There is no way this could go wrong, right? The Times tells us today that "Four City Council members, intrigued by experiments begun in Brazil to let ordinary citizens determine how government uses tax dollars, say they plan to allow their constituents to decide how $4 million is spent next year." Why is that when we read that all we could think was "Monorail?"
Okay, so in reality the idea, called participatory budgeting, doesn't seem that harebrained: Basically three Democrats (Brooklyn's Brad Lander and Jumaane D. Williams of Brooklyn, and Melissa Mark-Viverito of Manhattan) along with one Republican (Queens' Eric Ulrich) are next year going to be putting one meeelion dollars of their discretionary funds aside. They'll then let a group of constituents decide if they want to spend that cash on things like new parks, public art, fixing roads, or installing monorails to put their neighborhoods on the map (y'know, like Ogdenville). How exactly those constituents will be chosen (and if other City Council members will be turning over their discretionary funds) is still getting worked out.
The idea apparently has been a big success in Brazil (and, more recently, in Chicago) and the City Council members participating seem to have high hopes for it. As Jumaane Williams put it, "In general, government needs to find better ways to engage a community." Absolutely. But people of Capital City: No monorails, okay? The Second Avenue Subway has been enough of a boondoggle already! What this town really needs are subway slides.