As a founding member of the Council’s Progressive Caucus, Council Member Williams has helped lead the fight to change the way government serves the people of New York City. By increasing citizen participation and advancing transparency, he believes that New Yorkers will be empowered to better advocate for their communities and to demand greater efficiency and more equitable resource allocation.
In 2011, Jumaane became one of the first Council Members in New York City to implement participatory budgeting, a transformational approach to government that engages residents in the process of designing and voting on projects to better their community. Thus far, he has allocated over $2 million in capital funding based on his constituents’ votes, which will go to projects ranging from security cameras, street improvements for senior citizens, park lighting and a college and career resource center. Jumaane has also changed how non-profit organizations serve the district through results-based accountability, an approach to ensure best practices are used to achieve results, increase accountability and increase the return on investment for taxpayers.
In October 2012, Jumaane was the lead sponsor of Resolution 1540, which requires Council Speakers to establish a policy that ensures the integrity and transparency of the discretionary funding process. He believes codifying this rule was a key step in transparency and fairness, and he will work towards further improvements that ensure the needs of communities across New York City are equitably met by government. One of these efforts began in February 2013, when Jumaane introduced a series of proposed amendments to the New York City Charter that would address the problems with transparency and parity in the budget process, as well as the imbalance of power between the executive and legislative branches. He has asked all mayoral candidates to formally commit to these reforms.
Jumaane has been vocal in his concerns over the way elections are conducted in New York City, including the wait times that he feels have disenfranchised many potential voters. He was a leading voice that successfully lobbied Governor Cuomo to issue an executive order that eased voting for those affected by Hurricane Sandy in advance of the November 2012 general election, and he also helped get the Board of Elections to increase ballot font size and better inform voters of poll site changes following the September 2012 primary election. Jumaane has joined the call for a reform agenda that would address issues with voter registration, ballot design, poll worker training and language access, particularly for the growing Haitian population. Additionally, he is a supporter of instituting early voting and no-excuse absentee voting options.
Government’s approach to contracts has also been a focus of needed reform for Jumaane. He believes that an overemphasis on outside consultants have contributed to cost overruns in city programs and mismanagement of projects like CityTime. He has stood by the labor community as they seek fair contracts with the City, standing with the bus drivers in their early 2013 strike and supporting the call to address back pay in future negotiations. Jumaane has also been a leading voice in the City Council on reforming contracting to minority and women-owned business enterprises, co-writing a report in September 2010 on how Local Law 129 of 2005 has fallen short of meeting its own goals; some of the report’s recommendations were incorporated into Local Law 1 of 2013.