Logo

State of the City

©2010 Bob Foster
Tickets for 2012 State of the City “Sold Out”

TICKETS FOR 2012 STATE OF THE CITY “SOLD OUT”

All tickets were reserved within one week.

December 28, 2011 - As of last week, all 825 tickets made available since December 15 have been allocated for the 2012 State of the City. Mayor Bob Foster will deliver the State of the City at the Center Theater on January 9.

People who are interested in attending the 2012 State of the City can sign up for the wait list if tickets become available by calling 562-570-5089 or visiting www.MayorBobFoster.com.

The State of the City tickets will be mailed out this week. Attendees for the 2012 State of the City event are encouraged to arrive early. Doors will open at 6:30 pm, with community nonprofit booths in the Center Theater lobby. This event is free to the public, but you must have a ticket to attend.

The State of the City can also be watched live on www.StateofLB.com or www.MayorBobFoster.com January 9 at 7:30pm.

WHEN:

7:30 p.m. – State of the City

Monday, January 9, 2012

WHERE:

Center Theater/Long Beach Performing Arts Center

300 East Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach, CA 90802

# # #

©2010 Bob Foster
2012 State of the City – January 9 at Center Theater

MAYOR FOSTER WILL DELIVER 2012 STATE OF THE CITY AT CENTER THEATER ON JANUARY 9

Mayor Bob Foster will deliver the 2012 State of the City on January 9 at the Center Theater/ Long Beach Performing Arts Center. All Long Beach residents are invited to attend for free, but you must reserve a ticket for admission.

“I’m delighted to return to the Center Theater for the 2012 State of the City,” said Mayor Bob Foster. “The State of the City has been an opportunity for our City’s residents and community leaders to join together to reflect on the past and look forward to the future of Long Beach.”

Attendees can reserve their tickets by calling 562-570-5089 or through www.MayorBobFoster.com. Residents are encouraged to reserve their tickets as soon as possible as there are a limited number of seats in the Center Theater. Two tickets may be reserved per address.

WHEN:

7:30 p.m. – State of the City

Monday, January 9, 2012

WHERE:

Center Theater/Long Beach Performing Arts Center

300 East Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach, CA 90802

 

Watch the 2011 State of the City address below.

# # #

©2010 Bob Foster
2011 State of the City: video

 

Watch the 2011 State of the City below:

©2010 Bob Foster
2011 State of the City: Text of Mayor Foster’s Speech

Mayor Bob Foster

2011 State of the City Address

January 11, 2011

Good evening.

Thank you to Rabbi Joseph Newman for the invocation and the Antioch Baptist Church Young Adult Choir for the wonderful introduction.

A special welcome to the members of the Long Beach City Council; City Attorney Robert Shannon; City Auditor Laura Doud; City Prosecutor Doug Haubert; Our fine City Management team under the leadership of City Manager Pat West; Thank you as well to the staff of the Long Beach Convention Center and the International City Theater for letting me totally mess up your production schedule.

And a special welcome to my wife, and your First Lady, Nancy Foster. Her efforts to ease the burden of mental illness are an inspiration to us all.

Welcome to my many friends and all our residents who are here tonight.

History tells us that democracies are fragile. In modern society, it is far too easy to check out as a citizen – and slip into thinking the business of participation is better left to someone else. Our engagement and active, healthy disagreements are required to make them thrive. Whether you’re watching here in the Center Theater or at home via the web cast, thank you for engaging in your community and your city.

In Saturday’s horrific incident in Arizona, we saw a graphic and breathtaking example of the fragility of our democracy. The bright and young; accomplished and engaged, were murdered or gravely injured while taking part in our democratic process. It is a heartbreaking human toll that this country will measure for years to come.

Here in Long Beach, we tragically lost one of our own City family this past year in the untimely passing of Dave Wodynski; a young man of boundless potential who left an indelible mark on all those who knew and worked with him.

Please keep these families in your thoughts and prayers and let us remember them now in a brief moment of silence.

Despite the cynicism and distrust that permeates modern political discourse, I believe public service remains a noble calling. I believe that each of us can, in fact, make things better.

In July, you honored me with a second term as your Mayor. In doing so, you have again placed a great trust in me. I remain humbled by your support. You have given me the job of building a brighter future. I can think of neither a more important nor greater responsibility. Thank you for your trust and confidence and I pledge that I will do my best to never let you down.

It is hard to believe that tonight marks the fifth speech I will deliver on the state of our city. It has been an exhausting and exhilarating ride.

As I reflect on the past five years, I believe much has been accomplished under what could best be described as “less than ideal” conditions.

Despite the dire predictions, crime levels are at historical lows. Our finances, while under pressure remain well managed. We have dramatically reduced air pollution from the Port. Our streets, sidewalks, and storm systems have been upgraded. We have expanded an already vibrant parks and recreation system. And improved one of our most stubborn quality of life challenges, our beach water quality, for the third year in a row.

There is now general optimism where there was once discouragement. The good news is that the national economy appears to have bottomed out. The stock market has recovered about 50% of its losses. Employment, while far from robust, seems headed in a positive direction. Home prices are stabilizing, although are certainly far from recovered. Much rebuilding needs to be done, but the foundation is now laid for a new and robust economy.

The economy of the past was marked by excess and unprincipled risk; perhaps best illustrated in the words of the Oracle of Springfield, Homer Simpson who said: “Son, if you really want something in life you have to work for it. Now be quiet, they’re about to announce the lottery numbers.”

This new economy will have different characteristics. People will save more. We will view our homes differently, less a cash cow and more a needed place to live. All of us will have to constantly learn additional skills to keep our jobs. Our young people will work for many employers during their life or be self-employed. The economy will be more grounded in today with far less bet on the come. And I believe it will have more promise for our future.

