Chicago's $1.3 Million Experiment in Democracy

In a Chicago Tribune op-ed, Alderman Joe Moore explains why he is letting residents decide how to spend his $1.3m ward budget, through the first Participatory Budgeting process in the US.

April 1, 2010, 11:00 AM PDT

By Tim Halbur


"From Chicago's City Hall to the halls of Congress, important policy and spending decisions have been made for far too long by a handful of politicians behind closed doors working in concert with corporations and special interests. This old way of doing the public's business has bred anger and mistrust of all levels of government."

"As a Chicago alderman, I have embarked on an innovative alternative to the old style of decision-making. In an experiment in democracy, transparent governance and economic reform, I'm letting the residents of the 49th Ward in the Rogers Park and Edgewater communities decide how to spend my entire discretionary capital budget of more than $1.3 million.

Known as "participatory budgeting," this form of democracy is being used worldwide, from Brazil to the United Kingdom and Canada. It lets the community decide how to spend part of a government budget, through a series of meetings and ultimately a final, binding vote."

On April 10th, all residents will be invited to vote on proposed budget projects, such as street lights, bike paths, public art, and community gardens.

Thanks to Josh Lerner

Wednesday, March 31, 2010 in Chicago Tribune

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