City of Rochester
"Rochester: A City Transformed”
Neighborhood Safety Competitive Grants Announced; New Politics for 21st Century Realities
(Monday, May 6, 2013) – Mayor Thomas S. Richards declared today that Rochester is a city transformed and the politics of governing must also change if Rochester citizens are going to maintain control of the city’s future and keep that transformation on a positive track.
The Mayor’s second State of the City address, titled “Rochester: A City Transformed,” was delivered at the School of the Arts.
“I have sought to lead our city’s transformation so that all of our residents can participate fully in our future,” Mayor Richards said. “We need to do this together – citizens, unions, City employees, City Council, the School District, neighborhood and business groups, investors, educators, all of us. I seek to get out in front and steer that transformation so that all of us can remain and prosper in the city we love.”
Accomplishing this goal begins with public safety, Mayor Richards said. But he stressed that public safety involves much more than the Rochester Police and Fire Departments. Affordable housing, recreation centers and libraries are just a few pieces of the puzzle in keeping citizens safe.
The Mayor laid out a three-point plan to reduce crime and violence by Engaging Neighborhoods, Engaging Youth and Targeting Gangs.
“Chief Sheppard and I know firsthand that fighting crime is not just for the police,” the Mayor said. “We need our citizens to help.”
The forthcoming budget will help the Police Department directly engage citizens with funds for competitive neighborhood grants that will give citizens an opportunity to develop their own ideas to fight crime and violence near their homes. Mayor Richards called this approach “citizen budgeting.”
The Mayor will continue engaging youth by funding such programs as Summer of Opportunity to provide jobs and career exploration for young people.
The City will continue its relentless goal of eliminating gang activity and the use of illegal guns by cooperating with other law enforcement and judicial agencies.
“We will use all the tools at our disposal to break up these gangs,” the Mayor said. “We will not tolerate this behavior any longer.”
The Mayor also said he will explore the possibility of creating more patrol sections, but he said those considerations will not be driven by nostalgia for the days when Rochester had seven patrol sections instead of two. Money will be included in the budget to study the best way to deploy police resources, he said.
On education, Mayor Richards emphasized the need for stability over finger pointing and building on the existing relationship with the Rochester City School District instead of chasing “one grand plan after another.”
“A campaign may be won by a strategy of divide and conquer – but a city cannot be governed that way. Again, that is the old politics – and a certain path to failure,” the Mayor said.
The Mayor said he will not tell the School District how to educate children, but will work with its leaders in a “collaborative approach to put children first.”
Noting that schools can only flourish in viable neighborhoods, the Mayor pledged to continue investments in housing and improvements to quality of life.
Over the last four years, public and private investments in housing, infrastructure and business development has topped $1.7 billion and is occurring in all four of the city’s quadrants, the Mayor said.
The vast majority of City staff and resources are directed to neighborhoods. For every $1 invested in Downtown, he said, $2 are invested in city neighborhoods, where residents live, work and raise their families.
The City will also continue working to ensure citizens of every quadrant have safe, decent and affordable housing.
The City must do everything it can to ensure every citizen can find meaningful employment in the new knowledge-based economy and that the opportunities generated by all this investment are available to everyone.
The City is also working with many partners in the County and State governments to ensure that Eastman Business Park remains a center of employment activity, much like it was when it was Kodak Park.
“The future of the Park is vital to our economic well being,” he said.
A Project Labor Agreement (PLA) included in the Midtown investments guarantees that city residents and minorities are among those hired and trained for the project. That agreement has been extended to other projects, including the Facilities Modernization Program and the new transit center on Mortimer Street. It will soon be included in other projects.
The City is making gains on the vexing problem of including more women and minority employees in the Police and Fire Departments.
In August, the City will partner with the University of Rochester to hold a two day career-training seminar and career fair that will include a specific focus on helping minority job seekers.
“Between our PLA arrangements, our minority training programs and a breakthrough in our public safety recruit classes, we are writing a new chapter in addressing racial disparities in our city,” the Mayor said. “We are committed to this.”
Despite these challenges, Rochester can continue on a path of growth and stability with opportunities for all of its citizens to prosper and thrive, the Mayor said.
“United with that goal, we will successfully transform Rochester,” Mayor Richards said. “I ask you to join me.”
Visit www.cityofrochester.gov/sotc2013 to read a transcript of the 2013 State of the City.
News Media: For more information, contact Communications Director Gary Walker at 428-7405.