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Gary State of the City Address

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State of City 2013 2
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The mayor of Gary says gun violence, job creation and economic development are among the city's top concerns. In her State of the City address Tuesday at the Genesis Convention Center, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson also encouraged attendees to write to President Obama and request that he name Gary a “Promise Zone”. The President has announced a proposal to seek tax breaks for employers who hire unemployed residents and for those who make capital investments in these designated zones.
Text of speech:
GOD OF OUR WEARY YEARS, GOD OF OUR SILENT TEARS, THOU WHO HAS BROUGHT US THUS FAR ON THE WAY. THOU WHO HAS BY THY MIGHT LED US INTO THE LIGHT; KEEP US FOREVER IN THY PATH WE PRAY. LEST OUR FEET STRAY FROM THE PLACES OUR GOD WHERE WE MET THEE; LEST OUR HEARTS DRUNK FROM THE WINE OF THE WORLD WE FORGET THEE. SHADOWED BENEATH THY HAND MAY WE FOREVER STAND TRUE TO OUR GOD, TRUE TO OUR NATIVE LAND.
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE CLERGY, TO OUR CITY JUDGE, CITY CLERK, MEMBERS OF THE COMMON COUNCIL AND ALL ELECTED OFFICIALS; TO MY HUSBAND CARMEN AND ALL OF MY FAMILY MEMBERS, TO PASTOR STEPHANIE WELSH AND ISRAEL C.M.E. CHURCH FAMILY; TO THE FRIENDS, SUPPORTERS AND CORPORATE AND INDIVIDUAL CITIZENS OF THIS GREAT CITY, GOOD AFTERNOON. I WANT TO THANK ALL OF YOU FOR YOUR PRESENCE TODAY. THANKS TO BILL MASTERSON FOR FRIENDSHIP AND FOR STANDING WITH THE CITY OF GARY. I HAVE BEEN BLESSED WITH SUPPORTIVE FAMILY AND FRIENDS, AND I WOULD LIKE TO ASK THEM TO STAND AT THIS TIME
THE WORDS THAT I BEGAN WITH WERE PENNED BY JAMES WELDON JOHNSON SOME 113 YEARS AGO AND HAVE BEEN EMBRACED AS AN ANTHEM AMONG AFRICAN-AMERICAN PEOPLE. THOSE OF YOU WHO HAD TO LEARN ALL THREE VERSES UNDER THE WATCHFUL EYES OF IDA B. KING AND SADIE SHROPSHIRE AT ROOSEVELT HIGH SCHOOL KNOW THAT. IN THE FINAL DAYS OF THE MONTH THAT WE CELEBRATE THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF AFRICAN-AMERICANS TO THE HISTORY OF AMERICA, THESE WORDS ARE EQUALLY APPROPRIATE TO THE CITY, CITIZENS AND SUPPORTERS OF GARY, INDIANA. LIKE JAMES WELDON JOHNSON, I WOULD INVITE YOU TO JOIN ME AS WE LOOK BACK IN PREPARATION FOR MOVING FORWARD.
ON JANUARY 1, 2012, MY FAMILY AND I WORSHIPPED AT NEW HOPE BAPTIST CHURCH. AFTER CHURCH, MANY MEMBERS OF OUR SENIOR TEAM ARRIVED AT CITY HALL FOR THE FIRST TIME. WHEN WE ARRIVED, WE MET A CITY OF INDIVIDUALS WHO WERE EAGER TO WORK, BUT UNCERTAIN ABOUT THEIR FUTURE. WE ENCOUNTERED INDIVIDUALS WHO WERE HESITANT TO HIT THE RESET BUTTON AND JOIN US ON OUR VENTURE TO ESTABLISH A NEW DAY IN GARY, INDIANA. WE EVEN ENCOUNTERED SOME PEOPLE WHO WERE PREPARED TO CLOSE THE COFFIN AND SIGN THE DEATH CERTIFICATE FOR THE CITY OF GARY.
