For Immediate Release
January 17, 2012
For More Information Contact:
Mayor's Press Office
In front of an audience of local residents, political leaders, and dignitaries, Mayor Thomas M. Menino tonight delivered his annual State of the City address at Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall. The city of Boston has thrived, despite the political and economic divisions surrounding us, and Mayor Menino emphasized that personal connections, relationships, and collaboration, will continue to propel the city forward in 2012.
“We have increased our focus on people and strengthened the relationship between government and the residents we serve,” Mayor Menino said in his address. “We’ve refused to allow strained budgets to result in strained relationships.”
Mayor Menino talked about advancing education, economic development and job growth, public safety, community engagement and the health of our residents in fighting obesity. The mayor also announced new proposals to tackle these challenging issues.
The State of the City was the Mayor’s 19th annual address and 14th State of the City address. He has given five inaugural addresses.
Transforming Madison Park Technical Vocational High School
Pointing to its potential to be a leader in technical vocational education, Mayor Menino announced two major initiatives to improve Madison Park Technical Vocational High School and make it a shining example for current and future students.
- Mayor Menino will work to designate Madison Park an “Innovation School,” giving it flexibility in curriculum, budget, school schedule, and staffing.
- Mayor Menino called for the creation of the “Madison Park Business Partnership,” encouraging industry and local business partners to provide advice, jobs, and other resources to help transform the school.
Tonight Mayor Menino proudly announced that two of Boston’s renowned chefs, Barbara Lynch, who herself attended Madison Park, and Gordon Hamersley, owner of Hamersley’s Bistro on Tremont Street, have offered to provide internship and apprenticeship opportunities for Madison Park’s culinary students.
“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 residents,” Mayor Menino said.
Finishing the Job on School Assignment
Mayor Menino also discussed the building of school communities, pledging that one year from now, Boston will have a radically different school assignment process – one that puts priority on assigning children to schools that are closer to their homes. Mayor Menino has directed Superintendent Carol R. Johnson to appoint a citywide group of dedicated people to design the plan while engaging the entire community in the transition.
“Pick any street in our city. 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,” Mayor Menino said. “We won’t have the schools our kids deserve until we build school communities that serve them well.”
Improving Public Safety and Engaging the Community
Boston reduced its crime rate by 25 percent and its homicide rate by 16 percent. Mayor Menino proposes to drive it lower still by:
- Expanding Neighborhood Crime Watch Groups, by launching 100 new Crime Watches across the city.
- Adding 25 new recruits to the Boston Police Department.
- Expanding the Boston Police Department’s Unresolved Shootings Project, using community outreach, technology, information sharing, and the latest forensic science reduce the number of open shooting cases in Boston.
“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,” Mayor Menino said.
Job Creation and Economic Development
Mayor Menino highlighted the fact that the city has brought together developers and community leaders to break ground on 22 new construction projects, putting thousands of people back to work. We also oversaw more than 1,000 new housing starts in the third quarter last year, more than any other quarter since 2006.
Boston Gaming Advisory Board
Mayor Menino noted that 2012 will be the year that another economic development plan takes shape in the form of a resort-casino proposal for East Boston. Tonight, Mayor Menino said he will create a Boston Gaming Advisory Board, made up of leaders from outside of city government. He charged it with a two part mandate:
- Maximize job creation for Bostonians.
- Provide transparency for residents into the process of casino review.
“Boston must do this in a way that improves our city and enhances our reputation,” Mayor Menino said.
Health of our Residents and Obesity Prevention
Mayor Menino wants the city to take an honest look at its weight. While Boston was recently ranked America’s third healthiest city in Forbes, obesity is a problem that remains. While Boston fares much better than much of the nation, 50 percent of Boston adults are overweight or obese, and that number rises to over 60 percent for blacks and Latinos. More startling is the fact that 1 in 3 school-aged children in Boston are overweight or obese.
“I’m determined to make Boston a leader in obesity prevention,” Mayor Menino said.. “We will implement a citywide strategy that connects all of the good work going on in Boston and reaches out to all children and families, especially those who are being left behind.”
Mayor Menino called on Bostonians to collectively shed a million pounds this year.
Some ways the Mayor proposed cutting obesity include:
- Offering no-interest microloans for childcare providers to adopt obesity prevention strategies.
- Expand the highly successful Bounty Bucks program, which allows for those receiving nutritional assistance to double their dollars when buying at farmers markets.
- Work with Main Street Districts to create healthy kids menus at restaurants.
- Create “workplace wellness kits” for businesses to give out to their employees.
The Mayor closed by encouraging people to engage more in their communities. “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.”
The program included the singing of our national anthem by Boston Arts Academy senior Kathryn Lazar. The innvocation was given by Rabbi Barbara Penzner of Temple Hillel B’nai Torah in West Roxbury.