I'm swamped, getting together some stuff on the LADWP/City Council joint meeting over the weekend, but I wanted to take a minute to notice David Pettit's blog over at NRDC's Switchboard.
Pettit calls out and features a kid who spoke to the meeting - you can see him here. His name's Dario, and he goes to the Alessandro Street school. He is in the fifth grade!
A lot of folks at this hearing where there to talk about coal. A few were there to talk about once-through cooling transitions for LADWP plants, and even fewer still were there to talk about the ratepayer advocate. You expect speakers like David Pettit to do a good job - he argues in federal court, for Pete's sake. Or Liz Crosson from Baykeeper - she made her point and beat the clock. Jack Humphreville is practiced at appearing before the LADWP commission. And who hasn't heard of Dr. Clyde Williams, gadfly celebre of the City Council? Some of those people have been talking to city council as long as Darrio's been alive.
It does not behoove me to rank public speakers the way Pettit does. But I will say that it's almost common for activist groups to use children to convey their message - I've seen it in particular with air quality issues at the CARB, at the South Coast AQMD, and at LA City Hall (I also saw it with the MLPA process, on both sides of the debate). What IS uncommon is a kid being good at it.
This is not to attack kids talking to public officials. I sort of think it's bad ass, no matter what they're saying, and no matter how they're saying it.
I'm just saying that not all kids make good radio, is an unfortunate truth I have to confront. Kids who are overly coached, who don't know what they're saying, or are just repeating an adult's words are not impressive. Either are adults coached too obviously by talking points. They're not good tape. Darrio got the job done because he had notes but seemed to speak from the heart, and he didn't seem nervous.
That's a free radio tip for the next kid out there saying whatever he wants to, on any topic she or he cares about, to a public official.