” expenditures–discretionary money that aldermen use to fund infrastructure improvements in their wards.
In her report, Zekman contrasted the closed-door decision-making process in most wards with the transparent process I’ve adopted in the 49th Ward of letting my constituents vote on how to spend my aldermanic menu money.
Check out Pam Zekman’s story at this link and below:
The report once again highlighted a glaring shortcoming of Chicago’s policy of ceding absolute authority to aldermen to determine “menu” expenditures: there is little accountability in how the money is allocatedand no requirement for community input. Regardless of the merit of any individual project, without such transparency, voters believe the worst.
And who can blame them? Far too many of my City Council colleagues adopt the philosophy of one alderman quoted in an earlier CBS 2 report: “You take care of the people who take care of you–you know, the people who voted for you.”
As Zekman noted in her report, I’ve already been reforming the process here in the 49th Ward through a practice known as Participatory Budgeting that gives all my constituents the right to vote directly on the infrastructure projects funded in our community next year.
For the last month, 49th Ward residents have been meeting in Neighborhood Assemblies to learn more about Participatory Budgeting and elect representatives who are charged with developing infrastructure spending proposals that will be voted on by all 49th Ward residents next spring.
The last three Neighborhood Assemblies take place this week. If you haven’t yet attended an assembly, this is your last chance to be on the ground floor of this exciting process:
On Tuesday, December 1st, 7p.m., residents who live south of Pratt Boulevard will meet at the St. Ignatius Church Parish Center, 6559 N. Glenwood.
On Wednesday, December 2nd, 7 p.m., residents who live north of Howard Street will meet at Gale Academy, 1631 W. Jonquil.
On Thursday, December 3rd, 7 p.m., residents who live between Howard and Pratt will meet at the United Church of Rogers Park, 1545 W. Morse, 3rd floor.
I strongly urge you to attend the Neighborhood Assembly in your area. However, if that’s not possible, or if you missed the assembly in your area, you are free to attend a Neighborhood Assembly in another area. Most importantly, I urge you to bring your ideas.
I look forward to seeing you this week!