Research Proposal: Participatory Budgeting Cma

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[. . .] S. case offers comparative realism to the conceptual framework of public choice, where legitimacy stems ostensibly from policy, and code is a merely bedraggled stepchild to the actual decision making processes of co-optation and bi-lateral business partnerships.

In the U.S., it should be noted, where provision of basic services is considered elsewhere, and defendants typically sustain dismissal with anticipatory repudiation at the pre-trial stage. Irrespective of distinctions between the two nations, in the final instance it can be effectively argued, it is Law, rather than participatory decision making or civil service oversight that constitute the rules of the game. It is in the details of municipal and regional code that we source true meaning beyond what Lightbody calls the "sudden dramatic bursts of policy theatre surrounding (Megacity) Toronto" and other Canadian city-region contexts where government was purportedly about to be "reinvented" (11).

Vulnerability to institutional parochialism is cited within criticism directed at Canadian CMA consolidation, yet what are the options to what Lightbody asserts is a persistent suburban seraglio? Indeed, intransience where the unwillingness of citizens to be released from their confinement, and some social equity in economic decision making does exist (versus the U.S.), volitional impact on this virtual "lock up" he puts it, is distinctly Canadian in its inertia. Where community action contrary to consolidation is present, citizens soon resign from continued participation, notes Lightbody. A more creative politics lies in the use of state institutions for some broader collective purpose, yet it is a balancing act in Canada it seems, and there is dissent toward aggressive tendencies one way or the other elsewhere.

In Jacobsen's (2008) Participatory Democracy in Europe, he describes the emergence of Participatory Budgeting (PB) as a viable tool for distributive justice. Canadian redistribution typically look at the leverage of commercial communities in municipalities as a natural mechanism for the invocation of public-private leadership to local governance questions, more thoroughgoing investigation of actual redistribution policies has been little studied (Lightbody, 14). In Europe, redistribution policies are more common as a populist practice of building community governance. Based upon former social movement advocacy networks, new PB are stepping in where citizens have voiced consensus over municipal or regional government consolidation policies and infrastructural controls.

PB projects like the landmark Spanish initiative grupo motores (i.e. power units) in the City of Seville now provide joint oversight to neighborhood programs throughout the city; including advisory to policy. Partnerships between government financial control and private sector administration in Italy and Britain with representative community consortium collaborations, overseen by private citizens, serve to promote a participatory model of community development. Joint participation in public management of budgetary schema, by non-governmental consortiums contributes to a higher degree of control over distribution of allocations to commercial vendors; encouraging transparency and use to the public good.

Distinct from the welfare state, official exercise of participatory democracy is largely reliant upon tenure limited, elected committee members, many of who serve voluntarily. The intersection between law and PB is perhaps the most valid avenue of addressing the desire of contemporary communities to respond more effectively to structural impingements, and participate more fully in decisions that affect their options within the jurisdictional boundaries of the municipal public sphere.

According to Lightbody (2009), there are three (3) predictable policy issues that contribute to confusion where contiguity between municipalities is expanding or overlapping, and lessening of autonomy in public administration such as services (i.e. waste management) are retracting. How multiple autonomous jurisdictions might design better problem solving governing units may not be generic, he argues, however some consistency in the requirements of city-region administration are apparent in the three proposed policy predictors to integration, as illustrated in Table 2.

Table 2

1. To coordinate public policies between and among multiple local governments;

2. To devise more open lines of accountability for the choices made (or not taken)

3. To provide some measure of equity for citizens as taxpayers both in service delivery and in generating revenues

Table 2. Three policy predictors to city-region integration

Source: Lightbody, James. Defining A Canadian Approach To Municipal Consolidation In Major City-Regions. Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance, 3, 2009, 14.

In what Lightbody proposes as definitive, universal approach to tackling the city-region CMA governmental integration question, it is at this juncture that the topic lends itself to the operational possibilities seen in the utopian community concepts of universal franchise through equal access and popular control. A model for building equity into the policy picture toward more precision in the management of citizen taxes through distributive justice, Rawls' (2001) The Law of Peoples: with "The Idea of Public Reason Revisited" furthers this perspective, emphasizing the ideological currents within a community as core to participatory democracy; as much so as the points of leverage that citizens might use to hold government accountable to public institutions and how they work.

Put into dialogue with universal norms, how might the PB advance Canada's potential of crafting a more competent distributive model? If participatory democracy is considered in relation to the market, structural allowances and constitutional laws and regulatory reforms, will participatory democracy, budgetary or otherwise realize community 'justice' in terms that public choice theory agree to?

Where the two conditions are met: 1) open public processes, and 2) their impact on policy, the principles of social justice are also met, it could be argued, because participatory democracy are intrinsically premised on the existence and continuation of equa-liberty, determined by the elimination of arbitrary distinctions. From voting precinct to waste management administration, the cumulative effect of open public processes on the encouragement of liberal societies, says Rawls, preserves the internal stability of the community where those institutions intended to promote democracy are practiced.

How Canadian citizens are contracted into relationship with city-regions through property relations may of course have strict effects on the formative shape of future democratic liberties. It is through the exercise of "economic citizenship" that the theorists represented in this essay intended to redirect our consciousness of the legal liberties afforded through the potentialities of the horizontal politics, where consolidation may also mean city-region loose aggregation. Acknowledgement of our rights and responsibilities to community governance, where there is an increasing emphasis on the mechanisms of the neo-liberal market as solutions through our commercial communities, the experimental movement of citizen run PB clears a path for those willing to participate through extended volunteerism.

Although some opponents would argue that the PB are more closely associated with the type of socialist alternative Canadians would probably not be seduced by, as corruption is not a hallmark of Canadian politics at present, and that pure laissez-faire capitalism at work in the free market is more representative of national values, other consequences to our municipal regimes in terms of service management contracts leaves a space for negotiation of the concept. Designed to hedge against discretionary, individual prosperity in the face of community or social reform, the PB may offer Canada's restructuring proponents a community coalition model that is quite amenable to support of official bureaucracy. This is especially the case where land ownership is concerned, as much of the work of the PB is directed at streamlining allocations to infrastructural maintenance and projects planning intended to serve facilitated growth management at a local level. Canada's urban regimes have been particularly consistent in those areas, as business owners are in support of extended municipal to regional economic expansion (Lightbody, 19).

In the wake of restructuring and integration there have been instances where public interests have fallen through the cracks. Proponents of integration are those leaders in Canada's urban regimes that would like further consolidation. Insight into public policy perspective of those calls for institutional adaptation, there are sometimes discrepancy between commerce and government, and,

"while small cartels of municipal officials always appear to hold the upper hand in public, whenever regime interests see local boundaries as an impediment to longer range policy ambitions they have possessed the capacity, separate and pooled, to commit resources and influence change in private ways" (Lightbody, 21).

Money talks and Canadians apparently listen. Community property as a source of "public good," then is distinctly bound to private enterprise, and only secondarily to municipal government it would seem. Review of the PB addresses community property as a site of actionable governance reveals implication in commercial consolidation over city-region consolidation as an act of government, if not in service optimization, then in citizen participation. According to the PB theory, both factors converge to enable citizens from all sectors of society to engage in decision on participatory finance projects. As a tax base to municipal jurisdiction, property is clearly the locus where all debates will be waged into the future as the city-region phenomenon advances. Polemics over land as a site of taxation and public administration, proxies the force of law, and with it disagreements over the 'Unicity' jurisdiction, where title (i.e., "citizenship," "right" and "social contract")… [END OF PREVIEW]

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