An alternative for the Priority Board System?

This is Cincinnati’s solution:

Invest in Neighborhoods Inc.
Invest in Neighborhoods Inc. is a nonprofit organization created in 1982 to promote and assist the 51 community councils that represent the neighborhoods of Cincinnati, Ohio. Our mission is to assist the councils with financial resources and to promote self-sufficiency and leadership skills of the councils and their residents.

I believe we should disband the current Priority Board elected system- and have neighborhood presidents meet quarterly with the City Manager, Commissioners and the heads of departments to work together and cut a layer of bureaucracy out of our system.

The city would still have a staff- but their job would be to help organize and support neighborhood groups. Since they are discussing cutting the field offices- why not go totally virtual? Have the assistance officers out in the field- with mobile offices.

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4 Responses

  1. Jeff May 14, 2007 / 8:34 pm
    The alternative would be to junk the at-large city commissioner system and go back to neighborhood-based ward elections, like they have in Chicago or Louisville. That way neighborhoods have a direct voice in city goverment.

    The city commissioner system was designed to remove politics from government, but it also worked to dilute localism and local advocacy.

    It seems the priority boards was a sort of work-around to correct the inherent deficiency in council-manager government

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  2. David Esrati May 14, 2007 / 10:26 pm

    Jeff-
    I don’t think Dayton is big enough for a ward system-
    and I really don’t want more feudalism.
    It’s just so simple to have the neighborhood groups have direct input- instead of having the second layer in between.

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  3. Bruce Kettelle May 15, 2007 / 10:49 am
    Trotwood has the mayor and two council members elected at large. The other four represent the four wards. You can make it work on smaller scales. However, one vote on the council doesn’t matter if you don’t get a majority buy in on an issue.

    It does help to bring attention to smaller issues that can be handled by the city manager without a vote. In these cases a resident can call their ward elected councilmember to resolve a city issue.

    Cleveland has ward councilmembers too. Each ward rep is provided a budget to address initiatives in their ward. Six years ago that amount was about $25,000 a year. I heard of one project where adjoining wards pooled this resource to actually tackle a larger project.

    As for feudalism I’m not sure that ward reps can hold that much power to create a problem. It can cost more to orchestrate including adding additional city council positions to adequately represent the neighborhoods. In Cleveland they have 21 ward councilmembers.

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  4. David Esrati May 15, 2007 / 10:58 am

    We already have elected neighborhood presidents- who spend enough time running their organizations- to also find people to fill the Priority Board spots takes even more work and requires more dedicated citizens.
    The fact is- it shouldn’t be that hard to get what we want from our city. I can assure residents in Oakwood don’t beg for the right to ride on trash trucks to clean their alleys.
    The whole idea of “Citizen Participation” in government and establishing “Priorities” is kind of backward- shouldn’t those citizens be spending the time living a productive and full life? Wouldn’t it be better if they didn’t have to take care of their own parks, crime issues, building code violations? Isn’t that what we pay taxes for?
    More people governing isn’t generating more development- it’s subtracting from development. It’s a poor use of our social capital. shouldn’t adults be involved in little league, working with their kids, building businesses etc- instead of trying to supplant a failing government?
    Wards, more council members, more un-paid positions aren’t the answer. Leadership doing the job right is.
    We don’t need more chiefs, we don’t need more indians, we need a real chief that can lead.

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