Mayor Menino Delivers Annual State of the City Address for the 20th Time

Boston, Jan. 29, — In front of an audience of residents, political leaders, and dignitaries, Mayor Thomas M. Menino tonight delivered his annual State of the City address at Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall. In addition to several other commitments, the Mayor announced $30 million in new funding for underperforming schools, a pilot program to bring online learning to Boston’s neighborhoods, enhanced public safety partnerships, and several initiatives to achieve equity for women in the workplace. Mayor Menino emphasized that the commitment of residents and political leaders to each other, and the City of Boston, will continue to propel the city forward in 2013.

“Our progress is real. Our future is bright. The state of our city is striking, sound, and strong,” Mayor Menino said in his address. “Our untapped human potential is enough to power Boston’s growth if we muster the courage and the creativity to unleash it.”

Before introducing plans for the City’s future, the Mayor expressed his sincere gratitude for the outpouring of support he has received over the past few months.

The State of the City was the Mayor’s 20th annual address and 15th State of the City address. He has given five inaugural addresses.

Advancing Education

Mayor Menino tonight announced the start of a new, $30 million investment to continue quality improvements in Boston Public Schools. Over the next three years, the funds will be used to extend freedoms in hiring and learning time, as well as facility upgrades, at schools that require high support.

The Mayor recognized the tremendous work of his External Advisory Committee on School Choice, which will soon make a final recommendation following a year-long community process to transform the way Boston students are assigned to schools. Mayor Menino acknowledged that quality improvement must be taken together with student assignment reform in order for the District to reach new heights.

“The best way to celebrate our accomplishments is not with applause, but with an encore,” Mayor Menino said. “I’m fighting to gain the power to extend freedoms in hiring and learning time to many more schools across the district. If a school has to fail before it gets flexibility, it’s not just the school that is failing, it’s us!”

In addition to the Quality Improvement Funds, Mayor Menino emphasized the importance of the legislative proposals he filed earlier this month, a second phase of education reform building from the success of his 2010 legislative package. Included in the 2012 legislative package: Extending “turn-around” powers and support grants to Level 3 schools, including High-Support Schools; Eliminating the cap on In-District charter schools; Extending the school day for additional instruction and professional development; Leveling the playing field for charter schools and District schools.

Making Boston the Premier City for Working Women

According to the US Census Bureau, fewer than 30 percent of businesses in Boston are owned by women. While this puts Boston on par with national averages, Mayor Menino acknowledged the numbers fall short of aspirations for the City and its working women. The Mayor tonight announced several proposals as Boston seeks to become the first major city in the U.S. to achieve pay equity for women.

“To outshine all cities we must unlock the potential of all of our women,” Mayor Menino said. “Recent college graduates are earning less than their male classmates in the same jobs and with the same degrees. We can do better than that.”

The Mayor’s proposals include:

· Appointing a Women’s Workforce Council: Mayor Menino will appoint a Women’s Workforce Council, the first of its kind in the country. Together with the Mayor, the Council will tackle challenges facing Boston’s working women. The first priority will be the wage gap, as Boston seeks to become the first major city to achieve pay equity for women. The Council will include executives, entrepreneurs, industry and workforce leaders, and young women to represent the next generation.

· Improving access to quality child care: In addition to the investment the City has already made in providing quality early education to more than 2,400 children in Boston Public Schools, Mayor Menino announced a new, $1 million low-interest loan fund to assist family-based early education providers invest in safe, quality child care environments.
· Launching “Women on Main”: A networking programaimed to better connect the City’s female-owned Main Streets businesses and foster peer-to-peer learning, “Women on Main” will enable the City to learn more about the unique challenges of female entrepreneurs, and provide them with the tools needed to grow and thrive.

Connecting Boston’s Neighborhoods to the Knowledge Economy

Mayor Menino will launch a new pilot, BostonX, that will partner with MIT, Harvard, and edX on an experiment in blended, online learning. BostonX would bring place-based enhancements to online edX learners and would help diminish the skills gap facing Boston residents.

Mayor Menino will first launch BostonX in neighborhood community centers. The BostonX spots would provide public computing capacity and basic computer training; online learning training; connections – in-person and electronic – to university or community college faculty, staff, and graduate students; and services for career counseling and job transitioning. The BostonX and edX teams envision then bringing these connections to high school classrooms and public libraries.

“Imagine a day when our community centers are little campuses in their own neighborhoods, full of vibrant groups of neighbors, exchanging ideas and making progress together,” Mayor Menino said. “This initiative is a first, important step in that direction.”

Improving Public Safety

Mayor Menino recognized the comprehensive prevention strategies responsible for another drop in homicides in 2012. Citing recent national and local tragedies resulting from gun violence, Mayor Menino vowed to continue his advocacy for common sense gun reform at the national level.

“Mayor Bloomberg and I will keep working with almost one thousand mayors and over one million Americans,” Mayor Menino said. “I ask you to stand with us on guns to say enough is enough.”