SHORTLY AFTER OUR FIRST DAY, A NUMBER OF FEDERAL AGENCIES SET MEETINGS TO TELL US THAT THE CITY WAS OUT OF COMPLIANCE WITH A VARIETY OF RULES AND REGULATIONS. AT THE GARY SANITARY DISTRICT, REPRESENTATIVES OF THE DEPT OF JUSTICE, THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION ADMINISTRATION AND THE INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT CONVENED TO TALK ABOUT THE CLEAN WATER ACT AND CONVINCE ME THAT I COULD NOT DO WHAT OTHERS HAD ATTEMPTED TO DO FOR TWENTY YEARS. AT THE GARY HOUSING AUTHORITY, HUD ARRIVED TO ANNOUNCE THAT THEY WERE PREPARED TO TAKE OVER THE AGENCY BECAUSE OUR VACANCY RATE WAS TOO HIGH AND OUR WAITING LIST TOO LONG.
PREVIOUSLY, THE FAA HAD THREATENED TO SHORTEN THE RUNWAY AT THE AIRPORT UNLESS WE ACCELERATED THE REMOVAL OF THE RAILROAD TRACKS AND IN JANUARY 2012, I LEARNED FOR THE FIRST TIME AFTER ASKING MULTIPLE TIMES THAT THERE WAS AN IMPASSE IN NEGOTIATIONS WITH CN RAILROAD. THE DEPT OF JUSTICE ARRIVED AT COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT TO ADVISE THAT THERE WERE PROBLEMS WITH WORK THAT HAD BEEN PAID FOR WITH FEDERAL DOLLARS.
IN ADDITION TO THE FEDERAL INQUIRIES, THERE WERE SEVEN EXPIRED UNION CONTRACTS THAT REQUIRED ATTENTION. (Fire, Police, Seiu-gha and emts; teamsters; afscme – city and gsd—ONE LOCAL HAD 25 GRIEVANCES) EQUIPMENT AND BUILDINGS WERE IN DISREPAIR. OUR FIREFIGHTERS, WHO RISK THEIR LIVES DAILY WERE LIVING IN NEAR SQUALOR AND HAD NEITHER THE APPARATUS OR SAFETY EQUIPMENT NEEDED TO DO THEIR JOBS. IT WAS RAINING ON ESSENTIAL COMPUTER EQUIPMENT IN SOME BUILDINGS AND NO ONE COMPLAINED BECAUSE DEDICATED STAFF HAD GROWN ACCUSTOMED TO, AS MY GRANDMOTHER WOULD SAY, SIMPLY MAKING DUE.
AND YES, THERE WAS A BUDGET DEFICIT AS A RESULT OF THE PERFECT STORM OF FINANCIAL ISSUES PRECIPITATED BY THE DEVASTATING IMPACT OF PROPERTY TAX CAPS.
BUT WE UNDERSTOOD THE JOB DESCRIPTION BEFORE WE ARRIVED; AFTER ALL I WAS THE ONE WHO INSISTED ON HAVING THIS JOB. SO WE PULLED OUT THE BLUEPRINT, ROLLED UP OUR SLEEVES AND GOT TO WORK. WE FIRST CONDUCTED A DETAILED ANALYSIS OF OUR BUDGET AND FINANCES. WE WORKED TO REDUCE MOST DEPARTMENTAL BUDGETS BY 20%. WE ALSO INVITED THE BANKING COMMUNITY, MANY OF WHOM TRAVELLED HERE AT THEIR OWN COSTS TO DISCUSS OUR VISION AND ASSETS AND OFFER THEM AN OPPORTUNITY TO JOIN US AT THE GROUND LEVEL. WE WERE ABLE TO RESTRUCTURE OUR FINANCES TO PURCHASE SORELY NEEDED FIRE AND GENERAL SERVICES VEHICLES.
WE ALSO CONDUCTED A WHOLESALE REVIEW OF THE GARY SANITARY DISTRICT AND THROUGH AN ENGINEERING AUDIT AND BID OF THE GARBAGE CONTRACT, WE NETTED COST SAVINGS IN EXCESS OF ONE MILLION DOLLARS. RECENTLY, WE HAD A ONE YEAR REVIEW WITH THE DOJ, EPA AND IDEM AND THEY ACKNOWLEDGED OUR PROGRESS.
