Added: Charyl Smolen - Date: 29.01.2022 13:44 - Views: 19456 - Clicks: 7071
Thank you all for being here. I want to thank the members of the City Council, partners in leading government for our city. I want to thank my fellow city employees, from Deputy Mayor Mick Renneisen and his kind introduction, to Communications Director Mary Catherine Carmichael who organized this evening, to all our department he, and to all of my fellow city employees.
Thanks to all elected and public officials here. And thanks to all of you, to each of you, for being here and for all you do for our city. We've enjoyed some hot jazz and cool poetry. Please me in thanking once again two outstanding representatives of Creative Bloomington, the North High School advanced jazz ensemble, and IU professor Adrian Matejka. My goodness, such talent, what a treat! We should be relaxed and also energized, our minds expanded and our imaginations activated - that's what the arts can do right? OK so now we are rolling up our sleeves and getting to work on our city.
Sit back and let's talk about Bloomington, where we are, and where we want to go…. James Fallows, one of our country's finer journalists and chroniclers, recently hopscotched 50, miles across America in a small propeller plane, visiting scores of cities over a 3-year period.
He was trying to understand what was working in cities across America. One specific, striking comment he made was: "Many people are discouraged by what they hear and read about America, but the closer they are to the action at home, the better they like what they see.
I believe if you ask my dear wife Dawn, she will tell you that I am an optimistic person. I believe things are getting better, and will continue to do so, as we all pull together. And Fallows' quote rings true to me: most of us, while we may indeed often be 'discouraged' by what we read and hear about our national events and politics, most of us are more encouraged by our experiences with our neighbors, our school teachers, our store clerks, our fellow worshipers, our little league coaches, our local nonprofits addressing poverty or hunger or housing or safety or promoting arts, our librarian, our nurse, our local business owners, and on and on.
We see progress. We recognize the vast of people of good will. But sometimes we're discouraged by national images and stories. In a recent survey, among people who reported that their lives were stressful, they were asked what daily events added to their general stress. First choice was juggling schedules of family members, not a surprise perhaps.
But second and third highest daily stressors? No wonder some people say they just turn off the news or don't pay attention to national affairs. Of course I do not advise that we succumb to that temptation. Nor do I suggest that there are not serious challenges ahead of us at the national and global levels - of course there are. There is lots of talk of late about building walls, HUGE walls, figuratively and literally, to keep away the problems of the world.
I promise I won't say the name of any presidential candidate tonight - That is no solution for our country - nor for our city, nor for any of us. But James Fallows' observation reminds us that what we often hear from that national media is not Reality.
Reality is not what paid TV commentators say it is. It is not captured by stories deed to attract eyeballs and sell products. Reality is here in front of us, and it is what we make of it. Just one example of good news that hasn't hit the top of the news items but I expect some in this audience know : The unsubsidized cost of electricity generated at scale in the U.
These sustainable energy sources are cost-competitive with fossil fuels even with large decreases in the cost of natural gas and oil. Such good news often doesn't travel as fast or far as bad news. That's one reason progressive cities cannot succeed Feel like a tight Bloomington again isolation, but have a need and an obligation to be leaders in the state and nation and even world, at times. We are putting solar panels on our city hall this summer, and by the way, we intend to offer wholesale prices to residents here who want to install panels on their homes or businesses.
In this and many other ways we're working to combat climate change, a defining issue of our generation. Cities like ours must act and speak out for the good of our community and our planet, for example against a concerted effort led by ALEC to prevent consumers and generators of solar power to be able to sell excess power to utilities. So I want to talk about that 'action at home,' the stuff that, often, the closer we are to it, the more we appreciate what we see.
As Mayor, my job this evening is to talk about the State of our City. Where we are now, and where we ought to be going next. With a particular focus on city government and our role. There is an awful lot to like about Bloomington. You know that. We have a fantastic community with so many assets and such a bright future.
Let me tell you, it's really a privilege and a thrill to be mayor of this great city. You can ask Dawn, and I think she'll tell how much I look forward to getting to work every day…… Like most of you, I feel deep gratitude to be able to live here. I think also like most of you, I feel a responsibility to steward it for future generations as well. To make good decisions, do the right things, make smart investments, to assure it continues to be a place where all kinds of people live together creatively, peacefully, positively.
