Wednesday, Sep 19, 2018
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A welcome revamp

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Mayor Kapszukiewicz’s plan to make Youth Commission Executive Director Alicia Smith the manager of youth and recreation under the city’s Public Service Department is a good one.

The Blade/Lori King
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Toledo has needed a better approach to human relations and youth activities for years, so a new plan to reconfigure the city government departments that deal with these issues is welcome.

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Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz’s administration is pitching a reorganization plan that will consolidate the Board of Community Relations and the Youth Commission. The new Human Relations Commission that takes their place would oversee initiatives to reduce violence, support efforts to build tolerance and diversity, coordinate resident mediation on issues outside the jurisdiction of Toledo Municipal Court, oversee the Welcome Toledo Lucas County initiative, and investigate discrimination complaints.

Linda Alvarado-Arce, the Board of Community Relations current executive director who is paid $66,306 annually, would no longer work for the city of Toledo. An analysis of her efforts last year showed that she spent most of her time her time on “mediations.” She said she conducted 97 mediation sessions last year. Meanwhile, there was not much activity by the board itself.

Former Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson’s administration had suggested eliminating this job in its budget proposal late last year and the Kapszukiewicz administration has followed suit.

A new commission focused on human relations throughout the city should be able to revitalize those efforts, perform the mediation duties Ms. Alvarado-Arce performed, and bring a new energy to improving relations among city residents.

The city also badly needs to revamp and update its offerings for young people, so the administration’s plan to make Youth Commission Executive Director Alicia Smith the manager of youth and recreation under the city’s Public Service Department is a good strategy. Toledo must dedicate itself to creating a top-notch recreation program particularly aimed at engaging the city’s youth with enriching activities.

The mayor’s staff has said this is the first of several proposals that will come from an analysis of Toledo’s departments, commissions, and boards. These are the kinds of reforms that make the most of the city government’s resources and focus attention on priority issues and city council should embrace them.

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