‘Women’ a central theme in Menino’s speech

In his twentieth State of the City address, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino unveiled several initiatives aimed at women, including a networking forum for women-owned businesses, $1 million in funds to provide low-interest loans for child care, and the creation of a council to advocate for fair pay.

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Governor Patrick, Attorney General Coakley, Treasurer Grossman, Auditor Bump, Senate President Murray, Speaker DeLeo, The Boston Delegation, Members of Congress, District Attorney Conley, members of the City Council, distinguished guests - especially our soldiers and veterans - and fellow residents. Last year I said we would face tough times, and we have. I also said that our commitment to one another would carry us through, and it did. So I stand before you, a grateful Mayor. I am forever grateful to my wife Angela. I ruined our trip, and she still hasn't kicked me out. She stood by me and our city like she always has. I am grateful for my doctors, nurses, therapists, and hospital staff. They embody the words of a young president who spoke of God's work truly being our own. I am grateful to our public servants. They didn't seek the spotlight, and they didn't miss a beat. I'm especially grateful for all of the visitors, the prayers, and the hundreds of cards and well wishes that poured in day after day. I am just Tommy Menino from Hyde Park. I can't tell you how humbled I am and how lucky I feel. I don't need fancy words to say this to all of you: Thank you. You pulled me through. The outpouring of concern and support was truly incredible, but the truth is those cards said more about Boston than me. They are full of pride for our city, and they should be. Because from Orient Heights to Dorchester Heights, we continue to make great strides. Last year, Boston broke ground on $1.6 billion worth of development. Twenty-two major projects put thousands of construction workers back on the job. Our real estate market is stronger than any place in the country. Hundreds of companies and thousands of jobs have come to the Innovation District. Pay- Pal is along the Greenway. Converse is coming to Lovejoy Wharf. New Balance is expanding in Brighton. Digital companies are making downtown their new home. Innovation is raising our game not just on our waterfront, but across our city. In our neighborhoods, we are making investments to keep Boston a livable city for families. We upgraded the Shelburne Community Center in Roxbury. We broke ground on a stunning new library in East Boston with a fantastic reading porch and outdoor classroom. And we welcomed 40,000 new library cardholders this past year. In West Roxbury, work is underway to improve Billings Field, and soon we'll open Draper Pool to the park around it. Our Neighborhood Response Teams have raised the quality of life, and our public safety strategies have reduced violent crime. Two thousand units of housing are under construction across our city. Think about this for just a moment. Think about how much has changed: The Orchard Gardens School is a national success story. One of our school system's biggest challenges is over-enrollment. We've gone from what some have called a food backwater to a national leader on food policy and food innovation. Condos are selling out in Downtown Crossing, of all places. Our South Boston waterfront is a hotspot. There is a crane over Dudley Square. Young people are flooding, not fleeing the city. Older Bostonians are returning. Our progress is real. Our future is bright. The state of our City is striking, sound, and strong. Uncertainty around the globe and gridlock in Washington create real challenges. We shouldn't excuse Washington for their actions, but neither should we make them an excuse for our in-action. We shouldn't focus on the inability of others to get things right. We should do right by the abilities of people here in Boston. Our human potential is enough to power Boston's growth if we muster the courage and the creativity to unleash it. Others can help us get better, but only we can make us great. Our most important collection of talent lies in our young people. So our first task is improving public education in our city. Our 2010 reforms created turnaround schools, launched in-district charter schools, overhauled teacher evaluation, and won new resources for our classrooms. The best way to celebrate those accomplishments is not with applause, but with an encore. I am fighting to gain the power to extend freedoms in hiring and learning time to many more schools across the district. If a school has to fail before it gets flexibility, it's not just the school that is failing, it's us! I am also proposing to eliminate the cap on In-district charter schools, like UP Academy. They took over the Gavin School in South Boston, taught the same kids and had great success. UP had the highest growth in math of any middle school in the state. These changes alone would extend the school day in Boston and increase quality at dozens of schools. But taken together with a historic change in our student assignment process, they would truly take our school system - and the lives entrusted to it - to another level. One year ago, I appointed perhaps the most impressive group of Bostonians who have ever worked on any project in our city. They met with education experts, diversity experts, and, above all, thousands of kid experts - our parents. Please join me in recognizing our External Advisory Committee on School Choice. In the coming days, they will make their final recommendation to Superintendent Johnson and the School Committee. To those who are understandably wary of the city's history around school choice, recall the words of Representative and historian Byron Rushing. In a Roxbury auditorium last March he said, "To get this right we are not going back to anything. We are creating something new." Let us stay focused on moving forward with that process and on improving quality in all of our schools. This year I will include in my budget new Quality Improvement Funds. They will support great teaching, leadership training, extended time, partnerships, and upgraded facilities at our schools that need higher levels of support. This will be the start of a new $30 million investment as we continue to make all of our schools quality schools. In 2013, we will also make Boston the premier city for working women. I am surrounded by strong women, starting with Angela, Susan, Lisa, and my granddaughters. My cabinet includes many remarkable women. Some I have known for years. Others have joined us more recently. (I didn't find any of them in binders.) This year we elected our first woman United States senator. To outshine all cities we must unlock the potential of all of our women. Women make up more than half of Boston's residents, but less than a third of our business owners. We can do better. Recent college graduates are earning less than their male classmates in the same jobs and with the same degrees. We can do better than that. And when mothers pursue their careers, many struggle to find affordable, quality childcare. We can certainly do better. Tonight, I'm announcing a set of actions to support Boston's women. First, I am launching "Women on Main", a new networking forum for our women-owned businesses in Boston's vibrant Main Streets districts. We will also use the new Boston Innovation Center to open up new fields to more women and better connect them to one another. We must also make it easier to find quality child care. I will launch a $1 million Capital Resources for Educators fund. It will offer low interest loans for safe, quality environments for our children. This year, we're going to be the very first municipality to help young women negotiate for fair pay. Finally, I'm proud to say that we will create our first-ever Women's Workforce Council. I will invite business owners, executives, and young leaders to help me advocate with the women of our city. Among other steps, we will make Boston the first city in the country to achieve pay equity for women! The most powerful way to unleash a person's talent is to prepare them for a job. We have many programs and places that do this work, but we can do more. I believe Boston's Centers for Youth and Families can be the key. We will help update our neighbors' skills and our community centers, too. As a first step, I am pleased to announce a pilot with Harvard, MIT, and edX that will bring free courses to community centers. Open, online learning has made the whole world a classroom, and we should give our residents front row seats. They would get more than access to knowledge and skills; they would get time with faculty and job trainers. Imagine a day when our community centers are little campuses in their own neighborhoods, full of vibrant groups of neighbors, exchanging ideas and making progress together. This initiative is a first, important step in that direction. We must connect adults in our neighborhoods with the opportunities of the knowledge economy. The most tragic loss of human potential is when it is lost to violence. Sandy Hook is now seared into our memory. So are Woolson Street and Harlem Street. Wayne LaPierre and the NRA say more guns are the answer. That is crazy! Every victim of gun violence and their families know that's crazy. Gabriel Clarke's mother, Shirley, is with us tonight. She knows that's crazy. After her son was shot, she called for peace. And LaPierre goes on T.V. after Sandy Hook and called for more guns? Any member of Congress who doesn't vote for gun reforms is saying that she was wrong and he was right. We can't let that happen. Mayor Bloomberg and I will keep working with almost one thousand mayors and over one million Americans. Life-saving solutions, which have long been within our reach, are now within our grasp. Stand with us on guns and say enough is enough. We also have to say enough is enough in our own neighborhoods. Two weeks ago Boston Police joined federal and state partners to sweep 27 criminals off the streets of the Bowdoin- Geneva community. The cooperation of these public safety officials is matched only by the commitment of the good people who live in that neighborhood. I am pleased to announce tonight that the task force will extend its work for the rest of the year. Those who bring guns and drugs into our neighborhoods should know we will bring you to justice. Our comprehensive prevention strategies are working. Homicides are down in Boston, again. Violent crime and property crime are down 28 percent over the last 7 years. We will continue this progress with a focus on quality of life issues. They can seem small, but I know they make a big difference to your sense of safety and security. We will keep a strong presence in our neighborhoods, with 68 new recruits joining the force this year. I want to thank the Boston Police, and everybody who hits the street every day: our social workers, our trauma counselors, and our violence intervention personnel. We have all of these things to do for each other this year and more. We'll work with partners to support teens with autism in summer jobs, and we'll expand our inclusive after school programs. We'll adapt to meet the needs of a growing population of seniors - projected to be 100 thousand by 2017. We'll launch a new effort to make dozens more city services "same day services." We'll update our climate work to reflect the threats we face from storms like Sandy. We'll make available one million square feet of city-owned property for development into homes for middle class families. The point is this: if we help our neighbors learn more, produce more, and succeed more, we will do more to help Boston than anyone can do for us. This is the era of the city, and we live in the city of the era. The thing that makes cities great, and ours the greatest, is people; that diverse, skilled, crowd of talent. So, I have never in 20 years been more optimistic about our future. All it would take to lead in the next decade and the decades after that is to help each other reach our full human potential. If all this sounds too difficult, I can say to you with complete confidence that it's not. Just pull for each other as much as you pulled for me. Thank you and God bless our great city.