WE EMBARKED ON A RECOVERY PLAN AT THE GARY HOUSING AUTHORITY AND WERE ABLE TO AVERT THE LOSS OF THREE MILLION IN HUD DOLLARS.
WE SET MATTERS ON TRACK AT THE AIRPORT TO COMPLETE THE BARRIER REMOVAL AND RUNWAY EXTENSION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FAA DEADLINE OF DECEMBER 2013. IF YOU TRAVEL DOWN CLINE AVENUE, YOU WILL SEE A RUNWAY DEVELOPING. AND TO PUT ICING ON THE AIRPORT CAKE, WE ACHIEVED 10,000 EMPLANEMENTS IN 2012 WHICH PLACES US IN A PRIMARY SERVICE AIRPORT CATEGORY AND RESULTS IN MORE MONEY IN 2014.
WE CONVENED HOUSING AND EDUCATIONAL ROUNDTABLES AND HOSTED EVENTS FOR THE U.S. WOMEN’S BUREAU AND HUD TO DISCUSS THE REBUILDING OF OUR HOUSING STOCK, THE CREATION OF PARTNERSHIPS IN EDUCATION, EQUAL PAY AND THE IMPACT OF PREDATORY MORTGAGE LOANS.
MANY OF THE SAME FEDERAL AGENCIES WHO CAME TO DISCUSS LACK OF COMPLIANCE RETURNED TO PROVIDE ASSISTANCE. ONE YEAR AGO, I TALKED ABOUT A MEETING THAT WAS HELD IN CHICAGO ON 1/31/12 WHERE REGIONAL LEADERS OF EACH AGENCY CONVENED AT HUD TO DISCUSS WHAT COULD BE DONE TO HELP GARY AND NORTHWEST INDIANA (IN THAT ORDER). ANTONIO RILEY OF THE DEPT. OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, DR. SUSAN HEDEMANN AND JIM VANDERKLOOT OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, KEN BENNET FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, THE ARMY CORP OF
ENGINEERS, THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ADMINISTRATION; MARIANNE MARKOVITZ FROM THE SBA; DAVID CAPP FROM THE DEPT OF JUSTICE AND A NUMBER OF OTHER FEDERAL AGENCIES. NOW, LIKE MANY OF YOU, I WAS A BIT SKEPTICAL WHEN THEY APPEARED AND SAID WE ARE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND WE ARE HERE TO HELP.
BUT, IN FACT OVER THE PAST 10 MONTHS, WE HAVE BEEN A PART OF A REGIONAL BROWNFIELDS PROJECT THAT WILL RESULT IN THE DEMOLITION OF THE SHERATON HOTEL BY THE MIDDLE OF THE YEAR. WE ARE CURRENTLY ENGAGED IN A NORTHSIDE REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT THAT WILL LEAD TO IMPROVEMENTS DOWNTOWN, AND THE EMERSON AND MILLER COMMUNITIES. WE RECEIVED A $350,000 TO DREDGE THE LAGOON AND CREATE JOBS AND $902,000 TO DEVELOP GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS. THIS MORNING, WE ANNOUNCED THE CREATION OF A PARTNERSHIP WITH THE NORTHWEST INDIANA SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER, A DIVISION OF THE SBA; ACCION A MICRO LENDING ORGANIZATION AND THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION TO MAKE BUSINESS COUNSELING SERVICES AND CAPITAL AVAILABLE TO GARY RESIDENTS. YES, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS HERE AND THEY ARE IN FACT HELPING EVERY DAY.
