At a special City Council meeting last Thursday in Calabasas the dais was full, but not with the faces constituents are used to seeing.
In a special mock meeting, fourth-graders from Junior Girl Scout Troop No. 449 at Bay Laurel Elementary School took turns acting as City Council members, watching in the television control room and speaking from the audience.
Councilmember Mary Sue Maurer, who served as mayor, said the city gives many Scout troops the opportunity to visit city hall throughout the year.
“The fun part is to put them through a mock agenda,” Maurer said. “We go through approving the agenda, and move on to some items I’ve made up. And back in the television room, seeing themselves, that’s a really fun part for them too.”
One agenda item encouraged the girls to consider whether an amusement park should be built next to a local school.
“I think it’s a good idea because I like to visit amusement parks and the others are so far away,” said Phoebe Hinmen.
Troop mate Maya Weintraub disagreed.
“I think it’s a bad idea because it could distract the children while they are at school,” Maya said. “The roller coasters could be loud, and with the people screaming it could be really distracting.”
Maurer played devil’s advocate, using the distraction angle and offering solutions such as moving the rides to the far side of the park and limiting its hours to after school.
During the public comment period, some of the girls expressed personal concerns.
“I think there should be more stoplights in front of the schools because there are a lot of accidents,” said Ali Hepps. “It’s really dangerous for the children.”
Brianna Wenger asked the council to help fight the practice of using animals for testing.
“I think there should be no animal testing because it makes less animals,” Brianna said. “They can die from it or get something from it, and I don’t want that to happen because I want to be a veterinarian when I grow up.”
Another item on the agenda asked for programming ideas for a local teen center.
Ali Astin recommended foreign language classes, while Ella Sudit wanted a drama club, swim team and sports camps.
The girls also enjoyed working in the control room with Arvin Petros, media operations supervisor, watching as Petros focused the various cameras on the faces of their friends.
“I think it’s been a really successful training ground,” said Maurer, who showed off her own Girl Scout sash at the meeting. “I didn’t go to an official government meeting until I was a mom. I feel like I’m training this army for the future of Calabasas.”