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Information Offers Lawmakers a Clearer Picture of Local Issues Important to New Yorkers
City Hall, July 9, 2008 – The New York City Council today released the first set of CouncilStat data, collected through the new citywide database launched by the Council last fall. Among the most commonly logged constituent issues were inquiries and problems relating to construction, library service, and affordable housing. In June, 29% of cases logged in CouncilStat related to housing and buildings, followed by 13% concerning transportation issues.

To date, CouncilStat has logged over 24,000 constituent inquiries, spanning some 280 distinct issues across the five boroughs. CouncilStat allows City Council members to improve their ability to track and respond to local constituent concerns in all five boroughs, providing a new level of transparency and accountability in local government.

“One of our most important roles as Council members is going into our districts and listening and learning from our diverse constituents one neighborhood block at a time,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “The problems that New Yorkers are contacting us about – from the mundane to the life altering – are exactly the issues we should be addressing. With this new data, we are able to communicate more effectively with one another about the problems that we see and hear about in our districts. By looking at the larger picture through the use of CouncilStat, we see problem patterns that span across Council lines and across the City – and together we can formulate stronger and more effective solutions.”

The data provided by CouncilStat offers a never-before-seen cross section of the issues that New Yorkers are speaking to their Council Members about, giving the Council better information upon which to make decisions concerning legislation, policy and the City’s budget. Until now, there has been no uniform method to determine whether problems are limited to a specific borough or are part of a larger, citywide issue. By establishing a central database where calls can be logged and analyzed, the Council is better able to craft appropriate solutions. Since March, Council legislative staff have been meeting regularly to review CouncilStat data and to consider possible legislative solutions to the issues about which constituents are contacting the Council most often.

The following graphs represent the relative frequency with which constituents in each borough contacted their Council Members’ offices about specific issues. It should be noted that issues that did not fall into one of the predetermined categories are not represented in the graphs, nor are issues that received less than 0.5% of the number of calls logged into the CouncilStat database.
The final page of this press release includes examples of constituents whose problems were resolved with the help of CouncilStat.

Examples of Constituent Casework Tracked By CouncilStat

Bronx – District 17 – Council Member Arroyo
Maria Perez, NYCHA apartment conditions – Maria Perez, a 62-year-old woman living in a NYCHA apartment, contacted Council Member Arroyo’s office seeking assistance getting her NYCHA apartment repainted. Her apartment had not been painted for over five years, and as a result paint was peeling off the walls and ceiling and holes had developed that needed to be plastered. Ms. Perez’s asthma condition was aggravated by the deteriorating condition of her apartment, and she provided a doctor’s letter urging that her apartment be repainted with a specialized paint to minimize the chemical smell.
Council Member Arroyo’s office reached out to NYCHA Bronx Management regarding Ms. Perez’s situation. Thanks to their efforts, her apartment was plastered and painted using the specialized paint requested.
Separately, Arroyo’s office is using CouncilStat to identify trends among more than a hundred constituents concerned with affordable housing in the South Bronx.
Manhattan – District 5 – Council Member Jessica Lappin
Richard Fertell, affordable housing assistance – Mr. Fertell, who was formerly homeless, was granted a Section 8 voucher that helped him secure a NYCHA apartment, but because of bureaucratic delays, was denied access to it.
Council Member Lappin’s office helped Mr. Fertell by making a number of calls on his behalf. As a result, the problems causing the delays were resolved, and Mr. Fertell was informed about the steps he needed to take get into his apartment.
Separately, CouncilStat has enabled Lappin’s office to organize and track over 500 constituent cases having to do with two major crane accidents affecting citizens in Manhattan neighborhoods she represents.
Manhattan – District 3 – Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn
Naomi Katcher, street improvements – Ms. Katcher contacted the Speaker’s district office regarding poorly maintained curb cuts and potholes in her community streets. As an elderly woman that pushes her husband in a wheelchair she regularly relied on curb cuts to maneuver around the city’s streets.
Speaker Quinn’s office was able to intervene, working with the Department of Transportation to get repairs to curb cuts on 7th Avenue and West 53rd Street and Broadway and 53rd Street – all four corners had cracked metal that left the curb cuts raised. DOT worked to resolve the issue within 48 hours.
Separately, the Speaker’s district office has used CouncilStat to engage more than 350 constituents concerned with transportation related issues in the Chelsea and Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen neighborhoods.
Interviews with Ms. Perez, Mr. Fertell and Ms. Katcher can be arranged by contacting the New York City Council Press Office at (212) 788-7116.