Duties of proposed youth commission still unclear

DOWNEY - For the second time in two months, the City Council temporarily shelved an effort to create a "youth commission" after council members disagreed on who should serve on the commission and its range of responsibilities.The commission is the idea of council members Mario Guerra and Fernando Vasquez, who say it will allow Downey "youth" an opportunity to share their needs and desires with local decision-makers. On Tuesday, however, the council rejected a proposal to create a "youth task force" that would have made recommendations on the structure and function of the youth commission. Council members, before agreeing that the commission should be limited to high school students, said they needed more details on the commission's scope of responsibilities. Mayor Pro Tem Roger Brossmer said he "wanted no part of" the commission unless it was an outlet for teens to offer their opinions to elected officials. "I want this to be a voice for youth," said Brossmer, an administrator with the Downey Unified School District and former teacher. Some council members were also wary of taking city employees away from other projects. An early estimate concluded that the commission would require 80 hours of staff time at a cost of $3,200, not including benefits. Last month, City Manager Gerald Caton warned the council that city employees are "stressed out. If this is your priority, other priorities will slip," he said. On Tuesday, Caton added it would be counterproductive to form a youth commission that would make requests the city, for budgetary reasons, probably couldn't honor. "If we're just listening to what they want, and we can't do it, it's a waste of time," he said. The council is expected to revisit the issue next month. -Eric Pierce, city editor

********** Published: April 28, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 2