A City That Works for Everyone State of the City Address I. • Intro Good afternoon and welcome. I want to first thank our hosts the Metro Chamber and Matt Mahood for putting on this event. I think it’s incredibly important to have a consistent dialogue and engagement about where we are as a city and where we want to go. I’m honored to be here today to give my first State of the City address. Well folks, it’s been 86 days… Definitely the most interesting 86 days of my life, and potentially the most interesting that a person could possibly have. I knew the job would be tough, I knew it would be exhilarating. I knew it would be challenging. People come up to me all the time in the grocery store and restaurants saying “Are you ok? Don’t let them get you down! Keep going!” So for the record, let me tell you that I love my job. I cannot think of anything I would rather be doing. • • II. Accomplishments • During my campaign, we stressed three main priorities for the city: public safety, education and economic development. We also developed a 100 Day Plan to outline the things that we wanted to accomplish right out of the gate. We’ve worked hard to make significant strides on all of these fronts in an effort-- to set the pace for change we want to see in the city. • We want to quicken the pace, raise the bar, and set a new standard for how city government can operate. I start my days at 430 in the morning and am often working until 10 or 11 o’clock at night. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how this would jive with City Hall culture. But from my conversations with city employees as I greet them in the morning to talking to the retired Sac City cops who drive me through my long days I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm that I’ve been met with. People say that they haven’t worked this hard in a long time, but they also express a newfound appreciation for their job and the role their playing in the transformation of our city. In fact, the enthusiasm and energy in the city is palpable. People like the pace we’re setting. It’s different and exciting. And it’s something we have to take advantage of. I’m proud of the things we’ve been able to do in the last 3 months and want to share some of those with you today. • • • • • In public safety: o We were able to add 8 more cops to the beat. Newly graduated from the Sac City police academy, we’re slowly but surely working to swell the number of our city’s finest. The goal is to get us to the state average of 2 cops per 1000 residents. o This past Saturday, we held a Gang Summit… the first in a series of initiatives to tackle the growing gang violence in the city. 100 young people were in attendance, sharing ideas about how we can curb the proliferation of crime. We need these types of forums to assess what’s right and what’s wrong in our approach to rid our streets of this menace that takes a toll we can never truly understand. It’s more than financial, more than our collective safety. Gangs rob us of our rich, young promising lives. Our challenge is far greater than addressing crime – from prevention to cure, our challenge is to rebuild hope in the neighborhoods where gangs would breed. o I am working to get COPS funding in the stimulus package, working to get Homeland Security grants and we are working with the Sheriff’s department to consolidate services to become more efficient. This will also help with our goal to decrease crime and improve our public safety. • In education: o Our children are our city’s most important asset. We must have a highly educated workforce to compete globally – this will help attract more businesses to Sacramento and build a stronger economy. o For the first time in a long time, we brought together all of the Superintendents in the city to discuss the challenges that we face and how the administration can support their efforts. o We have an education summit planned for March 9th which will bring together the nation’s most recognized leaders in school reform to help us develop a city wide plan for action. • In economic development: o Even in these difficult times, we are seizing on opportunities to spur economic growth. o Last week we broke ground on the Docks Promenade along the Sacramento River. In the short term, the first phase of this project will produce 75 new construction-related jobs and will inject $5 million revenue into our local economy right now. In the long-term, this is a catalyst project that will spur on more development efforts along the waterfront bringing in more investment dollars and more jobs for our city. o Just yesterday we broke ground on the K Streetscape project that will generate another 50 jobs and inject another $4 million in our local economy. o We have more entrepreneurs opening up new eateries and establishments led by Sacramento business leaders like Mason Wong, Henry Devers and Ernesto Jimenez. We have to continue to encourage those entrepreneurs who have invested in our city and have become an integral part of our community. o The city has also attracted the eye of businessmen outside the city like George Karpaty who want to be involved in the revitalization of K Street, joining our own Randy Paragary, a pioneer who boldly took a chance on the Cosmo and Kipp Blewett who created the Citizen Hotel… establishments that have shown the true promise of our downtown corridor. o We have to give these folks plenty of reasons to continue to invest in Sacramento and know that our city government will do our part in making the city flourish. o We also hosted the start of the Amgen Tour of California, which has grown to become the most important cycling event hosted in the United States. While I was excited to have the likes of Lance Armstrong in our midst, I came to find that it was quite another person who was causing a different stir of excitement. My female staffers ensured me that it did not go unnoticed that Patrick Dempsey, star of Grey’s Anatomy… “McDreamy” is what they call him, I think, was also in Sac Town. I don’t watch the show, but all I know is that that kind of giggling about a guy could only mean good things for our city… • Steve Hammond… Please stand up, I would like to thank you and your team