The City of Salt Lake is in terrific shape. Although, of course, we face several challenges, the national and international media has evaluated those elements of a community that affect the quality of life and have concluded, as do I, that Salt Lake City is an extraordinarily great place to live and work. The most recent edition of Places Rated Almanac rated the Salt Lake City area as the best place to live in North America. In a recent article on the best places to live in the United States, Money magazine rated Salt Lake City as "the Best in the West." In its 2000 listing of the best places to live and work, Employment Review ranked Salt Lake City as number five, with San Diego as number seven, Portland as number ten, and Seattle as number 18. A letter from the managing editor of Employment Review explained how the unprecedented ranking was established:
Each year in evaluating the Best Places to Live & Work in America, Employment Review researches and reviews data on more than 300 cities across the country. Not only does the editorial staff look at lifestyle, cost of living, types of industries, etc., it also takes into consideration the current unemployment rate of a city; its short- and long-term job growth; the healthcare system; education from kindergarten to graduate school; recreation; arts and much more.
In a 2000 ranking by Reliastar of the best cities in which to earn and save money, the Salt Lake City-to-Ogden area was rated number 13 among the 125 largest cities in the United States. That ranking was achieved, in part, because, since 1999, wealth increased from $66,650 to $75,977 per household, and unemployment dropped from 4.1 to 3.6 percent of the population. The area rated as 7th for high job creation, 12th for high educational attainment, and 21st for low crime. A weak measure noted by Reliastar is the 107th ranking for low job quality, with average earnings of $25,292 per job. With a greater commitment by businesses located in the Salt Lake City area to paying a living wage, this area would, no doubt, have been rated among the ten best cities in which to earn and save money in the entire country.
THE ELEMENTS OF A SPECTACULAR COMMUNITY
The rankings are spectacular, but it is good for us each to consider what comprises a truly great place. The best of communities – the best of cities – are places where we feel safe to interact with each other and experience the serendipitous encounters that always teach us something new – about other people, about the world, and about ourselves. Great cities are places where creativity and artistic expression is welcomed; where design on a human scale is honored; where children play joyfully on sidewalks and in attractive, interesting parks; where the elderly are welcomed and honored and their wisdom is genuinely utilized; where recreational opportunities and community gathering places are abundant; where people can walk and bike safely; where those with resources help those who are without; and where gardens, trees, and all people thrive. They are also places where diversity is viewed not as a threat, but as a strength – a quality that can enrich each of our lives as well as our neighborhoods and the entire community.
Our Administration has endeavored to give life to these values in every decision we have made, and in every action we have taken. And the City Council, especially with the tenaciousness and encouragement of Council Member Tom Rogan, has focused on what we can do at every opportunity, from street festivals to the Olympics, to engage in true community-building.
A GREAT TEAM, WORKING HARD TO CREATE A BETTER COMMUNITY
Although some in the media have fixated on some staff turnover in our Administration, it has occurred in the context of creating an amazing team of people who are bright, hard-working, and, most importantly, who have the heart and passion for making this a better, more inclusive community for everyone. That is the kind of team we now have in place – a team that works to build a better community and to create a better quality of life for everyone. Excellence is the standard we have set, and that standard is evident in the work that has been accomplished – and in the exciting projects currently underway.
During the past year, we have sought innovation in building a better city, which has included putting together a fantastic, morale-building administrative team, with Rick Dinse as our new Police Chief; Chuck Querry, our new Fire Chief; Tim Campbell, our new Airport Director; Larry Catten, our RDA Director; Alison Gregersen, our Director of Community and Economic Development; and new division heads, Karen Denton, who is accomplishing great things as Director of Housing and Neighborhood Development, and Stephen Goldsmith, our remarkable new Planning Director.
With these new additions to City administration since I presented my first State of the City address, we are working together, across departmental boundaries, to achieve outstanding results, benefiting the entire community.
WORKING COLLABORATIVELY FOR BETTER RESULTS – PEDESTRIAN SAFETY INITIATIVE
A recent example of this effective collaborative approach was demonstrated through our Pedestrian Safety Initiative. Led by the Transportation Division, under the guidance of its director, Tim Harpst, this group, which includes representatives from the Police Department, the Planning Division, and the Mayor's Office, has put together a comprehensive plan to improve pedestrian safety that includes the installation of orange pedestrian flags at more than 30 mid-block cross-walks and intersections; a brochure on how pedestrian signals work (which we have asked Deeda to read more carefully); new pedestrian "count-down" signals; increased enforcement against motorists who fail to yield to pedestrians; and the development of a pedestrian/bicycle master plan. Also, a magnificent new downtown pedestrian study has been completed, which outlines in very real terms what we can do to implement measures that will truly make our downtown safer and more welcoming in every way for pedestrians.
Providing for the safety of the people of our community is the most fundamental responsibility of city government. This year, we made vast improvements in the quality and efficiency with which we deliver public safety services.
Police Department –
Chief Dinse has just completed a re-organization of our Police Department that will increase our focus on community-oriented policing by involving officers more directly with Community Action Teams, thus targeting our resources toward community problem-solving and crime prevention. We also established a reward program, Tips4Cash, to provide an incentive for citizens with information regarding criminal conduct to share that information with the police. That program has already paid off in important ways, leading to several arrests in major cases involving violent crimes.
For the first time in Salt Lake City, we are establishing Crisis Intervention Teams to educate police officers regarding the appropriate handling of situations involving mentally ill people. Too often, mentally ill men and women who do not receive adequate treatment become involved with law enforcement officers. And, far too often, our jails and prisons are the institutions of first resort for the treatment – or, as is more often the case, the non-treatment or mistreatment – of mentally ill people. With better training, police officers will be equipped to help mentally ill men and women with whom they come in contact and, perhaps, avoid life-threatening situations and other circumstances that might lead to incarceration of the mentally ill.
