Sunday, June 30, 2013

Confusion during the second reading of the FY 2014 budget

This error is what happens when amendments made from the dais are not made public in a timely manner.   I take full responsibility for sharing the information I did during the second reading of the budget by the DC Council June 26.   The intel I had from earlier that day was that CM Catania's amendment zeroed out most, if not all, of what Mayor Gray and DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson proposed for $50 million of the increased revenue.   The zeroing out included 200 infant and toddler slots and a 10% increase for infant and toddler care, a rate increase for DC Office on Aging grantees, and an expansion of school-based mental health.

When asked, @Catania_EdCmte emailed me CM Catania's amendment; it is toward the end of this post.   Certainly, it would have been better had the Committee on Education or CM Catania's personal staff tweeted, emailed, or posted on their website the amendment.   The same goes for CM Evans' amendment, below.   His staff should have posted or otherwise shared it with the public.   The same for all other amendments offered from the dais.

The council rules for CP20 (PDF) require written amendments prepared after the deadline to be circulated on the dais.   The rules also require CMs to make oral amendments available in written form to the public "as soon as practicable."   Where both provisions fail is with immediate public notice.   This is particularly important with subjects of great import to the public, such as the budget, and in an environment in which social media plays an essential role in information-sharing.

So what are we to do?   I suggest advocates and others write and call members of the DC Council (find the list here and the council directory here (PDF)) and demand that they change the rules so that written amendments from the dais are available to the public immediately.   Sure, I wouldn't have gotten a copy from a staffer since I wasn't in the room, but journos like Mike DeBonis, Patrick Madden, and Mark Segraves make a habit of tweeting pictures of documents.   Members of the general public could follow suit.   And while that is going on, the IT department led by Christopher Warren could post the amendment on the DC Council website.

Catania Amend 2 Nd Reading

FY 2014 School Libraries Amendment 2nd Reading

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