Task #1: Revive Grassroots Democracy
Established in 1982 shortly after Bernie Sanders was elected mayor, the NPAs were once thriving institution that reflected our State's proud tradition of direct democracy, Burlington's monthly version of Vermont's townhall meeting. Serving as a way for people to have a say in making the decisions that impact their lives, NPAs also increase transparency, accountability, equitability and participation in municipal governing processes.
Through his years of leadership as the Ward 2/3 Steering Committee, Infinite has a deep understanding of of the current limitations of the NPAs, which has suffered from attrition and systemic neglect over the last four decades as well as an appreciation of the NPA's potential to serve as democratic counterpower to City Hall's decision-making by the few.
Through our canvassing at the polls this upcoming Townhall meeting day as well as at other community events, we will be raising awareness and collecting towards the goal of 2,000 petition signatures by end of summer to get the following questions on the ballot during the November election.
(One thing that occurred to us during the drafting of this document Memorial Auditorium could be renovated to serve as, among other purposes, the NPAs home as well as our future Town Hall.
"Shall the Burlington City Council prepare amendments to the city charter formalizing the role of Burlington’s Neighborhood Planning Assemblies (NPAs) as mechanism for residents to “influence municipal decisions including the allocation of resources" and as democratic grassroots institutions "to serve as checks and controls on city government, to establish mutual communication, and to prevent excessive concentration of power in the Mayor or the City Council”, with measures to:
- Promote active involvement of all residents in the Neighborhood Planning Assembly (NPAs) of each Ward by eliminating all barriers to participation
- Require the City Council and the Mayor to acknowledge, take up for consideration, and respond to any resolution passed by each ward’s NPA in a timely manner
and any other the Council may deem necessary for inclusion as a ballot question for voters in the November 2018 election*?
Shall the Mayor prepare an amended budget to directly fund the NPAs, to replace the current mechanism which disburses funds through each Ward's City Councilor, with a structure that :
- protects the autonomy of each ward’s NPA; facilitates access to existing city resources and services; and allocates adequate money (no less than $50k/year) for NPA activities, disbursed directly to each NPA so they can operate independently and outside the influence of the Mayor and city councilors
- Explore the formation of an umbrella organization of all NPAs to coordinate joint activities and complement the autonomous NPAs
*) from the preamble and bylaws of the Ward 5 NPA