We can highlight a litany of indicators of excellence, such as our Gold level Bicycle Friendly city; our Tree City deation; and our perfect score by the Human Rights Campaign Equality Index the only city in Indiana, one of 47 in the country - and this really matters, being a progressive LGBTQ city in a state with leadership that has embarrassed us and put Indiana in a negative national spotlight two years running. And being a city leader on reproductive health and women's rights matters too, with our city and county councils both in the last six months supporting Planned Parenthood at a time of unprecedented state Feel like a tight Bloomington again national assaults.
And we can point to our increasing trails and trail miles. I could go on for the rest of my time tonight celebrating what is wonderful about Bloomington. But we need to shift and address some current difficulties, some pending challenges. We need to face facts with clear vision. First our economy. During the national and state recession of we actually did not have a recession in our MSA, as you can see on the graph, with the green line on top.
But we're in one now. We must talk too about too many of our friends and neighbors who are struggling - needing shelter, or a job, or better health care, or addiction services. There are too many people in our community - including kids - who are not secure about their next meal, their bed, their paycheck, their medicines.
Second our crime rate. We enjoy a relatively safe city. But statistics tell us that our violent crime rate, in blue there, has risen ificantly over the last decade. And this is counter to the long national trend downward, in red. Third, our public assets, our infrastructure. That's an abstract word that describes a critical part of what government provides every day.
We haven't kept some of our infrastructure in shape. A few examples: During a 3-month period last year while replacing a storage tank, we had nearly 40 water main breaks in our system. You'll recall that last month I announced deteriorating drinking water quality that demanded quick attention.
Last year we had 20 weekends with zero back-up fire engines available, which is not prudent for public safety. Our physical assets like water treatment plants, pipes, sidewalks and streets, public parks, storm sewers, trails, fire trucks and police cars, cherry pickers, snow plows and mowers; we must be good stewards of these shared assets. Fourth, some basic city operations need attention. Sanitation services are operating in a system that was modern, in the s.
Our sanitation workers labor mightily, but bear the brunt with injuries and rising worker compensation costs …. You heard also our parking meters weren't working like they were supposed to.
And as we've also been reminded recently, our fiscal controls and planning have needed closer attention. Fifth, we're shortchanging training and skills building for our city employees working every day to keep our city humming - plowing streets, delivering clean water, policing our neighborhoods, responding to fires and emergencies - as we've noted often with less than adequate equipment or processes.
But for this workforce lately our city has invested less than 0. Far below industry standards, and not fair to our employees. So we've got some challenges…. It's because I want to be transparent. As your mayor I owe it to you to be direct and invite discussion of difficult facts, choices, and realities. We're already taking ificant steps about a lot of these too, and I'll very briefly outline some of it:. On the economy - First let me say I've been sitting down with a lot of our employers and local leadership to talk about this issue.
There are a lot of good ideas and efforts out there. Crawford Homes helped deal with some of our most disadvantaged residents. I've assembled an outstanding task force of local leaders to make recommendations about wage growth and steps we should take. More about this issue shortly…. Public safety - Our police department is undergoing national accreditation, I've asked the public safety board to review in detail the President's Commission on 21st Century Policing, to be sure our excellent force is doing all we can to have the most effective, community-oriented public safety efforts possible.
I met with our fiscal taskforce this week to review and recommend a plan for a capital replacement budget and stronger oversight and planning. As one example, going forward we will not be using year borrowed money to pay for short-term assets or basic maintenance. As to City Operations - I have ordered immediate improvements in our drinking water system that are already underway. I've ordered a resolution of our parking meter problem as soon as possible, which is also underway. And we're reviewing options for our sanitation system in the near future.
And on education, I will work for and we need to pass a referendum this fall to protect the gains we have achieved together. So I can report that we are taking steps that are needed. We'll certainly be working together on more in the months and years ahead. I'll mention two more related areas of concern or opportunity. Feel like a tight Bloomington again is Annexation. Our county population has grown by 21 thousand in the last 12 years, and urbanization is spreading, but our municipal boundary has remained fixed.
Looking at our history of annexation beginning inwe've generally followed the urbanizing areas, as you can see, decade by decade. But we haven't expanded an inch during the past dozen years. Perhaps this is the right strategy for our community.
Perhaps not. We should talk about that. Second and related is Regionalism. Bloomington is a city not an island. We interact daily with our county, our region, our state.
Our people work elsewhere. And people from elsewhere work in Bloomington. Our economy is regional.Feel like a tight Bloomington again
email: [email protected] - phone:(556) 132-2016 x 4126
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