The New York Times reports today that four members of New York City’s City Council, inspired by the 49th Ward’s Participatory Budgeting process, are about to embark on a participatory budgeting process of their own. To read the story in full, CLICK HERE.
As in Chicago, New York City Council members have discretionary control over the expenditure of certain public funds in their districts. The Times reports that the four city council members will turn over $1 million each to their constituents to develop and choose capital projects in a process nearly identical to the 49th Ward’s.
The Times says one city council member was especially impressed by the efforts our community representatives had undertaken to walk every sidewalk in the 49th Ward to determine which most needed to be fixed.
He noted this was “the sort of thing that a council member is not going to be able to do, and the city is not going to be able to do, at that level of detail.”
I journeyed to New York nearly two years ago to share with members of the New York City Council our experience with Participatory Budgeting. I am pleased they have seen the wisdom of our approach to true democratic decision-making and hope other municipal officials will see the wisdom of trusting the people to decide how their tax dollars should be spent.
Back at home, many of the projects funded by our participatory budgeting process have been completed or about to be completed. Eighty percent of the sidewalks identified for repairs have been completed, new streetlights are being installed on the 1200 block of Morse, and nearly all the streets slated for repairs in the 2010 vote have been resurfaced. The City will soon begin to resurface the streets identified in the 2011 election.
A groundbreaking for the Dog Friendly area at Pottawattomie Park is scheduled to take place on Sunday, October 2nd. More information will be forthcoming. The community garden at Dubkin Park is completed and gardeners are already planting their seeds in anticipation of next spring.
The bike lanes approved by the voters in 2010 have been striped on Rogers, Touhy and Ashland and the “L” platform shelters and heating lamps are ready to protect commuters from winter’s icy blast. And over a dozen CTA and Metra underpass walls have been brightened with colorful murals that are attracting citywide attention.
I will provide you with a complete update on the status of all the 2010 and 2011 projects in a week or two.
Finally, if you would like to find out more about participatory budgeting, I will be one of the featured presenters in a nationwide webinar on community involvement in governmental decision-making sponsored by the National League of Cities. You are welcome to view this webinar, which will take place tomorrow (Thursday, September 15th) at 1 p.m. CDT.
To register for the webinar, CLICK HERE.
Thank you once again for putting the 49th Ward on the national map as a shining example of democracy in action.