EDITORIAL: Concerning the Commission on Gang Prevention and Intervention


By Dr. John E. Warren – Publisher

On paper and according to the lineup of County and City agencies  who are either represented on the Commission or providing collateral services identified as available on  paper, there still exists a disconnect between the Commission and those intended to be served.

First, the Commission, as recreated by former Mayor Jerry Sanders, was never intended to be inclusive of the very people (namely our youth) it was intended to serve. If it happened, then it escaped the attention of the very community it was intended to serve.

Second, the Commission doesn’t have a budget, that we’ve been made aware of, which should be designed to bring aboard the very people and organizations on the streets  like Black Men United and My Brother’s Keeper, as staff consultants, who are providing their services as volunteers. A number of them should have been trained and hired to help the Commission transition from “Prevention and Intervention” to a Commission of Youth Development and Employment. It does not matter how many well-known community members are on the Board of the Commission, if the public can’t see results.

It is respectfully suggested that Mayor Faulconer consider renaming the Commission as the “Commission on Youth Development and Employment”; that a meaningful budget and staff be created with dollars to  hire an initial six to ten consultants that can integrate their services in support of such groups as My Brother’s Keeper, Father to Child, Urban League or Black Men United’s activities with an administrative support staff, under an Executive Director, reflecting that they are willing to work with those agencies now involved, but not seen.

It appears that there are enough City and County agencies represented on the Commission to create such a budget by contributing at least $20,000 a piece for starters; that youth employment opportunities could be identified within each agency allowing the City of San Diego to establish a commitment to youth employment separate and apart from relying on the Workforce Partnership, which still misses too many of our youth.

Mayor Faulconer is to be commended for his effort and commitment to identify one thousand jobs for young people this summer, but we know from past efforts across the country that we not only need businesses involved as he is attempting to do, but also a strong city policy on this point. Yes, there is a mention of youth employment in the Strategic Plan of the Commission, but that is not enough to make the idea a reality. It should also be noted that creating an internship program within the City of San Diego is still not the same as the employment commitment suggested here. Let’s also encourage the  Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) to provide passes for youth who acquire employment, similar to the transit passes we provide for seniors during the working hours.

Let’s make the Commission what it can be, regardless of who chairs or serves on it. The idea is bigger than the individuals.