With the help and support of Chief Dinse, we are instituting measures within the Police Department that will provide officers with the tools and training to de-escalate, whenever possible, situations that would otherwise become more tense or violent. The rule in the Salt Lake City Police Department is to provide friendly, courteous, customer-oriented service whenever possible.
Chief Dinse and I are working with the Civilian Review Board to restructure the Board and to provide a more effective means for the Board to review and have meaningful input in individual cases. Unfortunately, the present Civilian Review Board was set up in such a way as to provide the pretense of review, without any genuine review or input in particular cases. The structure and processes of the Board have created a tremendous imposition on the time and energy of members of the Board, while not providing the independent safeguards, for citizens or for police officers, that anyone should be able to expect from a Civilian Review Board. The community and the Police Department as a whole will be better served by greater independence for, and more direct input to the Chief of Police by, the Civilian Review Board.
After many years of complaints about perceived racial profiling by police throughout the state and the nation, we responded last spring by creating a system to gather information regarding the perceptions of officers regarding the race and ethnicity of those whom they stop. This system, which is the first of its kind anywhere in Utah, will provide us with information that has never before been available. These measures have been fully supported by the police administration and the rank-and-file police officers alike. David Greer, President of the Salt Lake Police Association, has provided important leadership in this area. Our common goal is to ensure that racial profiling will never occur in Salt Lake City – and that there will never again even be a perception that such profiling takes place.
In order to ensure high-quality, rapid-response police service throughout the city, we are remodeling a building, located at 1070 West 700 South, to house a new Pioneer Precinct. When complete, this building will be a state of the art facility, with space for public use. Also, we are utilizing advanced technology to improve our delivery of service, and now, for the first time, our police officers have laptop computers in every patrol car so that officers can work more efficiently. Our police have a crucial and difficult job; this Administration is determined to provide them with the tools they require for their safety, efficiency, and good morale.
Over the course of the last year, Salt Lake City experienced an overall 7.4% reduction in the crime rate. Although, due in large part to several robberies of Latino businesses, with respect to which arrests have been made, the rate of robberies increased by 20.7%, there was a 28.6% reduction in homicides, a 6.8% reduction in forcible rape, a 4.8% reduction in aggravated assaults, a 3% reduction in burglaries, an 8.4% reduction in larceny, and a 15.7% reduction in motor vehicle theft. Much of that reduction in crime is attributable to a unified police force that takes smart, vigorous initiatives to capture those who, often for a few dollars, would harm law-abiding citizens in our community. We have sent the message more clearly than ever: Violent crime and drug- or firearms-related crime will not be tolerated in our City. Those who engage in these socially destructive activities will be pursued and brought to justice; and those who know of such illegal conduct will be rewarded if they assist us with information leading to the arrest and conviction of the criminals.
Just a few months ago, Officer Michael Dunman was killed while on duty, the result of a tragic accident. The officers of the Police Department demonstrated the strength of the Department and of their bond through the tremendous compassion and support they have provided, and continue to provide, for Officer Dunman's wife and children.
On the first day of the new year, a young man died during an encounter with Salt Lake City police officers because of his reckless judgment, which put the life of a police officer, and perhaps that of another person, at risk. Nothing is more difficult for a police officer than being in a situation involving the use of deadly force and, speaking for the people of this city, I want to convey our sympathy and support for the officers who were involved, and for the family and friends of the young man. We appreciate and commend the recent compassionate and understanding statement issued by the mother of the deceased man. She understands that her son exercised poor judgment, which created a serious risk for the safety of the police officers and resulted in a tragedy for everyone involved, including the police officers who were forced to use lethal force.
Perhaps nothing makes a greater difference in successfully capturing those who prey on people in our community, and in providing a sense of safety and security for those who live and work in our City, as well as those who visit, than the timely response by police officers to urgent calls for help. Increasing the speed with which police respond to top-priority calls has been a major priority of our Administration, and of the Police Department in particular. I am pleased to report that the Police Department has done a magnificent job, cutting response times to an average of just 2.77 minutes per priority-one call, which constitutes a huge reduction of 43.7% from the prior year.
The tremendous improvements in law enforcement this past year are attributable to the exceptional leadership provided by Mac Connole, who served as Acting Chief for several months, by Chief Rick Dinse, who has earned a remarkable reputation as a team-builder, by the hard-working assistant chiefs and other Captains and Sergeants, and by the dedicated men and women who risk their lives every day making this a safer and more enjoyable community for all of us.
Under the able and energetic leadership of Sim Gill, Salt Lake City Prosecutor, our excellent prosecutors have taken an aggressive and more constructive approach to prosecuting misdemeanors and some felonies. We are committed to the principle that our response to violations of the law should include input from and participation by victims and the community, to the extent possible, and that we should seek to restore victims, offenders, families and the entire community in a cost-effective manner. Rather than simply seeking wasteful and destructive retribution, we have implemented a restorative justice model in the Prosecutor's Office.
That model provides for accountability in a manner that relates to the offense and to the damage sustained. Such accountability includes the principle that the offender, not the taxpayer, should pay for the costs of law enforcement and prosecution, as well as full restitution to crime victims. Perhaps just as importantly, accountability includes the requirement that, if the crime victim is willing, the offender must meet with the victim to learn of the impact the crime has had on the victim and to work out the terms of restitution.