Senator Brown, Congressman Lynch, United States Attorney Ortiz, Governor Patrick, Treasurer Grossman, Auditor Bump, Secretary Galvin, Senate President Murray, Speaker DeLeo, Sheriff Cabral, District Attorney Conley, distinguished guests, and fellow residents. Thank you for joining me tonight. In this era when we spend too much time staring at our phones, it is a pleasure to come together in person. Please acknowledge our dedicated city councilors and the neighborhoods they represent. Let us also recognize the men and women of the United States Military. My own family is with us, and it is a special delight for me. Angela, I thank you for all you do for me and for this great city. Tonight, I will speak foremost about people. It is a topic that would seem obvious - if not for its absence from so many conversations in government today. I want to talk about people because our efforts at building community - above all else - are the reason that Boston ranks above perhaps every city in America. We need collaboration now more than ever, because as Boston continues moving forward, harmful divisions have sprung up around us. There are political divisions across our country. We see evidence of this in some Washington politicians who have made threats of government shutdowns so routine they are no longer newsworthy. Politicians shouldn't pat themselves on the back for fixing self-made problems while the real challenges - like putting people back to work - go unaddressed. There are also economic divisions. The Occupy Movement gave voice to inequality that threatens our economy. I don't begrudge anyone for being successful, but true progress should be shared widely. So, why has Boston thrived - despite these divisions around us? We've refused to allow strained budgets to result in strained relationships. While others have been building walls, we have been building connections: We brought together developers and community partners to break ground on 22 projects last year and put thousands of people back to work. And Boston's unemployment rate has dropped almost two full points in the last year. To lower municipal health care costs, we did not move forward by ourselves. We drew on established relationships with Jen Springer from AFSCME and many other union leaders. Please join me in recognizing them. Together, we forged a groundbreaking agreement that will slow the growth of runaway healthcare costs by more than $70 million. To cut crime, Boston Police officers walked the beats in their neighborhoods and built trust with the people they serve. We understand the best piece of data is the latest conversation with a shop owner or youth activist. Above anything else, it was our personal approach that allowed us last year to cut crime by eight percent and reduce homicides by sixteen percent. To make sure all children in Boston - no matter where they go to school - receive a great education, we signed the District-Charter Compact. At the root of this new partnership are trusted relationships. They allow us to move past competition toward collaboration. And the Boston Public Schools are getting results. Our fourth and eighth graders' scores in math last year beat out almost every large city across the country. We continued to build an Innovation District on the waterfront so entrepreneurs can share ideas and resources. We could have just thrown up some skyscrapers and high end condos. Instead, we insisted on building connections - in addition to new space. So now more than 100 new companies have brought 3,000 jobs to the waterfront - and more are on the way. To make Boston the capital of healthy food, we strengthened the common places people gather to buy and eat food: our farmers markets, community gardens, food trucks, and more. We believe food institutions do more than grow fresh fruits and veggies; they grow a sense of neighborhood togetherness. All across the city, we made big investments in our neighborhoods. And our relationships are what made these projects successful. In Jamaica Plain, we invested $6 million to renovate Curtis Hall. In East Boston, we celebrated a new Greenway. In Roslindale, we opened brand new public housing at Washington Beech. In Hyde Park, we improved the George Wright golf course. In Dudley Square, our investments in the Ferdinand are underway. And across our city we created record numbers of housing. Our relationships are strong. Therefore, the state of our city is strong. Now, we must use the trust we have in each other to get big things done in 2012. I believe that our strong relationships are the reason to tackle tough tasks and the key to succeeding at them. We'll first have to rely on the trust we've built as we confront truths about one of our most important city assets - Madison Park Technical Vocational High School. Madison Park should be the pathway to solid jobs and a strong future for city youth. Thanks to the facility, the finances, the teachers, and leadership, Madison Park can be their launching pad. However, only eleven students last school year were involved in a work based cooperative, the gold standard of vocational education, and the average student is absent for more than one month every year. We must do a better job engaging our students. Tonight, I am announcing a plan to transform Madison Park into a top notch center for career readiness and workforce development. First, we will work to designate Madison Park as an "Innovation School." We can then change the schedule and the curriculum so they allow for real work-based experiences. Second, we will create the Madison Park Business Partnership. I challenge Boston's businesses and institutions to provide advice, jobs, and their own financial resources to help transform this school. I am delighted to announce our first two partners: Renowned Chefs Barbara Lynch, who herself attended Madison Park, and Gordon Hamersley. They will provide instruction and guidance to Madison Park's culinary program and open up their restaurants for internships and apprenticeships. With these kinds of collaborations, we'll succeed in creating a first-class vocational education in Boston and a first class ticket to success for our students. We won't stop there. The partnerships, facilities, and training we develop together can also be deployed at night for our neighbors. So we will also turn Madison Park into a better center of job training for unemployed and underemployed Bostonians. Real change won't come easily. We must build new connections to take the school to new heights. Then, Madison Park will be a shining example of how to increase jobs and opportunity in our neighborhoods. In 2012, we will also take our public safety efforts to the next level. Over the last six years, we have reduced crime by 25 percent. But we must drive it lower yet. We will expand our Neighborhood Crime Watch Groups, because they are at the heart of community policing. We will make it easier to join, to share information, and to connect. By the end of this year, we will have 100 new active Neighborhood Crime Watches in the city. I've always believed the crime watches are the perfect kind of community meetings - no egos, no fancy titles - just a job to get done. Of course, the best way to recruit community partners is with our own commitment to public safety. That is why I am happy 25 more recruits will join the force this year. I am also asking the Boston Police to expand their Unresolved Shootings Project. Every shooting shatters peace in a neighborhood, whether it results in a murder or not. So I want to make sure all shooters are brought to justice and that their guns are taken off the street. As we look to each other to move the city forward, we also have to take an honest look at our health. Boston was named America's third healthiest city last year in Forbes. Our neighborhoods are filled with walkers, runners, and bikers - even in the cold of winter - and our hospitals and health centers provide unmatched care close to home. Yet for all the strides we've made in public health, obesity is a problem that remains. Fifty percent of adults here are overweight or obese. And one in three Boston school-aged children are, too. I'm determined to make Boston a leader in obesity prevention. We will implement a citywide strategy to connect all of the good work going on and reach out to all children and all families. We will offer funds for childcare providers for obesity prevention and we will expand the use of our successful Bounty Bucks program. Look, weight is an issue that many of us struggle with. But what is daunting on our own becomes doable when we work together. So, my goal is to see all of us combine to shed a million pounds this year. We also need to stick together when it comes to job creation. Too many of our neighbors remain unemployed. Together, we will move forward on our investments in the neighborhoods and on the waterfronts, and we will support big and small businesses alike. This year, another important job-creation project will take shape in the form of a resort casino proposal in East Boston. Boston must do this in a way that improves our city and enhances our reputation. Therefore, even before the State Gaming Commission is put together, I will create a Boston Gaming Advisory Board with leaders from outside city government. It will have a two-part mandate: Maximize job creation for Bostonians and provide transparency for residents into the process of casino review. In East Boston, and across our city - from Bowdoin Geneva to Brighton, we'll put more people back to work. I want to finish with the topic that will give us the greatest opportunity to use our strong bonds and deep trust. The Boston Public Schools have come a long way in the last twenty years. When I became mayor, many parents considered sending their children to only a handful of schools. Today, more than 100 of our schools have waiting lists because they are so popular with parents. Our graduation rate has never been higher, and our dropout rate hasn't been lower in two decades. But something stands in the way of taking our system to the next level: a student assignment process that ships our kids to schools across our city. Pick any street. A dozen children probably attend a dozen different schools. Parents might not know each other; children might not play together. They can't carpool, or study for the same tests. We won't have the schools our kids deserve until we build school communities that serve them well. I'm committing tonight that one year from now Boston will have adopted a radically different student assignment plan - one that puts a priority on children attending schools closer to their homes. I am directing Superintendent Johnson to appoint a citywide group of dedicated individuals. They will help design the plan to get us there and engage the community on this transition. I know I have talked about changing the student assignment plan before. We have made many improvements over the years. 2012 will be the year to finish the job. ___ It has now been said many times that I have met more than half of the people who live in Boston. Not everyone will have the chance to meet so many of our neighbors. But ask yourself, have you met more than half of the people on your street? More than half of the folks in your church? Half of the parents of your child's classmates? I urge you to try. In order to reach great heights, we all have to reach great lengths. In order to reach up in 2012, we all need to reach out. In our personal lives, our relationships carry us through the biggest challenges. It is the same way in our civic lives. This year, we will face many tests. We must never allow disagreements to drive us apart. The more we know each other, the more we will trust each other, and the more we will be able to accomplish. Together, we will make 2012 another landmark year in Boston's storied history. May God continue to bless our great city.