The Mayor also announced the task force responsible for a recent crime sweep in the Bowdoin-Geneva community would extend its work for the rest of the year, emphasizing that those seeking to bring guns and drugs into Boston’s neighborhoods will be brought to justice.

The Mayor also announced the City will work with partners to support teens with autism in summer jobs and expand the City’s inclusive after-school programs. Boston will adapt to meet the needs of a growing population of seniors – projected to be 100,000 by 2017. Additionally, the Mayor committed to a new effort to make more city services “same day services,” as well as update climate work to reflect the threats the City faces from storms like Sandy. In the coming year, the City will make one million square feet of city-owned property available for development into homes for middle-class families.

Full Text of Mayor Menino’s Speech

The Honorable Mayor Thomas M. Menino
State of the City Address
January 29, 2013

Governor Patrick, Attorney General Coakley, Treasurer Grossman, Auditor Bump, Senate President Murray, Speaker DeLeo, The Boston Delegation, Members of Congress, District Attorney Conley, members of the City Council, distinguished guests – especially our soldiers and veterans – and fellow residents.

Last year I said we would face tough times, and we have. I also said that our commitment to one another would carry us through, and it did. So I stand before you, a grateful Mayor.

I am forever grateful to my wife Angela. I ruined our trip, and she still hasn’t kicked me out. She stood by me and our city like she always has.

I am grateful for my doctors, nurses, therapists, and hospital staff. They embody the words of a young president who spoke of God’s work truly being our own.

I am grateful to our public servants. They didn’t seek the spotlight, and they didn’t miss a beat.

I’m especially grateful for all of the visitors, the prayers, and the hundreds of cards and well wishes that poured in day after day. I am just Tommy Menino from Hyde Park. I can’t tell you how humbled I am and how lucky I feel. I don’t need fancy words to say this to all of you: Thank you. You pulled me through.

The outpouring of concern and support was truly incredible, but the truth is those cards said more about Boston than me. They are full of pride for our city, and they should be. Because from Orient Heights to Dorchester Heights, we continue to make great strides.

Last year, Boston broke ground on $1.6 billion worth of development. Twenty-two major
projects put thousands of construction workers back on the job. Our real estate market is stronger than any place in the country.

Hundreds of companies and thousands of jobs have come to the Innovation District. PayPal is along the Greenway. Converse is coming to Lovejoy Wharf. New Balance is expanding in Brighton. Digital companies are making downtown their new home.
Innovation is raising our game not just on our waterfront, but across our city.
In our neighborhoods, we are making investments to keep Boston a livable city for families.

We upgraded the Shelburne Community Center in Roxbury. We broke ground on a stunning new library in East Boston with a fantastic reading porch and outdoor classroom. And we welcomed 40,000 new library cardholders this past year. In West Roxbury, work is underway to improve Billings Field, and soon we’ll open Draper Pool to the park around it.

Our Neighborhood Response Teams have raised the quality of life, and our public safety
strategies have reduced violent crime. Two thousand units of housing are under
construction across our city.

Think about this for just a moment. Think about how much has changed: The Orchard
Gardens School is a national success story. One of our school system’s biggest challenges is over-enrollment. We’ve gone from what some have called a food backwater to a national leader on food policy and food innovation. Condos are selling out in Downtown Crossing, of all places. Our South Boston waterfront is a hotspot. There is a crane over Dudley Square. Young people are flooding, not fleeing the city. Older Bostonians are returning.

Our progress is real. Our future is bright. The state of our City is striking, sound, and strong.

Uncertainty around the globe and gridlock in Washington create real challenges. We
shouldn’t excuse Washington for their actions, but neither should we make them an excuse for our in-action. We shouldn’t focus on the inability of others to get things right. We should do right by the abilities of people here in Boston. Our human potential is enough to power Boston’s growth if we muster the courage and the creativity to unleash it. Others can help us get better, but only we can make us great.

Our most important collection of talent lies in our young people. So our first task is
improving public education in our city. Our 2010 reforms created turnaround schools,
launched in-district charter schools, overhauled teacher evaluation, and won new resources for our classrooms. The best way to celebrate those accomplishments is not with applause, but with an encore.

I am fighting to gain the power to extend freedoms in hiring and learning time to many more schools across the district. If a school has to fail before it gets flexibility, it’s not just the school that is failing, it’s us!

I am also proposing to eliminate the cap on In-district charter schools, like UP Academy.

They took over the Gavin School in South Boston, taught the same kids and had great
success. UP had the highest growth in math of any middle school in the state.
These changes alone would extend the school day in Boston and increase quality at dozens of schools. But taken together with a historic change in our student assignment process, they would truly take our school system – and the lives entrusted to it – to another level.

One year ago, I appointed perhaps the most impressive group of Bostonians who have ever worked on any project in our city. They met with education experts, diversity experts, and, above all, thousands of kid experts – our parents. Please join me in recognizing our External Advisory Committee on School Choice.

In the coming days, they will make their final recommendation to Superintendent Johnson and the School Committee. To those who are understandably wary of the city’s history around school choice, recall the words of Representative and historian Byron Rushing. In a Roxbury auditorium last March he said, “To get this right we are not going back to anything.

