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government       innercity       pro       contra       elections       and now       information

 

government

To bring the Amsterdam city government 'closer to the people', the city council of Groot (Big) Amsterdam, also called the Centraal (Stads)Bestuur (central city council), decided to decentralise certain of its civil services to new to form Stadsdelen (city parts, governmental neighbourhoods). Their inhabitants however were not in favor of it, especially not in the beginning, but after some time has passed people are reasonable pleased with them. The Amsterdam Centraal Bestuur keeps her existence, primarily for the socalled Grootstedelijke zaken (large city concerning projects) in the area called Groot Amsterdam (which is almost everything in and between Amsterdam Noord, Zuidoost (SouthEast), Osdorp and Slotermeer).

Starting in 1981 as an experiment with the Amsterdam neighbourhoods called Noord (North) and Osdorp, it is since 1990 that there are 15 Stadsdelen. Thirteen of them have their own (Stads)Deelraad (Neighbourhood Council), chozen by the inhabitants, with quite some independency. Each council is made up of 15 to 30 members, has a day-to-day administration of 3 to 4 members and a chairman. The last one is chozen by the members of the council and has less power than a mayor.
The neighbourhoods Westpoort and Binnenstad (Inner City) were entirely managed by the Central City Council until May 2002.

The public council meetings of the Central City Council are on certain times live on the web.

About the same time the government tried to merge the City of Amsterdam together with a large amount of other neighbouring cities and towns into a new to form city provence and was seriously planning to call it Amsterdam Stadsprovincie. This striving by the socalled Regionaal Orgaan Amsterdam or ROA, ended up to be unsuccessful: it was rejected by a referendum of the Amsterdam citizens, it even did not go through . . .

the City of Amsterdam stays on the World Map . . for now
the ROA has changed its name into Stadsregio Amsterdam (City region)

The word Amsterdam may have different meanings like . . .

Groot Amsterdam
Greater Amsterdam
Amsterdam Stadsprovincie
Amsterdam City Province
Amsterdam Dienst Binnenstad
Department Inner City
Regionaal Orgaan Amsterdam ROA
Amsterdam Region
Stadsdeelraad Binnenstad Amsterdam
Citycouncil Amsterdam Innercity

 

governing the innercity

The Binnenstad (which is everything within Singelgracht, do not get confused with Singel!) is, until May 2002, managed by three aldermen and the mayor of the City Council of Groot Amsterdam This management is done beside their elected job, chozen by the citizens of Groot Amsterdam, and is little more than a one-hour meeting every week.

Since 1996 the department called Dienst Binnenstad Amsterdam takes care for the executional parts. With the installation of the new Stadsdeel Centrum this department has now been merged into the official organisation. The sector Public Spaces devides the Binnenstad into four rayons in which inhabitants can join one of the socalled beheergroepen to give their remarks and ideas. Many of the citizens who join these beheergroepen feel that their input has virtually no effect and give up attending those meetings. At least in the Jordaan.

So, these one thousand civil servants needed to run this new stadsdeel were already there, under the name Dienst Binnenstad, (insufficiently?) coached by three aldermen. The addition in manpower is the number of chozen representatives called deelraadsleden, and some helpers. The pro as well as the cons say the coaching needs to be improved.

Whether it was a good decision or not at the end of the last century, the city is now split up in smaller regions. For the Groot Stedelijke Zaken there is still the City Council (of Groot Amsterdam), chosen by the habitants of Groot Amsterdam. It is not before 2002 that a separate Deelraad Binnenstad Amsterdam has been installed.

In the beginning of 2001 the City Council of Amsterdam has voted in majority for installing a Deelraad Binnenstad in the year 2002. See the election programme 1998-2000 of the political parties about the establishment of an own city council for the inner city.
But some citizens didn't think that's a good idea (see contra) and asked for a referendum, which took place on April 25 in 2001. However, the citizens of Amsterdam have little interest in referenda, especially when they have to go out to vote for only one issue. The turnout was only 22 percent. The amount of 132,485 votes against was required, but there were only 110,213 (87% of the voters), so the establishing of a deelraad Binnenstad will happen. Citizens of the Innercity who live in problematic areas (junkies, streetprostitution, criminality, maffia) like the Wallen (is the Red Light district) appear to be voted in favour of an own and independent deelraad.

Both parties have people who are against the phenomenon deelraden, one part says: so also against this one, while the other part: if they are there, than áll of them.

 

 

 
poster in favor of deelraad

pro stadsdeelraad innercity

In a Deelraad you can speak to the alderman about it if there are any misunderstandings regarding planning or execution of a department. The involvement of a member of the City Council for Groot Amsterdam will be geared more to greater projects and will be more supportive to its own department than is good for the inhabitants of that deelraad. Thanks to some big expences which should be paid by Groot Amsterdam (like the again and again completely redoing of Dam square) there is little money left for smaller projects where especially the inhabitants would be benefitting from. Besides all the good things like the subsidizing of geveltuintjes (narrow flowerbeds in front of houses), certain subjects may take a long time or an unusual ending, like the dogshit project and the plantpots in the Jordaan. Asking for small solutions like compulsory putting permissions with expiring dates on the many (sometimes illegally parked) containers and temporary worksheds on the streets gets you the usual easy clerk's clincher: "No, not necessary". Knowing, but not caring enough, that those obstacles are not only taking away valuable parking spaces and producing evidently unevitable street trash, but that they are also creating unclear views and therefore dangerous traffic situations.

