Thank you for your vote of confidence and continued faith in my ability to lead this body.

Over the course of the past year this Council has distinguished itself as a body that acts responsibly in representing and serving all of our citizens.

Those who opposed an elective body that included representatives from each of City’s eight wards often couched their opposition in the fear that Ward Councilors would only be concerned about issues that affected their particular ward. As a lead advocate of ward representation it is my honor and observation to report that this has NOT been the case.

In fact each Councilor, whether representing a ward or the City at large, has focused on the issues affecting our City, have done their due diligence and have given voice to our residents. The fear of pothole politics and Ward Bosses has not materialized. Neighborhood councils remain vibrant and this body continues to rely on them for advice on matters that impact their neighborhoods.

I commend all the new Councilors for their idealism, hard work and fresh perspectives in addressing complicated issues. Early in your term, with the leadership of Councilor Lysak, we supported the continuance of the Immaculate Conception Church; saving a centuries old place of worship which has served thousands of people. This Council made the difficult and right decision, even in the face of threats of litigation against the city and ourselves.

I especially want to commend Councilor Kateri Walsh for her leadership in reviewing and revising the City council Rules and Orders. This document had not been revised in fifty years and was a daunting task. Councilor Walsh did an exceptional job.

This past year we held budget hearings during weekends in order to allow maximum citizen participation, we made appropriate cuts and passed a timely budget that maintained services and preserved jobs. It was also through this Council’s relentless advocacy that the residents and businesses of our City received a much needed reduction of their property tax rates.

Moving forward we need to continue to be vigilant of the City’s finances, environmental health and the provision of City services. We need to continue to support our Executive branch of government while holding it accountable.

While 2011 holds the potential for fiscal challenges, we must work to insure that our residents and businesses do not become the easy solution through increased fees and taxes.

We must also complete our unfinished business: we need to vet and finalize our zoning regulations, a work that has been in the making for the past three years; it is crucial to providing a more business friendly environment.

We need to pass an ordinance that gives real powers to citizens in providing oversight to our police; a board that has the authority and accountability for hiring, firing, discipline and promotion.

We need to complete the work of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes Committee. It is an initiative that is taking ground as a new source of revenue across the Commonwealth and across the Nation.

We need to complete the work of the Mayor’s Compensation Review Committee. While I am personally against any salary increase, the issue deserves a public airing and a resolution.

In conclusion, let me say that I am proud to lead this body, with it’s new form of government, you have done your job well. I further understand that democracy is not always clean, sometimes it is messy. I understand that in a body of thirteen people we will not always, nor should we, see things in the same way but we SHOULD and MUST respect each others opinions and behave with the dignity that this Chamber deserves. Thank you.

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