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Posted at 01:07 PM ET, 05/24/2012

Vallejo’s innovation push: A city reinvents itself


The city of Vallejo is employing a series of innovations in order to turn the city around. (Eric Risberg - ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Vallejo, California is getting more than just a face-lift.

The city, as the Post’s Ariana Eunjung Cha reports, is implementing new, and in some cases unprecedented, policies in order to reverse a severe budget shortfall, more efficiently fight crime, and otherwise clean up the city.

Here’s a rundown of Vallejo’s changes so far:

Copying others: Copying is not only the sincerest form of flattery, it’s also a core component of innovation. Why re-invent the wheel when you don’t have to? In the case of Vallejo, two city council members looked around the world to find workable solutions to the city’s mounting problems.

A new high-tech police force: As Cha reports, the police force in Vallejo went high-tech, using $500,000 to expand the ground they can cover by purchasing new surveillance cameras.

Participatory budgeting: The city’s deal with residents goes as follows: We’ll raise taxes by a penny, but you get to vote on how we spend the extra $9.5 million in revenue. It’s the first time a deal of this nature has been struck in a North American city, after having been pioneered in Port Alegre Brazil.

Deputizing citizens: With the nation caught in the throes of the George Zimmerman case — the neighborhood watch captain charged with the murder of 15-year old Trayvon Martin — deputizing citizens is a sensitive subject. In the case of Vallejo, citizens have been deputized to share tips via e-mail and social media.

“There have been countless cases where ordinary people have stopped crimes this way,”said Stephanie Gomes, a legislative specialist for the U.S. Forest Service and Vallejo city council member. Her husband is a retired police officer.

But creating a community-monitoring network online has its advantages and disadvantages.While, it could prove helpful for a cash-strapped police force and empower upstanding citizens to better their city, it could also empower individuals whose aims are, either intentionally or unintentionally, less than effective — if not dangerous. Here’s hoping, in the case of Vallejo, the former is the only byproduct of this particular innovation.

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By  |  01:07 PM ET, 05/24/2012

Categories:  Morning Read, Urban Development

 
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