Serving as Mayor of this great city is the experience of a lifetime. I am proud to take the oath of office and continue working to make Orlando the best place in America to live, work and raise a family. The strength of our City lies in the hopes and dreams of our residents. And to those residents – Thank you for entrusting me with the mission of making those dreams a reality. I also want to thank our dedicated City staff, our police and firefighters for their service and commitment to excellence. To our distinguished guests – thank you for your support and for taking time to attend today.
I want to congratulate: newly elected District 2 Commissioner Tony Ortiz, District 4 Commissioner Patty Sheehan, District 6 Commissioner Sam Ings. And I also want to recognize Commissioner Emeritus Betty T. Wyman for more than 16 years of service to the citizens of Orlando.
I’d like all of our City Commissioners and Commissioner Emeritus Wyman to stand. It’s my honor to serve with you. Thank you for all you do for our City.
My family is here. While I love serving as Orlando’s Mayor… it would not be worth it if I didn’t have a few other titles in my life: Dad, Coach, Husband. To my wife Karen and my sons Trey and Drew: Thank you for your love and support.
It’s a big year for me. I begin my second full term. Trey goes off to college. Next week, Karen and I celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. And, I also turn 50. Newspaper writer Dave Barry wrote a column on his 50th birthday called “25 things it took me 50 years to learn.” Five years ago, I began a journey as Mayor. As I look back, I realize it‘s taken every experience since then – all of the ups and downs – to appreciate what an honor it is to serve as your Mayor.
Don’t worry, I’m not writing a book. But, in the spirit of Dave Barry’s list I want to share with you: Five things I’ve learned… in five years as Mayor of Orlando
To start, watch out for professional wrestlers and angry pit bulls! Okay, that didn’t quite make the list.
IN ALL SERIOUSNESS, NUMBER ONE: YOU CAN’T DO IT ALONE
Simple, right? Every little league coach has professed the value of teamwork. But, over the last five years, our new partnerships have led to some extraordinary accomplishments.
These are the products of putting aside differences and working to find common ground for the common good.
We’ve forged international relationships and helped strengthen Orlando as a global brand – with our partners from the CVB, Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association, Disney, Universal Orlando and Sea World. Our City is now one stop away from 130 destinations worldwide, with more than 36 million passengers traveling through the Orlando International Airport each year.
We’ve joined forces to protect our environment through our green partnership pledge with Orange County and OUC. Because of this, we’ve just been designated one of only 25 solar cities in America. We’ve shared best practices with other cities for successful programs like our Illegal Gun Bounty.
The result of all this? We have entered an era of unprecedented cooperation and collaboration in Central Florida. And, we are only starting to see the benefits. One of our top partners is here, Orange County Mayor Richard Crotty. Mayor Crotty, Thank you for all you’ve done for the residents of Central Florida. I look forward to continued prosperity as the result of the relationship between Orlando and Orange County.
NUMBER TWO: MASTER THE BASICS
I believe people want bold solutions to big problems. But, it’s hard to focus on larger issues if your trash isn’t picked up and your car is hitting potholes. Over the last five years we’ve worked to ensure that our essential city services are performed to the highest degree of excellence. We’ve invested in technology to make our government more efficient and accessible. We’ve added parks, pools and playgrounds. We’ve stressed the value of customer service in every interaction our City employees have with residents. We also challenge our City employees not just to do their jobs – but to excel at their jobs.
Our Fire Department is a shining example of this philosophy. This fall – OFD achieved an ISO rating of one. This is the top rating a fire department can achieve. Only 55 out of more than 46-thousand fire departments have this designation. That’s mastering the basics.
NUMBER THREE ON MY LIST:
CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO
Over the last five years, our community has dared to ask “What If?” What if we commit to revitalizing downtown with new businesses, shops and restaurants so that it truly embodies the economic and cultural hub of central Florida? What if we turn Parramore around? What if we diversify our economy and bring in high wage, high value jobs? What if we attract the next generation of businesses by creating centers for digital media and BIO-medical research? What if we make the environment a priority? We not only asked these questions… we acted.
The results are in black and white:
We also challenged the status quo in Parramore. Through our Pathways for Parramore initiative, we are going block by block to revitalize this neighborhood. We’re helping lifelong renters get into their first homes. More than two thousand kids live in Parramore. Our groundbreaking Parramore Kidz Zone project has made a tremendous difference in the lives of these children – connecting them with essential services, education and opportunity. The decline of Parramore took decades. Slowly and surely we are challenging the status quo and changing the future of this great neighborhood.
NUMBER FOUR: THE TEST OF LEADERSHIP IS HOW WE HANDLE ADVERSITY
I’m sure you’ve heard this before. But I’d like to think there’s a little more to it. Almost anyone can solve a problem. It’s making sure you don’t have to solve the same problem again and again that really matters. Five years ago, our City was in financial peril. We made difficult choices to balance our budget. We didn’t stop there. We put guidelines in place to carefully plan for the future. We tightened our belt and made more efficient use of our workforce. And last year, when the state carved away local revenues, we were better prepared than most Florida communities.
Two years ago, our nation experienced a troubling increase in violent crime. Anticipating this would impact our community, we launched a 3 year public safety initiative dedicating 75 new police officers and an unprecedented increase in tools, technology and training. We attacked street crime with Operation Delta and our Illegal Gun Bounty Program. We expanded our neighborhood watch and citizen observer programs. We also focused on the causes of crime – as part of our Safe Orlando Task Force. We partnered with Orange County Public Schools to expand programs aimed at preventing youth from turning to crime in the first place. Keeping Orlando safe is a mission that will not end.
