In February, the city council appointed an ad hoc committee to study potential reforms for city commissions, especially the fledgling Youth Commission, which has been plagued by meeting cancellations and commissioner absenteeism since its formation in 2017.
During its 2017-2018 term, 44% of Youth Commission meetings were cancelled because not enough commissioners showed up to form a quorum. The situation has worsened during the 2018-2019 term: every Youth Commission meeting from November through June was cancelled due to insufficient attendance by commissioners. That’s an 80% cancellation rate.
Currently, the Youth Commission is comprised of 21 members within the following age brackets: 14-17, 18- 21 and 22-26.
The ad hoc committee – comprised of Mayor Pro Tem Lucille Kring and Councilmembers Jordan Brandman and Jose Moreno – have made the common sense recommendation of eliminating the 22-26 age bracket and reducing the number of commissioners to 14.
The committee further recommends the mayor and each council member either nominate one commissioner from each of the 14-17 and 18-21 age brackets, or two commissioners from a single 14-21 age bracket.
So far, so good.
However, according to the staff report, Councilmembers Brandman and Moreno proposed handing the Youth Commission the power to allocate city funds:
Funding: Provide the commission with funding and create a program that allows the Youth Commission to evaluate and allocate funding to a local non-profit or school program that benefits the youth of Anaheim (recommended by Council Members Brandman and Moreno).
This is a bad idea.
It’s one thing to establish a Youth Commission in order to advise the City Council on issues and matters related to Anaheim youth.
But giving teenagers access to the city’s checkbook? At least half of the newly-fangled Youth Commission will be minors. Regardless of how enthusiastic, sincere and public-spirited they are, it is unwise to authorize a body of unelected teenagers to dole out public money to applicants. Should the Youth Commission be given the power of the purse when simply holding meetings has proven too big a challenge?
The city council would be prudent to shelve that recommendation.