This model of restorative justice conforms far more closely than the retributive model to the classic notion of true repentance: an admission of wrong-doing, a genuine understanding of the effects of the wrong-doing, a reconciliation with the person or persons who suffered as a result of the wrong-doing, and full accountability for restoring, to the extent possible, what has been lost or damaged.
Justice Court -
Nothing is truer than the maxim that justice delayed is justice denied. In order to provide speedy justice with respect to cases involving misdemeanors and infractions, and to promote greater constructive innovativeness in the handling of those cases, the City Council, with the enthusiastic support of our Administration, voted in June to establish a municipal Justice Court. With the good foundation laid by the Management Services Department and the City Attorney's Office, this court will preserve the City's ability to adjudicate cases quickly, including the eventual utilization, we hope, of a night court to provide greater convenience for our citizens. In the appointment of Justice Court judges, I will be mindful of the advantages we are seeking to accomplish through the establishment of the Justice Court, including the opportunities that a Justice Court will provide for the implementation of creative sentencing alternatives that are consistent with our goal of providing restorative justice.
Fire Department -
Chuck Querry, our new Fire Chief, has provided exceptional leadership, vastly improving the morale in our Fire Department. Although, as I well know, altering the status quo can generate resistance from those who may not like change, Chief Querry, with our support, has made important structural and programmatic changes, including the re-assignment of two Captains and three firefighters back to operations. This move has enhanced staffing levels at the stations, thereby improving the delivery of services to our residents and others who do business in Salt Lake City.
The Fire Department has added a new paramedic rescue engine at Fire Station Number 14, providing improved advanced life support services to the southwest and Glendale areas of the City. The addition of the new rescue engine will also allow other rescue engines, which would have been responding to the area served by Station Number 14, to be available more often in other parts of the City. This significant enhancement of service to the west side of Salt Lake City was accomplished with no increase in staffing, equipment purchases, or overall department budget.
Also adding substantially to better service to the west side of the City, we will be opening Fire Station Number 9 at the International Center. The opening of that station will provide far greater fire protection for the area surrounding the Salt Lake International Airport, as well as the entire west side. We especially thank Council Member Carlton Christensen for his interest and advocacy with regard to the opening of Station 9, even in the face of significant budget challenges.
The City Attorney's Office, as usual, has dealt with a mind-boggling variety of complex legal issues and has enjoyed huge success. Roger Cutler and the rest of the legal staff comprise a talented, hard-working team that protects the City's interests in many ways. During 2000, the City Attorney's Office defended the City in numerous suits challenging vital City interests. Among their successes were the defeat of attempts to divert 370 acre feet of water in the Cottonwood Canyon area, which in turn would have had the devastating result of permitting extensive developments in sensitive watershed areas. Also, the City's attorneys defended the hillsides surrounding Salt Lake City by compelling compliance with our hillside development ordinance. They also successfully defended the City's legal position with respect to the sale of one block of Main Street. Whatever one may think of the decision to sell a block of Main Street, a contract is a contract and the City has a legal and moral obligation to stand by its agreements.
The City Attorney's Office also provided invaluable assistance in negotiating important business and contractual arrangements, including, with the involvement of the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee, the final arrangements to fund and build the Salt Lake City Sports Complex; obtaining the appropriate easements for the completion of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail; bonding for improvements at the Sale Lake International Airport; and interlocal agreements to facilitate the construction of the East-West light rail line.
On the environmental front, the City's attorneys were able to bring several reluctant oil companies into settlement discussions to resolve a contaminated site, known as the Northwest Oil Drain. The Office also negotiated a workable agreement concerning the future termination of the gravel pit operations near Beck Street and environmentally sound remediation of those sites.
The Attorney's Office also handled, successfully and with great skill, the City's lobbying activity at the State Legislature, which efforts defeated many bills adverse to City interests and established a more stable financing/taxation system concerning the cellular telephone industry.
Under the leadership of Roger Cutler, easily the most experienced City Attorney in the State, the Attorney's Office made substantial contributions to the improvement of the entire field of municipal law, at a national and local level. The International Municipal Lawyers Association recognized Mr. Cutler's experience and impact when it granted him its prestigious "Outstanding National Public Service by a Local Attorney" award at its annual convention this past year.
The past year has brought many changes to the way in which the Management Services Department addresses our planning and budget processes. For instance, Management Services has worked closely with all Department directors in formulating five-year plans, which will assist in long-range strategic decisions regarding service levels and budgets. The Director of Management Services and Chief Administrative Officer, Rocky Fluhart, is working closely with all departments to finalize the five-year plans, which should be presented to the City Council within the next 30-60 days. Such long-range planning will provide early identification of both opportunities and challenges, resulting in the opportunity for better collaboration and goal-setting between departments, and between the City Council and the Administration.
In its efforts to take a longer view toward providing more consistent and higher-level services to Salt Lake City residents, the Department of Management Services is in the process of preparing a two-year budget, utilizing a zero-based budget process. Such a process will require all departments, and the Administration as a whole, to examine every facet of our operations and to analyze the cost-effectiveness of what we do. We expect that the zero-based budgeting will bring to light inefficiencies in our operations and result in a higher level of services at lower costs.
As Director of Management Services, as Chief Administrative Officer, and as Deputy Mayor, Rocky Fluhart has been a magnificent asset to this Administration and to our City. Just last night, I heard from an Ogden citizen what I have heard dozens of times during the past year in regard to Rocky Fluhart: Ogden's loss has been Salt Lake City's gain. Thank you, Rocky, for your great work and for the style in which you perform it.
COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
The vitality of our community is to be measured by economic stability and by the quality of life enjoyed by our residents and those who work and play in Salt Lake City. During the past decade, general fund revenues from sales, use, and excise taxes varied, sometimes significantly, from year to year. In 1994 and in 1996, those revenues actually declined. Rather surprisingly, even with major negative highway and light rail construction impacts, sales taxes in 2000 were 22.66% greater than in 1996.
If we commit, as our Administration is pledged to do, to maintaining the beauty and charm of Salt Lake City, with a rejection of those look-alike, cookie-cutter kinds of projects that would undermine our appealing and unique identity, we can maintain steady growth and the attractiveness that is bringing more and more companies, which pay good wages and salaries, to our City. Also, we must understand that many, if not all, of the businesses we would like to attract to Salt Lake City want to do business in a community that not only offers tremendous recreational opportunities, a strong economy, and good educational opportunities, but which honors and values personal and institutional diversity. We are making great strides in that regard, but much remains to be done.
The creation of opportunities for people to gather together physically is crucial to the achievement of a true sense of community – and to bringing about a better understanding among people of different faiths, different races and ethnic origins, different sexual orientations, and different economic and educational backgrounds. When people get to mix with one another and enjoy a sense of community together, their fears, their ignorance, and their prejudices break down. They benefit from the resulting knowledge and enlightenment. As one who has had unfounded and fear-based biases against people with certain differences from me, I know first-hand the importance of getting to know the other – and getting to know the other as a person, on an equal level, rather than as an object to be kept at a distance.
To provide a better community, with people coming together in wonderful ways for fun and celebration, we will build, with the great work of the Salt Lake Arts Council, on the incredible success of the Twilight Concert Series at Gallivan Center, which brought together a crowd of over 10,000 people at the final concert last summer, and the Living Traditions Festival, which drew over 35,000 people and involved more than 500 local folk and ethnic artists. Encouraging neighborhoods to put on street and park festivals, and the creation of a Children's Festival are other ways in which we plan to help facilitate the celebration of life in our City.
In October, we broke ground for a magnificent new main library, which will be the anchor for a block that will become a major destination and gathering place for residents, workers and visitors in our City. Nancy Tessman, Director of the Library, and the Library Board have worked hard and with great dedication to bring to our City a world-class library and surroundings that will astound all who come to our community. The Library Square will add more than four acres of open space to our community and will provide a lively, interesting place for gatherings of all sorts, day and night.
In order to provide an atmosphere that is more conducive to people gathering and to bringing more life to our streets, with the help and support of the City Council, unnecessary restrictions on outdoor dining have been eliminated, resulting in the tripling of the number of eating establishments with seating outside. Working to encourage more street vendors has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of vending carts and kiosks throughout the City. Also, modifications to our sign ordinance will allow for our streets to become livelier and more interesting, with a wider variety of signs. All of this would not have been possible without the commitment of City Council members and the dedication of hard-working City employees who recognize the importance of putting together all the necessary pieces to the puzzle of downtown revitalization and community-building. I want to take this opportunity to thank Alison Gregersen for her tremendous work as Director of the Community and Economic Development Department. She is tough-minded, reliable, and genuinely committed to making this the best City it can be.
Housing and Neighborhood Development -
To fight sprawl development, to maximize the opportunities afforded by mass transit, to provide better housing for all families in our community, and to reduce the dependence on automobiles and the air pollution that results from it, we must provide far more affordable housing in every area of our City. With the assistance and prodding of Council Member Nancy Saxton, who championed this cause, we formally established the Housing Trust Fund, which is already helping to facilitate the planning of hundreds of new affordable housing units. We also finalized the Salt Lake Community Housing Plan, which was adopted by the City Council, and last year invested $8,561,000 in the creation of 786 affordable housing units. In the coming year, we will continue to aggressively implement elements of the Housing Plan and, with the great work of the Redevelopment Agency and the Division of Housing and Neighborhood Development, will create substantially more affordable housing. With leadership like that provided by Larry Catten and Karen Denton, who are always passionate voices for greater housing opportunities, the future for affordable housing in Salt Lake City looks very bright indeed.
Nurturing small, locally-owned businesses is critical to maintaining and enhancing the economic health and uniqueness of Salt Lake City. Early in our Administration, Deeda Seed, then Director of Housing and Neighborhood Development, identified over $4 million that had been earmarked for use through the Small Business Revolving Loan Fund, but was sitting unused. This constituted the frittering away of tremendous opportunities. We are now energetically marketing this valuable resource and have sent out over 60 applications to local businesses that have indicated interest in applying for these funds. We will be bringing our final recommendations for the structure of the Fund to the City Council for its approval in February.
Planning Division -
Thoughtful, wise urban planning and design lies at the heart of any good city. Over the last year, we defeated an attempt by a developer to create more urban sprawl, and we completed a downtown pedestrian study and plan that is a blueprint for a more walkable, attractive, interesting Central Business District. In addition, we have seen important development occurring downtown, with the new Old Navy Store, Moreton?s Steakhouse, completion of the new Marriott Hotel, and Alphagraphics's purchase of the Brooks Arcade as its national headquarters. More exciting news about greater vitality for our downtown will be announced soon. All I can say at this point is, "Keep posted."
Linking neighborhoods within the city is critically important to their health. We have developed a Westside Advisory Committee, made up of residents, business owners, and city staff, to identify and promote the tools and resources available to revitalize the west side. With the valuable assistance of the City Council, and especially Council Members Van Turner and Carlton Christensen, the group will address ideas and develop plans for improvements in west side neighborhoods, as well as identifying and promoting the strengths and assets there.