for your tireless efforts of marketing our city and attracting events such as the Amgen Tour of California, NCAA Regionals, Olympic track and field events, just to name a few. Let’s give Steve a big round of applause. This is the kind of event that we have to make a hallmark of our city. It should be our goal to host and grow this event every year, making it a destination for cycling fans around the world. This year, it added $8MM to our local economy. With the right planning and marketing, this could easily grow to twice that amount in the coming years, if we as the city government make it an offer they can’t refuse. Speaking of the government doing its part, in the area of transparency and accessibility in city government, we’ve also instituted some new practices. • • o We’ve continued the Townhall meetings that were held during the election. These are incredibly important so that we can keep our fingers on the pulse of what the community is thinking and feeling. o I also instituted “Office Hours”, and had the pleasure of meeting with over 80 citizens to hear their individual insights and problems. I will say that over a 4 hour period, we became incredibly efficient. You know how people are, when they have the opportunity to bend your ear, they often want to milk it for all it’s worth. I got it down to a science though. After listening to people for 1 minute I would say, “I think I understand, now tell me specifically how I can help you”. With that prompt, people became very focused and we walked away with very clear action items on what services we needed to provide to these residents. • So overall, I’m quite pleased with the progress we’ve made. We’ve been operating at a very fast clip, and that’s paid off in measurable and important differences. III. Challenges • Along with the victories have also come some challenges, to be sure. In my short 86 days, I’ve definitely been “baptized by fire” in the local political scene. • We are in unprecedented economic times. I held an economic forecast meeting with Sac State’s Dean of Business Administration where we learned about our economic challenges but we also saw some rays of opportunity. We have severely been impacted with higher than average foreclosures; We have an unemployment rate of 8.7% that is projected to reach 10% this year. Just in the month of December alone, 4,700 people lost their jobs in our region with big losses in construction, finance and in business services. That is 4,700 families that are struggling to make ends meet – to pay their mortgages, to buy groceries and take care of their children’s needs. Further, the forecast predicts that our region may lose 14,500 more jobs during this year’s first quarter. This is does not sound like good news, but I am convinced that we can use this crisis and transform it to opportunity. Our city has also been hit hard with a budget deficit of $50 million. I’ve learned some important lessons, made some mistakes, but continue to believe that the most important thing I can do is keep driving toward change with a sense of urgency. This has not been easy, and probably won’t get easier moving forward, but it is absolutely necessary that we change the culture of complacency that exists in our city government. It’s time to move away from an over-adherence to process when it results in an underachievement of results. • • • • • • • • • AUDIT • What does this mean? Well, I took my first political bruise recently when I proposed an external audit of the city finances. This was, as you know, one of my campaign promises and something that was a huge priority. Given the current state of the national, state and local economy, we felt it was critical to immediately embark on an effort to examine our city finances to minimize waste, fraud and abuse in the system. I managed to talk a national firm with a stellar reputation in public and private sector finance to come and conduct the audit. I pulled out all the stops and got this firm to commit to the ultimate deal for the city. An initial look at the budget and recommendations for FREE followed by a longer engagement that the city would only pay for if the firm could find twice as much money in cuts, resulting in a net savings for the city. . It turns out, that we ended up rejecting this proposal because we didn’t go through the right “process.” Now don’t get me wrong, I understand why RFP processes exist and should be complied with. It’s important to have contracting procedures that protect the city and its resources. But this was an urgent circumstance. We were standing on the cusp of mid-year budget cuts that included the elimination of more than 400 city jobs. When people’s livelihoods hang in the balance, I consider that an emergency. I was surprised there seemed to be a lack of urgency surrounding an outside audit. And still today we are not closer to having an external audit of the city finances to determine how the city can run more efficiently with less revenue and provide residents with the same level of services. We have no plan. We have no actions. We have no long term solutions. It is time for a change. It is time for accountable and effective government that is responsive to residents. • • • • • • • • Charter Reform • I’m frustrated and impatient with this dynamic. And I think it’s time for a change. As you all know, another action that I took that caused a great amount of angst was a proposal to change the city charter toward a “strong mayor” structure. Many of my colleagues called it a “power grab”. Pundits called it “too early”. Activists referred to it as “brash”. But what was interesting was the reaction of the general public. Most of the everyday people in the city assume that the Mayor has authority to lead the city. The most frequent comment I get out on the street is “don’t we already have that?” • • • • • The juxtaposition between the reality of our structure and the perception of people is problematic. It was never more apparent to me than the morning when I woke up and read in the Bee that the city would be cutting 429 jobs in an effort to balance the mid-year budget deficit. As Mayor and part of the City Council, we had not been part of the process to identify cuts nor had we