Saturday, September 02, 2006

New Youth Commission, Other Boards, Get Members

A new Youth Commission created in March now has its first members.

Its goals include fostering communication between city youth and the administration, giving young people experience in working with government and encouraging them to serve on boards and commissions.

Members Devon Walcott, Chandra Wright, Michael Wright Jr. and the Rev. Shannon Wright were nominated by Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs and approved by the City Council on Aug. 23. All except Rev. Wright will serve four-year terms concurrent with the mayor. As an adult member, Rev. Wright will serve a two-year term ending Aug. 30, 2008.

The Wrights are all in the same family.

The commission is empowered to have 15 members, including 11 city residents between the ages of 15 and 19 and four members of the public at large over the age of 21. The adults are to include two City Council members. The youth members include two direct mayoral appointments and nine recommended to the mayor by the City Council.

It is unclear whether the commission has enough members to meet as yet.

The ordinance establishing the commission calls for selection of a chairperson and vice chairperson from among the youth members, a secretary from the adult members and an assistant secretary from the youth members. The commission may request an annual budget of $20,000.

The appointments are the first since the late City Council President Ray Blanco rejected mayoral nominations because they were not submitted to the council in a timely way. Blanco put his foot down at the July 19 meeting, using his power as president to have proposed appointments withdrawn from the agenda. Blanco died July 28 of an apparent heart attack at age 50.

Robinson-Briggs did not submit all her previous nominees in August, but in addition to the Youth Commission members the council approved the following:

--Eugene L. Dudley to succeed Frank D’Aversa as Alternate No. 1 on the Green Brook Flood Commission.

--Peter R. Briggs Jr. as the mayor’s designee on the Plainfield Cable Advisory Board and Dorothy Gutenkauf for an initial three-year term. Briggs is the mayor’s husband and will serve concurrently with her term. The board was established about two years ago but never filled. Its role is to oversee the operation of the city’s local cable channel. It is supposed to have 11 members.

--Former City Councilwoman Elizabeth Urquhart, nominated in July for a seat on the Citizens Advisory Committee, was instead approved Aug. 23 for a four-year term on the Zoning Board of Adjustment, replacing Ivan Flores. Also named to the Zoning Board was Claudette Lovely-Brown, succeeding David Graves for an unexpired term ending Jan. 1, 2007.

Cultural and Heritage Commission members Joseph Da Rold and Ethel Washington were reappointed and Indira Bailey was approved, all for three-year terms.

The city still has numerous vacancies on boards and commissions. Names offered in July to reconstitute the Human Relations Commission were not presented in August. The council approved formation of an Hispanic Affairs Commission some time ago, but so far no members have been named.

Residents who want to serve on boards and commissions can pick up a form at the City Clerk’s office or download it from the city’s web site.

--Bernice Paglia


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