A community board in Queens will emphasize “respect” for women and the environment with a new program using discretionary funds from the City Council.
Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano told the board at a recent board meeting that he wants to launch a "respect program" because he’s disturbed by the direction in which society is headed.
“I’m very concerned with too much lack of respect for people especially women in society, and how we hear of all these cases of abuse. And I think we have a significant problem in our own precinct with regard to the number of calls that police officers have to respond to, related to the potential for domestic violence,” Giordano said at the January 8th meeting.
Community Board 5 spans Ridgewood, Maspeth, Middle Village and Glendale. In 2019 the 104th Precinct, which covers much of that swath of western Queens, had 208 reports of felony assault, 28 reports of rape and four homicides.
Giordano proposed hiring a volunteer, who has been working with the board for the past year, as a part-time temporary outreach worker with about $21,000 of the board's discretionary funds. He touted her fluency in Spanish as another benefit for the community board.
The City Council’s discretionary funds program was launched last year with each community board receiving $42,500 to spend to help their constituents. The Williamsburg community board bought itself a hybrid SUV "to go different places" with their discretionary fund.
In a phone interview, Giordano acknowledged that the program details were still being worked out, but he felt a respect campaign was worth a try. The new outreach worker will help him draft language and materials to distribute to the community, he said.
"I had this idea that we need to promote respect and kindness for quite some time. Since we have this additional money, I want to make an effort to try to increase awareness to be more respectful to each other and to others, as well as to be more respectful to the environment," he said.
Giordano pointed out that the most frequent complaints to the community board are quality of life issues that could be characterized as disrespectful behavior -- "a lot of what we as a community board have to deal with has to do with people behaving badly: speeding on residential streets, littering, illegal dumping, blasting radios, that kind of thing."
When asked if some of that behavior also prompted the respect initiative, Giordano sighed and said, "You want to get more people to behave better and not be so abusive. The abusiveness is littering, illegal dumping, those things we have consistent problems with all the time. On a potentially more flagrant level, it's people's anger -- how they are abusive to others physically and verbally. There are so many examples how to behave badly out there and not enough to try to do better."
"We’re not going perform any miracles," he added. "But we might as well try."
Last year CB5 spent its funds on a television and new computers, Giordano said.
The board approved Giordano's proposal at the January 8th meeting, and also approved plans to buy a photocopier and an office security system with the rest of its discretionary funding.
“There’s only so much equipment that you can buy,” Giordano said at the meeting. “So this is my idea.”