Much has been done during the past year in the context of planning and negotiations for the revitalization of the west side, including the provision of greater retail opportunities. During the next year, we expect to see palpable results for that area – an area that has been neglected for far too long. I understand the frustration and impatience that has built up for many years on the part of many of the residents in certain parts of the west side and ask that they work with us, constructively and with a common goal of developing neighborhoods and larger communities with a long-term commitment to sustainability and economic health.
Transportation Division -
In neighborhoods throughout the City, there has been a dramatic shift in the way we view transportation issues. Now, when we think of transportation, we no longer think just of automobiles. In fact, more and more, we think of getting away from our dependence upon automobiles and the onerous costs they impose upon our families, the pollution they create throughout our region, and the isolation and frustration they often create for individual drivers.
The phenomenal success of the North-South light rail line, the development of the University of Utah spur, and the passage by the voters of the transit tax increase represent the acceptance – or, perhaps more accurately stated, the enthusiastic embracing – of mass transit as a substantial component of our transportation infrastructure. Along with the commitment by the community to mass transit comes a commitment by our Administration to transit-oriented development. That commitment is shared by much of the business and development community, as well as by the University of Utah, which, under the vigorous and inspirational leadership of President Bernie Machen, has assisted in promoting, and solving many of the problems associated with, the new East-West light rail line.
As we move closer to the construction of a regional commuter rail system, linked to expanded light rail and bus systems, and as we experience more health-endangering air pollution, our Administration, even in the face of tremendous negative political odds, continues to oppose the construction of Legacy Highway. That highway, which was conceived before a commuter rail system was being seriously discussed, is a continuation of outmoded sprawl development – the type of development that will funnel into the Salt Lake Valley thousands of more polluting vehicles each day. The legacy of Legacy Highway will be more pollution, more respiratory disease, possibly more cancer, greater dependence upon the automobile, the consumption of more fossil fuels, more greenhouse gases, more road rage, the undermining of wise regional planning and mass transit, and a move away from smart-growth development.
Salt Lake International Airport is a tremendous economic generator for our City. Easy access to the airport and outstanding management, with the guidance of the Airport Board, have made the Airport a major factor in decisions by companies to do business and locate in Salt Lake City. The Airport staff and management kept everything moving forward during the first several months of 2000, notwithstanding the turnover of three directors and one acting-director during the course of the prior three years. Come to think of it, the Airport had more directors in the three years prior to my Administration than I have had communications directors.
I would like to thank particularly Tom Troske, who stepped up to the plate and did yeoman's service as Acting Director while our national search for a permanent director took place. I wish Tom the very best for his upcoming retirement, although I wish he would stick around a bit longer. He has been an absolute joy to work with – and a credit to the Airport.
During the last year, a major upgrade of airport concessions was completed. Plans for the future, under the talented and dedicated leadership of Tim Campbell, include proceeding with a major Airport development plan, which was recently reviewed in detail and recommended by a committee of Airport and community representatives. Among the first of several significant future projects will be the development of a new terminal facility for Sky West. This facility will accommodate dozens of new regional jets. Also, we will be working to establish international air routes in addition to the daily one-stop service to Stockholm that began a few weeks ago.
The recreational facilities and opportunities we offer to the citizens of our community are tremendously important for several reasons. Recreation helps build stronger families and friendships and it enhances the quality of life for everyone who participates. Also, in a society where obesity has become a national epidemic, it is imperative that we offer people opportunities for physical activity, whether it is a run, bicycle ride, or stroll in a park or City Creek Canyon, mountain biking on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, or swimming in one of our pools. Soon, ice-skating will be added to this list of recreational opportunities in Salt Lake City, with the completion of our dual ice sheet facility, the Salt Lake City Sports Complex, anticipated to open in February. After Franklin Covey Field, this magnificent ice sheet facility is the second largest recreational facility the City has ever built.
With the enthusiastic, able, and committed work of Rick Graham, Director of Public Services, we are making significant improvements in Liberty Park. During the past year, a new lighting system was installed throughout the Park, which will make the Park safer and more usable for the thousands who visit Liberty Park each year. In the spring, a new jogging path will be completed. We are building new rest rooms and designing the re-construction of Constitution Drive, which surrounds the Park and will include a separated bike and skating path. Also, we are planning a community-built playground that will include a playground for the disabled, sponsored by the Salt Lake Rotary Club.
For the first time in Salt Lake City, we supported an Arts in the Park program, which provides space in the Park for artists of all backgrounds and ages to display and sell their work.
We will also be constructing the first-ever skateboarding park at Jordan Park, which will be joyfully greeted by young people throughout the community.
With the support of the City Council, we have secured funding for Parley's Tunnel, which will expand access to Parley's Historic Nature Park and the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.
Also, with the help of the City Council, and with the particular support of Council Members Tom Rogan, Roger Thompson, and Keith Christensen, we expanded the protection of open spaces in the City through a conservation easement establishing Hidden Hollow as a nature preserve and by working closely with the remarkably dedicated Friends of Gilgal Garden, to turn an amazing, privately owned, sculpture garden into a resource for generations of the public to enjoy. We thank Council Member Roger Thompson, especially, for his advocacy on behalf of Gilgal Garden.
During the past year, the Department of Public Services installed security lighting along portions of the Jordan River Trail, providing greater safety for all who enjoy this unique community treasure. This coming year, we will be finishing the trail connection from 17th South to 21st South.
In addition to recreational amenities, we worked with the City Council this year to exceed the goal of devoting 9% of the general fund to capital improvements. Our City's infrastructure needs were not adequately addressed for many years. Because of the importance of maintaining and improving our infrastructure, the City Council and our Administration have been of a like mind in making up for past lost opportunities. At the insistence of Council Member Keith Christensen, we paid particular attention to funding road maintenance and road repair, to the benefit of all who live and work in our City.
