Posted by Carolyn Classen
The Mayor delivered his annual State of the City speech today at the Tucson Metro Chamber's luncheon at the Tucson Convention Center. Here's the entire speech, in case you missed the lunch. Mayor Rothschild was elected in Nov. 2011, so this is his 3rd address.
Tucson in Transition
February 26, 2014 State of the City Address Mayor Jonathan Rothschild
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 2014 State of the City Address. I’d like to thank the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and the Tucson Convention Center for hosting this year’s event. Thanks especially to the Chamber for sharing proceeds with three local nonprofits that are helping with several of my initiatives: 51 Homes Vets, Make Way for Books and Tucson Clean & Beautiful.
Each of these charities works in a different area – ending veteran homelessness, increasing childhood literacy and restoring Tucson’s tree canopy – yet all share the same model for success: bringing together individuals, businesses, government and nonprofits to address community needs.
In June, I accepted the President’s challenge to end veteran homelessness in Tucson by December 31, 2015 – which means placing 1,650 homeless veterans in permanent housing. That’s a goal we’re on track to meet. Working with 18 partner agencies, including the City’s Housing Department, we’ve already housed close to 500 formerly homeless veterans.
In August, in partnership with the Arizona Daily Star, we launched a volunteer recruitment drive to double the number of reading coaches in Reading Seed, a program that pairs struggling readers in grades K through 3 with trained volunteers. Too many of our children don’t read at grade level by 3rd
grade, a critical milestone that predicts future success in school. We met our goal, adding more than 600 volunteers, who will help more than 1,200 students, all, or almost all, in Title 1 schools. 1,200 lives changed – 1,800 if you count the volunteers, who often find their lives changed, too.
In October, in partnership with Tucson Clean & Beautiful, TEP, Long Realty and others, we rolled out our 10,000 Trees Campaign, encouraging individuals, business and community groups to plant desert-adapted trees, especially in neighborhoods that lack shade. That’s another goal we’re on track to meet. To date, we’ve planted more than 4,000 trees.
These are basic needs our community is tackling together, through public-private partnerships: housing, literacy and the environment.
Of course, City government works to meet basic needs every day – water, transportation, sanitation, public safety, parks, courts, building safety and others. There’s renewed emphasis on the basics – on what the City does best, and what’s best left to others.
The basics matter. Like moving forward on long-delayed road restoration projects, as we’ve begun to do with passage of the $100 million road bond – on time and on budget, I might add. Like building sidewalks, cleaning medians and removing graffiti. The basics build pride in our community. Doing the basics well helps attract the capital we need to build our community.
I just gave some examples of public-private partnerships with the nonprofit sector. These partnerships can work equally well with the for-profit sector.
For example, downtown looks quite different than it did two years ago. It looks quite different than it has for the last 40 years – a veritable, Biblical wandering in the desert. How did this happen? Ending the Rio Nuevo dispute, building the streetcar line and adopting a tax incentive – a public-private partnership – that helps developers yet guarantees a greater return to taxpayers – all this has visionary developers and business owners investing in downtown.
Over the next year, you’ll see close to $9 million of strategic improvements made to the Tucson Convention Center. You’ll see young entrepreneurs move their businesses and dreams downtown – at CoLab or Connect Coworking. You’ll see artists and crafters mixing with coders and hackers at places like Maker House and Xerocraft. You’ll see ground broken on a new, modern, urban hotel. And, as people continue to move downtown, maybe – just maybe – you’ll see that cornerstone of urban neighborhoods, a grocery store.
I don’t highlight downtown redevelopment just because it’s a success we can all see. I highlight it because it’s a working example of what our city can be.
I want to review some of what we accomplished last year, working together. Too often, we underestimate our city’s capabilities.
I also want to preview what lies ahead.
Tucson is a city in transition.