Senator Brown, Governor Patrick, Lieutenant Governor Murray, Treasurer Grossman, Auditor Bump, Senate President Murray, Speaker DeLeo, Sheriff Cabral, District Attorney Conley, distinguished guests, and fellow residents. Thank you for joining me tonight. We are here to talk about Boston, but, let us take a moment to remember the shooting victims in Tucson. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families. To my wife Angela, thank you for your love and support, and to my entire family, thank you. To the City Council, and your new president Steve Murphy, thank you for your service. One year ago, I stood here and laid out an ambitious innovation agenda. By so many measures, given all that we've faced, it's been a year full of progress. Like athletes who keep their lucky charms after winning games, I figured I would come back here in my knee brace once again. I thank everyone for your calls and support. We gather in this cradle of liberty and thank our Armed Forces for protecting our freedoms. We also celebrate that a new day is here: that all men and women, regardless of their sexual orientation, can serve our great nation with pride. We come together to take stock of where we stand and to plan for the days ahead. Even with the challenges behind us and the big ones that remain to tackle, I am relentlessly optimistic about 2011. I'm upbeat about our prospects, confident in our neighborhoods, and energized for the coming days. Across Boston, we see signs of progress. New community health centers are under construction in Roxbury, East Boston and Mattapan. We invested $5 million to improve the Brighton Branch Library. Liberty Mutual started work on their expanded headquarters. Soon, the state-of-the-art Kroc Center will open its doors in Uphams Corner. As I said, we build on a year full of successes. Last January, I laid out our innovation agenda and said first we would focus on schools. In the days since: we secured landmark education reform at the State House; made use of new authority to create in-district charters; put the best principals in struggling schools; made fresh teacher assignments in turnaround classrooms; and extended the school day in those buildings. We trained 2,200 more teachers to teach English learners. We launched our International Baccalaureate programs. The results are paying off. Reading scores are up. Students taking algebra by grade 8 are up. Growth for students with disabilities is up. The drop-out-rate is the lowest level it's been in twenty years, and a higher percentage of students graduate from Boston Public Schools than at any time in our history! We are now one of the only cities taking responsibility for getting our students through college. Last January, I said we'd focus on developing areas of our city where so much potential remained. In Downtown Crossing we have a Business Improvement District after multiple stalled efforts. Our three historic theaters are bustling with activity. Retailers are returning - 20 new ones opened last year and even more are coming. We refused to stand by as an anchor of this district lay bare. Our pressure at the Filene's site forced the owner to open up the process. I remain optimistic that a constructive next step lies in the near future. Downtown Crossing is again becoming a premier destination. I also said last year that we'd begin to turn our South Boston waterfront into a jobcreating Innovation District. Start-ups increasingly call the Innovation District home. Clean-tech companies are coming in clusters. The new real estate developments that will break ground next year have substantial innovation components. I said that our waterfront should not turn into "Anywhere USA." Instead, through creativity and some insistence, it's becoming a model for the country for how to rebuild the economy around new and growing industries. Last January, I promised that we'd enhance the basics that make our neighborhoods work, adding a dose of technology and harnessing civic engagement. Our strategy of New Urban Mechanics is producing for our residents. Our smartphone App, Citizens Connect, and our universal student ID are making it easier for Bostonians to take part in their city. At our 24-hour call center, we handled 10,000 calls during the Blizzard of 2010, not to mention the 200,000 calls handled during the year. All enabled by technology, but staffed by people. I want to recognize three of the call-takers here with us: Elizabeth, Dave, and Rocco. Nothing speaks more about the kind of government we believe in than their opening line: "Mayor's hotline, how can I help you?" Last year, I said we had to deal with new financial realities. And we did. We streamlined operations; closed a $40 million budget gap at the city; and maintained strong credit, allowing us to invest in our neighborhoods. In Boston this year, we continued to see unending displays of hard work, and uncommon acts of devotion. As just one example, when the earthquake struck Haiti one year ago tomorrow, Boston rallied around our Haitian friends to help them recover. And we stand with them still. We've made great strides amidst deep challenges. Boston was named the number 3 city for business. We were the number 2 metro area for job growth; the 2nd healthiest city; number one digital city in America; and the number one city for innovation for the second year in a row. Across so many fronts, the state of our city is exceptionally strong and resilient! However, there remain exceptions to that great strength, and this is what we focus on today. As some of us experience more opportunity and more prosperity, some in our city will endure more hardship. As many of us look forward with great hope, some in our city will wonder where to find it. I believe that true progress should be shared widely. Working for all of our people is my passion. I believe that a strong middle class is the great engine of our city. To our struggling workers, our concerned parents, our anxious seniors: I will go to work every day to make sure this recovery comes to you, too. So, as we move out of this recession, job one will be making sure that Bostonians who still don't have work, can find it. Jobs are the greatest equalizer. Jobs are the path to family success and opportunity. Even as Congress steps back from stimulus efforts, we must not. In Boston, we'll expand our own green stimulus by launching a $100 million program to make our public assets more energy efficient. We'll generate 1,000 jobs and support this new work with savings from avoided energy costs. And we won't stop there. Knowing bureaucracy shouldn't stand in the way of job creation, we'll cut outdated and redundant permits. We'll reduce red tape for small businesses, the ultimate job engine. Easing inequities also means continuing to reduce disparities in health care. Boston is home to the world's best health care resources, yet some residents still do not share in the miracles performed here. Meanwhile, community health centers operate where people live, they are at the forefront of health issues, and they provide excellent care. So, we'll launch Neighbor Care. Neighbor Care will increase the use of community health centers - providing more hours and more services in the neighborhoods. I am asking our Public Health Commission to team up with hospitals, health insurance companies, and the community health centers to help the centers extend their hours and access. America's first community health center was established on Dorchester's Columbia's Point. A long tradition across the city continues to this day. Azzie Young, from the Mattapan Community Health Center is here tonight. So is Frederica Williams of the Whittier Street Health Center. They and their counterparts will lead again as we make sure our city's tremendous healthcare resources reach all of our people. While some in Congress now seek to limit access to health care. In Boston, we remember what a good man told us: healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Real recovery will also mean a full recovery to our sense of safety and respect for life. Violent crime is down for the fourth year in a row. But criminal acts in pockets of our city and the tragic increase in murders impact us all. I expect recent strategies by Boston Police will continue to drive down crime and turnaround the trend in homicides. I am pleased 71 recruits now at the Police Academy will join the force this year and increase visibility on the streets. And I'm glad to announce that we will add a second class of recruits this summer. We will also expand our re-entry efforts. The new CORI law opened the door for successful re-entry. Now we must press for the jobs and training opportunities needed to fulfill the promise of this legislation. In addition, I am directing Boston Police to work with the ATF on a new anti-gun task force. In Boston and around the country, we've seen too much mayhem from the wrong guns in the wrong hands. Let us also make sure educational opportunity is shared across the city. We'll continue with our aggressive education reform efforts. Turning around underperforming schools is the best way to provide great schools in every neighborhood. It lays the groundwork for us to tackle changes to student assignment. But we can't stop there. Full-day school for four-year olds has proven to be successful. Even in these tough budget times, we must find a way to expand the reach of early education for those who need it most. Recently, our PILOT task force laid out a formula for the city's non-profits to provide funding and services in lieu of taxes. A top priority for new commitments will be early education in the Circle of Promise. With private, public, and non-profit partners, I believe we can double the seats for four-year olds in the next five years. If we do this, we'll also create more openings across the city for all parents of young children. There should be just one education agenda in Boston. There should be just one mission that we all get behind: The kids are going to learn. Let me address one final disparity. The difference between what we pay for city employee health care costs and what we can afford, what private sector neighbors get, and what the State provides to its employees. In this economy, it's tough enough for our neighbors to cover their own healthcare costs. We should not ask them to cover the vast majority of ours. Our budget challenges next year will be as harsh as they have ever been. Our healthcare costs are an enormous strain on an already grim financial situation. Boston taxpayers pay 82 percent of health care costs for most City employees. In total, our healthcare costs will reach nearly 300 million dollars next year. The State pays 67 percent of healthcare costs for new employees. If Boston had the same plan design, we could save one million dollars a month. To put into early education. And job training. And neighborhood improvements. And summer jobs. Municipal union leaders can make this right at the negotiating table. The City Council can make this right by approving my home rule petition for a Boston version of the state's Group Insurance Commission. The State can make this right by granting us the power they gave themselves. We in government should stay mindful of our neighbors who are struggling to keep a job or to find one. ______ As we navigate 2011, let us make sure the recovery we have is a recovery for all of our people, that our progress is shared widely. This isn't just morally right - though it is. It's not just how I was raised - though it was. And it's not just the way I've tried to lead our city, always balancing interests - though I have. It's also the issue of our time. Growing inequalities now threaten to divide our great nation and its great cities. We won't have all of the solutions in Boston, but we can start here. Many other great journeys have. In Boston, 2011 will be a great year. You can feel it in the energy of our people, in the way your imagination is again set on pushing us ahead. It will be the year of our recovery. And the year we too decided not just to come back, but to come back better. God bless our great city and all of our residents. Thank you and good evening.