THE STATE OF INDIANA, THROUGH THE REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY AND INDIANA GENERAL ASSEMBLY, HAS INCREASED THEIR COMMITMENT TO GARY THROUGH THE REGIONAL BROWNFIELDS PARTNERSHIP, THE CREATION OF LEGISLATION THAT WOULD ULTIMATELY LEAD TO THE CREATION OF A PORT, TRAUMA CENTER AND TEACHING HOSPITAL AND LAND BASED GAMING AND THE REVITALIZATION OF MARQUETTE PARK. I RECOGNIZE THAT THERE ARE SOME WHO QUESTION THE MOTIVES OF THE PARTIES IN THIS PARTNERSHIP. TO THEM I SAY WHAT I HAVE SAID FROM THE BEGINNING OF MY TENURE AS MAYOR. 1. WE UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF CONTROLLING OUR ASSETS, INCLUDING THE AIRPORT. 2. WE ARE COMMITTED TO WORKING AS EQUAL PARTNERS WITH THOSE WHO ARE CAPABLE OF MAKING CONTRIBUTIONS TOWARDS GROWTH AND PROGRESS IN OUR COMMUNITY. 3. THERE IS NOT A BANK IN THIS ROOM OR REGION THAT WOULD ALLOW YOU TO INVEST 8 MILLION AND RECEIVE 60 MILLION DOLLARS IN RETURN. 4. FINALLY, ONLY A FOOL WOULD MOVE AGAINST THE INTERESTS OF THOSE WHO GOT THEM HERE.
AND IN CASE YOU HAVE NOT NOTICED, WE HAVE TAKEN A BI-PARTISAN APPROACH TO GOVERNMENT—AS EVIDENCED BY THE PRESENCE OF MY NEW FRIEND LANI CZARNIECKI REPRESENTING GOVERNOR MIKE PENCE AND MY OLD JAMES SNYDER, MAYOR OF PORTAGE.
WE UNDERSTOOD THE IMPORTANCE OF NEW IDEAS SO WE WENT TO ONE OF THE BEST SOURCES OF INNOVATION—HIGHER EDUCATION. LAST MAY, WE BEGAN A PARTNERSHIP WITH MAYOR RICHARD DALEY AND UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO'S HARRIS SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY TO ALLOW STUDENTS TO JOIN US IN SOLVING SOME OF OUR MOST INTRACTABLE PROBLEMS--ABANDONED BUILDINGS, DUMP SITES, THE NEED FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, THE BUGET. AS A RESULT OF THEIR WORK, WE ARE UTILIZING GIS TECHNOLOGY TO INCREASE THE EFFICIENCY OF OUR GENERAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT AND WE ARE EXPLORING THE PROSPECT OF A PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP AT THE AIRPORT. MEMBERS OF OUR SENIOR TEAM ARE ALSO WORKING WITH THE IU KELLY SCHOOL OF BUSINESS AND THE IU OFFICE OF CIVIC ENGAGEMENT TO CREATE A 21ST CENTURY PARTNERSHIP MODEL TO MAKE GARY A BUSINESS FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT AND CREATE A PACT BETWEEN THE CITY, THE UNIVERSITY AND THE COMMUNITY. ADDITIONALLY, WE HAVE UTILIZED THE WISE COUNSEL OF THE I.U. SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS TO DETERMINE THE BEST WAY TO DEPLOY LIMITED LAW ENFORCEMENT RESOURCES. WE ARE WORKING WITH THE PURDUE CALUMET CENTER FOR VISUALIZATION AND SIMULATION TO BRING OUR PLAN AND VISION FOR THE CITY TO LIFE.
ALL OF US LIKE FREE STUFF. BUT THE ADVICE AND INPUT FROM THESE UNIVERSITIES IS LIKE HAVING THE BEST CONSULTING FIRMS IN THE COUNTRY AT OUR FINGERTIPS AT NO COST TO THE TAXPAYERS OF GARY AND WITH MUTUAL BENEFIT TO THE UNIVERSITIES.
