Proposal 2 deals with the establishment of a Civic Engagement Commission, which will promote participation by city residents in certain aspects of decision-making on projects in communities.
Participatory budgeting will come under the purview of this commission. Also, the mayor will be able “to assign relevant powers and duties of certain other city agencies to the Commission,” according to an online abstract.
It seems to me that this makes the city agencies involved less effective and less relevant, with more power being given to the commission.
The mayor would appoint eight of the 15 members of the commission, a majority of the seats. The City Council speaker would get to fill two of the seats, and each of the five borough presidents would appoint one member to the commission.
One of the mayor’s appointees would be the commission chair, and this Chair will employ and direct the commission staff. Doesn’t this give the mayor extraordinary control?
I believe we should be decentralizing power in the city, not giving the mayor, whoever he or she may be, more power. I think that this proposal needs more review and reassessment before it is put before the voters.
Proposal 3 is getting the most public attention, and it would term-limit community board members. The reason to do this, given by proponents, is the need to expand diversity on boards throughout the city.
This is a worthy goal, however, when I look at my own board, Community Board 11 in Queens, I feel that we are already well on our way to achieving this goal.
We have been adding new members each year, so we do have a board with diverse backgrounds, ages and beliefs.
As a community board member, I appreciate the wisdom and knowledge of many of my fellow board members who have served their communities on the board for long periods of time.
We have vacancies on my board, so what would be the sense of removing longtime members and losing all of their experience and know-how on board concerns like land use matters and other community issues?
Our newer members do not always have this type of knowledge. They are learning, just as we all learn from interacting with each other. Removing longtime members would weaken boards.
Board members are unpaid volunteers who spend many hours at monthly board and various committee meetings. Board members must reapply every two years and are appointed by the borough president with the input from local council members.
If a board member is not doing a good job, he or she may not be reappointed. Board membership is not a lifetime position. Term limits for community board members do not make sense.
I will be voting “no” on both of these proposals on the back of November's ballot.
Henry Euler is a resident of Bayside. Editor's Note: Mr. Euler's comments are his own and do not reflect the position of Community Board 11.