Olivia, Taylor, and Thomas - Giulia, Samantha, and Will, I am so proud of you. To the City Council - especially our new members - this day on which we all take an oath connects us. I very much look forward to working together in this new term. We are four days into a new year and four days into a new decade. These are milestones on a calendar, but they also provide a sense of renewal and possibility. I've had so much time over the past month to think about our days ahead. I missed you. I missed you all, and I am thrilled to be here. The time allowed me to speak with many of you. We all understand how deeply this national economic crisis touched every family. We know the holidays were tougher this year; that food pantries are busier than ever; that college acceptance letters arrive with more financial anxiety. We know the economic rise that came before this recession also came with costs. Not all that was new in the bubble was so wise. True progress, we believe, should be long lasting and shared widely. And so, even though there are signs the economy may be starting to find more stable footing, we begin the new year wondering a bit more than usual just where we stand. When in March of 1776 the British were expelled from Boston, George Washington and others came into the city to survey the damage. When they did, the historians tell us, "the surprise...was how much had not been destroyed or carried off." "So great had been the chaos and the rush of the enemy" and yet so much remained. My fellow Bostonians, we have faced the rush of adversity over the last year, but so much of who we are as a city is still here. Our sense of community has not been weakened. Our human capital not carried off. Our uniquely Boston combination of ingenuity and perseverance still remains and will take us into this new decade, the best as we approach our city's fourth century. Remember that amid the recent challenges, our city was home to pioneering surgeries. It was here that companies developed technologies to slow down global warming. Here in Boston, our population is headed toward 700,000. We've been named as one of the greenest cities, best cities for young people, top cities for biotech, the city with the most improved education system. We take special note that crime is down, our budget is balanced, neighborhoods are as strong as ever, and student test scores are up - our math gains topped the list of Washington, New York, Houston, Chicago and a host of other big cities. We should remind ourselves of the progress and look ahead with confidence. This, after all, is a city of innovators - the parent who helps create an autism program in the Boston Public Schools; the neighborhood leader who reaches for a new way to communicate with a teen; the non-profit director who partners with a construction firm to create new jobs for Boston residents. They all find a way to move forward. And when an accountant becomes nurse-in-chief at home and the public face for our city, she innovates too! Thank you Angela. My gratitude is beyond words. So, as we come together and take stock of who we are - of our special Boston DNA - I have no doubts about what will carry us forward. We know we can create jobs, build even stronger, safer neighborhoods, improve our schools, and provide more affordable housing. Today, knowing that all of our potential remains, we inaugurate a new era of shared innovation. What does this mean for the next four years? It means "We've never done it this way" is not an excuse, it's a reason to try. It means that "go-it-alone" is neither a way to get there, nor a destination. It means that at the top of our agenda are the hard tasks still left undone. What will be some hallmarks of this era? A long list of goals includes four I highlight today: Transforming education, delivering on our waterfront and new jobs, making over basic city services, and bringing our city together across diverse backgrounds. I'll start with goal one, transformative progress in education. Here, fixing around the margins won't be enough. We must have the capacity to reinvent ourselves. This week, state legislators debate a reform bill that could provide turnaround authority for districts and position Massachusetts to compete for more than $250 million of federal funds. The right bill for our children increases the charter cap, but also provides turnaround capacity for districts in three places: One, the authority to create in-district charter schools. Two, the flexibility to assign the best teachers where they are needed most. And three, the ability to bypass lengthy arbitration at persistently under-performing schools. It's this combination - the entire mix - that makes good on the promise of education reform in the first place: to help ignite a transformation within districts and bring innovation to scale. Some devoted leaders on Beacon Hill have worked hard to shape a bill that provides this mix. We are close, and I thank them. Our students and parents thank them. To those who plan to block reform, or weaken it, or stand in the way of the last few pieces, I say make no mistake: it's not pro-union to maintain under-performing schools for their own children. It's not responsible to jeopardize $250 million. It's not progressive to be middle of the road on education, the civil rights issue of our time. It's certainly not right to put adult interests before kids' needs. Politicians who would pass paper reform in place of the real thing and declare "Mission Accomplished" cheat our children. If real reform wins, we can look to a day with one system of education in Boston. When there will be no wasteful feuding on charter versus pilot versus traditional public. Educators and best practices will move across fading boundaries. Our system will welcome innovation with one standard: deliver outstanding results for all of our youth. Joshua Tabolt, who is here today, sent me his vision for Boston. Joshua is in the 11 th grade at Another Course to College, a Boston Public School in Brighton. He wrote, "I have been fortunate to attend very good schools in Boston... However, not all students are able to get the same quality education that I have had. It's important that all schools prepare all children for the future." Joshua, I couldn't agree with you more. We can all learn from you. Goal two in this term is to unlock the potential of our city in Downtown Crossing, Dudley Square, and the Albany Street Corridor, and to deliver on the promise of our marine industrial park and waterfront by turning them into a vibrant Innovation District. A new approach is called for on the waterfront - one that is both more deliberate and more experimental. Together, we should develop these thousand acres into a hub for knowledge workers and creative jobs. We'll define innovation clusters - in green, biotech and health care, web development, and other industries. And there, we'll experiment with alternative housing models. We will test new ideas that provide live/work opportunities to entrepreneurs and affordable co-housing for researchers. Years of financial engineering left us with a sub-prime crisis in housing. It's time to get back to "engineering engineering." We'll give architects and developers the challenge to experiment with new designs, new floor plans, and new materials. Our mandate to all will be to invent a 21 st century district that meets the needs of the innovators who live and work in Boston - to create a job magnet, an urban lab on our shore, and to harvest its lessons for the city. Goal three is to transform our delivery of basic city services and usher in a wave of municipal innovation. Sixteen years ago I was labeled the Urban Mechanic and described as a sort of one-man "Mr. Fix-it" when it came to the basics that make our city work. The nickname was overstated then, but it's outdated now - we are all urban mechanics. Smartphones, GPS, wireless technology, and a resurgent spirit of civic engagement mean that all of us are eyes and ears on the streets, that neighbors are our greatest source of data, and our citizens the best civic entrepreneurs. It's time to build on our early experiments, deliver on projects we've dreamed up, and make Boston a proving ground for dozens of novel solutions. This is an open call to foundations, entrepreneurs, technologists, and neighbors: Help us make Boston the hub of municipal innovation. Be the heart of this approach - one we call New Urban Mechanics - and make sure it delivers on the noble promise we make to all of our residents: to provide neighborhoods that work for them and their families. A fourth goal is to bring our city truly together across diverse backgrounds. An honest look at our progress shows that we've come very far from the divisions of decades past, but that we still have some distance to go. I think we all feel that sometimes we share ZIP codes and sports teams more than a deep sense of shared experience. Nothing would make me prouder than for my grandkids to say their papa helped all of us here in Boston truly know each other. When I made my first inaugural address, I promised to help bring about a century of inclusiveness in government. We've made much progress, but we must recommit ourselves to that ambition. Complacency is no excuse for leaving people out, but our aims should be even higher, so that this new decade is about opening doors, but also walking through them in each other's shoes. I have ideas about how to do this - how to use our parks, our businesses, our places of worship, even our restaurants, to bring our city closer. But this is just the kind of project we should engage in together, and so I start by inviting your proposals. Even as we transform our schools, deliver on the promise of our waterfront, and make over our city services, let us make sure this progress is shared among our people in the deepest sense of the word. When we look back four years from now - when we meet these goals and many others - we'll have come very far. But our full achievement may be determined as much by how we get there as by what we get done. We will experiment and take risks. We will form unexpected partnerships. We will welcome ideas, reach out, and empower participation. We will revisit the "old no's." We will scale what works, and end what doesn't. So I announce today that by April we will identify two dozen existing programs to cut or consolidate and six more to expand and support. When we do these things, if we emphasize our best traits and set aside our less productive habits, we will accomplish great things. It will be hard, no doubt. We'll face enormous budget constraints. But you might say that necessity is the mother of innovation. There will be a substantial wind at our backs because in many ways, changes in the world have come to us. Social networking is a new way of saying what we have long held dear - we accomplish more when we engage people. Concerns about inequalities remind us of what we have always felt - a city works best when it works for all of its residents. Market failures in the last few years confirm for us, in this cradle of democracy, that yes, government still has a positive role to play in people's lives. There is no place on earth better positioned to meet the challenges of a new decade or to make use of its new tools than here in Boston. A new day of shared innovation lies ahead for all of us, and we carry into it all the talent, fortitude, and creativity that have brought us here. My friend Ted Kennedy said once that, "All of us will live on in the future we make." Let our legacy to each other be launching pads for those who follow. Let us show the world that in Boston, history is just a prelude. That here, we don't lay capstones, we lay foundations. It was the privilege of a lifetime to take this oath for a fifth term this morning. We have only 1,463 days in this new term. Today is day one. Let's go out and make the most of it and every one that follows. Thank you and God bless all of you and this city.
