But the 49th has a new claim to fame: In 2009, the ward's alderman, Joe Moore, became the first elected official in the country to hand over the purse strings to his constituents.
"I am ceding my power to decide how this money is spent and giving it to you," Moore said to a group of about 40 people on a cold November night last fall.
Giving budget power to residents has changed what gets done with infrastructure money. When Moore called the shots, he chose only meat-and-potatoes projects — street repairs, a new crossing signal or two. Under the new scheme, the ward's residents have funded showers at the beach, heated bus shelters and a $110,000 dog park.
Some skeptics say participatory budgeting allows small voting blocs to band together and push through pet projects. Those who like the process say that at least with this approach the people wielding power are not the rich or well-connected. Instead, they're regular citizens who choose to put in the time.
SIMON: What would you urge our informed and discriminating listeners to pay attention to the next time we report poll results?
SELZER: Well, I think this early in the campaign, and really until we get to probably October, you need to keep in mind that any measure of the horse race is really a reflection of the mood. Sort of how are people feeling about this campaign right now? There's no poll in May or June that is going to predict what's going to happen, but the advise I would give is to choose a couple of polls and follow them, because ....all of (the differences and nuances are) controlled for if you follow the same poll over time.
The Supreme Court's 2010 decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission allows outside groups to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to advocate for a particular issue or even candidate.http://www.npr.org/2012/05/26/153784210/outside-money-making-the-race-a-billionaires-game?ft=1&f=1014
Right now, more than 80 percent of the money raised by superPACs has gone to pro-GOP groups. And, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, 80 percent of all the money raised by these groups has come from just 100 individuals — the wealthiest people in America. People like Texas billionaire Harold Simmons.
Homans estimates Simmons has donated around $18 million to $19 million to Crossroads GPS.
Try to guess how many superPACs are operating in the U.S. today. Dave Levinthal, who covers money and politics for Politico, says there are about 450 — at the moment.