Trying to ensure that all New Yorkers feel welcome in our region is a good and laudable goal. We can, and should, welcome minority visitors, and do our best to see that they can have as relaxed and carefree an experience here as anyone. It is an entirely appropriate objective for a volunteer organization to work towards, publicize, and promote. But in the real world of limited resources, not every desirable goal needs to be, or can be, addressed by taxpayer funding. The planned $250,000 (annual, apparently) outlay you reported seems, in an era of impending budget austerity, an unnecessary expenditure of scarce resources, at best. In the realm of environmental protection alone (since it is coming out of that fund), you have reported in recent months on multiple unmet needs, ranging from a shortage of park rangers to cutbacks in the lake acidity monitoring program. (If the fund’s rules don’t allow for such uses, tweak the rules.)
In our democracy, it is the role of activists to highlight a problem, care passionately about it, and seek its remedy by whatever means. But it is the role of our elected officials, at times, to step back, take a sober look at the big picture, and say No. I would urge them to do so, in this and other cases of well-intentioned and appealing-sounding, but marginally valuable, proposals. There are simply more critical uses for the money.