DC Councilmember Tommy Wells announced via Twitter
that he has decided to close down his "constituent services fund," usually funded by corporate donations as an ethics initiative.
Instead, he should have changed the fund's operations and engaged Ward 6 citizens as the organizers and appropriators of the funds, in a participatory budgeting initiative.
Out of similar concerns about ethics and to increase the opportunity for civic engagement and participatory democracy, some councilmembers in New York City and Chicago are using participatory budgeting processes in their districts to allocate funds under their control.
DC needs an example of increasing civic participation and funding opportunities for small, budget-pressed organizations, not elimination of such opportunities.
I am disappointed that CM Wells did not explore the greater variety of solutions that were at his disposal.
This is from a previous blog entry:
My interest in planning derives from the fact that land use issues are those issues most likely to engage the average citizen in local civic affairs, and I believe that planning functions to engage citizens in the process.
But DC suffers from being the "local" city where the federal government is based, and I joke that "big" government trickles down and shapes "little" (local, DC) government in its image.
- Create a civic engagement element in the Comprehensive Land Use Plan covering substantive participation requirements in city activities including planning and budgeting
- Note that the Comp. Plan is the closest the city has to a "master plan" or "business plan" and it should be retitled accordingly
Labels: change-innovation-transformation, elections and campaigns, electoral politics and influence, municipal government, participatory democracy and empowered participation