City to Hold Inaugural Commission Congress

Stephanie DeWolfe
So Pas City Manager

In order to honor the more than 80 volunteers that serve on the numerous city commissions, South Pasadena is going to have the inaugural Commission Congress next week.

The Commission Congress, the brainchild of City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe, is going to be a special meeting of the City Council and will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at the War Memorial Building, 435 Fair Oaks Ave.

City officials acknowledge the congress is still in the planning stages and could change as it moves forward. As of now, though, the idea is to have a dinner for the more than 80 volunteers that serve on the 14 commissions. Those who serve on the commissions do not receive a stipend or medical benefits. They act as advisory bodies to the City Council and each commission has a council liaison assigned.

At the special meeting next week, each commission will present its accomplishments for the past year as well as its plan for the year ahead, according to John Pope, So Pas public information officer.

The reports would be limited to about 15 to 20 minutes each to keep the meeting from becoming unwieldy. City officials also want the commissioners to experience the work of the other commissions, which is expected to broaden their scope of city government.

“We are launching the Commission Congress as an annual event to recognize and elevate the important work of our City commissions,” DeWolfe said in an email to The Review. “It’s part of an ongoing effort to utilize our commissions more effectively and recognize their contributions.”

The commissions have been in the forefront recently because a number of volunteers have been appointed and reappointed with the changing of the ceremonial mayor and mayor pro tem rotation in January.

There even was some criticism lodged at city officials as to the process undertaken for the new appointments. Some commissioners wanted to continue to serve but were told their service was no longer necessary. They said the snub made them feel underappreciated.

City officials countered that, saying the volunteers, who work tirelessly on the commissions, are not only appreciated but vital to the city’s effectiveness as a governing body.

The Commission Congress, the first-ever for the city and expected to be an annual affair, is designed to honor them for their efforts.

“It will be the first time that commissioners will have the chance, as a group, to hear about the accomplishments of their peers during the prior year, as well as goals for the coming years,” DeWolfe said.

Mayor Dr. Marina Khubesrian agrees with DeWolfe, adding that this is an “important time” in the history of South Pasadena.

“The City is at an important time in its history and poised to enact policies that can help usher in robust, appropriate, and healthy housing and economic development, an arts and cultural renaissance, and sound environmental and fiscal sustainability policies,” Khubesrian said in an email to The Review. “We want to provide our commissions with the staff support and resources they need to help them be effective policy advisory bodies to the City Council. Our City commissioners are a tremendous resource and, as volunteers, give a lot of time and effort to contribute to the community. The Commission Congress will be one of the ways that we will acknowledge their contributions in a meaningful way and help build stronger relationships between commissioners.”

The special City Council meeting will be open to the public and the agenda will be publicly posted.