Listen Up, Councilman Eugene! Neighbors Call On Lawmaker To Change Stance On Participatory Budgeting

Neighbors are now joining forces to call on Councilman Mathieu Eugene to become involved in participatory budgeting.
Neighbors are now joining forces to call on Councilman Mathieu Eugene to become involved in participatory budgeting.

A group of neighbors have a message for Councilman Mathieu Eugene: it’s time to change your stance on participatory budgeting.

The neighbors — William Cerf, Anthony Finkel, Sarah Garvey, and Carmen Mason Browne — announced at last night’s Community Board 14 meeting that their new group, named The Residents of District 40 For Participatory Budgeting, has officially launched. Now, the members are signing up other neighbors to help them push for participatory budgeting, a city program that allows residents to directly vote on $1 million to $1.5 million in projects they’d like to see funded in their Council district (so, for example, legislators have funded projects like air conditioning in schools, computers at libraries, renovations at parks, and so on).

“We’re looking for people to join our team,” Browne told us after the meeting. “This really builds community.”

Participatory budgeting isn’t mandatory for City Council members, but plenty of lawmakers have jumped on board — this year, 24 Council members (nearly half of the City Council) are involved in it, including our area’s Council Members Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander.

However, Councilman Mathieu Eugene, who represents much of our neighborhood, is not involved in the participatory budgeting process — something which residents have long lamented as a problem.

We reached out to Eugene’s office this morning in regards to this issue but have yet to hear back from them.

If you’re interested in getting involved in The Residents of District 40 For Participatory Budgeting, you can email Carmen at [email protected].

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  1. I hope you didn’t actually *expect* to hear back from Mr Eugene…. I don’t know, participatory budgeting sounds like something that would require our councilman to do something. Not his strong suit.

  2. Yes, please some sort of action from Eugene. I really wish that I lived in district 45 and had Williams as my council member. Williams looks like he actually wants to serve his constituents and not just ride around in his MB and take photo ops like Eugene.

  3. Another example of “sounds good” with unintended consequences.

    This is taxpayer money, not “free stuff” “Participatory budgeting” as a practical matter means more redistribution of NYC taxpayer money to various, crony “groups” who can obtain the ear of a Councilperson.

    All this “discretionary” budgeting by individual Council members should stop. It is basically state sponsored theft from the taxpayers to friends n’ family of the Council. We need more transparency of spending, which means that taxpayer funded spending should be voted by the City Council as a whole.

  4. Hush, NYC Parent. Take a look at how this works in other districts and what is funded. It’s not “theft”! That’s just absurd. We’re also talking about very small amounts of money out of the full city budget. It is SPECIFICALLY meant for local issues that would never rise to the attention of the full city council.

    What part of the participatory budgeting process is secretive and opaque? Uggh.

  5. I thought NYC Council members were term limited? Eugene has been on the council since 2007…. how is that possible?

  6. AND — the participatory budgeting process makes the “discretionary” part less discretionary. It specifically takes away a lot of the council member’s discretion. If X, Y and Z projects win, then X, Y and Z projects are funded.

  7. Participatory budgeting does the opposite of what NYC Parent describes. It removes money from the city council slush fund and lets the citizens themselves allocate their own tax dollars.

    Just google ‘Brad Lander Participatory Budgeting’ and see all the great things Brad has been able to make happen for his constituents with their involvement.

  8. wow..why all the hate for PB?? If you look at the proposed projects for district 45, a couple are for Tilden High School, a public school that serves mostly moderate and low income minority kids. How is this cronyism???

  9. The only one that is showing hate for participatory budgeting is “NYC Parent.” Everyone else thinks it’s great. However, Mr. Eugene will have no part of it because he’s a terrible terrible councilman. Simple as that.

  10. My problem is not so much as with participatory budgeeting per se but with the mentality of “oh goody I have a PROGRAM in mind so give me more tax $”

    I bit, and googled Brad Lander Participatory budgeting and found such goodies as $180,000 for 34 “smartboards” and “supporting macbooks” for “high needs/diverse school” and another “170,000” for 27 “smart boards” in another school.

    Wow “Smart” boards must be improving education greatly. Smartboards are typical of the throw $ at a problem in the name of a slogan “diversity!” “underserved students!” that is worse than a waste of money. The worst part is that it gives the illusion of education, while actually doing nothing to improve it.

    Education spending has roughly doubled (per pupil/real $ measures) since the 1970s in NYS. Think education is twice as good?

    And, perish the thought, do you think someone is making lots of $ from the installation and training in “smart boards”? Perhaps “participatory budgeting” is better than throwing money in the landfill, but it is still part of the larger problem of the mentality that more $=better outcomes, and the mentality that the public treasury comes out of the sky (and does not itself come from real people’s pockets). Say “ugh” ahd “hush” all you want, but I’m trying to put what I think is a valid (dare I say “underserved” perspective) out there.


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