2002 OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES
Salt Lake City will be the focus of world attention in February 2002 and in the months leading up to the Winter Olympic Games. One-half of the entire World's population will be watching the Olympics and will be exposed to our great City through television coverage. In addition, hundreds of thousands of people from outside Utah will be visiting Salt Lake City during the Olympic and Paralympic Games. This is indeed an opportunity that likely will never again be presented for our City and for our residents, all of whom are encouraged to participate and enjoy being a part of what can be wonderful lifetime memories.
Mitt Romney and Fraser Bullock have provided exceptional leadership for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, achieving a level of fiscal fitness and renewed trust for SLOC that will, for many years, be of tremendous benefit to our City and the entire State of Utah.
Notwithstanding the destructiveness of a few who have gone far beyond mere caution and criticism, SLOC leadership has made our community proud once again to be the Host City of the 2002 Winter Games. They have also constructed venues that will make this area the best location for winter sports training and competition in the country. On behalf of our Administration, I thank the remarkable people who have helped lead our City and State beyond the bribery scandal and who have helped build toward what will be an exceptional Winter Olympic Games.
Beyond SLOC's planned activities in Salt Lake City, which will include the celebration of the end of the Olympic torch relay and the opening and closing ceremonies, we will do everything possible, in collaboration with the local business community, civic organizations, and community councils, to provide many options for visitors and residents alike who are looking for exciting, interesting, memorable experiences. We are grateful to John Sittner for agreeing to head up the City's Olympic efforts. He has a long record as a private citizen of working to make certain that Salt Lake City maximizes the opportunities offered by the Olympics to involve all residents and to build a better community in the process.
Perhaps the best indicator of a healthy community is how we treat our children. If the children in our City are thriving – if they are curious, active, creative, and connected to the life of the community – then our City is healthy. Instead of pursuing a pattern of telling children – including adolescents and young teens – what they can't do, we must involve them in our community; ask what they need, want and think; and listen for the answer. Youth programs are a tremendous way to enhance the quality of life in our community, reduce crime, and help build a foundation for better lives as the young people of our City grow into adulthood.
Imagination Celebration -
Under the stellar direction of our Youth Programs Director, Janet Wolf, we have significantly enhanced the opportunities for young people in our City. During the past year, we were designated by the Kennedy Center as an Imagination Celebration site. The Salt Lake Organizing Committee has provided a grant of $100,000 to assist us with our Imagination Celebration activities, which will include bringing artists of national renown and a variety of backgrounds to Salt Lake City to teach and perform with children in our schools.
Youth Mural Project -
Through a productive collaboration between the amazing Elaine Harding, director of the City's Global Artways program, the Utah Transit Authority, the Mayor's Office, and young people from throughout the community, we established the Youth Mural Project, which has led, thus far, to the design and painting of three formerly graffiti-filled walls, with amazingly colorful, beautiful murals. Two of the murals are along the TRAX route into our City and give visitors an immediate sense of the creativity and diversity that exists within our community. That program will continue into the future, providing opportunities for artistic expression by young people and vibrant improvements to the appearance of our City.
Refugee Youth and Family Project -
As Salt Lake City becomes more diverse, our challenges in dealing with the needs of all youth and their families become even greater. Communication from government, in whatever languages our new residents speak, is vitally important – yet the ability of our governmental entities to communicate effectively with those who may be most in need of it has been seriously undermined by passage of the so-called English-Only initiative. I have challenged the constitutionality of that initiative and will continue to fight for the ability of government to communicate effectively with all in our community – in whatever manner and in whatever languages may be required.
Also, in dealing with the needs of refugee youth and their families, collaboration among governmental entities and other service providers is essential. In order to promote that collaboration after learning, through the passionate advocacy of Buba Roth, of the unique challenges faced by refugee youth, we sought and received, thanks to Janet Wolf and Kim Thomas, a $1.2 million three-year grant to work with refugee youth and their families. We will do this work along with a consortium comprised of the International Rescue Committee, the Human Rights Resource Center, Catholic Community Services, and the Refugee Resource Center.
After-School Programs -
Perhaps nothing can be of as much benefit to the youth of our community as having safe, interesting, nurturing places to go after school and during the summers. High-quality after-school programs that accommodate the schedules of working parents are either extremely rare or prohibitively expensive for many families.
We have inventoried all of the youth programs available throughout the Salt Lake City area and have sought to collaborate with several entities in creating after-school opportunities for our youth. In two weeks, in collaboration with Salt Lake County, we will be opening an innovative after-school program at the Central City Community Center. That program will have an academic and technology component, an athletic and fitness component, and an arts and culture component. This will be the inauguration of our Youth City program, for which we are seeking partnerships with every element of the community, including religious organizations, civic groups, arts organizations, youth organizations, corporate sponsors, other governmental entities, and foundations.
Youth City Government -
Thanks to Janet Wolf and Monica Shelton, who we will miss more than she will ever know as she leaves us for law school, our Youth City Government program has been reinvigorated to include 30% more high-school-age youth throughout our city who are actively engaged in civic participation and community service. These youth leaders also work with city officials to provide input and ideas on projects to make our City more vibrant and fun for our younger citizens. Youth City Government students have become a source of strength in our community, providing service and activities for underprivileged youth. They have become a vital voice for youth concerns on issues ranging from racism to illegal drugs to violence in schools.
Sorenson Multi-Cultural Center -
Under the energetic and brilliant leadership of Rosanita Cespedes, the utilization of the Sorenson Multi-Cultural Center in the last year increased by 21,311 people – an unprecedented increase. The newest program, the Kid's Cafe, serves nutritious dinners to low-income and homeless children. The after-school and summer programs at the Sorenson Center have doubled the number of children they serve. The waiting lists for these programs demonstrate the need for additional after-school programs.