PARTNERS OUTSIDE OF GOVERNMENT ALSO CAME TO ASSIST. BUSINESS MEN AND WOMEN WHO UNDERSTAND OUR TRANSPORTATION AND LOCATION ASSETS CAME TO THE REACTIVATED ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AND THE NEWLY FORMED DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE TO DISCUSS THE LOCATION/EXPANSION OF THEIR BUSINESSES IN GARY. THIS RESULTED IN THE LOCATION OF PROMET ENERGY, HWM, TA PETRO, ADVANCE AUTO PARTS, THE EXPANSION OF STANRAIL AND OTHERS RESULTING IN THE CREATION OF OVER 200 NEW JOBS.
WE WORK DAILY TO SUPPORT DR. CHERYL PRUITT AND THE GARY COMMUNITY SCHOOLS, DR. SHARON JOHNSON SHIRLEY AND THE LAKE RIDGE SCHOOLS AND THE NON-TRADITIONAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS. WE UNDERSTAND THAT WE PARTNER BEST IN EDUCATION BY KEEPING OUR CHILDREN SAFE, BY ENSURING THAT THEY ARE FED AND THAT THEIR HOMEWORK IS DONE. SO, WE ARE COLLABORATING WITH THE BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB ON THE RENOVATION OF A 5 MILLION DOLLAR FACILITY IN THE ONCE SHUTTERED TOLLESTON SCHOOL. THAT IS WHY WE JOINED THE LET’S MOVE INITIATIVE STARTED BY FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA AND WE WERE FORTUNATE TO BE RECOGNIZED FOR OUR ACTIVITIES DURING THE FIRST YEAR.
WE OPENED THE NEWLY RESTORED 28 MILLION DOLLAR MARQUETTE PARK AND FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MANY YEARS OUR YOUNG PEOPLE HAD THE BENEFIT OF SUMMER AND FALL BALL. GARY CITIZENS AND THOSE FROM NEIGHBORING COMMUNITIES GAINED A NEW COMMITMENT TO VOLUNTEERISM AND EMBRACED OUR “ADOPT A PARK” PROGRAM. MEMBERS OF DELTA SIGMA THETA SORORITY, BETHEL CHURCH, CATHOLIC CHARITIES, COMMUNITY SERVICE WORKERS FROM A COLLABORATIVE CALLED
GREEN VISION GARY; THE BARDEN AND BRIDGETE KELLY YOUTH FOUNDATIONS AND MANY OTHER VOLUNTEERS CLEANED PARKS AND ENTRANCES AND EXITS TO THE CITY. MANY OF THEIR REPRESENTATIVES ARE HERE TODAY AND I WOULD LIKE TO ASK THEM TO STAND.
IMPROVEMENTS WERE MADE TO THE GENESIS CENTER, CITY HALL AND OTHER CITY BUILDINGS. IN FACT, DURING THE SUMMER, WE INSTALLED AND/OR REPAIRED 4 AIR CONDITIONERS AND TWO ELEVATORS IN CITY BUILDINGS.
IN THE BLUE PRINT WE TALKED ABOUT THE NEED FOR AN ASSESSMENT OF STREETS AND SIDEWALKS. THAT WORK HAS BEEN DONE AND WE HAVE PARTNERED WITH THE STATE OF INDIANA FOR THE RESURFACING OF 4TH AND 5TH AVENUES AND AGREED WITH THE COMMON COUNCIL TO REPAIR 25TH AVENUE WEST OF CLARK ROAD AND OHIO STREET NORTH OF 9TH AVENUE. THERE IS ALSO SIDEWALK WORK BEING DONE IN COMMUNITIES THROUGHOUT THE CITY.
WE HAVE GONE HI-TECH WITH THE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA, THE NEW LOOK TO OUR WEBSITE AND THE INTRODUCTION OF A 311 SYSTEM THAT WILL ALLOW YOU TO CALL OR USE YOUR CELL PHONE DOWNLOAND AN APPS SEND AND RECEIVE INFORMATION ABOUT SERVICES IN THE CITY.