Governor Patrick, Secretary Galvin, Attorney General Coakley, Treasurer Cahill, Auditor DeNucci, Senate President Murray, Speaker DiMasi, distinguished guests, and my fellow citizens. Thank you all for joining me tonight here at Boston's Faneuil Hall - a building that represents the resilience and strength that must guide us this year. Congratulations to new City Council President Michael Ross, and thanks to the entire City Council for your service to our great city. Together, we will serve with commitment and compassion. The most compassionate person I know is my wife, Angela. Thank you, Angela, and thanks to my family for your unconditional love and support. Thank you also to all of the men and women who serve in the United States Military, including the 20 City of Boston employees who are currently on active duty. We are grateful for your service and sacrifice. Tonight we mourn the loss of a member of the Boston family. Lieutenant Kevin Kelley dedicated 30 years to the Boston Fire Department and the City of Boston. He was a loving husband and father. We offer our support and prayers to his family, the injured firefighters and residents. Please join me in a moment of silence to honor him. Our firefighters put their lives on the line every day. Our whole city thanks you for your service. Tonight, let's note the history that will be made one week from today when Barack Obama is sworn in as President of the United States. We share a strong belief in the power of people and the importance of an urban agenda. I look forward to working with an individual who's so dedicated to moving our country forward. We are really going to need that partnership now. This is no ordinary year. But ours is no ordinary city. We are confronting a great economic crisis. Boston did not create it, but Boston must deal with it. Together, we will overcome it. The problems are truly global in scale, but they are also very, very real in our city. I am in the neighborhoods all the time. The other night, I talked with families at a hockey game in East Boston, who told me how tough it has become for them to put food on the table. Recently, at a groundbreaking, I sat with construction workers who voiced real concern about their jobs. I spent Christmas Eve on Bowdoin/Geneva with small business owners who told me their business is off. I understand how they feel. Whether it's at your kitchen table, or at my desk, the numbers are not pretty. Governor Patrick already was forced to cut $1.4 billion from the state budget and has talked about another $1 billion in cuts this year. Speaker DiMasi has prepared us for what could be a ten percent cut in local aid. Taken together with rising costs and declining revenues, the City is looking at a shortfall in the range of $140 million this coming year. That dramatic figure threatens all our hard-won gains in education, in public safety, and in our neighborhoods. I worry about all the residents who depend on the services we provide, and I worry about the City employees who deliver them. Because $140 million means cuts to core services. It means cuts in jobs. We are talking about real pain for working families, and I don't want that. Other cities are already laying off hundreds of people. But, Boston is no ordinary city. We've had the foresight to prepare for the bad times, even when it was deeply unpopular. That's why we were able to refinance debt and cut costs by more than $30 million. I will not stop seeking efficiencies and streamlining operations throughout City government. I will not stop fighting for legislation that gives cities the additional tools we need to manage through this crisis and beyond, and I will focus our resources on our shared priorities: public safety, public education, and economic opportunity for everyone. We cannot tighten our belts out of this situation - no matter how much we prioritize, legislate, and consolidate. We need courage and urgent action. Tonight, I am asking municipal union leaders to partner with me on behalf of working men and women. If we can agree to a one-year wage freeze, then I can protect core services for residents and preserve jobs. I know this will be hard on working families, but the way I see it, a one-year wage freeze beats core service reductions and painful layoffs. We all love our city. We all benefit from a strong Boston. When we work as partners, we weave the fabric of the city together. As we draw this fabric closer, we feel the warmth of human connections that will help us not only weather this storm, but to lead our nation out of it. Make no mistake: I have a bold vision for Boston - a city of strong community and unlimited opportunity. We already have made important gains on that vision by working together, staying focused on our goals, and maximizing every resource. The tough economy may slow our advance, but we will not be stopped. There are many reasons to have faith in our city. Right now, Boston residents are seeing their second straight year of property tax reductions. Right now, nearly 40 buildings are under construction - creating some 10,000 permanent jobs. Right now, the city's population has surged to more than 600,000 people for the first time in 30 years. Never has Boston been so diverse, and never have our neighborhoods been so strong. Boston's neighborhoods are special for me. You can feel the sense of pride when someone says, "I'm from West Roxbury" or "I'm from Hyde Park." That pride has to do with people's sense of commitment. The most powerful expression of that is homeownership. I remember when Angela and I bought our first home - we still live there. It wasn't anything fancy, but it was a dream come true, the culmination of years of hard work. It increased our sense of belonging to the neighborhood, and it gave us a deeper feeling of responsibility to our neighbors. Foreclosures destroy that. I started foreclosure prevention efforts more than ten years ago. Today, we can see the difference our efforts are making. Graduates of our first-time homebuyers course have a foreclosure rate that's less than a third the rate of the overall Boston market. In the last two years alone, the City prevented nearly 450 foreclosures. We kept nearly 500 families in their homes and preserved over $130 million in home values. But we didn't stop there. We created the nationally-recognized Foreclosure Intervention Team. We purchased 12 foreclosed units in the Hendry Street neighborhood - one of our hardest hit areas. A year ago, in this 4-block area in Dorchester, there were 16 foreclosed and abandoned properties. Today, there are three. Street by street, block by block, we will do even more this year. I will stand by your side to preserve your investment. I will stick up for Boston's neighborhoods. I will fight to protect all that we have achieved. This same commitment is what keeps our communities safe. People standing up and saying, "I am responsible for my actions and my community." That attitude, paired with police work we all can be proud of, is making a difference. We reduced crime by 8% in 2008. We cut homicides for the third year in a row. We will improve on these gains in 2009, because protecting Boston's residents is my top priority. I will not allow a handful of criminals to threaten our communities. We will take your guns. We will break up your gangs, and we will lock you up. Violence has no place in Boston's neighborhoods. Keeping our streets safe must start with putting bad guys behind bars, but it's about more than enforcement. It's about intervention and prevention, too. That's what our community service officers, our neighborhood crime watch groups, and our non-profit partners do so well. Together, they work to prevent retaliation and build trust with residents, which lies at the heart of community policing. Please join me in thanking all our public safety personnel and our dedicated neighborhood partners. Boston is more than a city of neighborhoods. We are a city of neighbors. Just look at Michael Ferchak. He's the nurse who rushed to the aid of firefighters last Friday. On behalf of the city of Boston, thank you. Not every neighborly effort will be so brave. But every time we reach out to a fellow resident we bring our city closer. Last spring, my team, together with volunteers, hit the streets to knock on over 2,000 doors to enroll our kids in summer and afterschool programs. This winter, we will do even more. We are calling every single senior in Boston. We want to make sure all our seniors stay warm, safe and healthy. This commitment to each other has made Boston a center of diversity and culture, of tolerance and inclusion, of innovation and forward thinking. Look at our investments in green technology, where Boston has become a national leader. Not only are we creating a healthier city and a legacy of sustainability, we are also driving economic growth, and introducing new opportunities for our residents. We are investing in training for new green jobs. At the same time, we are working hard to support green businesses in Boston. Companies like Next Step Living, which improves residential energy efficiency. Or entrepreneurs like Marty Walsh, who owns Geek House Bikes in Allston. Marty received a City of Boston loan to help fund his shop's expansion. These progressive businesses represent a key component of Boston's economic future. I know folks are truly worried about their jobs. Yet, even as this fog of economic uncertainty lingers over the nation, there is a great light shining on Boston. People look to our city for inspiration. They look to us for reassurance and for leadership, and it's through strong leadership that we are well-prepared, so that Boston emerges from these challenging times on