If anything proves the Neighborhood Councils are a work in progress, today's Mayor's Budget Day did. Last year, each Neighborhood Council was asked to list five categories they would like to see better funded. Then each of the five regions of the eighty odd NC's were to meet and vote on their collective five highest priorities. The biggest hitch was that the priorities were so broad - and also already in the budget - it was impossible to quantify if anything actually happened because of our lists.
Now this year the Mayor's office tried something a little different. They gave us four categories of priorities and asked us to rank them, and to then sub-rank smaller categories within each of the larger categories.
Unfortunately, the categories make no sense. Under economic development were homelessness services and low income housing while under livable neighborhoods (which would seem to suggest... housing, but which was not addressed there) were social programs such as the status of women, civil rights and AIDS assistance programs, which should have a fifth section of their own. And infrastructure issues were mysteriously split between neighborhoods and mobility.
But the biggest problem is that we are not being asked which (often politically motivated) programs we would like to cut or drop. Nor are we going to be engaged in the examination of the programs we are being asked to endorse. Plus nothing as sensitive as pension reform is even hinted at. Lastly, there is no way of quantifying if any of our input has any impact at all. Not surprisingly, not a single member of a Neighborhood Council was involved in the development of the survey.