I read recently, in one of my texts, that Portland's spirit of public engagement may be waning, in comparison to its peak in the late 80's and 90's. I have some of the same concerns, based on my own experiences. To that end, I received this email from Multnomah County.
"With significant reductions in state funding looming, understanding and giving input into Multnomah County’s budget is more important than ever. Do you prefer Multnomah County move funds from another program to make up the difference? Which programs should the county prioritize? Come to one of MultCo's budget forums sponsored by County Chair Jeff Cogen and the Multnomah County Citizen Involvement Committee to understand how the funding system works and tell the Board of County Commissioners what you think! The forums are:
* Gresham--Thursday, Feb. 24, 6-8:15pm at the Multnomah County East Building, 600 NE 8th St.
* Portland--Thursday, March 3, 6-8:15pm at the Multnomah Building, 501 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
For more information contact: Office of Citizen Involvement at 503-988-3450 or www.citizenweb.org"
The budget process, never easy, is underway under some severe circumstances. What caught my attention about these particular forums, is the focus on understanding how the budget process works. More public policy processes should include that educational piece, so that we, as citizens can provide educated feedback on what our priorities are and be a part of the process for making it work, as opposed to being the recipients of policies that we neither understand nor have a say in. More than any other place I have lived (and research supports the reality of my experience), municipalities in this area-Portland, Multnomah County, Metro, for example-provides for citizen engagement. That is not to say that, there are not times when powerful people wish to move without our input, but the system is designed for us to be involved. If we are to ensure that the high level of engagement that this region is known for continues, then we must be engaged.
And here is the rest of it.