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The original item was published from 7/14/2023 1:24:04 PM to 7/14/2023 1:25:24 PM.

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District 3 News

Posted on: July 14, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Should Taxpayer be supporting Participatory Budgeting?


From the desk of Councilmember Amy Cruver…


Oftentimes I find things that I believe are just too impactful to our way of life to not share.


How can we hope to maintain our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms when grants, NGOs, budgets, etc., fund transformational concepts and programs that I believe undermine our constitutional republic? Knowing that our Constitution guarantees us a republic, alarms went off when reading about Participatory Budgeting. My research indicates that it is designed to replace our “layer cake” (representative (republic)) form of government with a “marble cake” (democracy) form of government.


I don’t recall just how I came across Participatory Budgeting (PBas a system, but I discovered that the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) has been practicing it. The TPCHD made a connection that sharing power improves population health in this report which shares stories from Buckley and Tacoma; hence, it advances the department’s goals. The TPCHD adopted Health In All Policies, which is aligned with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Millennium Declaration.


The report defines “Participatory budgeting (PB) as a democratic process in which community members decide how to spend part of a public budget. It gives people real power over real money,” according to the Participatory Budgeting Project leaders of the practice based in Oakland, California. The video on that website is very interesting. 


“PB started in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 1989, as an anti-poverty measure to help reduce child mortality. Since then, PB has spread to more than 7,000 cities around the world.


A 2017 article tells how PB is spreading across the globe. Of course I looked up Porto Alegre, Brazil. The Open Government Partnership site says participatory budgeting roots lie in a radical democratic project led by the Workers’ Party in Porto Alegre, Brazil in the late 1980s. Radical democracy includes incorporating ordinary citizens into government decision-making priorities, an inversion that led governments to allocate public resources to underserved areas and policy issues (basic health care), with an emphasis on social justice. 


Apparently, PB is attractive to major international agencies, like the World Bank, European Union, and USAID.


With further research, I found comments that I interpret as redefining how our election system should operates, where group think is superior to the individual vote. Please let me know what you think: 


Re-imagining the power of democracy between and beyond elections.

Democracy Beyond Elections is a collaborative, national campaign dedicated to transformative democracy rooted in community led decision making.


It is not enough to get the right person elected or to know that those closest to the issues are closest to the solutions — we must act on this knowledge and put real decision making power in community hands.

This means equipping community-members often ignored, pushed out, or marginalized by our current democratic systems with the tools, resources, and opportunities to deeply engage in democratic processes. This means committing to radically reimagine what participation and civic engagement really entail — including tangible and consequential power sharing. And this means expanding our definition of democracy to extend between and beyond elections in participatory practices that include everyone.

I hope you have found this information worthy of your time.


Grateful for you!    

 Amy Cruver

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