The youth comission is not "silly."

Yesterday, the Philadelphia Inquirer urged voters to reject the creation of a citywide youth commission. Here is what they wrote:

Question 3 suggests having children as young as 12 sit on a commission (with administrative expenses of $250,000) and advise the mayor. It's silly and merits a NO vote.

First of all, what is wrong with having the mayor listen to a 12 year old? Sure, they might be young, but they are certainly impacted by what happens in City Hall. I got involved in politics at a pretty young age and I know that many people on this site did as well. It's pretty arrogant of the editorial board to completely dismiss the perspectives of young people. The age range for the commission is 12 to 23, which will ensure that it will be representative of the city's youth.

The Inquirer also failed to mentioned that every young person who serves on the commission will be nominated by a member of city council or the mayor. That ought to ensure that qualified young people with an interest in government and civic participation serve on the commission. This is a worthwhile proposal and I hope that everyone will support it on election day.

I Agree With Ben: Listening to the Young Makes Sense

I agree with Ben: listening to the young makes sense. I served on Governor Raymond P. Shafer's Youth Advisory Commission in 1969-1970 after having served on the Philadelphia advisory committee for the 1970 White House Conference on Children and Youth. I was twenty years old at the time. It was an empowering experience which some of today's active young people should get as well.

Being consulted about matters of official policy--I vaguely remember discussions about drivers licenses and voting rights and drinking--was a worthwhile experience for a twenty year old. It was different from internships I had held because I was more able to speak directly for myself and my beliefs instead of mediating those beliefs in service to someone else's goals.

There are advantages to being young. One's knowledge base is less rooted in the past. One understanding of current situations is less filtered by the past. There is no shortage of advise available from the middle-aged. Reaching out to young people takes work, but can result in new insights and new areas of focus. It has worked before and should be tried again in Philadelphia.


Thank you! I am incredibly glad you agree that this needs to happen! And Mr. Cohen, I am impressed and proud of you for that! I sincerly hope I see the same support for myself, but the point here, this commission is great and I hope the voters of Philadelphia realize all the good it will do for Philadelphia. My only hope is that it isn't just lip-service and that the people selected will work diligently and hard to make sure Philadelphia is a better place!

thanks for pointing this out

i can think of far worse uses of 250, 000 dollars. this is the kind of project that won't just benefit the kids on the youth commission. publicized correctly, and made accessible, it could give students all over the city a more personal tie to city politics. there are many teachers and youth workers out there who are trying to inspire kids to be more civically engaged, and giving them visible models would be great.

Twelve is too young

I do think 12 is too young. I think 16-23 would be better.

I support Michael Nutter for Mayor. My slate.

Raising the age to 16 might

Raising the age to 16 might also help the youth commission be taken more seriously. If it's packed with 12-17-year olds, sadly, I doubt it will be used for more than a few photo ops.

I think it is unlikely that

I think it is unlikely that there will be many 12 year olds who are interested in applying to join the youth commission. Again, each member will be nominated by either city council or the mayor. Young people will have to apply for an appointment. This will ensure that qualified and engaged young people will serve on the commission.

Check out my blog!

I am currently working for Marc Stier and Ellen Green-Ceisler.

Or children pushed into it

Or children pushed into it by their parents.

"Hey Adam jr., dad is going to have an election in 3 years ... you want to help dad? Just sign this paper for me ... what? Oh it is great, you get to hang out with other kids every quarter and walk around City Hall and tell them what you think."

Staff member of Longacre for 5th Council District.
Longacre Website


The cynic in me and the father in me foresees a scenario in which these slots are among the most-coveted Commission seats around. It seems like a great resume builder, which leads me to believe that the competition between donor/friends of appointing-officials for seats on this for their kids will be high.

I have to agree the age

I have to agree the age seems too low. Minimum high school, if not 16.

Also, yes, I can think of a worse ue for $250K, but I can also think of a worse use of a lot of funds. I can not possibly fathom what $250K a year would be needed for.

Under those parameters, I can understand the Inky's stance.

Staff member of Longacre for 5th Council District.
Longacre Website

that's a good call on the money

does anyone know how the 250 k is going to be used?

We estimate that the

We estimate that the Commission would have a budget of under $250,000 which would pay for two full time staff members (a Director and a Youth Empowerment Coordinator) and for all trainings, events, supplies and other expenses.

Staff member of Longacre for 5th Council District.
Longacre Website

Ok, time to write the budget

Ok, time to write the budget ...

Director: $130,000
Coordinator: $80,000
Training and events: $39,000
Office supplies: $1,000

I can not fathom $250,000 for this.
Staff member of Longacre for 5th Council District.
Longacre Website

did you make that up?

or is it a real budget?
and do you think it is reasonable?

Yes, I made up the budget.

Yes, I made up the budget. The quote of the $250K is accurate though.
Staff member of Longacre for 5th Council District.
Longacre Website

Age Requirement

Actually, the age requirement is 14 - 23. I have no idea where 12 is coming from.

no idea?

maybe from the wording of the actual ballot measure?

Shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to create a Youth Commission, with members between the ages of 12 and 23 years of age, to be responsible for advising the City Council and the Mayor regarding issues affecting children and youth in order to ensure that children and youth have a voice regarding policies and decisions affecting them?


I agree with others that my opinion of this would change greatly if that bottom age were brought up to, say, 16. still not sure that I think it's as likely to get good input as it is to make the kids of political movers another barter chit in the political machine, but I'm open to more argument...



Sorry, my mistake! I was taking my info from the other sites.

I sincerly doubt ANYONE 12 is actually going to make it.

Why not take a chance on young people?

I too support the creation of the Philadelphia Youth Commission. As someone who has worked with young people for many years, I find it disrespectful to the future of our city and our world to automatically assume that such an endeavor would be "silly." As should be clear to us all, Philadelphia is struggling right now, and young people are paying the price in our schools and on our streets. If we do not give our youth a chance to do something positive and teach them how to become strong, capable leaders, how can we expect them to be interested or willing to play their part in making this city a safer, more prosperous place- both today and tomorrow? Instead of assuming that young people could not offer valuable insight to our current lawmakers, why not give them the tools and the training to become a part of this process and a part of the solution to our city's many ills?

I see the proposed program cost of $250,000 as a wise investment in the future leaders of our city. If we don't invest in these young people now, who will care for our city and for us in the future?

Do not think so little of these children, these adolescents in our city. If you do, what does that say about us- the adults who raise them, who teach them, and who are supposed to love them?

Please vote YES in support of the Youth Commission.

Thank you,
Lindsay Albright
UPENN '07 MSW graduate

Here is a very good post in regards to how it should be done.

As a legislative staffer for the Illinois General Assembly, I worked with interns in a couple different programs. The internship cost the state money, but it was through the local university and resulted in college credits for the participants.

A well-thought out program might have a panel of high school students from around the city who advise lawmakers on issues that affect their peers. Penn could administer a paid internship program that puts college students in council members' offices, ensures they're not doing political work and awards them credit.

Of course, the interns had to apply and interview for the program, rather than being appointed by a legislator. (Do you honestly believe city council members won't be appointing contributors' deadbeat kids?)


Staff member of Longacre for 5th Council District.
Longacre Website

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Syndicate content