Tag Archives: transparency

2018 Street Bond Vote, Part 3: Project Selection

2 May

On May 15, 2018, Omaha voters will be asked to approve $151 million of Street And Highway Transportation Bonds (which we will refer to as “Street Bonds”). In return for this approval, the City commits to complete some transportation projects.

Mode Shift believes it is incumbent on the City to perform three steps:

  1. Inform the voters what projects it plans to fund with the Street Bonds
  2. Account for Street Bond spending and progress of the planned projects
  3. Disclose how it selects the projects that receive Street Bond funding

We covered the first topic in Part 1, where we reported that the City gets high marks, and the second topic in Part 2, where we reported that the City veers wildly from its plans without accountability.

In this final blog, we examine the third step and find that the City ignores the transparent and objective governance promised by the City charter and follows an opaque, visionless, subjective process that perpetuates the fiscally unsustainable, disjointed, band-aid projects that the City’s own Transportation Master plan warns against.

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Contact your city council representative about transparency in transportation planning.

30 Jun

In our recent series of bog posts about the city’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP), we noted that the City Charter specifies certain steps to align the CIP with the Transportation Master Plan, and that we found no evidence that these steps are followed. To date, we have not received any information to change our assessment.

We believe the City should follow its own Charter and that the City Council should raise this issue as part of their review and approval of the 2018 CIP

In August, the City Council will review and approve the 2018-2023  (the 2018 CIP). This document will list the City’s transportation projects, the funds appropriated for 2017, and the funds budgeted for 2018-2023. There are 3 main process issues we hope the City Council considers before approving the CIP:

The Transparency Project: Part 5 – Who Selects the CIP Projects?

10 May

This is the fifth and final post from the Transparency series, following the steps of the Mode Shift CIP game board. We conclude our study of the City of Omaha’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP), with a look at these questions:

  • Who selects the CIP projects?
  • How are citizens engaged in the process?

City Charter and CIP Process

The CIP text quotes the City Charter and explains the process used to formulate the CIP:

 

Here is a summary of the differences between the process specified in the CIP and City Charter, and the actual process as we discovered in our analysis and after talking with many people working in City Hall:

City Charter and CIP Actual Process
The Planning Director ranks projects for alignment with the City’s Master Plan. The Planning Department has no records of any ranking.
Unranked projects will not be funded…unless the Planning Department fails to do the ranking. The Planning Department has no records of any ranking, so we assume the loophole is used every year.
There are several other mentions of the project ranking process and how it assures an unbiased, systematic selection process that aligns with the City Master Plans. The Planning Department has no records of any ranking.
“The Transportation Master Plan sets forth the vision and goals for the transportation network in Omaha” The Transportation Master Plan has been largely ignored and neglected.
The CIP formulation process has no provisions for public input. Unfortunately, this is true. Comments to City Council in January and February may make their way to the selection committee, but there is no formal process.

In short, the City Charter is not followed and the process is closed to the public. The City says one thing and does another in a process that is closed to the public.

The Transportation Master Plan

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