Thursday, August 1, 2013

Councilman Brad Lander is a Champion of Change

Brad Lander: Champion of Change
This Tuesday Kensington’s own Councilman Brad Lander will be honored at a White House ceremony for  introducing “participatory budgeting” into the New York City political universe.

Lander, who was elected to the council in 2009, also represents Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Windsor Terrace. President Barack Obama will name Lander as a “Champion of Change” for creating a structure that allows the public to become a part of the process which allocates funding for community projects. Instead of Lander deciding where and in what proportions his $1 million yearly discretionary budget goes to, his voter base get to decide.

The idea of participatory budgeting was first born in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 1989. Lander was the first to bring this innovative idea to New York last year. The most recent allocations in Lander’s district were earmarked to bring computers to local schools; renovate bathrooms in schools; improve pedestrian access and traffic congestion on Church Avenue; and to bring more trees to Third Avenue in Gowanus.

Lander’s idea seems to be catching on: There are now 8 out of 51 districts in New York City that are utilizing participatory budgeting to fund community improvements. The White House explained that Obama created Champions of Change to recognize the contribution that innovation can make to communities and to honor those who are not afraid to introduce change.

Congratulations Councilman Lander!