Thursday, October 18, 2012

46th Ward Participatory Budgeting Gets Some Attention

When Helen Shiller was alderman of the 46th Ward, there was a keen interest in how she spent the ward's $1.3million in menu money -- and how she didn't spend it at all.  Residents attempted to file FOIA requests to find out where it went, with little to show for it.

Well, now participatory budgeting is happening in the 46th Ward, with residents deciding how to spend $1million of the ward's menu money.  Gaper's Block was there:
It's not often you hear about a Chicago alderman willingly relinquishing power.
But Ald. James Cappleman is doing just that.
Cappleman's 46th Ward is one of four wards in the city (the others being the 5th, 45th and 49th) taking part in what's known as participatory budgeting. Through participatory budgeting, ward residents -- rather than aldermen -- get the chance to decide what to do with $1 million of aldermanic discretionary funds, which are known as "menu money." The only caveat? Menu money must only be used for capital improvement projects, rather than programs or services.
According to Gaper's Block, only a dozen or so people showed up last night at Thorek to give their ideas. A dozen?  Decisions affecting the 40,000-plus people in the ward are going to be left to only a handful of residents?

There have been two meetings so far.  Three more remain.  You can see the notice here:
  • Uplift High School, 900 W Wilson, 10am-noon on Saturday, October 20th
  • Stockton Elementary School, 4425 N Beacon, 6pm-8pm on Wednesday, October 24
  • Peoples Church, 941 W Lawrence, 7pm-9pm on Tuesday, October 30
Interestingly, we posted in March 2011:
According to the Participatory Budget Organization, eight alderman who pledged to launch participatory budgeting won on February 22nd -- including Uptown's Ameya Pawar (47th Ward) and Harry Osterman (48th Ward).  Six other advocates of participatory budgeting are in the run-off election on April 5 -- including Uptown's James Cappleman (46th Ward).

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