Politics in the Citizens’ Budget. Was it trees or promotion of the party?

The Ursynów councilor’s project received the most support in all of Warsaw. More than 27 thousand people supported the “2050 trees for Warsaw” proposal. Residents. They were attracted by the green idea or the promotion of a political party? The discussion flares up again whether councilors should submit projects in the Citizens’ Budget.

In addition to projects for neighborhoods in the Citizens’ Budget, there are also city-wide projects. This year, the most votes – 27,805 – were collected by the project of Ursynów Councilor Paweł Lenarczyk from Poland 2050 and Otwarte Ursynów. It expects to plant at least 2,050 trees across the capital for nearly PLN 5.8 million next year.

– Many thanks to all those who gave their valuable vote for this idea. The residents’ verdict is a victory for the environment and the vision of a green city. With this project we are going to make Warsaw greener with lots of trees and shrubs. By submitting the proposal together with Iwona Żywko and Magda Dorożała, we wanted to leave Warsaw full of green and clean air for future generations – says Paweł Lenarczyk, the author of the project.

This is another citywide tree planting project. President Rafał Trzaskowski announced the planting of one million trees in his 2018 election campaign. About half a million have been planted so far. In recent years, projects from the Citizens’ Budget related to planting have received enormous support from the residents. In 2021, for example, 26 thousand. people chose the project “2666 trees for Warsaw” of the activist of Green Mazovia Robert Buciak. This planting takes place in November and December.

Civic Budget or Brand Promotion?

Councilor Lenarczyk does not hide that his project was also aimed at promoting the political party he belongs to – Szymon Hołownia’s Poland 2050.

– We wanted to show the residents our DNA. One of the pillars of our movement is the green character of our activities. We are focused on climate goals. This should be one of the priorities in local and national politics – says the alderman.

Lenarczyk sees nothing wrong with promoting his party with the help of the Citizens’ Budget. Another Ursynów councillor, who has stopped introducing bills since serving as deputy mayor and then serving on the council, sees things differently.

– I believe that the Citizens’ Budget should serve the residents and not promote a particular brand. Commercial companies can do the same and the citizen budget becomes a free marketing channel – says Antoni Pomianowski of the Initiative of Ursynów Residents, a rival local committee.

Do council members have to submit projects?

After the announcement of the voting results for the projects last Wednesday, the discussion about the submission of projects by aldermen and persons associated with the district or municipal office has resumed.

A columnist for “Gazeta Stołeczna”, Jarosław Osowski, acknowledges that it is a scandal that councilors can submit projects.

– The regulations do not prohibit councilors from submitting projects to the BO, but this is simply not the case – Osowski wrote in his response on social media under the post starting a discussion on the topic.

Similar voices come from neighborhoods. – I have long believed that councilors, and especially councilors of the ruling majority, should not submit bills to the citizens’ budget because they have different means of influence. Perhaps they should focus on convincing the mayor of their ideas, rather than taking away the tools of direct democracy from the residents? – comments Antoni Pomianowski.

Paweł Lenarczyk defends himself. – What would a vote in the Citizens’ Budget look like if people like me were cut off? After all, these projects are not something that affects the agency’s policy. Proposals are verified by officials. Ultimately, it is the residents who judge whether the project is necessary or not – says the alderman.

– And what is the difference if the project is submitted by the alderman or someone else?! The projects are put to a vote. Democratic judgment determines which projects are selected for implementation – defends his colleague Piotr Skubiszewski from Otwarte Ursynów in the entry under the commentary of editor Osowski.

Not just Ursynow . to open

The Open Ursynów community has been involved in the Citizens’ Budget for many years. This year, no fewer than four neighborhood ideas were won by the members of this local association who manage the neighborhood together with the Citizens’ Coalition. Three of these relate to the care and planting of trees, and one to the construction of a seasonal and free ice rink.

Councilor Lenarczyk himself has 11 winning projects in his account since 2017, while 10 others have been lost – either due to negative verification from officials or the lack of sufficient voter support. There were many controversial and hated ideas on the internet, such as putting up tanning beds, which were instantly targeted by vandals. Residents claimed it was “an expensive, unnecessary gadget” and that it was constantly breaking. Negative reviews were also received by the completed project of an open-air library in the underground passage under ul. Jastrzębowski – constantly destroyed by vandals.

Other Ursynów councilors, such as Krystian Malesa or Karolina Mioduszewska of the Civic Coalition, do not evade project submissions. But since the project promoters can remain anonymous on the Citizens Budget website, it is not really known who is responsible for the projects and whether they are not inspired by the circles that govern the district. Surprisingly, many projects in recent years have involved investments for which neighborhoods cannot afford, or institutions (community centers or schools), which, thanks to votes in the Citizens’ Budget, can receive money for extra lessons, workshops or insufficient infrastructure.

Leave a Comment