Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A new form of communication

Mayor's Meeting

I'm sorry to see the mayor has parked his traveling budget circus this year. I tried to attend as many of these as I could over the years.   As Grace hints here, they were never part of a true participatory budgeting process. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But it is true that these meetings were often sold as something more than the glorified townhalls they actually were.
There's always been some debate over just how much the citizen input influenced the budgeting process. But that aside, the meetings were often satisfying exercises in democracy, sometimes rowdy and unfiltered but usually substantive and respectful.
Whatever the circumstances, the more opportunities the riff raff are given to show up and yell at the electeds, the better. These meetings were sometimes boring but more often they were hilarious.  Probably the most exciting thing that ever happened was Sandra Hester getting herself arrested in 2012.  But there were other more revelatory moments as well. Like Jackie Clarkson telling us that gentrification is good, Mitch saying things he probably didn't mean about Gusman's jail, or tipping off his intentions about the Public Belt railroad, or just Mitch getting yelled at by some whackadoodle about monuments or potholes or that one guy who looked at them funny the other day.

Anyway, it's a shame to see them go. It would have been especially delicious to watch these meetings go on during an election season. This is probably a big reason why they are putting them off, frankly. I mean, I'm not exactly buying the mayor's line about wanting to try out this exciting "new communication method."
NEW ORLEANS – On Tuesday, July 18, 2017 and Wednesday, July 19, 2017, Mayor Mitch Landrieu will host telephone town halls to discuss budget priorities as the City begins its 2018 budget process. The 2018 budget proposal will maintain the priorities outlined in 2017 and help maintain fiscal stability during the transition to the next mayoral administration.

For Mayor Landrieu’s final budget proposal, he will host two telephone town halls to give residents the opportunity to discuss their priorities ahead of the City’s July 31 budget proposal to City Council. This is a new communication method that allows elected officials to conveniently interact live with hundreds of constituents from the comfort of their homes through town-hall-style meetings.

The town hall on Tuesday, July 18 will cover priorities for Council Districts A, B and C. The town hall on July 19 will cover priorities for Council Districts D and E.
Interact live with elected officials from the comfort of your own home using that modern technological marvel known as the telephone. It's like tweeting at them but less convenient... and less effective, probably. See what you do is go over to this website, enter your phone number (no idea how many third parties will use it to spam you) and then wait around to be called. Don't make any plans or anything.

But if you want to participate in something like a budget meeting this year, that's the best you're going to get. Hopefully the next mayor will bring back the in-person meetings or something like them.  I'm not sure all of the candidates have quite got the hang of the new communication methods yet.

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