been privy to the procedures. Walking into the office that morning, I was informed that I was expected at a press conference shortly to explain the cuts and answer questions. I was handed a paper of talking points by city staff. Now HOLD ON JUST ONE MINUTE. I have absolutely no problem being out in front on a tough decision I’ve made. I know that I’ll have to make some calls sometimes that are unpopular and that I have to be out there defending those decisions. I’m GOOD WITH THAT. But it’s an absolutely crazy dynamic to play no role in the decision making but be expected to communicate, defend, and be held accountable for it. That simply doesn’t make sense. And it’s disingenuous to the people of this city. • • IV. Moving Forward • Despite the challenges, despite the bumps in the road, and despite the mistakes I’ve made, I stand here today more convinced than ever about the change that is both possible and necessary in this city. • Moreover, I’m excited by the progress we’ve made and the precipice on which we stand. Economic Stimulus: • I just came back from Washington D.C. to meet with President Obama. He made it clear that every dollar from this stimulus package must go towards adding jobs. He wants the dollars to move to cities quickly and I will be working with the Metro Chamber, SACTO, SACOG and all of our regional leaders to make sure those dollars are flowing into “shovel ready” projects to put people to work. One of my top priorities this year is to better align the efforts of the federal, state, regional and city governments to work together to improve our economy. California is the nation’s most powerful state and we are the Capitol City – one of the most powerful cities. We need to take advantage of that and fully engage with our federal, state and regional partners. Our own Congresswoman Doris Matsui has been our biggest advocate to get more federal dollars to Sacramento to many important projects. She just announced that in addition to the economic stimulus package she was able to deliver: o $950,000 for Sacramento’s Intermodal Transportation Facility o $7 million for South Sacramento Light Rail Extension o $500,000 for public safety • • • • o $59 million in water, energy and flood control projects o $642,00 on local education and health care projects • Our upcoming trip to DC with the Metro Chamber – we won’t be sightseeing… I can tell you that. We are all committed to stimulating our economy and improving our city. Jobs & Business • I have a laser focus on our economy. • • • • I am committed to making Sacramento the number one business friendly city in our state. We need to make it easy to start a business, to relocate a business and to grow a business here in Sacramento. We do not want people to turn away and locate elsewhere because it’s too difficult to do business here. I will be convening a business summit to learn directly from you what we can do to make it easier to do business here. Green Tech Businesses • We also can not just sit by and let other cities attract and grow green tech industries without competing. I am determined to make Sacramento a hub for green tech companies. We already have 100 companies with 2000 jobs generating $600 million so we are in good position. • • • We must take advantage of this opportunity. This also means working with Sac State and community colleges to further develop curriculum to produce highly skilled workers that we need for the growing green tech industry. We need their help to generate the workforce we need to create our next economic engine. CLOSING • We have a unique opportunity in this city. I’m asking for a different kind of engagement from you, the business leaders, from our civic leaders, and from my colleagues, the other elected officials of the city. BUT LET ME BE CLEAR… I’m not asking you to always agree with me. I’m not asking you to blindly follow my lead. As I said earlier, sometimes I’m wrong. And when I’m wrong you should tell me I am. If you disagree with me, challenge me. But challenge me on the merit of the idea, not because it flies in the face of the way things have been done in the past. Challenge me by offering real solutions, not by telling me why my idea won’t work. Don’t tell me you’re against our initiatives; tell me what you’re for. • • • • • Prioritize action and results above process and deliberation. Tell me how we can get things done. Tell me when it can happen. Help me take the steps that are necessary to make this a city we can all be proud of. We are at such an important time in America and in Sacramento. The situation we face is a dire one. Unemployment is at decade long highs. Foreclosures and bankruptcies are growing astronomically. The budget deficit balloons and revenues are dwindling. The country has not faced a greater economic crisis in our generation. But I look upon this time with great excitement. When Rahm Emanuel came to speak to the US Conference of Mayors on the eve of the inauguration he said, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.” Let me say that again, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.” That is a profound statement. What he was saying is that with this crisis, also comes opportunity. And we have to be ready. We have to be ready to take action quickly, decisively and in a way that will have a significant impact on this city. We cannot squander these economic stimulus dollars to fill the hole in our city budget. All that will do is prolong the pain. Rather, we need to invest. Invest in infrastructure. Invest in jobs. Invest in innovation and entrepreneurship. Invest in the future. We have to be ready to act. We must be prepared to make decisions. It is our obligation to ensure that this opportunity is not wasted. Together in cooperation with my city council colleagues, this is possible. Together with the support of civic groups this is possible. Together with community advocates and leaders this is possible. Together, we can ensure that the crisis we face today is not wasted. Together we can seize this opportunity to build a better Sacramento. Thank you… • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
"Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson "State of the City" Address"