FROM THE MAYOR’S DESK ...
Record low murders. Record low fire fatalities. Record high life expectancy. Record high graduation rates. Record amounts of affordable housing. We’ve accomplished so much as a city over the past eight years – but you know and I know that we have a lot of unfinished business ahead. That’s really the special thing about New Yorkers: we’re always striving to do better, striving to be better. And despite the national recession, which has hurt so many families, we’re not going to scale back our ambitions.
In my recent State of the City speech, I unveiled a strategy for a strong and speedy citywide recovery from the worst national recession we’ve faced in the post-war era. It’s a strategy that’s both bold and innovative, but one that also doesn’t require any new spending. It will continue to focus on the fundamentals that make our city so great – like improving our schools and parks and driving crime to record lows – but it also will zero in on four of the most pressing challenges that New Yorkers are confronting right now.
The first of these challenges is helping those who’ve been hit hardest by these hard times. And we’ll do that by offering more housing assistance to troubled homeowners, by helping more people get their finances in order and by connecting more people to good-paying jobs. And because we’re a city that looks after its own, especially in a crisis, we’ll provide legal support to Haitian New Yorkers applying for Temporary Protected Status.
The second focus of our strategy is making it easier to open and grow a business in our city, particularly a small business. A major part of this effort will involve significantly speeding up the permitting process, which can end up being both costly and frustratingly tedious. And inspired by the success of our citizen hotline, 311, we will begin creating a similar, single front door to City government for small business owners.
Our third focus is a stronger, more coordinated effort to improve the lives of our city’s Black and Hispanic youth – who suffer disproportionately from poverty, unemployment, crime, and high dropout rates. For instance, we’ll take aim at teen pregnancy with increased access to contraceptives. We’ll attack truancy by working with parents, principals and community groups. And we’ll steer more troubled youth away from a lifetime of crime by holding them accountable when they break the law, but also getting them the services they need to build their futures.
Our strategy’s fourth focus is stretching public dollars even further – which is especially important given the budget deficit we face. We’ll start by reducing the city’s office space by 10 percent over the next four years – saving us $40 million annually. We’ll also begin to streamline our operations. Every agency, for instance, that has its own fleet of vehicles doesn’t need its own garage and its own repair shop and its own maintenance crew. So we will work to eliminate redundancies and find other ways to achieve real cost savings.
Make no mistake about it: In 2010 we will continue to be innovative, attacking longstanding challenges with fresh thinking and new ideas. Because even during these tough economic times, New Yorkers expect more from their government and deserve nothing less.