The City of Pasadena’s Youth Development and Violence Prevention Committee has wisely morphed its name into something other than YAC. I haven’t been attending the meetings, but I have watched a few on dear old K-PAS 55. The YD&VPC is meeting tonight, but I have a conflict so I won’t be there.
Five months into the issue, how is the YD&VPC articulating its mission and purpose? As a casual observer, it looks like the YD&YPC is trying to (1) Keep at-risk kids out of risky situations (prevention); and (2) Reach the kids who have already decided that guns and gangs may be a viable alternative. Will the youth in each of these categories benefit from the same kind of programs, or does that second group need something different? Should the YD&VPC focus on that harder-to-reach second group?
Some random thoughts:
- The minutes of the January 24 and the February 7 meeting are not on the City of Pasadena’s web site yet. How is one to be up on the latest for tonight if the minutes of previous meetings are not available?
- I’ve appreciated the law enforcement input and the guy from Claremont too. Looking at other communities who have successful models is a time- and money-saver.
- Renatta Cooper is right to push for the meetings to be somewhere other than City Council chambers and the Board of Ed. At the January 24 meeting, when she reiterated her plea for a location that community members actually feel comfortable in, someone said something about ‘there’s no money for that.’ How could there possibly be money to have it at City Hall and not at one of the city-run community centers? Anyway, tonight’s meeting is at Villa Parke Community Center (363 E. Villa, Pasadena—and don’t take the ARTS bus because it quits running way before the meeting will be over).
- While I have no doubt that everyone around that table wants nothing but the best for the children and youth of Pasadena, there is a big chasm between the intentions of the people around that table and the world they are trying to influence. Some of the committee members realize this more than others.
- Let’s be real: Data is important. Studies are important. Keeping a current inventory of the programs operating in the city is important (you know, the whole ‘identify gaps’ thing). Over time, information gets old and loses its ability to motivate policy makers and funders. We need to keep the info fresh (graduate students can be helpful here), but data is a means to an end, not an end in itself.
- Policy recommendations are nice too, but meaningless unless dollars are going to be plunked down to back them up.
- The YD&VPC is going ahead with plans to hire a consultant. No doubt, this consultant will produce a stellar document with a sterling set of policy recommendations. Again, unless there are dollars to back the programs that are identified as effective, or dollars to back the strategies that show promise but need more funding …it’s a “noisy gong or a clanging symbol,” “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” (how’s that for a New Testament-Shakespeare mash-up?). There will be a lovely event to premiere the new document, with all the mucky-mucks present and some youth on display to give an aura of verité. Then the document will begin to gather dust as so many have done before it.
- Let’s look at one gathering dust right now…The City of Pasadena’s own Policy on Children, Youth, and Families. Yes, it is far-reaching and general, but it should provide a foundation for any work that the consultant will do. Has the YD&VPC read this document? Determined how it might be a starting point for future efforts?
- Just what IS the consultant supposed to do? Another inventory? Write a “best practices” and “recommendations” document? Invent a magnetic device that will magically suck guns out of the hands of those who have them and shouldn’t?
I have two recommendations: one for the City of Pasadena, and one for the Pasadena Unified School District. I’m getting specific fast, I know, but we might be able to cobble something together quickly on item #1:
Item #1: Let’s skip the consultant and put the money into the Summer ROSE program, the City of Pasadena’s own youth employment program. It used to have a wad of federal funding, but that has long since disappeared with no replacement funding ever identified. Giving youth from low-income families a summer job, exposure to the work-place, and something to do all day is a great way to prevent violence, improve self-esteem, and blah blah you know the rest.
Item #2: Back when my kids were at Washington Middle School, I noticed that a large number of kids did not graduate from 8th grade. Don’t quote me on these numbers, but back then it was something like 240 students total and 80-90 did not go on to high school. WTF? Why aren’t these kids graduating, and what they heck are they doing at age 15 and not in school all day? PUSD will start improving the high school graduation rate by improving the middle school graduation rate.
OH – there is Item #3 (again for the City). It’s from this post on Pasadena’s Political Underbelly. The post is a positive one about the Neighborhood Outreach Workers Program run by Pasadena Neighborhood Services Administrator Horace Wormely and Ricky Pickens of the Pasadena Police Department’s Safe Schools Team.
I wish someone on the YD&VPC would ask the Pasadena Police to respond to the comments by anonymous (below). Anonymous commenter says (and one of my sources agrees) with the following:
“The Neighborhood Outreach Workers you are talking about as the recipients of the so called interverntion are 100% Denver Lane Bloods. No Squiggly Lanes, no Project Gansters, no Crips, no Pasadena Latin Kings, no Villa Boys. Why would you salute a program that hires active gang members from one gang. This isn’t intervention, it is perpetuation. It started with the Denver Lane Bloods a few years ago. What have that set of the Bloods done since this coddling started? The Marie Callendars take over robberies, the Sok-on-Mexican, the rape and murder of a young boy and on and on. This “intervention” has not made Denver Lane weak, it has made it strong. and it continues. Prosecutors and cops should not be doing social work. They are trained for other things, not for this. There are plenty of youth programs and youth workers. Throw the money at them, get the gang members out of and off the public payroll.”
All this…and no nasty consultant’s fee!