By Mary Grace Barry
In late February, this email showed up twice in my inbox:
“Vote Lexington! The Bloomberg Mayors Challenge is nearing the finish line. This is a competition for the best ideas to improve cities. Our idea, CitizenLex.org, created by our citizens for all citizens, is up against ideas from 19 other cities nationwide. Million-dollar prizes are at stake. Starting today, you have the opportunity to Vote Lexington at www.huffingtonpost.com/mayors-challenge. Vote Lexington at the Huffington Post site, now through March 6. Tell your friends, tell your family, use Facebook and Twitter, tell everyone…Vote Lexington!”
(Didn’t you get it? Must not be on the city’s email blast list. Or, you’re not in the right network. Hopefully, we’ll have a website to ameliorate that soon.)
The Bloomberg Mayor’s Challenge is a contest to spur national innovation through initiatives developed in cities, initiatives that can be replicated in other cities. In other words, it’s an attempt at an end run around national governmental programs in a time when the capacity (or will) of federal government to address problems seems to be floundering. Bloomberg Philanthropies will pony up $9 million to the “five boldest ideas”: $5 mil to the winner, $1 mil to the next four runners-up. 305 cities submitted proposals; 20 finalists were chosen; Lexington is in that 20 (hence the email).