We are creating something new.” Let us stay focused on moving forward with that process and on improving quality in all of our schools. This year I will include in my budget new Quality Improvement Funds. They will support great teaching, leadership training, extended time, partnerships, and upgraded facilities at our schools that need higher levels of support. This will be the start of a new $30 million investment as we continue to make all of our schools quality schools.

In 2013, we will also make Boston the premier city for working women. I am surrounded by strong women, starting with Angela, Susan, Lisa, and my granddaughters. My cabinet includes many remarkable women. Some I have known for years. Others have joined us more recently. (I didn’t find any of them in binders.) This year we elected our first woman United States senator.

To outshine all cities we must unlock the potential of all of our women. Women make up
more than half of Boston’s residents, but less than a third of our business owners. We can do better. Recent college graduates are earning less than their male classmates in the same jobs and with the same degrees. We can do better than that. And when mothers pursue their careers, many struggle to find affordable, quality childcare. We can certainly do better.

Tonight, I’m announcing a set of actions to support Boston’s women. First, I am launching “Women on Main”, a new networking forum for our women-owned businesses in Boston’s vibrant Main Streets districts. We will also use the new Boston Innovation Center to open up new fields to more women and better connect them to one another.

We must also make it easier to find quality child care. I will launch a $1 million Capital Resources for Educators fund. It will offer low interest loans for safe, quality environments for our children.

This year, we’re going to be the very first municipality to help young women negotiate for fair pay.

Finally, I’m proud to say that we will create our first-ever Women’s Workforce Council. I will invite business owners, executives, and young leaders to help me advocate with the women of our city. Among other steps, we will make Boston the first city in the country to achieve pay equity for women!

The most powerful way to unleash a person’s talent is to prepare them for a job. We have many programs and places that do this work, but we can do more. I believe Boston’s Centers for Youth and Families can be the key. We will help update our neighbors’ skills and our community centers, too.

As a first step, I am pleased to announce a pilot with Harvard, MIT, and edX that will bring free courses to community centers. Open, online learning has made the whole world a classroom, and we should give our residents front row seats. They would get more than access to knowledge and skills; they would get time with faculty and job trainers.

Imagine a day when our community centers are little campuses in their own neighborhoods, full of vibrant groups of neighbors, exchanging ideas and making progress together. This initiative is a first, important step in that direction. We must connect adults in our neighborhoods with the opportunities of the knowledge economy.

The most tragic loss of human potential is when it is lost to violence. Sandy Hook is now seared into our memory. So are Woolson Street and Harlem Street. Wayne LaPierre and the NRA say more guns are the answer. That is crazy! Every victim of gun violence and their families know that’s crazy. Gabriel Clarke’s mother, Shirley, is with us tonight. She knows that’s crazy. After her son was shot, she called for peace. And LaPierre goes on T.V. after Sandy Hook and called for more guns? Any member of Congress who doesn’t vote for gun reforms is saying that she was wrong and he was right. We can’t let that happen.

Mayor Bloomberg and I will keep working with almost one thousand mayors and over one million Americans. Life-saving solutions, which have long been within our reach, are now within our grasp. Stand with us on guns and say enough is enough.

We also have to say enough is enough in our own neighborhoods. Two weeks ago Boston Police joined federal and state partners to sweep 27 criminals off the streets of the BowdoinGeneva community. The cooperation of these public safety officials is matched only by the commitment of the good people who live in that neighborhood. I am pleased to announce tonight that the task force will extend its work for the rest of the year. Those who bring guns and drugs into our neighborhoods should know we will bring you to justice.

Our comprehensive prevention strategies are working. Homicides are down in Boston,
again. Violent crime and property crime are down 28 percent over the last 7 years. We will continue this progress with a focus on quality of life issues. They can seem small, but I know they make a big difference to your sense of safety and security. We will keep a strong presence in our neighborhoods, with 68 new recruits joining the force this year. I want to thank the Boston Police, and everybody who hits the street every day: our social workers, our trauma counselors, and our violence intervention personnel.

We have all of these things to do for each other this year and more. We’ll work with partners to support teens with autism in summer jobs, and we’ll expand our inclusive after school programs. We’ll adapt to meet the needs of a growing population of
seniors – projected to be 100 thousand by 2017. We’ll launch a new effort to make dozens more city services “same day services.” We’ll update our climate work to reflect the threats we face from storms like Sandy. We’ll make available one million square feet of city-owned property for development into homes for middle class families.

The point is this: if we help our neighbors learn more, produce more, and succeed more, we will do more to help Boston than anyone can do for us.

This is the era of the city, and we live in the city of the era. The thing that makes cities great, and ours the greatest, is people; that diverse, skilled, crowd of talent. So, I have never in 20 years been more optimistic about our future. All it would take to lead in the next decade and the decades after that is to help each other reach our full human potential.

If all this sounds too difficult, I can say to you with complete confidence that it’s not. Just pull for each other as much as you pulled for me.

Thank you and God bless our great city.