solid footing. My administration is doing everything we can to grow Boston's economy. In 2008, the City helped launch 100 small businesses by providing financial and technical assistance. In 2009, we will make available $40 million in HUD loan funds to jumpstart construction in Boston. I am reaching out to CEOs of our largest employers to ask them to do everything they can to save jobs through these tough times. When we talk about economic opportunity, we need to talk about bringing more of that opportunity to Boston's neighborhoods. Neighborhoods are where I love to be. I am out there every day, from Roxbury to Brighton, from Bunker Hill to Mission Hill. I know residents find opportunities in our schools, parks and libraries. Now more than ever, people rely on these neighborhood institutions. Right now, we're seeing a surge in library use - a one-third increase in requests for new library cards citywide. I am proud of how hard I have fought to allocate library resources where they can make the most difference - at your neighborhood branches. Within these buildings, you can uncover the past and discover your future. That's why, despite a tough financial climate, I am thrilled to announce the opening of new libraries in Grove Hall and Mattapan. Libraries are central to learning, and nothing matters more than education. Tonight I was introduced by Moriah Smith, a high school senior from Dorchester. Moriah has served as the student representative on the Boston School Committee. Through the Boston Public Schools, she's had the opportunity to discuss the Constitution with Supreme Court Justices, and she's received a great education. She's learned how to think critically, independently and creatively. Moriah reminds us that all children dream, and that the Boston Public Schools are a place where young people learn the skills to realize their dreams. I look at students like Moriah in classrooms throughout our city, and I see Boston's future doctors, teachers and even a mayor or two. All of Boston's students energize me to keep pushing for progress every day of every month of every year. We have come a long way from the days when 7 of our schools were in danger of losing accreditation. Today, test scores are up. One in four juniors and seniors take Advanced Placement classes, and eight of our high schools are nationally recognized by US News & World Report. We achieved these gains by being creative and collaborative, and we will keep our focus on addressing the achievement gap and pushing the envelope of excellence. Tonight, I am announcing a new partnership that takes us even further in that direction. The Cloud Foundation is making a $1 million commitment, so that we can match 2,000 of our most driven students with leading innovators in art and science. I would like to thank the founder of the Cloud Foundation - Dr. David Edwards - for his commitment to Boston's youth. These students will learn how to develop and implement cutting edge ideas. This is exactly what drives Boston's dynamic economy, and what will strengthen our position as a hub of innovation in the years ahead. Our City has made great strides. In our neighborhoods, we have decreased foreclosures and increased safety, decreased property taxes and increased opportunity. In our schools, we have decreased the achievement gap and increased learning. But I must remind you: unless we work together and take urgent action, our hard-won gains will be lost. In the worst of economic times, we must show the best of Boston. We have to work together to move our city forward. The State of the City is in our hands, and, for that reason, I know that the state of our city is strong. When we dare to dream and are willing to work, our boldest aspirations and our greatest hopes soar over the wall of uncertainty and despair. Time after time, we have found new ways to work together unselfishly. Today is such a time. Today, we must renew our core principles. Today, we must awaken our revolutionary spirit that sparks Boston's enduring hope and confidence. Boston's best days are ahead of us. I pledge to you that I will continue to work tirelessly to move our city forward this year and in the years ahead. Thank you. God bless the great city of Boston.
Senator Kerry, Governor Patrick, Secretary Galvin, Attorney General Coakley, Treasurer Cahill, Auditor DeNucci, Senate President Murray, Speaker DiMasi, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens. Thank you all for joining me tonight here at Boston's historic Strand Theatre! My greatest thanks go to my family, and especially to my wife, Angela. You are my inspiration, day in and day out, as I work to lead our great city. I want to take a moment to acknowledge the men and women of America's armed forces, especially those who hail from Boston, who are serving our country in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world. We are grateful for their sacrifice, and we look forward to having all of them home soon. Thank you to the Boston City Council, for your hard work throughout the year - including your support for the renovation of the Strand Theatre. Special thanks to Councilor Tobin and the members of our Poet Laureate Task Force. Our City's first Poet Laureate is with us tonight - Sam Cornish. Also with us tonight is our favorite, undefeated football team, our Super Bowl Champions, the Brighton High Bengals! A few years ago, Brighton High could barely put eleven players on the field. Now, you young men have shown the whole city that by working hard and working together, we can reach the highest levels of success. That is true in sports, in school, and throughout city life. Indeed, Boston is bursting with excitement, investment, and potential. While the national economic climate remains uncertain, we have prepared ourselves to weather the storms of economic change. From stemming the rise of foreclosures, to our exceptional bond rating - Boston remains ahead of other cities across the country. Boston is a world leader in life sciences and healthcare, and we have led the charge to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities. Our colleges and universities mold the world's future leaders, and our financial services firms make us a global center for wealth management. We have decreased violent crime, and we have increased our population. We have lowered residential property taxes, and we have raised the quality of our schools. We have narrowed the achievement gap, and we have expanded the range of parks, museums, and theaters that energize our city. My fellow citizens, the state of our city is stronger than ever! Boston is rich in resources, and every day this city creates more opportunity, more jobs, and more revenues - not just for the people of Boston - but for the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts. But the City is still shackled by state laws that prevent us from diversifying our revenues. We must give this capital city the tools to do more for Massachusetts residents. I want to thank Governor Patrick for joining me in the fight to free cities and towns from our dangerous over-dependence on the property tax. Tonight's invocation was given by Martin Luther King, III, who joined me this afternoon to announce plans to create Boston's newest piece of public art - a wonderful statue of his parents. Thank you, Mr. King, for joining us tonight, and for your commitment to the ideals that your father and mother championed. Now, we all know that I am not quite the gifted public speaker that Doctor King was, but I share, with every ounce of who I am, the conviction that he captured so simply, when he said, "Life's most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?" Tonight I want to talk to you about what our City is doing to support you in your family life, in your education, and in your work. This year, we cut your property taxes, putting more money into the pockets of hard-working homeowners. I want to thank Senate President Murray and Speaker DiMasi, for your help on that issue. As always, we plowed your streets, collected your trash, and looked after your parks and open spaces. But I want to talk about more than these basic services. I want to talk about the greatest resource our city has - the people of Boston. From Millennium Park to Moakley Park, and from Adams Village to Maverick Square, the people of Boston power our city forward. We have many examples of the benefits that we create when citizens work hand-in-hand with government. Look at what we are doing in our fight to ensure public safety. This issue is an absolute priority of my administration. With the help of our legislative leaders, we have put more police on the street than at any time since 2002. Commissioner Davis has deployed officers in Safe Street Teams, walking the blocks that most need police presence. We have increased the number of police detectives by 25 percent to investigate and solve crime. All of this is important, but must be matched with a collaborative effort to engage citizens in the push to make neighborhoods safer. That's why I went out with teams of City staff to take services right into our communities. We knocked on 2200 doors in ten BHA developments to educate families about youth recreation programs. That's every home in these developments with a child between eight and fourteen years old. Then, we knocked on another 2100 doors - that's every single residence in the four areas of our city most impacted by crime. Because we know that attention to details - from fixing street lights to planting trees - helps to strengthen communities and improve safety. This kind of aggressive approach is what today's challenges demand - an absolute refusal to sit back and wait