For more, please take a look at my version in Dutch

 

 

 
poster against deelraad

contra stadsdeelraad innercity

On the other hand is the number of quality managers for the Deelraad Binnenstad who want to work for less payment than in the private sector, not that large. There are already 15 Deelraden beside the Centraal Stadsbestuur who all need good but reasonable cheap managers. All this while the powerful horeca is strongly presented among the opponents of the Deelraad Binnenstad; understandeable for they want as much as people coming to the binnenstad, ignoring the problems of the inhabitants.

For more, please take a look at my version in Dutch

 

 

 
photographers in action
with the press as target

 

ambtenaarszit pc
civil servant sits

elections

On March 6th 2002 elections were held for the first stadsdeelraad Binnenstad in Amsterdam. At the same time votings were held for the other stadsdeelraden of Amsterdam, for the Centrale Stad Amsterdam and for other Dutch cities. A fierce campaing and advertisement circus broke lose just before these elections, like the symbolic digging out the (one hundred years ago filled-in) Elandsgracht by a number of prominent members of the D66 political party, together with the Vereniging Vrienden van de Binnenstad VVAB.

During this election period most of the stadsdelen had their lists of candidates online plus much more information to look at. Easily to be found through the official website of Amsterdam. But sadly not for stadsdeel Binnenstad.
On the website of this brandnew stadsdeel was little more election information to be found else than:
"Residents of the innercity can vote on March 6th between 7.30 and 21.00 for the central city council as well as for the new stadsdeelraad Amsterdam-Centrum.." and:
"..for perusal of the political party programs for the deelraad elections, you can go from mid-February to the Information center in the city hall".
Electing the representatives of the people for the first Deelraad Amsterdam-Centrum (as it is apparently now called) had to be done literally ínside the polling station.

 

 
action digging out
digging out Elandsgracht,
click for more . . .

 

and now

The Deelraad Binnenstad has now an own, renewed website which look clear and pleasant. The previous binnenstad is replaced with centrum.

From financial viewpoint however it is a debacle. Not only the government in The Hague cuts heavily in subsidies, but the new stadsdeel Binnenstad will receive much less money from the Centrale Stad than it actually needs. And that's happening while the new Grachten profile (in the beginning considered necessary for our national and international emanation) as well as the well overdue maintenance of the monumental center, will be paid for by the residents and businesses of the innercity.

The Centrale Stad has also postponed indefinitely the badly needed new-to-built Amsterdam Central library, this according to alderman for culture Hannah Belloit. This on behalf of the huge renovation plans for the Stedelijk museum which, according to the ones responsible, "has a national function" !

Now it's up to the administrators of the Deelraad as well as the Centrale Stad to live up their expectations and to fulfil previous done promises:
Will the Binnenstad finally get a library she can be proud of? Will this decent new Grachtenprofiel indeed cover the entire innercity? Will indeed all of the 1970's plastic lantern lights be replaced in the innercity? How much will the foundations and departments for preservation of the Amsterdam Heritage suffer from those changes in the organization?

Time will tell. It will clearly show up whether these administrators were doing their job right or not.
No excuses accepted.

Fact is that now every stadsdeel pays for its own tree, building, planning and environmental specialists and the necessary legal advisors. They all cook up their own street furniture, even the parking meters. Each stadsdeel invent its own wheel and there is no learning from making blunders. Every sadsdeel wants its own new, contemporary grotesque palace. Bickering, nepotism and conflicting interests are not uncommon among stadsdeel administrators, like recently in Zuidoost.

 

information

For years the delivery of the two free Amsterdam door-to-door weekly newspapers de Echo and Amsterdams Stadsblad is a big problem: in a large number of areas one will be delivered but the other one not, or it is the other way around. For example, in north-Jordaan de Echo will be delivered but the Amsterdams Stadsblad not. And that since May 1999. Some time ago several socalled afhaalpunten were installed where people who were interested in getting the Amsterdam Stadsblad, could take this (worth reading) local newspaper out. But sadly not always rightly supplied. It is for two years now that the publications done by the City Council are only reaching part of the citizens, so it makes it difficult to complain against certain activities planned in their own neighbourhood. Their policy is simply that this is not enough reason to change the way of informing the public, eg by means of door-to-door letters the mailboxes; at least until it is very clear that this government information actually reaches the Amsterdammer.

However, Head Communication Services Innercity:
"The city is not the publisher, nor the distributer, only advertiser. But we try to use our influences as large advertiser for the maximum to enforce a better delivery service by the publisher. (..) It is not customary to announce requests for permits by means of door-to-door letters. However, the poor delivery service of the Amsterdam Stadsblad is reason for us to reconsider this procedure carefully." (early February 2001).
So, maybe there is a sparkle of hope . . . .

Besides a single announcement by local television at5 and twice in newspaper Het Parool, the fellow-media does not mention any distribution and delivery problems at the two weekly newspapers. The editorial office of the Amsterdams Stadsblad as well as the city of Amsterdam know about the problem, but it seems unsolvable.

A resident of stadsdeel Oud-Zuid went May 1999 to the municipal Ombudsman for not be able to receive the Amsterdam Stadsblad. He started an investigation and a year later he decided that the good will is there and that the measures taken in the meantime should have result (according Het Parool of May 21, 2001).

My question on usenet whether others also have delivery problems, yield quite some reactions. I bundled them and sent them to Amsterdam Stadsblad, Echo, the city of Amsterdam and two of the large advertisers.

Hopefully these weekly newspapers ever will come again door-to-door.

Since April 2002 the citizens of the Binnenstad can find the information on het internet. Hopefully that internet provider keeps on working, for the city is very strict in maintaining her policy that her responsibility regarding publication of information stops when it leaves her desk.

bike Amsterdams Stadsblad



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