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Council doesn’t turn youths away from commission

ENCINITAS — The Encinitas City Council was faced with a dilemma on Wednesday: it had 14 charismatic, qualified young applicants for the city’s Youth Commission, but only 11 spaces on the board.

Council members said they didn’t want to turn any of the kids away — so they didn’t.

The Council unanimously voted to select all of the applicants for the board and make the three new applicants non-voting members.

It also directed staff to return with a plan to create three liaison positions between the Youth Commission and several other city commissions, which would be filled by three of the 14 youth commissioners.

The Youth Commission, among other things, gives the council advice on youth and teen services and programs and helps students fulfill school-mandated community service.

The decision took Councilman Mark Muir off the hot seat, so to speak.

His son, Scotland, was up for reappointment, and Mark announced before the interviews took place that he would be recusing himself from the decision involving the seventh and eighth grade commissioners.

Before Wednesday’s meeting, Muir called the decision one of the toughest he’d have to make.

“Part of me says, ‘It’s my kid, what kind of loser dad wouldn’t vote for his own kid,’” he said.  “But there is also that possibility of having a kid walk away saying, ‘what a jerk, he voted for his own kid.’”

An expert in municipal law said that Muir’s situation mirrors several other instances statewide in which a council member faced similar judgment calls.

In West Hollywood, a councilman created a controversy when he voted to appoint his wife to the planning commission, which was deemed legal.

“I doubt that in this case there is a legal problem, because there is no financial conflict, so it becomes a question of appearances and political judgment,” said Michael Colantuono, the former city attorney in Calabasas and the state bar’s 2010 public attorney of the year. “In these cases, city attorneys usually allow the politicians to make their own political judgments.”