for solutions to appear. Just look at the results. I am proud to say that in 2007, we reduced violent crime by 9 percent. We reduced homicides by 11 percent; and we reduced shootings by 14 percent. I want to thank the men and women of the Boston Police Department, and all of the residents who are active in our neighborhoods, for making our city safer every day. We will continue this comprehensive approach in the years ahead. Commissioner Davis has promised me that this year, we will reduce violent crime by another 10 percent. Our public safety team is suffering, however, because of problems that persist in our fire department. I am astounded by the union leaders' unwillingness to eliminate substance abuse and unethical personnel practices. With every charge that comes up, the union leaders respond with defensiveness and denial. For some reason, they refuse to be part of the solution - and that's a shame. It's such a disservice to the honorable men and women in that department. These union leaders do not seem to realize what everyone in this city knows - that it is not right to ask for pay raises as a reward for putting a stop to these abuses of the public trust. I can tell you right now - I am one hundred percent opposed to any contract that does not include random drug and alcohol testing. We have so many positive things happening in our city. Every day, I am out in the neighborhoods. I cut ribbons for senior housing, and I drop in on neighborhood businesses. I see so many people who fill me with faith in the future of our city. But for me, this year, my most inspiring moments came during my visits to Camp Harbor View. This is a remarkable story about the public and private sector joining together so that kids from every neighborhood in Boston could have the best summer of their lives. I want to thank all of you who made this possible, especially Jack Connors and John Fish. Seeing your spirit of common commitment - and I see it every day - fills me with the energy to lead Boston forward. Another place where I see a common commitment reshaping our city is in the area of environmental sustainability. I've been focused on this issue since 2000, when I joined mayors from around the world to show leadership on climate change. I have found that people citywide understand that sustainability is about making Boston's future even brighter than its present. Now, I am announcing that Boston will introduce single stream recycling. The City will provide larger bins, so you don't have to sort paper from plastic. This meets people's desire to conserve resources, and it saves the City money by decreasing the amount of solid waste that we generate. We have tested this program in Jamaica Plain and Roslindale, and recycling increased 53 percent. We really are turning Beantown into Greentown! Another way that we are working to reduce our carbon footprint is by transforming Boston into a bike-friendly city. Last fall, I kicked off the City's annual Hub on Wheels event, joining 3,000 people for a bike ride across our city. Now, we are going to improve Boston's cycling infrastructure, starting with new bike lanes on Commonwealth Avenue, between Kenmore Square and the BU Bridge. This is one of the busiest cycling corridors in Boston, with thousands of people commuting by bike every day. With your support, Boston is showing the world what it means to be a 21st Century City. This matters most for the children of Boston - like the Boston Public School students who stood on this stage earlier this evening. These students come from every corner of the world. In their native languages, they welcomed the crowd to tonight's event. Then, in English, they led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. I am moved by these kids and humbled by our responsibility to them, and I have a vision for how Boston can do more to live up to that responsibility. When I first took office, we all worked together and created the Boston Miracle. That's what people called the results of our nationally recognized community policing initiative. Today, we are going to create the next Boston Miracle - and this one will come from our new commitment to Community Learning. Imagine: if rather than enrolling your child in a single school, you enrolled your child in a set of institutions - a public school, a neighborhood branch library, and your local community center. Imagine if these facilities, their programming, and their personnel were all aligned, so that curriculum and after-school programming could be seamlessly delivered from morning to evening. Imagine if your children had not just a teacher or two to push their progress, but a whole network of caring adults at a series of sites throughout your neighborhood. This is Community Learning. Tonight, I am announcing that I will invest one million dollars to align these institutions. With this commitment, we will begin to transform this vision of Community Learning into a reality of neighborhood life - a citywide approach that unlocks the vast potential of Boston's children. Our first step will be to improve our community centers. This year, we will add new arts programming and extend the hours of operation. We can make more of these assets, and do more for Boston's future. That's what we have done with our public schools, where City government and residents are working together to introduce change and propel progress. Unfortunately, like urban school districts all across America, we do have a problem with high school students dropping out. We must do more for these kids. Later this month, our new School Superintendent, Dr. Carol Johnson, will talk in more detail about how we're going to use every resource we have to re-engage these kids. I look forward to working with her to take on this challenge. We need to help these kids become part of Boston's public education success story. In 2006, after five years as a finalist, the Boston Public Schools received the Broad Prize, as America's best urban school system. Now, US News & World Report has ranked the best public high schools in America. Nine of Boston's public high schools received national recognition, and Boston Latin School was cited as the best school in Massachusetts, and number 19 in the nation. Because we have created more high-performing schools throughout the city, we now have the opportunity to increase our investment in classroom quality by revisiting our school transportation plan. Right now, we're spending tens of millions a year on yellow school buses, a portion of that is for our students with special needs and we will continue to provide this level of service for those families. But we can save significant money on the majority of transportation costs which currently total about 40 million dollars. If we do nothing, this number will reach 60 million dollars within five years. This is crazy. I will not allow us to pour dollar after dollar into gas tanks, when we could invest more of that money into our classrooms. I know this is a very sensitive issue, but strong leadership is all about facing facts and providing a plan to push forward. Here are the facts: Number one: We now have more high-performing schools in our city than in the past. Number two: We know that parents in every part of our city want and deserve choice. Number three: We cannot continue to spend more and more money on transportation at the expense of education. I have asked the School Committee and Superintendent Johnson to review the school transportation plan and recommend the necessary changes. I guarantee you that we absolutely will continue to provide choice, but I believe that we can rethink our school assignment zones, continue providing children in every neighborhood with access to high-performing schools, and save up to ten million dollars of transportation costs. I pledge to you that every dollar we save will be reinvested in the quality of our classroom education for all children, in all neighborhoods. Now, I will raise the bar even higher, because people need to know that we are committed not just to improvement, but to excellence. I am calling on Superintendent Johnson to double the number of Advanced Placement Classes in the next five years. In the same time frame, I have asked her to further challenge our most ambitious students by establishing International Baccalaureate programs at two of our non-exam schools. This program's rigorous standards command respect all over the world, and its graduates gain access to a whole range of international opportunities, in college and beyond. These diplomas are rare. We will offer our most diligent public school students this gold standard of education because I believe that Boston must prepare our best and brightest to lead us in the increasingly global economy. Working together, we are making city life more meaningful and more rewarding. Together, we will strengthen this city's framework for achievement, and its network of opportunities. And together, we will expand Boston's prominence on the global stage. I ask all of you to join me in this process. You are the key to a future both more brilliant, and more inclusive, than anything we have ever known. Together, we possess the power to drive this city to new heights - for ourselves, and for all who are around us. Look around at our city, and you will see how this sense of common commitment can change a school, a block, a neighborhood. You will see that this spirit has the power to shape us, and we in turn can take it upon ourselves to transform our entire city. This is the greatness to which we aspire. I am committed to this goal, and I ask for your commitment as well. Thank you for your continued partnership. God bless the great City of Boston.
