A Detour into the Morass of Municipal Budgeting
After more than a year of research, reporting, fundraising and frustrating delays, Noozhawk today launched the Santa Barbara Challenge, a really cool project that involves the city of Santa Barbara's budget.
Like so many other cities in California, Santa Barbara grapples with a chronic multimillion-dollar budget deficit at the end of each fiscal year. We'll be publishing eight days of stories that lay out how Santa Barbara got to this point in time and then will open up the primary feature of our project, an interactive and easy-to-use survey.
The project is a partnership between Noozhawk and the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine University's School of Public Policy. Although the Davenport Institute - formerly known as the oxymoronic Common Sense California - usually works with municipalities, school districts, regional governance associations and nonprofit organizations, its board has been fascinated by Noozhawk since before we launched (that's another blog post for a later time). The institute sees Noozhawk as a tool of creative destruction in the classical Joseph Schumpeter sense of entrepreneurialism in a world of Fossil Media and institutional models that simply don't work anymore. We agree, of course.
The survey, via UserVoice.com, will allow our readers to suggest ways to fix Santa Barbara's budget or spend our money more wisely. Each suggestion must attract votes to meet a threshhold to move to the next round, essentially winnowing out outliers and poorly made proposals - like the NCAA basketball tournament. At the end of the project, we hope to have three or four substantive suggestions that we'll present to the Santa Barbara City Council and to the city administrator. If they adopt them, and they work, Noozhawk will claim complete credit for solving the Santa Barbara Challenge.