The fundamental problem, though, is one that seems to plague many public boards and commissions: people just plain don’t show up. We know there have been several resignations, although the complete list isn’t available. Beyond those, there’s another five to ten people who haven’t been seen since the first meeting. There was pretty steep competition to get onto this commission in the first place, and we see a bunch of empty chairs that are itching to be filled. The reason for this non-attendance is unclear, but as far as we can guess, it’s about schedule. We meet Downtown in the early evening, because the city officials who support us want to go home just as much as we do. Problem is, most young people don’t have total control over our work schedules, and if Propel is at the wrong time, then one more Commissioner is SOL.
I serve on a city commission here in Colorado and I'm familiar with the problem of getting enough people to attend. Scheduling snafus happen, but that's why my city appoints alternates. Looking at Propel Pittsburgh's website, I see a couple problems:
- The website needs an update. The last meeting minutes posted are from January of this year. The next meeting is "scheduled" for May 21, 2008.
- I notice that Mayor Luke is chair of this commission, but I get the impression he isn't attending. He has a proxy, Neil Parham (see minutes from January meeting). Perhaps that is standard operating procedure for the Big City, but the message the Mayor is sending is a bad one. His commitment to the initiative is suspect.
- 6pm seems a bit early for a meeting. The commission I serve on meets once a month at 7pm. Sometimes we meet twice in one month and meetings can run long, pushing midnight on a few occasions. We have a representative from the city council who sits in on the meetings and we manage to take care of business on a regular basis. I'm not buying any of the excuses for the poor performance of the Propel Pittsburgh commission. Mayor Luke dropped the ball.
The commission's 35 members, yet to be chosen by the mayor and Youth Policy Manager Neil Parham, will be charged to "ensure that the city of Pittsburgh remains competitive to attract and retain young people," Mr. Ravenstahl, 27, said. "What better way to talk about those issues than having young people at the table, talking about issues that are important to us, and moving forward with aggressive agendas on the city government level?"
That was in April of 2007. The Mayor is only now getting around to cracking the whip? Back to the Pittsburgh blogosphere:
You may still vaguely remember the Propel Pittsburgh Commission, Mayor Ravenstahl’s plan to get together a bunch of smart young people to find ways to keep other young people in Pittsburgh. So far, it’s been a little less than stellar; we’ve been around for a year, and we’ve yet to even make a single formal recommendation, let alone start trying to do something. At our meeting this week, we were told in no uncertain terms that His Honor The Mayor is aware of this, and he is not pleased. Longtime readers know that I’m more of a Peduto-head, but nevertheless, Mayor Luke deserves credit for at least keeping an eye on his creation and trying to make it produce something useful. He’s even gone a bit further and given us a new staff person who has orders to whip us back into shape.
Someone needs to crack the whip for Mayor Luke. The above inside scoop reveals a full-blown fiasco.