The mayor of San Diego is seeking public input on new policies for the city, beginning with budget suggestions on how the city can address the current economic crises. The Mayor’s website states that “each of your suggestions will be reviewed carefully by my staff. They may also be forwarded to department directors and members of our financial management team.”
In addition to just soliciting policy recommendations, some of the suggestions will be posted online for “the goal of sharing ideas and elevating our civic dialogue.” While posting the submissions online is certainly a step in the right direction for transparency, will the mayor’s efforts produce results?
So far, policy suggestions include ending car allowances for elected officials, reducing the number of firefighters per truck, and legalizing marijuana. Another suggestion calls for the city to “stop enforcing the booze ban”:
Stop enforcing the booze ban
I have lived in Mission Beach for two years, and since the ban on alcohol went into effect last year, I have watched numerous policemen heckle beach-goers about what liquids are in their cups. It seems as if the amount of police patrol has actually increased since the ban began, which makes me wonder, “Why are you wasting so many tax payer dollars patrolling a beach, and hassling its patrons?” The policemen are on ATV’s, on bicycles, and standing on the boardwalk… there are so many, that you cannot turn a corner without seeing one. It is a blatant waste of money which the city claims to be necessary for the “good” of the people, I see it as superfluous and outright ridiculous. Send them to areas of San Diego which have real crime issues- not just a bunch of drunks in bikinis- or spend your money elsewhere.
While seeking policy suggestions from the city’s residents is laudable, the question remains whether the submissions will have any real influence on the city’s policy. We will have to wait and see.
Why should Congressman tap lobbyists and consultants when they can tap the power of the crowd?
Particularly in State legislatures, there are so many issues and specialty areas, how can state legislators possibly be educated enough on very specific bills to make informed decisions? The answer is they are not. So, they rely on lobbyists, hire consultants, or talk with special interests to inform them and tell them about the issues. Then the legislators form a stance and make their decisions. But what if this could be done…at least in part, by tapping the wisdom of the crowd? What if your state legislator could engage his or her constituents in a two-way dialogue? Once the elected official opens the door for real public input, knowledgeable citizens can have a real chance of influencing policy. Instead of hiring an insider lobbyist like Nancy Pelosi, Congressmen would take into account the collective opinion of their constituents.
Want to influence policy in your town or state? Get started.
While Obama’s followers now have the opportunity to influence policy using new, citizen-driven agendas at sites that aim to crowdsource policy and increase citizen participation in governance, conservatives now have the same opportunity with the launch of Rebuildtheparty.com. Rebuildtheparty applies the crowdsourcing approach to government 2.0, allowing people to pitch and suggest ideas for the Republican party. The top two leading voter ideas are “Enacting the Fair Tax Plan” and “Reach out to Ron Paul and the Campaign for Freedom.” The site is a network of grassroots activists for the Republic party, and it already has 6 Republican party officials who have endorsed their 10 point action plan to strengthen the republican party (including: Saul Anuzis, Michigan GOP Chairman; Ken Blackwell,Former Ohio Secretary of State; Mike Duncan,Current RNC Chairman;Chip Saltsman, Former TN GOP Chairman; and Michael Steele, GOPAC Chairman).
Check it out at: http://www.Rebuildtheparty.com.
Image courtesy of cforjustice.org
ChangeEverything.ca is an online community where people in Vancouver can find information, tools and connections to inspire and support change in their own lives, their communities and the world. ChangeEverything.ca inspires a grassroots approach for changing your local community. Members can list things they would like to change, or do, tag their goals, describe them and add pictures. Other users find goals, add them to their own lists, add comments or blog about the issues therein. Some ideas include fixing the homeless situation in Vancouver and saving a local park from demolition.
In their own words:
If you want to make changes – in your own life, in your neighbourhood or in your world – then Change Everything is the site for you. It’s fun, it’s free and it’s a great way to work towards positive change for you and our community.
We’re an online community of changemakers. Some of us are longtime activists; some of us are community leaders; and a lot of us are just regular people with a few ideas for how we’d like to change things. We’re focused in Vancouver, the Lower Mainland and Victoria, British Columbia, but we welcome people from anywhere in the world. All you need are positive ideas for change.
While the site is a great first start for initiating local discussion, more tools need to be provided to be effective in transforming the online discussions into real world action. Currently, it’s more social network and online connector than it is a platform for taking action.
The website is powered by Vancity, Canada’s largest Credit Union.
Jeff Howe, author of Crowdsourcing, describes how the wisdom of the crowd is driving the future of business. We think the same paradigm applies to the future of political advocacy.
While there is not much to the site yet, Obama’s launching of Change.gov does more than just keep the public notified of the transition period, it embraces the public’s ideas and shows a continuing commitment to interact with the American public. In addition to information about the transition team, Change.gov is asking the American people to share their stories and share their vision for new policy in his administration.
But will the public really be able use this site to influence the new administration? Will Obama listen if people use it? We will have to wait to find out what other tools will be designed for the site and whether any of it will matter. One thing is for sure, Obama is continuing his trend of using social media to gather support, furthering his message of transparancy in government, and at least attempting to give the public another outlet to influence public policy.