We have also expanded our Computer Technology and Global Artways programs at the Sorenson Center to ensure our children get training in technology and culturally enriched education during out-of-school time.
Drug Prevention -
Almost one year ago, I began discussions with the Superintendent of the Salt Lake City School District concerning the need to evaluate the drug prevention programs offered in our schools and to commit to provide our children with the best, most effective programs for the long-term prevention of drug abuse. After researching the scientific literature thoroughly and finding that the DARE program has been uniformly condemned as being ineffective by all the major peer-reviewed research studies, I terminated funding for DARE and provided the Superintendent and the School Board with extensive research concerning programs that have been proven to be effective – and which ought to be substituted for the DARE program.
After extensive work with Dr. Linn Goldberg, a principal investigator of the ATLAS program, an award-winning program recognized nationally as being effective in reducing drug abuse, including the use of cigarettes, and decreasing the incidence of teen driving while intoxicated, I urged the School Board to adopt ATLAS as one of its drug prevention programs. Because of the tremendous efforts of Dr. Goldberg, federal grants were obtained that made it possible to implement ATLAS in all Salt Lake City high schools, at no cost to Salt Lake City or the School Board for training or materials. Also, a grant for $100,000 was obtained for evaluation of the program in our schools.
Chief Dinse and I are committed to maintaining a police presence in Salt Lake City schools in order that students can have positive interactions with law enforcement officers. That positive aspect of the DARE program should not be lost with the elimination of the program. However, if we are serious about combating drug abuse through the utilization of drug prevention programs, we must commit to implement those programs that have repeatedly been recognized as being effective by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, and Drug Strategies. Among those programs are Life Skills Training and the STAR Program, which we will continue to advocate for inclusion in the school curriculum in Salt Lake City's schools.
Clean Air and Water -
A necessary component of any thriving community is clean, healthy air and water. Under the tremendous legacy of Leroy Hooton and those with whom he works in Public Utilities, we have maintained an extremely high-quality water system, with ever-increasing protection of our water shed. However, our air quality in the Salt Lake Valley is often horrific. For several days during the past week, exercising outside was unsafe. People with heart or respiratory ailments were warned to stay inside because of the air pollution, comprised primarily of automobile emissions.
Good regional planning, with an emphasis on mass transit and a rejection of more highways as an answer to our traffic congestion, would aid in our fight against air pollution. We will continue the efforts we have undertaken during the past year to promote better regional planning, along with the good work in this area by Envision Utah.
We will also lead the way for improvement in air quality by taking advantage of opportunities to reconfigure our City's fleet. We can use smaller vehicles and I am committed to a goal of eventually converting all, or nearly all, of the City's fleet of vehicles to the use of alternative fuels. All department heads are cooperating with the tremendous efforts of Beverly Miller, of the Clean Cities Coalition, to analyze the possibilities and move toward our goals of less fuel consumption, utilization of alternative fuel vehicles, and improved air quality.
Storage of High Level Nuclear Waste –
The people of Utah are targeted, once again, to be the federal government's nuclear guinea pigs. On the Goshute Reservation, 45 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, plans are being made to store up to 40,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel, some of the most radioactive, toxic waste in the world, which remains lethal for more than 10,000 years. That fuel is the waste product from the generation of electricity in nuclear reactors, all of which are located outside of Utah.
The deal that has been struck for the storage of this dangerous waste has entailed the exploitation of a few Goshute Indians who apparently are desperate for financial resources. However, the tribe is comprised of only 130 members, 70 of whom are adult voting members. Only about 25 members live on the Skull Valley Reservation, and, of those, 15 have filed a complaint opposing the nuclear waste storage facility. Certainly, other means exist to meet the financial needs of a few dozen members of the Skull Valley Band of Goshutes.
There can be no good reason for exposing the people of Utah to the enormous risks of accidents, terrorist attacks, failure of the waste storage casks, and natural hazards inherent in the transportation and storage of the nuclear waste. If, as the consortium of out-of-state utilities maintains, the waste can be safely stored, let them keep it where it is – and stay out of our City and our State. This Administration will continue to fight against the transportation and storage of the high level nuclear waste in Utah and will work to build opposition along the entire transportation route.
DIVERSITY AND EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
Salt Lake City's demographics are changing dramatically. We are a diverse community in every way, with people representing every faith, every racial and ethnic origin, every sexual orientation, and every economic and educational status. Every person in Salt Lake City has a huge stake in the community and in the level of respect we accord each other. Salt Lake City does not belong to one group of so-called mainstream people; rather, it belongs to all of us.
Currently 44% of students in grades K-12 in the Salt Lake City School District are members of ethnic minority communities. Not only do we have a large Hispanic and Latino population; we are also home to thousands of refugees from countries as diverse as Somalia and Bosnia. We have a thriving African-American population, which is too often underrepresented, along with other racial and ethnic populations, in government. The Japanese- and Chinese-American communities contribute enormously to the life of our community, as does the Polynesian population.
In the past, Salt Lake City Corporation did not seem to do much to effectively reflect in its employment practices or appointments the diversity of our community. We have set about reversing that trend, but much remains to be done.
Of the twenty people employed in the Mayor's Office, 25% are members of ethnic minority communities. To my knowledge, we have hired the first Tongan and the first Native American ever to serve in the Mayor's Office. Also, 60% of those in the Mayor's Office, including the Chief of Staff, are women. Other outstanding high-ranking minority appointments have been the Director of the Sorenson Center, Rosanita Cespedes, and Sim Gill, our exceptional Salt Lake City Prosecutor.