THANKS TO A NUMBER OF PUBLIC/PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS, WE HAVE NEW AND/OR RENOVATED HOUSING AND RETAIL PROJECTS ON DECK. THE GARDENS ON CAROLINA—NEW SENIOR HOUSING—WILL OPEN THIS YEAR. SANDRA DAFIAGHOR WILL BREAK GROUND IN APRIL ON COMFORT VILLAS. EDGEWATER WILL BREAK GROUND ON SOUTH SHORE COMMONS IN THE COMING MONTHS AS WELL.
WE HAVE STRENGTHENED OUR WORK THROUGH PARTNERSHIPS WITH JIM STANLEY AND NIPSCO; IAN MCFADDEN AND THE METHODIST HOSPITALS; PETER LIGOURI AND MAJESTIC STAR CASINOS; PAT SALVI AND THE RAILCATS; BISHOP NORMAN HAIRSTON AND THE INTERFAITH CLERGY; PASTOR DWIGHT MOBLEY AND THE
BAPTIST MINISTERS OF GARY AND VICINITY AND CHUCK HUGHES AND THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE.
WE HAVE CREATED THE NEW DAY/NEW JOBS PARTNERSHIP INVOLVING THE DEPT. OF LABOR, WORK ONE, THE INDIANA PLAN, THE NW INDIANA BUILDING TRADES AND MEMBERS OF INDUSTRY. WE HAVE ALSO DEVELOPED A CDL TRAINING PROGRAM THESE PROGRAMS ARE DESIGNED TO CREATE CONSTRUCTION JOBS FOR GARY RESIDENTS.
THE UNIVERSITY PARK DEVELOPMENT IS THE BEST EXAMPLE OF WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTOR COME TOGETHER. EARLY LAST YEAR OUR TEAM DECIDED TO INVEST 3 MILLION DOLLARS OF OUR FEDERAL FUNDS TO BRING THE UNIVERSITY PARK PLAN, FIRST DISCUSSED OVER 15 YEARS AGO, TO LIFE. THE THEORY WAS THAT IF YOU USED EXISTING ANCHORS LIKE I.U. AND IVY TECH AND ENGAGED PARTNERS LIKE THE GARY COMMUNITY SCHOOL CORP, YOU COULD LEVERAGE THEIR ASSETS AND WILLINGNESS TO INVEST AND IMPROVE AN ENTIRE COMMUNITY. DEMOLITION IS UNDERWAY; THERE IS A REQUEST IN THE 2013-2015 FOR INDIANA UNIVERSITY AND IVY TECH STATE COLLEGE FOR BUILDINGS IN THE UNIVERSITY PARK FOOTPRINT. THERE HAS ALSO BEEN A DISCUSSION THAT THE BUILDING WILL BE A JOINT ENDEAVOR. WITH THE INVESTMENT FROM THE STATE, THE DEMOLITION AND RENEWAL OF HOUSING SPURRED BY THE CITY AND THE POTENTIAL FOR RETAIL DEVELOPMENT ALONG THE BROADWAY AND RIDGE ROAD, THIS WILL BE A TRANSFORMATIONAL PROJECT IN THE CITY OF GARY. THIS WILL ALSO BE THE COMMUNITY WHERE WE WILL UNVAIL OUR DOLLAR HOUSE PROGRAM FOR GARY RESIDENTS IN THE NEXT 30 DAYS. [THIS IS A PROGRAM FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO LIVE IN GARY AND NOT SPECULATE ON THE INEVITABLE REVITALIZATION.]
BUT JUST AS ROME WAS NOT BUILT IN A DAY, WE HAVE MANY MILES TO GO BEFORE WE SLEEP. WHILE CERTAIN CRIMES HAVE DECREASED, WE WITNESSED AN ALARMING INCREASE IN GUN VIOLENCE LAST YEAR RESULTING IN 42 HOMICIDES. THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE GARY POLICE DEPARTMENT HAVE WORKED WITH
PROFESSORS AT IUN AND OTHERS DEPTS THROUGHOUT NW IN TO TARGET THEIR LAW ENFORCEMENT EFFORTS AND INCREASE THEIR NUMBERS ON THE STREET. THEY HAVE ALSO ESTABLISHED AN ANTIVIOLENCE TASK FORCE TO ENGAGE THE FAITH COMMUNITY, ADDRESS EDUCATION, EMPLOYMENT AND OTHER FACTORS WHICH CONTRIBUTE TO CRIMINAL ACTIVITY. NEXT MONTH, THERE WILL BE A YOUTH MARCH, INITIATED BY DAVID KING TO COMBAT VIOLENCE IN THE COMMUNITY.
