New London - The City Council approved the formation of a 26-member commission Monday night that will look into ways of preventing youth violence and making the city safer.
It also approved a motion, proposed by Councilor Rob Pero, to apply for $10,000 in Community Development Block Grant money to fund any proposals that may come out of the new commission.
Two weeks ago Councilor Michael Buscetto III proposed forming a 21-member Safe City Commission, which would make recommendations to the council by the end of April.
Buscetto, who named himself chairman, had already chosen committee members, including representatives from law enforcement, schools, the business community and clergy. All the members came forward saying they wanted to help, he said.
The commission is a reaction to the fatal stabbing Oct. 29 of 25-year-old Matthew Chew in downtown New London. Six local teenagers have been charged in Chew's death.
During the meeting the council recommended, and ultimately approved, adding to Buscetto's original proposal members from the Department of Correction, the New London County State's Attorney's Office, the city's chief executive officer and the head of adult education, and a representative of the media.
One vote against
The vote was 6-1 with Councilor John Russell voting no.
"It's all tit-for-tat up there,'' said Russell after the vote. "It's two guys running for mayor," he added, referring to Buscetto and Pero, who are both interested in running for mayor but have not made formal announcements.
Russell, who left the meeting after the vote, said there are groups in the city already in place that are addressing the needs of the youth and safety on the streets. He said that in the past, councilors recommended people to serve on commissions, but in this case, councilors were not asked for any names.
"All this is political reaction to the situation,'' he said.
Buscetto said the temporary commission will work with groups already in place. It will form subcommittees and seek more volunteers, he said.
"No one's meant to be excluded,'' he said.
Ideas and proposals will be funneled through the commission and presented to the City Council for further action.
"I have a tremendous amount of gratitude for what the council did today,'' Buscetto said following the meeting.
The commission will meet on Mondays, but a date for its first meeting has not yet been set.