Aug 29th 2019

Every year the city’s 50 alderpeople get about $1.32 million known as “menu money” to spend on infrastructure needs in their ward. These funds are often used to improve streets, lighting, parks, libraries, transit or other neighborhood needs.

So how do alderpeople decide what to spend their $1.32 million on each year? Or how does spending compare between wards? Or even between neighborhoods within the same ward?

We’ll be exploring these questions during our final alderperson accountability workshop at Harold Washington Library (on the 8th floor). With help from our Documenters team and Chicago United for Equity we’ll walk through data from 2012 year to 2018 year. You can check out the 2014-2018 spending via thisOffice of Budget and Management report here:

We’ll also talk through how some wards in Chicago use participatory budgeting, “a democratic process by which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget.” (

Can’t make a workshop? We’ll be sharing the accountability activities for download and publishing them in Austin Weekly News and The GATE Newspaper. Sign up for City Bureau’s Chicago newsletter to find out more:

City Bureau’s #PublicNewsroom is a series of free, weekly workshops and discussions aimed at building trust between journalists and the communities they serve while shaping a more inclusive newsroom.

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