…on April 29, as Baiocchi, Lerner, and Dolan talked with community leaders of Chicago’s 49th Ward. They spoke about the potential for participatory budgeting, explaining how the process could create accountable and democratic local governance that is directly managed by community residents. This is a particularly relevant experiment, the team said, as federal, state, and local officials face greater public scrutiny in allocating federal stimulus funds and scarce budget dollars.
This first community workshop included 40 representatives of community organizations and institutions in the ward, who are active on issues such as education, healthcare, and housing. These representatives formed a steering committee, which is tasked with designing a community participation process that works for the 49th Ward. Over the next year, residents will meet in public assemblies and workshops to allocate the ward’s FY2010 capital budget, which is estimated to be $1.4 million. The community will receive support from the alderman and his staff, as well as the Participatory Budget Project team, which will monitor and coordinate each step of the process. Initial project funding has been provided by the New World Foundation.
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