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If you contact Gerrie Schipske through this site on any matter pertaining to the City of Long Beach, a copy of your contact will be forwarded to her official city email as an official public record.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Getting the public involved in how the city spends money

I discussed at length during yesterday's City Council's study session on the growing deficit that we need to engage the public in the solutions to this problem. Despite the feeling by some that the council and mayor "know best" about what to do -- it ain't so. We need the public as a partner in deciding on what services, staff, etc., which be cut and which will be retained.

In a partnership, both sides need information to make decisions. So I am proposed that the city utilize software that illustrates our budget and then allows citizens to decide what should be cut and what should be retained by giving the full information on the impact of the decisions.

Last year, frustrated with the lack of public engagement and disclosure of information, I contacted
 the California Budget Challenge which has developed software that cities can use to fully engage their residents. Below is my email and the response I received from the non-profit. I am sharing this with the City Manager and my council colleagues and hope we get this up and running as soon as possible. I am also looking into software: and that will allow on line comments from citizens (just as if they attended a council meeting) on the budget and any other issue the city considers.

Hi Gerrie,
Next 10 is a 501C3 nonprofit organization. We created the online California Budget Challenge in 2005 and shortly after creating the tool we had requests from different groups to license it, so we developed a deployable version of our California Budget Challenge that municipalities can license for their own use. The one-time license fee is $15k. The software has been used to create the following versions of the Challenge:

Los Angeles:





We have received quite a bit of press over the years highlighting the California Budget Challenge. Here are a few of the more recent clippings:





Here is the San Francisco Chronicle article that was published when we first launched the online tool:

Please let me know if you have any questions or if there is any additional information I can send you about the Challenge. We are really happy with how this has been used across California and it would be great to work with you to create the Long Beach Budget Challenge!

Many thanks,


Save Station 18

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