WE HAVE MANY MILES TO GO BECAUSE WHILE WE HAVE PURCHASED SOME APPARATUS AND EQUIPMENT FOR OUR FIREFIGHTERS, SOME OF THE FIRE STATIONS, GARY METRO CENTER, THE HUDSON CAMPBELL FITNESS AND GENESIS CENTERS CONTINUE TO PRESENT ISSUES THAT CAN ONLY BE ADDRESSED THROUGH THE INFUSION OF ADDITIONAL DOLLARS. WHILE WE HAVE MADE GREAT PROGRESS AT GSD, WE STILL NEED TO INVEST ANOTHER 60 MILLION TO COME TO FULL COMPLIANCE. WHILE THE CREATION OF 200 JOBS IS BIG THOSE NEW JOB RECIPIENTS, WE HAVE VIRTUALLY MISSED THE MARK ON JOB CREATION AND MUST ENSURE THAT THE SUCCESS IN BRINGING BUSINESS TO GARY WILL RESULT IN JOBS FOR GARY CITIZENS. THE OFFICIAL STATISTIC FOR UNEMPLOYMENT IS 15.9 PERCENT. YOU AND I KNOW BETTER—WITH PEOPLE WHO STOPPED LOOKING OR NEVER STARTED—WITH PEOPLE WHO LACK THE SKILLS FOR RESUMES OR INTERVIEWS, OUR JOBLESS RATE IS MORE LIKE 30-40 PERCENT. WE MUST CREATE JOBS.
SO HOW DO WE ADDRESS OUR UNFINISHED BUSINESS; WHAT CAN WE DO TO BUILD ON OUR SUCCESS? WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS AND OUR PLANS FOR 2013?
WE WILL FORMALLY BEGIN THE GATEWAYS TO GARY INITIATIVE ON THE DAY THE SHERATON IS DEMOLISHED. THIS INITIATIVE IS DESIGNED TO ENSURE THAT PEOPLE SEE THE BEST OF OUR COMMUNITY WHEN THEY COME INTO THE CITY.
YOU WILL SEE THE UNIVERSITY PARK PLAN AND NORTHSIDE DEVELOPMENT TAKE SHAPE AND TRANSFORM KEY COMMUNITIES IN GARY.
YOU WILL SEE US CONTINUE TO ACKNOWLEDGE OUR ROLE IN EDUCATION BY PARTNERING WITH THE GARY COMMUNITY SCHOOLS, THE LAKE RIDGE SCHOOLS AND LOCAL CHARTER SCHOOLS TO EXPLORE THE URBAN PREP, EDUCARE AND HARLEM CHILDREN’S ZONE MODELS.
YOU WILL SEE A COMPLETED RUNWAY AND AN OPPORTUNITY FOR EXPANDED SERVICE PERHAPS TO LAS VEGAS OR MAYBE EVEN CALIFORNIA ON ALLEGIANT AIRLINES.
YOU WILL CONTINUE TO SEE THE IMPROVEMENT OF STREETS AND SIDEWALKS AND THE REPAIR OF PARK FACILITIES AS WE OPEN SOME OF OUR POOLS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MANY YEARS.
YOU WILL SEE US WORK WITH CONTRACTORS TO ENCOURAGE THE USE OF UNION LABOR AND LOCAL
RESIDENTS AS WE CONTINUE TO FOCUS ON OUR TEN DEVELOPMENT AREAS TO ENHANCE EXISTING BUSINESSES AND CREATE NEW BUSINESSES.
YOU WILL SEE US PRESS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF A PORT AND A TRAUMA CENTER AND TEACHING HOSPITAL RIGHT HERE IN THE CITY OF GARY.
