The Southwestern Pennsylvania Program for Deliberative Democracy

Major initiative to gather public opinion

 

A comprehensive initiative to promote public discussion and feedback about municipal services in Allegheny County is being launched as the biggest-ever opinion-gathering exercise around local government improvement.

The initiative, called Allegheny Forum, has been developed by The Pittsburgh Foundation, with support from funding partners and will provide public officials with feedback and ideas from citizens on improved efficiencies and cost-effectiveness among Allegheny County’s 130 local municipalities, including the City of Pittsburgh.

“Strong, effective local government is essential to the overall quality of life for our community,” said Grant Oliphant, President and CEO of The Pittsburgh Foundation, who announced the organization’s initiative. “Our goal is to canvass a full and diverse spectrum of public opinion and provide those opinions and ideas to help inform future decision-making of public officials."

A major part of the initiative was a day- long citizen deliberation on local government improvement held on September 25, 2010 with over 180 citizens randomly selected from communities across Allegheny County.

“This is an historic opportunity for our community to register its opinions and ideas and to give voice to what they would like to see happen in local government,” said Jane Downing, Senior Program Officer. “Financial pressures are forcing decisions about how to do more with less and the public has a vital role to play in exploring every possible opportunity to reduce costs, improve services and seek new and different ways of managing government."

Background Materials

Local Government at the Crossroads: Critical Choices for Our Communities

This booklet has been developed to provide citizens with some background material on the issues to be discussed and the choices to be considered.  Section One provides information about local governments in Pennsylvania, the services they provide, and how these services are funded. Section Two describes the fiscal challenges facing local governments in Allegheny County. Section Three focuses on the various ways police services are provided in Allegheny County and reviews how police services might be affected by a choice to pursue options such as raising taxes, reducing services, or changing the way services are delivered.

Further Resources

This document contains a list of the publications and websites used in developing the background materials.

Final Report

This document contains a detailed analysis of the data gathered from the deliberative poll and presents it in a way that will be useful to policy makers and the general public. A two-page summary of the key findings is also available.

Responding to Frequently Asked Questions

Basic information about the process of deliberative polling and other aspects of the September event.

The Allegheny Forum

This deliberative poll is one of several initiatives undertaken by The Pittsburgh Foundation's Allegheny Forum.

Among the issues featured in the online site for citizen deliberation, with participation by community experts, are: water and sewer infrastructure, parks and recreational facilities, emergency services and fire protection services and street maintenance.

Additional Information

Support for the day of the event comes from these departments and centers: Carnegie Mellon's Leonard Gelfand Center for Service Learning and Outreach, Carlow University's Department of Political Science, Chatham University's Center for the Study of Conflict and the Department of Political Science. Special thanks go to Pittsburgh's Coro Fellows and Carnegie Mellon's Phi Beta Kappa Society.

Recruitement and Survey Services provided by the University of Pittsbrugh's University Center for Social and Urban Research

For further information, contact us at:

pdd.cmu@gmail.com

See also Robert Cavalier's introduction to this event at Pittsburgh on Video.

 


© Copyright 2005 Program for Deliberative Democracy