A group of more than 30 community leaders in northeast and southeast Queens gathered in the basement of the Pride of Judea Mental Health Center Sunday to meet a new group dedicated to making city government more accessible to city residents.
The community representatives from civic associations, community boards, school boards and community groups in City Councilman David Weprins (D-Hollis) district were brought together in Little Neck by Weprin and the Government Access and Accountability Campaigns leaders.
We are going to furnish all those who join our program with government access through the use of town hall meeting, said Bryan Pu Folkes, president of the campaigns coordinating organization, New Immigrant Community Empowerment.
Once our participants realize how accessible their representatives are and understand how to contact the appropriate municipal agencies, they will be empowered as fully participating citizens, Pu Folkes said.
Government Access and Accountability Campaign is run by Pu Folkes and Anat Jacobson, the campaigns director. It is made up of civic groups, immigrant groups, good-government organizations, educational institutions and business leaders.
The campaign was started after a study by New Immigrant Community Empowerment found 90 percent of the citys population could not name their council member. NICE, a Queens immigrant group, is run by Pu Folkes and the driving force behind the campaign.
The organization, which is using Queens as the jumping off point, hopes to expand the program to all 51 council members next year.
The goal of the campaign is to teach people how to use city government and make representatives more accountable to their constituents.
The gathering, Weprin said, was arranged to get input on the topics, location and day for a town hall meeting. Once he knows which concerns community members want addressed, Weprin said, he can work to have representatives from different city departments at the event.
We want people to become meaningfully engaged in their communities, said Pu Folkes. We will have workshops to help people to understand government and to become involved.
Weprins district, which stretches from Little Neck to Hollis and Douglaston to Queens Village and includes Glen Oaks, Bellerose and New Hyde Park, and City Councilman Hiram Monseratte (D-Jackson Heights) district, which covers Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Corona are two city council districts being used to test the program.
The organization plans to hold town hall meetings to try and open a dialogue between elected officials and the communities. The campaign is also proposing council members put out an end of the year report similar to those issued by non-profits and private companies to show how the representatives used their resources serving the community.
Weprin told the crowd of community leaders their council members were there to help people with the problems they face.
The districts were chosen because of the diversity in each. The population make-up of both are South Asian, West Indian, black, white, Jewish, Hispanic and Asian.
The topics thrown out by the districts community leaders were illegal housing, education, quality of life, problems with real-estate brokers, prescription drug and alcohol abuse among senior citizens, youth initiatives, community school boards, domestic violence, park land and the as of right law.
This town hall meeting is for everyone, Weprin said. The dialogue helps people come together and see our commonalties and not our differences.
Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.
©2002 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.