YOU WILL SEE THESE THINGS NOT BECAUSE I AM SO SMART OR GIFTED OR GREAT, BUT BECAUSE OF THE HARD WORKING, SELFLESS AND DEDICATED MEMBERS OF TEAM GARY. THERE ARE TIMES WHEN I RIDE BY OR AM WORKING AFTER 7 OR 8 AT NIGHT OR WEEKENDS. I SEE LIGHTS ON OR RECEIVE EMAILS FROM THESE PEOPLE WHO ARE WORKING HARD FOR YOU. I WANT YOU AND THEM TO KNOW HOW MUCH I APPRECIATE THEIR LABORS EVERY DAY. THEY ARE PEOPLE WHO MAKE THE WE I HAVE REFERRED TO THROUGHOUT THIS SPEECH.
IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING THAT WE HAVE HAD SOME DIFFICULT DAYS AS A COMMUNITY. ON JULY 25, 2012, BERNICE KING AND ANGEL HARRIS LOST THEIR LIVES DUE TO ARSON AT LAKESHORES DUNES. ON OCTOBER 22, JERRY HOOD WAS KILLED WHEN HE WENT HOME ON HIS LUNCH HOUR. THEIR FAMILIES ARE HERE TODAY. ONE OF THE SADDEST DAYS FOR OUR ADMINISTRATION WAS WHEN WE MADE THE DIFFICULT DECISION TO LAY OFF EMS WORKERS TO CONSOLIDATE THE FIRE AND AMBULANCE SERVICES TO IMPROVE SERVICE TO CITIZENS AND REDUCE COSTS.
EVEN AFTER THE MILLIKEN INSTITUTE HERALDED OUR IMPROVEMENT AS A COMMUNITY, FORBES MAGAZINE, WITHOUT THE BENEFIT OF ONE INTERVIEW, CONCLUDED THAT WE ARE ONE OF THE MOST MISERABLE CITIES. BUT THE LAST TIME I CHECKED CITIES ARE NOT MISERABLE, PEOPLE ARE AND WHILE THERE ARE DAYS THAT THE HILLS SEEM A LITTLE HARDER TO CLIMB, I KNOW WE ARE NOT A MISERABLE PEOPLE. YES WE NEED MORE RESOURCES; YES WE MUST ADDRESS VIOLENCE AND UNEMPLOYMENT IN OUR CITY. BUT BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT OUR STRENGTHS OUTWEIGH OUR WEAKNESSES AND BECAUSE WE KNOW LIFE AND DEATH IS IN THE POWER OFNTHE TONGUE, WE DECREE AND DECLARE THAT WE ARE NOT A MISERABLE CITY NOR A MISERABLE PEOPLE, BUT A CITY THAT SITS ON A HILL; A CITY OF PROMISE.
SO IN CLOSING, I HAVE AN ASSIGNMENT FOR EACH OF YOU. A FEW WEEKS AGO, OUR PRESIDENT, BARACK OBAMA ANNOUNCED THE CREATION OF A PROGRAM TO ASSIST THOSE CITIES THAT HAVE BEEN HARDEST HIT BY THE DOWNTURN IN THE ECONOMY. I WOULD SUGGEST THAT WE ARE ONE OF THOSE CITIES. AND SO, I WANT TO CHALLENGE YOU TO WRITE PRESIDENT OBAMA AND ENCOURAGE, NO IMPLORE HIM, TO INCLUDE GARY, INDIANA AS ONE OF THOSE PROMISE COMMUNITIES BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT WE KNOW THAT OUR POTENTIAL FAR OUTWEIGHS OUR PROBLEM; WE KNOW THAT OUR STRENGTHS ARE GREATER THAN OUR WEAKNESSES AND WE KNOW THAT WE ARE DESTINED TO RETURN TO OUR RIGHTFUL PLACE AS THE BEACON OF NORTHWEST INDIANA. THANK YOU. GOD BLESS GARY, THE STATE OF INDIANA AND GOD BLESS AMERICA.
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