From NOLA CPP’s Global Giving webpage:
August 2013 Project Report
Perhaps it is just the summer heat in New Orleans, but things have been moving more slowly than we would like over the past few months. While our work to bring Participatory Budgeting to New Orleans is engaging a much greater number of people, implementation of the Neighborhood Participation Plan (NPP) is on hold as the City Council repeatedly defers votes on amendments and final passage (among the many quirks of local government is that despite unanimous passage of the NPP in May by the Council, it still requires one more vote before it is formally adopted).
For the third consecutive time, the Council deferred the NPP at its August 8 meeting. Ironically, at the same meeting, final approval was given to three businesses whose initial proposals were met with considerable neighborhood resistance but who ultimately had the support of their neighbors and neighborhood associations after meeting with them. This is exactly what the NPP will accomplish; and it will make this kind of outcome the norm in New Orleans rather than something rare and remarkable. With concrete evidence in front of them of the value of the Plan, it was all the more disappointing to see its final adoption deferred once again — this time, supposedly at the request of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. We have been told yet again that the NPP will receive final approval at the next Council meeting; but it is nothing short of amazing that what would be a slam dunk anywhere else gets turned into a political football in New Orleans. Nevertheless, we are forging ahead with implementation tools and strategies, working with our Citizen Advisory Team, the Planning Commission staff and our partners in the New Orleans Coalition on Open Governance (NOCOG; www.nocog.org).
Much cheerier news on the Participatory Budgeting front. The NOCOG PB NOLA campaign, with which CBNO is closely involved and which links directly to the citizen participation infrastructure work, has conducted two “teach-ins” in the last three weeks. Not only is this informing more New Orleans residents about opportunities to have input into the city budgeting process, we have now enlisted a number of community members into working with us on the campaign. Community engagement is great; community ownership is even more powerful. Further acceleration of this campaign is inevitable.
In late July, the National Council of La Raza national conference took place in New Orleans, with CBNO partner Puentes New Orleans serving as the local host. CBNO served on the conference host committee, and teamed up with Puentes and the Latino Forum to put on a workshop during the conference. Our presentation focused on results from the 2012 CBNO-Puentes Latino Community Survey, highlighting obstacles and opportunities relating to Latino residents and civic engagement. Also during the conference, we debuted our follow-up survey, focusing on issues of health care and education for Latino residents. These were identified as priority issues in the first survey, as well as in conversations with local Latino leaders. The city’s Department of Health, which has already used findings from the first survey to improve access to health care information and services for Latinos, helped design the new survey, along with several prominent Latino education and faith leaders. Surveys will be conducted throughout the fall, and the findings will be used to advocate for changes in policies and practices to produce better outcomes in both areas for New Orleans Latinos.
Slogging through the world of politics is never fun, but we will absolutely persist. We are appreciative of the many local officials who do support meaningful civic engagement, and also of the encouragement and support we receive from colleagues and supporters from afar. We think of all of you as being part of our team, and could not do this work without you!
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