By Michael Levitin
Participatory budgeting becomes a mayoral campaign issue in San Francisco, which could lead to San Francisco becoming the first U.S. city to adopt participatory budgeting on a city-wide basis.
When Mayor Ed Lee ventured across San Francisco’s 11 districts this spring talking with residents about what to cut and what to save from the budget, he won praise for opening what some called a new era in fiscal discourse: giving people a more direct say about where their money is spent. But what if, rather than the mayor in the driver’s seat, it was the community itself that presented, weighed and voted on district budgets? The idealistic notion under consideration in San Francisco, sometimes called “participatory budgeting,” hands decision-making power for budgets to the residents of neighborhoods and whole cities.
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