Joeri, City Councilman, his vision and examples

Joeri champions the role of citizens …

“The residents of The Hague have plenty of great ideas themselves on how to improve their neighborhood, stage cultural and social initiatives in their communities or simply improve their neighborhood through beautification projects. Unfortunately our city government is insufficiently geared towards enabling its citizens to realize their vision for their neighborhood, community or city at large. This is something that desperately needs to change.  One of my contributions to addressing this problem is through the introduction of participatory budgeting (Burgerbegroting) across the city.

… by introducing participatory budgeting

“The participatory budget is a discrete budget that puts the people of The Hague in the driver’s seat in deciding how funds should be allocated. Residents categorize and rank the priorities they find most important to improve their city, community and neighborhood and they get to decide what percentage of the budget goes to each category. For each of the prioritized categories, various projects are submitted by groups or individuals from The Hague. Residents then select which projects are to receive funding from the participatory budget.

This way, we as residents can prioritize what is important to us, independently from the political establishment.

In Antwerp, they have been implementing a participatory budget for the last five years, with a proven record of success. It would be good if we could achieve similar results here as they have in Antwerp.”

Joeri brings the personal approach of a neighborhood into the council…

“I have been living in the Schilderswijk for the last twenty years and am proud to be involved with many local civic initiatives and activities. In my neighborhood people do not care about positions or status, they are frank in their opinions and value people for who they are.

This is something that we can all learn from, politicians especially. Common ground can become a lot more common when people share their values and motivation in a conversation. Politicians often don’t see eye to eye. I’ve learned that they often succumb to the pressure to blindly defend their parties’ platform.  However, if they could see beyond that, common ground on a range of topics could emerge opening up a host of possibilities.”

… by brokering the Climate Pact of The Hague (Haags Klimaatpact)

“In what other city could you pull off an ambitious climate pact involving eight different political parties from left to right that have incredibly different platforms? This pact came to fruition because politicians were willing to put aside their political differences and find common ground based on in-depth knowledge on a topic of importance to everybody. I’m proud to have been a leader in that process and particularly proud of what we accomplished collectively”.

Joeri uses knowledge to convince people…

“The administration, consisting of the Mayor and aldermen, often assumes that the ruling parties in the council should support the policies they promote unconditionally. However, by law, it is meant to be the opposite: It’s the 45 city council members that independently decide if the policies offered for consideration are beneficial or not. This is called ‘dualism’. Many city council members see their alderman as a superior or ‘boss’. That is not how it’s supposed to be. The administration is expected to present a united position and then the council members are charged to debate the merits and decide a way forward. I have been persistent in challenging this distortion in the decision making process.”

… by building majorities beyond the ruling parties majority

“I’m passionate about finding common ground based on substance. To that end, I have pursued majorities within the whole of the city council, not just among ruling parties.  The underpinning of these majorities is based on the substance of the matter at hand. Through this more inclusive approach to legislating, the determination of policy is not exclusively in the hands of a limited number of coalition parties. In my view, including all elected council members in the process, serves the people best.”

Joeri values checks and balances…

“One of the main tasks of the city council is to audit weather policies are effective and effectively executed. Controlling power by checks and balances is not sexy, but any administration will derail on the long term without. In my view this task should be taken much more seriously than it currently is and I’ve worked to put a greater emphasis on this responsibility during my four years on the council.”

… by allocating more funds to the audit service

“Against the wishes of administration, I actively sought and found a majority to allocate more funds to the audit service of The Hague. The audit service can now execute its mandate more effectively through increases in the quantity and quality of services into city expenditures such as entitlement to subsidies, availability and access to medical care and assistance for the homeless.”

Joeri fights for transparency…

“The municipality of The Hague currently relies mostly on dedicated closed software packages. They don’t meet our need for flexible data management, nor our need to be able to read and check the code used. Yet, few are even aware of the problem. The decision to invest in rigid closed source applications has resulted in issues whenever a case doesn’t meet strict parameters; the exception to the rule, of which there are many, cannot be accounted for properly. This is a problem for the residents impacted as well as the civil servants who must operate the system. We have even reached the point where the tail wags the dog as policies are written to conform to the software in service instead of the other way around. When we come to the point where we need other or additional functions, we cannot just add them. We are in a locked-in situation, depending on what a single software provider has to offer. If he doesn’t, or overcharges, we’ll need to invest in a whole new software solution, with associated costs and training. That wouldn’t be necessary if we were more savvy and invested in flexible open source software solutions.”

… by securing your privacy and promoting open source software

“I’ve been able to legally guarantee that the software of our civil registry system is developed and remains open source. The cities of Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague cooperatively develop this software. I know for many people that is technical jibber jabber but by relying on open source software, the system will effectively and transparently secure the privacy of your civil records, so while seemingly obscure, it’s important.”

More: about Joeri’s main drivers, video’s

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