FINALLY, NUMBER FIVE ON MY LIST: SUCCESS IS NOT A DESTINATION, IT’S A DIRECTION
We’ve set a bold and prosperous course for our region. But, that’s only the first phase of the job. We must ensure that we stay on course despite the challenges ahead. As we begin this new term… our national economy is slowing down. It’s harder to put food on the table and gas in the tank. Our roads grow more clogged every day. Our population will double in the next 25 years – impacting nearly every part of our lives.
Like the families in our community, our City is going to have to make some tough financial choices. But, if we take these 5 lessons to heart – together, we can overcome any challenge. Ultimately, we can build on the economic foundation of our city and continue to help our neighborhoods and our families.
WE’LL DO THIS BY FOCUSING ON THREE AREAS:
TO KEEP US MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.
It all starts with a safe place to call home. Safety will remain our number one priority. Our police department has been re-energized. The Department has gone high-tech with the creation of the IRIS camera program which will be operational later this summer. Already, residents can report crimes online at OPD’s web site. Officers have also embraced some low-tech strategies – rolling down their patrol car windows and spending more time on foot in neighborhoods.
In October, we’ll start the third year of our public safety initiative – with 25 additional police officers that will hit the streets. The newest OPD initiative builds on the success of Operation Delta, which sent a surge of officers into high crime areas for targeted strikes against drugs and violent crime. With the help of Chief Judge Belvin Perry, we are creating Operation Delta “Felony Zones.” If you’re convicted of a crime inside this zero tolerance zone – you can’t come back unless you live or work there. Just yesterday, OPD began expanding the Delta approach to other neighborhoods. They netted 18 felony arrests and took 5 guns off the street in Carver Shores. This relentless pursuit of criminals will keep us safe.
Moving forward also means continuing to extend opportunity to everyone.
FDR used his public works administration in the 1930’s to create jobs, build roads and help people during tough economic times. We will do much the same using our community venues to create thousands of construction jobs along with job training and apprenticeship programs. We’ll also continue to foster an environment where small business succeeds. I have an immense respect for our small business owners. In many cases, they risk all they have for a dream. And our new Mainstreet program will enhance small business along the commercial corridors in our neighborhoods.
We will also continue to open doors for our City’s children. We’ll do this through mentoring initiatives, after school, sports and arts programs, and access to healthcare and tutoring. By ensuring opportunity for the most vulnerable segment of our youth, we are giving them the tools to succeed in the classroom and later in the workforce. Our outreach to children is a vital part of our crime prevention efforts.
Finally, as we look ahead, we must embrace innovation as the way to keep us moving forward.
The jobs of the 21st century that we crave for our residents will be based on two things – knowledge and proximity. A report by the Brookings Institution says cities use only 12 percent of our country’s land. But, they produce 75 percent of the gross domestic product, 76 percent of the “knowledge jobs,” and 78 percent of the patents. What does this mean? It means economic solutions lie in America’s cities.
It means when you bring people together, physically together, good things happen. We are proving Brookings right every day in Orlando. From Lake Nona’s Medical City To our downtown resurgence and the Creative Village with UCF’s School of Film and Digital Media, the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy and House of Moves. We’re growing the next generation economy. This continued approach fosters smart growth rather than sprawl.
We’ll also work to provide residents with transportation options to create a more walkable, transit-oriented city. This includes our vision for Church Street as an arts, sports and entertainment corridor connecting the east and west parts of our city all anchored by our community venues. Innovation also means aggressively exploring every way to achieve more efficient government. We must make every dollar go further; we must make every expenditure count.
Innovation also means finding ways to protect our natural resources and make our city more sustainable. We’ve made great progress through GreenWorks Orlando. We’re set to create the City’s first program to provide businesses with training to enact their own eco-friendly practices. This year, we are encouraging our residents to go on a “carbon diet.”
We will challenge residents to reduce their individual carbon footprints 20 percent by the year 2012. We’re encouraging every resident to make choices in their lifestyles to reduce their energy and water use this year. We’re also working on one of the most ambitious green projects in the world. Right here in Orlando, we’ve partnered with an MIT professor to develop a revolutionary new way to treat wastewater sludge. That’s right … wastewater sludge using high temperature and pressure. We’re designing a way to capture the massive heat generated from the process. That heat will create a renewable power source. This innovation will improve the quality of life for everyone.
There you have it… five lessons that helped create the success we’ve had in Central Florida.
And three areas - Safety, Opportunity, Innovation,– that will ensure our great future.
It’s fitting that we have gathered here, near Jefferson Street. The street was named after Thomas Jefferson by his great granddaughters who were some of Orlando’s earliest residents. Jefferson said, “The generation that commences a revolution rarely completes it.” He was talking about rebellion from England. But, his premise still applies today in our city. Building a bigger, better, brighter future for Orlando is a mission that is going to need constant leadership over the long haul. And, it’s a mission we undertake to benefit our children and grandchildren. Friends, we have started a revolution:
I take this oath of office with an appreciation that comes from five years in service to our residents and the willingness to work every day to ensure that Orlando fulfils its destiny as the next great American City.
Thank you and God Bless Orlando.