Under The Radar - All Eyes On The Money


By Francis White 

“I got my mind on my money, and my money on my mind”, “I’m out for presidents to represent me”, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby”, “For the love of money; people will kill their own brother”, “Racks on racks, on racks”, “If it don’t make dollars, then it don’t make cents”, “Love don’t pay the bills”, “Million dollar………”, “Take money, money, money, Take money, money, money, Make money, money, money, Make money, money, money”, “Bands will make em dance”, ………………………………………………….

And, I keep could keep going on and on, for days. When you grow up in a world where you’re taught to love people, but to make sure they keep their hand out of your pocket - you could balance out, see people, or see dollars signs. When money and access to resources is scarce, it forces you to make tough decisions. Most of the regular folks I know, regardless of income level, live this way everyday of their lives. Because of the nature of the society and world we live in, which is a capitalistic one, no matter how you cut the pie, and regardless of what type of pie it is – money is heavy on our minds.

Many of us have heard the stories, and if you haven’t you can Google and do your research of the decline (or changing) of the American economy. It’s simple, in Buffalo like many places – job outsourcing + changing economic times = less money coming in. To combat the civic corruption that has materialized, and in some cases completely overrun common sense governance and decency in many local governments, some municipalities are adopting measures to place more light and transparency on public money being spent at that level. Participatory Budgeting is one way that could work to do that.

Like its name implies, this is a public budget process in which the public participates. This is a city budget that is created with elected officials as well as laymen. There are varying models to study like the one created in Port Alegre, Brazil in the 1980’s that helped to put Participatory Budgeting on the map, and more recently in New York City. But, the important thing is to get the conversation started. 

Clean Air Coalition of Western New York has been leading the way in the Buffalo area on that conversation. The next chapter in that conversation is tomorrow, May 19th, 2015 at Buffalo City Hall, 65 Niagara Square starting at 10am. They’re asking you all you pack a meeting on city council budget proceedings which right now doesn't have Participatory Budgeting on the agenda.