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2013 Long Beach State of the City text

2013 Long Beach State of the City text

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Published by Long Beach Post
This is the full text of the address that Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster gave on January 15, 2013.
This is the full text of the address that Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster gave on January 15, 2013.

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Published by: Long Beach Post on Jan 16, 2013
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01/16/2013

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Mayor Bob Foster2013 State of the City - 1 -
Mayor Bob Foster
 2013 State of the City Address January 15, 2013
Thank you.Special thanks to Nancy.It is a pleasure tonight to have here my son Kenny and his wife Cheryl and our threegrandchildren, Taylor, Bobby, and Ryan. Welcome.Thank you to the various attendees and special guests.Welcome to residents from across the City who are watching from their homes and places of work as this speech is again streaming live over the web. Welcome all to the beautiful CenterTheater in Downtown Long Beach.The requirement to deliver the State of the City is part of our City's charter and I am proud tocontinue the tradition of a speech accessible to the entire City.Because above all else, this speech is the annual application of democracy's demand that citizensbe informed of how well their government is performing.It is my pleasure tonight to tell you that we have successfully come through a very difficult timeand fortunately emerged a stronger City for it. The experience reminds me of a sign I saw on atelephone pole recently. It read "lost dog, black and grey German Shepard, walks on three legs,blind in one eye, missing one canine tooth, neutered, answers to the name Lucky."While the economy does not yet have the strength we all desire, growth has returned,employment is modestly up, business activity is increasing and this City continues on the road tobetter financial footing.The increase in economic activity in the form of consumer spending, the rebound in the realestate market and the up tick in development projects provide an important barometer on revenuelevels that have been unpredictable for the better part of 4 years.More importantly, your City government took difficult and proactive steps vital to healing ourbroken finances.
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASEEmbargoed until 7:30pm
 
Mayor Bob Foster2013 State of the City - 2 -I stood before you last year and made the difficult pledge to bring true reform to Long Beachpublic pensions. It was a difficult path but this much was certain: I was going to implementthese reforms on behalf of this City even if that meant asking you the voters to take action whenemployee groups would not.I am very proud to report that after much time and toil and with the great cooperation of our Cityemployees, we now have substantial and meaningful pension reform across the City.Employees gave up their contracted raises in order to pay a greater share of their pensions.They agreed to benefit reductions that are more in line with fiscal reality. These actions put ourfinances on a sustainable path; one that protects both the City and employee in the future.I am grateful to and proud of each of you who cast a ballot in support of the City's commongood.All in, these pension reforms will save this City nearly $250 million dollars over the next decade,sparing draconian cuts and maintaining the outstanding service levels that the residents of LongBeach deserve.The time is now at hand for us to rebuild our essential assets and restore some much neededservices. We are now poised to accelerate our investments in the future. We can advance the farmore joyful work of rebuilding and catalyze the energy of this great City.Having weathered the tempest we should also take a moment to reflect on the past. We mustunderstand and learn the lessons of the last several years; what was done right and what wasdone wrong. We must also take time to celebrate our success and provide a path and a futurevision for the city we love.First the lessons: I believe providing for the future and creating a smoother and better path forthose that come after you is the first moral principle in government. In short, our primaryresponsibility is to assure that opportunity is available for the next generation.Yet, when you look at troubled governments, the most common element is spending beyond theirmeans, beyond fiscal capacity, in effect, borrowing from the future. There are little or noreserves for poor times; no provision for emergencies; and little concern for the next generation.Abraham Lincoln said it best: "You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading ittoday."I know political forces, however worthy the cause may be, are always present to make it almostirresistible for elected officials to spend recklessly. There are always too many needs and notenough resources. There is always the next election, groups to satisfy, campaigns to win - thechoices are rarely easy.Strong character is needed to resist these temptations and prioritize the greater good over your
 
Mayor Bob Foster2013 State of the City - 3 -own political benefit. The public deserves that you treat its money with more care than youwould your own.In Long Beach, during the flush period in the early part of the last decade, rather than reservefunds from the absence of pension payments or continue to make payments and create pensionreserves, we increased benefits. It was the easy choice. We had the money and were assured wewould never have to make another pension payment.More recently, with the help of a majority of the City Council standing firm on fiscal policy, ourCity maintained its bond ratings. In an era when downgrades were common, Long Beach was astandout.Indeed, the rating agencies noted that part of the reason was our policy of not using one-timerevenue for on-going expenses. In a welcomed abundance of caution, Fitch's rating servicereminded us that to deviate from that policy would trigger a negative action on their part.With better times on the horizon, let us please not forget these lessons. Please let us not makethe same mistakes. And let us hold fast to the disciplines we have adopted. We can do better,we should do better, indeed, we must do better. The well being of the next generation dependson it.So what is that future? This is my seventh State of the City Speech and the first one in which Ifeel confident in saying that the hard work, and adherence to sound fiscal policy is paying off;we are at a point of real optimism. There will be revenue to do more and we must be judicious inits use.So let's take just a moment to do something we simply do not do enough of in this great City:Let's look back and take just a moment to celebrate our successes.Wouldn't we all love to be residents of a place ranked among the top digital cities, among thebest at utilizing social media:A City awarded as a top walkable city and an internationally recognized bike friendly city.A City with an award winning cable tv channel;With national award winning neighborhoods;And noticed nationally for excellence in our financial management.We would all be proud to reside in a city singled out by the Human Rights Campaign for itsinclusion of lesbian and gay individuals in municipal law and policy;A City applauded for a progressive development plan in a Downtown that continues to grow asconvention destination without equal.A City with such an excellent athletic tradition that it can claim some association with, if notintense pride in, 32 Olympic athletes and 15 medals they earned in London this summer?

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