BLOG #685: City council meets in committee session this Wednesday to consider a slate of nominees for positions on its 12 advisory committees recommended by a non-partisan striking committee. Young London is well represented on the list.
Monday, June 4, 2012 – London
There will be a lot of interest from emerging London this Wednesday when city council meets together as the Strategic Priorities and Policy committee.
This is because the only thing on the agenda is a recommendation for appointments to the 12 advisory committees. A larger than usual group of young Londoners, both through organizations such as Emerging Leaders and on their own, have applied for appointment.
As explained on the city’s website, the role of advisory committees “is to initiate and provide recommendations, advice and information to council through its standing committees and to carry out the responsibilities assigned by council.”
Serving on an advisory committee is voluntary; there is no remuneration. But it is one of the most practical ways of getting involved in the local political scene and has served as the launching pad for a number of political careers.
More importantly, the interest being shown by emerging London is a clear indication of the growing interest by young people in and determination to become involved in this city’s future direction.
You can expect to see this translated into some interesting ward races come the fall of 2014 when the next civic election is held. (At the moment, of the 15 members on council, only one is in the young London category – Matt Brown who is turning 40).
But to get involved short of election, young people must get picked and approved for an advisory committee, which is not without certain perils. Fresh in everyone’s mind is the bizarre move by council last year to pick someone sitting in the public gallery who hadn’t even applied over a person with qualifications who had applied and had been recommended.
Could it happen again? It could, so expect the public gallery to be filled Wednesday.
It shouldn’t happen, however. City council has put in place a far more rigorous method to choose advisory committee members, one that removes it from crass political consideration and also provides for third-party vetting of the candidates.
A non-partisan striking committee was established to select a slate of names for presentation to council-in-committee. Members are drawn from the Urban League of London, the Chamber of Commerce, the London & District Labour Council, Pillar Non-Profit Network, previous councils and the city at large. Greg Thompson, president of the Urban League, was named chairperson; other members are Michelle Baldwin, Gina Barber, Don Bryant, Mariam Hamou, Kerry Henricks, Mike Parkinson and Matt Ross.
Council can, legally, substitute anyone it wishes for the striking committee’s nominees. That would surely undermine the whole striking committee process, perhaps even the advisory committee process. In other words, it would be a pretty stupid thing to do – which, of course, doesn’t rule out it happening.
Not every young person who applied got picked, which is fair and fine. But a lot did. Since they are the people who will have to pay long-term for the decisions council makes, it’s only fair they have a bigger hand in making them.