Of 78 new appointments to City boards and commissions, 27, or 35%, are members of ethnic minority groups. Diversity in the make-up of the various boards and commissions promotes valuable input and a base of knowledge that likely would not otherwise be available. That diversity has been accomplished, in large part, through the tenacious, yet always cheerful, work of Diana Karrenberg. Also, Archie Archuleta has effectively aided our efforts to make our City, and our City government, more inclusive.
As other opportunities arise, we will continue our practice of apprising dozens of ethnic and other organizations in order to include well-qualified people from every ethnic group to join in our efforts to serve the people of Salt Lake City.
OPEN AND HONEST GOVERNMENT
I am saddened to observe the growing cynicism so many have about our government and our elected officials. Those who violate their sacred promises; those who exploit their elected offices in order to fill their own pockets with outrageous severance payments; and those who solicit and accept gifts from those with whom the government entity does business – they all violate the enormous trust bestowed upon them by those who elected them and the trust that is owing to all they were elected to serve. Let's be frank about it: The exploitation of one's office for personal financial gain is corruption, pure and simple – and it is our job to make certain it never happens again.
Soon after I took office, I met on several occasions with my Ethics Advisory Committee, comprised of two Philosophy professors with special expertise in the area of ethics, an attorney who has handled numerous legal ethics matters, a minister, and a Business Ethics professor. We studied and analyzed at length, over the course of several weeks, the problems that arise from government employees accepting gifts, and considered the merits and problems associated with a general ban on gifts to City employees. Ultimately, we agreed that, with certain exceptions, City employees should not accept gifts that are given to them by virtue of their employment positions. I issued an Executive Order, and have since issued a revised Order, relating to the issue of gifts. Those Executive Orders did not purport to impose any criminal sanctions, which are the subject of a separate ordinance. Rather, the Orders are a reflection of a standard we now utilize in the management of City employees.
Working with the Citizens Compensation Advisory Committee, we urged the City Council, which agreed, to reform our City's severance pay policies for executive-level positions. Never again should we experience a situation where a high-ranking official is "fired" just hours before the commencement of a new administration in order for that official to collect more than $40,000 in severance pay. After that episode just over a year ago in the City, and after the recent shameful ransacking of the County treasury by an elected official claiming entitlement to a huge severance payment after promising voters she would not accept such a payment, the taxpayers have every reason to expect major reforms in severance policies. All who work in government, especially those who are elected and those who serve in upper-level administrative positions, should keep in mind that we are here to serve the public, not to exploit our positions in order to enrich ourselves.
Those who are elected by the people, then ignore the people by refusing to meet with them, listen to them, and try to help resolve their problems also violate the trust imposed on all elected officials. We have endeavored to be as accessible to the public, directly and through the media, as humanly possible. Ever since I took office just over a year ago, we have held monthly News and Community Conferences, attended by all department heads, several division directors, and other city staff, including several people from the Mayor's Office. If a citizen of our City has a question, a gripe, a problem to be solved, or even a compliment, he or she can direct it to the person in charge. This, in my view, is democracy and governmental accountability at its best.
We also hold monthly Saturday Morning With the Mayor meetings at small businesses throughout the City, which have proven to be a huge success. These meetings are almost always well attended by residents who are vitally interested in their neighborhoods and their community.
Finally, at least once a month, Deeda Seed and I hold meetings with anyone who wants to meet with us privately. Those meetings have been extremely valuable in learning about problems that can often be solved right away and in finding out the views of people throughout our City who are directly affected by the matters they wish to discuss.
The past year has been one of many challenges and great accomplishments, which are helping to make our community stronger and more vibrant. Those accomplishments were made possible by unsurpassed leadership in each of our departments and by the hundreds of hard-working, capable, committed City employees who help make things work – and work well – every day. They were made possible by the astounding hard work, often seven-very-long-days-a-week, of our Chief of Staff, Deeda Seed. Deeda is the epitome of a great public servant – compassionate, committed to making the quality of life better for all, and unwaveringly ethical. Also, DJ Baxter has contributed to the accomplishments of the past year, with enormous dedication, good humor, and competence.
The achievements that have benefited the people of this community were also made possible by the members of the City Council. I want to thank each of you – Carlton, Van, Tom, Roger, Nancy, Dave and Keith – for the tremendous work you do on behalf of the citizens of this city. Your willingness to devote long hours researching, deliberating, and debating issues demonstrates your genuine dedication to public service – and your love for our community. Even when some of us disagree on occasion, and even sometimes adamantly disagree, I try always to remember that we are each doing our very best to do what's best for the people of Salt Lake City.
Finally, I would like to thank the citizens of this great City for giving me the opportunity and honor to serve them and for their willingness to participate in our community. The thousands of city residents who volunteer on boards and commissions, and in non-profit community groups, religious organizations, and community councils form the core that makes our community strong.
I look forward to the coming year, to continue with what is best about Salt Lake City, and to build upon what we have begun. We will work tenaciously to further the fundamental goals of designing and managing our City in a manner that enhances the quality of life for everyone in our community and building a place where the differences among people are celebrated and valued for the strength that diversity brings to our community and to each of our individual lives.
In the end, it's all about love and caring – for our families, for our friends, for our neighbors, and, especially, for those who are most in need. If we can help those in our community to live life joyously and with compassion for others, while we keep the potholes filled at the same time and keep taxes down, we will have done our jobs well.
When considering the tremendous resources of our community, and the remarkable and diverse people who live so well together here, I must conclude that our City is in very good shape. It is, indeed, no doubt the best place to live and work – and I might add, the best place to play.