Governor Patrick, Secretary Galvin, Attorney General Reilly, Treasurer Cahill, Auditor DeNucci, Senate President Travaglini, Speaker DiMasi, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens. Thank you all for joining me tonight at Dorchester's historic Strand Theatre! I want to ask you all to join me in a moment of silence in honor of Councilor Jimmy Kelly, who passed away this morning after a long battle with cancer. Jimmy Kelly was my friend. We didn't agree on some issues, but his commitment to his constituents was tremendous, and his word was worth everything. I'll miss his huge heart, his sense of humor, and his deep spirit of public service. Thank you to the entire Boston City Council, for your hard work throughout the year. I want to congratulate our new City Council President Maureen Feeney. Governor Patrick, I look forward to working closely with you on the issues facing our Commonwealth and our City. You have inspired us with your hope and your enthusiasm. Of course, my greatest inspiration comes from my wife, Angela, and my children and grandchildren. Thank you for your enduring love and support. We all know that Boston's economy is strong. Our population has grown by more than 37,000 people since the last census. We're creating new jobs. Our hotels and offices are full. And with the guidance of our thoughtful planning, we are changing the face of our downtown. The story of Boston's strong neighborhoods is just as exciting. I travel this city from end to end, and every day I am filled with faith in the future of this great city, and energized by the people I meet. Like all the women entrepreneurs who have opened retail shops across the city, strengthening Boston's main streets. Or, like the hundreds of young people at last summer's hip-hop summit. They were so glad I came, that they gave me a new nickname - "Tee Mizzy!" That hip-hop summit, which happened right here at The Strand, was a powerful statement of the enormous strength of our neighborhoods and our young people. That's what made me invite all of you here tonight. So that here in this theater, we could talk about our commitment to the spirit of Boston - to the spirit of community. So that we could talk about taking on the toughest challenges of urban life - and how we will solve them together. Many times, on many issues, we have harnessed a spirit of shared responsibility. We have paired the resources of city government with those of the community, the private sector, and the non-profits. And when we have captured that common commitment, we have done great things. We have created thousands of units of housing. We have achieved great progress in our schools. We have improved public health. And we are leading the effort to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities. We have developed a new understanding of the importance of this city's diversity, and a new recognition that Boston's vitality is a reflection of its residents - a mirror image that manifests our many cultures, our various histories, and our shared future. Working together, we have taken this birthplace of America and have helped it become a beacon for our nation's future. My fellow Bostonians: the state of our city is inclusive, unlimited, and strong. Boston has become stronger in so many ways that we now have the opportunity to be truly bold in how we envision our future. But like every organization, City government must balance its resources between big visions that can redefine the future, and core values that meet our mission today. That mission is simple: Government is about helping people. Our core values center on public safety, public education, public health and the delivery of basic services. On a daily basis, City government collects trash, removes snow, cleans streets and much more. Today, we are using new technology to make our service delivery more efficient and more effective. Because make no mistake, these simple services provide the real framework for healthy neighborhoods. Our commitment to being proactive, combined with Boston's potential for true greatness, enabled me to attract talented new people to my administration. Half my Cabinet is new this year -- and let me tell you, it feels great! Together with longstanding members of my administration, we are examining all areas of city life, looking for ways to make Boston work better. As always, I am humbled by the responsibility Boston's residents have entrusted to me, but at the same time, indeed now more than ever, I am excited to bring together the best of Boston, so we can capture every ounce of possibility and promise that I see in our great neighborhoods. That effort will start right here where I stand before you. Tonight, I tell you proudly: we are going to save The Strand. When I was growing up, there were beautiful theaters like this one all over our city. Today, The Strand is the last of its kind. We must be a city that values its cultural assets, that preserves them as pillars of city life. This building speaks to Boston's history, to the generations whose struggles and triumphs have shaped our city. It provides a place for residents all across our city to come together for music, performance, and self-expression. For these reasons, we are investing $6 million to save The Strand. This investment will address critical repairs, which will begin next month. But I have a grander vision -- and I need your help. We cannot bring this building back to its former glory by ourselves. We need private sector funding, and in-kind support from the non-profit community. I am confident that people will recognize how precious this space is, both as a piece of our past and as a legacy that will live on in future artistic celebrations. We need you to join a public-private partnership to support this vision so that The Strand can continue to lift our spirits and bring people together. Public spaces do not need to be as lofty as this in order to help create community. Just down the street is Ceylon Park. During the warm weather, the place is packed. Thousands of people use it. There are soccer games and cookouts, families and friends coming together, longtime residents and recent immigrants. This kind of vitality is what makes me so confident that Boston's great strength is poised to last for generations. Now, we are going to renovate Ceylon Park. We're going to put in all-season turf, to make it even more valuable, more usable for residents. We are strengthening civic spaces in all of Boston's neighborhoods. In Mattapan we will break ground on a new public library. In West Roxbury, we are building a new playground at Hynes Field. At our public high schools, we're in the midst of a multi-year commitment to upgrade our athletic fields. Citywide, we are improving the places that put the life in city life. But we have to be selective about these and other projects, because our revenues are restricted. I look forward to working with Governor Patrick and the Legislature to craft a new revenue model, one that will relieve pressures on property taxes and will do more to fuel the economic growth that is happening here in Boston. Cities and towns need revenue diversification to address all the issues we face, from basic services to public safety. Public safety is a top priority of my administration. I will not allow violent offenders to terrorize neighborhoods and paralyze people with fear. I chose our new Police Commissioner Ed Davis because of his track record of real results. He knows how to manage resources, and how to cultivate key partnerships, to achieve the bottom line of reducing crime and violence. To give the new commissioner as much manpower as possible, we are putting 190 new police officers on the street this fiscal year. Our strategy is to increase law enforcement's visibility where crime is on the rise, reassuring residents that we are here to help, and reminding offenders that we are watching them. At the same time, we are emphasizing prevention, returning resources to the programs that help young people steer clear of gangs and drugs. And we are recommitting ourselves to strengthening partnerships among police officers, community groups, and neighborhood residents. Members of the command staff are now spending weekly shifts at our district stations, giving rank and file officers a direct link to the department's top decision makers. We are establishing Advisory Councils in every police district, to provide a better framework for communication with residents. These efforts are all about making sure that important information gets into the hands of the people who need it to prevent and solve crime. Please join me in thanking the men and women of the Boston Police Department for their hard work and dedication. In the year that just ended, the Boston Police took more than 1800 guns off of Boston's streets - that's twice as many as the previous year. Illegal guns are a major problem - but so is the fact that we have stopped feeling shocked by all these guns. Think about it - 1800 guns! That's like collecting 5 guns a day, every day, all year long. That's a lot of death and despair that was prevented. In addition to removing guns from our streets, we are being more aggressive than ever in going after rogue gun dealers. That's why Mayor Bloomberg and I teamed up to launch Mayors Against Illegal Guns. We started with 15 mayors. Today, there are 123 of us, from 44 states. Later this month, I will travel to Washington to meet with Speaker Pelosi. We need to convince Congress to pass common sense gun laws. Laws that punish immoral gun dealers, and protect our citizens. Because guns create fear that can kill our communities. But only if we let it. I agree with Commissioner Davis. It is astonishing how some people stonewall the police. When neighbors and family members of victims withhold information, they are protecting the very people who pulled the trigger and shattered their lives. Along with Commissioner Davis and the entire Boston Police Department, I am fully committed to bringing Boston's neighborhoods beyond the recent rash of violence. We are doing everything in our power to merit the confidence of people who have information to share. Because our ability to move forward requires that ordinary people show extraordinary courage. We know that real results are the key to increasing people's confidence. We have seen that happen with the Boston Public Schools, where our progress is being recognized both nationally and locally. This year, we were awarded the Broad Prize as America's best urban school system. More and more families are staying in the school system, giving their children an excellent education, and our high school students achieved their highest MCAS scores ever. But I am a long way from satisfied. We must do more to help Boston's young people climb the twin ladders of knowledge and economic opportunity. That's why we hired Manny Rivera who was named the best urban school superintendent in the country. With strong leadership, we will continue our march toward providing all of Boston's children an education that prepares them for the opportunities of tomorrow's economy, and fills them with a steadfast belief that their aspirations are achievable. I have been very vocal in my commitment to eliminating racial and ethnic gaps in all areas - especially academic achievement. Now, I am assembling the best minds in Massachusetts to develop a 10-year strategic plan. We are not just going to close the achievement gap - we are going to prevent it. This effort is driven by ground-breaking research that shows how children's earliest years actually form the architecture of their brains. While this planning is in process, we will begin immediately to ensure that all of our kids are ready when they enter kindergarten. To achieve this goal, I am announcing a new initiative called "Smart from the Start." That's what children are -- smart from the start, and that's what we need to be. In its first phase, this program will reach out to the poorest ten percent of Boston kids under age 5. That's about 38 hundred kids, who face tremendous barriers to school readiness and success. Using the community centers in the neighborhoods where these kids live, we will offer childcare providers and parents free early learning opportunities. We will combine this with adult education and ESOL classes that incorporate a curriculum on child development and school readiness. Our responsibility to the children of this city cannot begin and end with the school bell. To give them a strong education that leads to self-sufficiency, our commitment must start early and extend around the clock, throughout the year. We will continue to apply the most progressive problem-solving and the most unflinching commitment to the challenge of educating all of Boston's children. Because by opening up their minds, we can open up their worlds. Stimulate people's minds, and you encourage them to dream. That's the key to change and progress. I see that happening all over this great city, people daring to dream - from first-time homeowners to folks starting new businesses. These actions are expressions of courage and commitment, and they happen every day in every neighborhood. Seeing this spirit fills me with the energy to lead this city forward, to realize more and more of its potential. We will continue to invest in our cultural assets, and in the other civic spaces that we Bostonians share. We will continue to tackle the toughest challenges - because they lie at the heart of our mission to help. We all know that the road to realizing Boston's great promise is not without obstacles. But today, more than ever before, our momentum is great. Today, we Bostonians are rich in the resources that all great quests require - purpose, passion, and the power of partnership. The City of Boston's quest must be for excellence and for equity. We must continue to create opportunity and we must extend that opportunity into every corner of every community, to every home on every block of every neighborhood. I thank you for your continued commitment to this great goal that we share: the belief that we can make our beloved Boston the very best city in the world, for all of its residents. Thank you, and God bless the great City of Boston.

DATA: Boston City Hall

Gabriel Florit / Globe Staff