The discussion with residents focused primarily on the sense that our part of the East Side is not receiving the attention of elected officials that it deserves. Although money is allocated for East Side endeavors, the benefits of that funding does not reach all corners of the East Side. In particular, economic development dollars are not used to encourage training and development of residents in District 1, or to encourage the creation of new, family- and locally-owned businesses in our area. Sun Ray shopping center was cited as a prime example of a business opportunities that are consistently overlooked. Although vacancies are abundant, and some small, "minority"-owned businesses are present at Sun Ray, attendees of the meeting felt that more could be done to support those businesses and encourage new ones to form.
Representative Johnson and Senator Hawj encouraged residents to contact their legislators and other elected officials, but pointed out that the East Side has extremely low rates of voter turnout and politicians pay attention to those who vote. Although this does not explain why other parts of the East Side - which have even lower rates of voter turnout than District 1 - receive funding, the point remains that raising our voices and stating our needs is important - having ideas of what we want to see happen is vital.
There was additional discussion about how funding tends to go to entities that have received money before - although it was also pointed out that results derived from the funding is not readily examined prior to reallocating funds. There was a hearty discussion of the merits of top-down vs ground-up allocation of funds to truly have an impact on people's lives.
Following this discussion, the board completed committee assignments for new members, listened to updates from our standing committees, and examined monthly financial reports.
Next month's agenda (July) involves an Open House to hear about the Rail Yard capacity study and other transit projects.