We should all feel some pride in navigating the past few years. We have not only endured the difficult times but we have done so by lending a helping hand to those who need it and kept focused on the essential services government provides. The future will still challenge us and pose obstacles to our success, but we are now better able to meet those challenges.

We are again a much safer city. Crime is at a level not seen in decades. Our murder rate is the lowest it has been since 1971 and gang-related murders are down 53.8% from last year.

Homicide is down by 24%; overall, violent crime is down by 13%. Response times are among the best in the nation even as call volumes increased. Our police department has cleared a record 90% of its homicide cases. On Friday, PD closed three more outstanding cases from earlier this decade with the arrest of a suspect utilizing modern DNA matching technology. All of this has been accomplished with fewer people, and very tight budgets. Our men and women in LBPD deserve our appreciation and Chief McDonnell and his team deserve our admiration for a job well done under difficult conditions. Please join me in a round of applause for their hard work.

Our fire department handled over 59,000 calls for service. Their response to emergency situations is second to none. Here too, service has been maintained with fewer positions and tight budgets. Chief Patalano, the command staff and the front line firefighters of the Long Beach Fire Department save lives and preserve property. Please join me in a round of applause for their excellent service.

2010 saw many improvements to our city. You all know I believe infrastructure is important to the future of our city as it sets the very foundation for growth and a robust economy. We were able to repair 19.3 miles of streets. 14.6 miles of sidewalks were replaced. Our storm drain system was enhanced by installing debris traps at pumping stations, improving our coastal water quality. At the helm of the Public Works’ ship, we all owe a tremendous thanks to Mike Conway and his great team.

New developments have taken root all over the City: a brand new Vons supermarket downtown; a new Marshall’s Department store in Bixby Knolls; new anchor retail outlets filled vacant space in Los Altos and we will soon have a new fire station at the Top of the Town.

Three very large construction projects moved forward this past year. Funding was secured for the Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement. This $1 billion project will generate 4,000 construction jobs and enhance the competitive future of the Port of Long Beach, making it not only more efficient but also assuring safer traffic flows for vessels, commercial vehicles and commuters. There is no more important project for the competitive future of our port and I want to draw special attention to the efforts of State Senator Alan Lowenthal and Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal to help move this project forward.

The Long Beach Airport diversified its air service offerings and achieved the lowest average cost per ticket in California and the second lowest in the nation.

More importantly, we broke ground on a new terminal. The project will modestly increase the size of the terminal, consistent with the requirements of our noise ordinance. The enhancements will provide more comfort and convenience and modern concessions for dining and shopping. In the near future, passengers will be able to grab a sandwich before their flight without fear of actually eating it.

While the process was lengthy and at times contentious, this modern facility was worth waiting for. Please join me in a round of applause for Mario Rodriguez and the Airport Department staff on a job very well done.

Long Beach will soon be home to a new, state of the art Superior Court House in its new location on the North West corner of Magnolia and Broadway.

This project is being built under a complex, first of its kind financial arrangement between the City’s Redevelopment Agency, the State and private developers. A land swap with the City’s Redevelopment Agency made this project possible. In return, the existing courthouse location reverts to the City and will become a landmark development along Ocean Boulevard.

2010 saw the completion of Phase I of the Colorado Lagoon Restoration Project. New parks all over the city were completed. From Rosie the Riveter Park to the Silverado Park Skate Spot, we have more places to enjoy nature and recreate.

2010 was an historic year for the Los Cerritos Wetlands. Long Beach facilitated the acquisition of 34 acres of land, and just last week 100 additional acres in Seal Beach was brought into the public realm. For the first time in more than a century, the public owns 200 acres of the Los Cerritos Wetlands. Efforts to restore this natural jewel will get underway in 2011, as we begin the visioning for creating one of the largest restored wetlands in Southern California.

Water quality projects were also enhanced in 2010. In a landmark agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers, we initiated the second phase of the East San Pedro Bay Ecosystem Restoration Study. This important effort will seek ways to improve water quality along our beaches and extend its examination well up the LA River.

Speaking of the LA River, we secured the support of the 27 upstream cities for a $41 million plan to outfit storm drains along the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers with treatment traps. Once funding is secured, this will significantly improve water quality in the rivers and on our beaches. Meanwhile, work is already under way to install trash traps in 16 upstream cities that flow the LA River, essentially making those cities 100% trash compliant by the end of this year.

We took advantage of available federal stimulus dollars and spent them wisely. We used as much of the $120 million under the stimulus package as possible to improve our infrastructure and you see the result all over town. Federal training dollars were also well spent, linking training to real jobs at the port or other major construction projects in town. These major projects have strong goals for local hires, providing not only jobs for our young people, but careers. I want to thank Bryan Rogers and the whole crew at the Pacific Resource Investment Center and the Workforce Investment Board for all their hard work and their success in finding permanent jobs for over 2,000 Long Beach area previously unemployed people.

This was also a year in which the City’s achievements were recognized. We again received the award for being one of the top ten green fleets in America. EPA awarded our Port with the Region’s 2010 Environmental Achievement Award for its clean air technology program. And Bicycling Magazine ranked Long Beach in the top 25 Bike-Friendly Cities in America.

Our resolve to manage our finances well was also evident in 2010. We not only bridged a $23 million budget gap, but we did so while maintaining our $9 million Budget Stabilization Fund. This has helped us maintain our AA minus bond rating and has won praise from the financial community for our prudent financial management. Thanks again to our budget and finance staff for the great job they do under very difficult conditions.

So what does all this mean for our city? As you can see we have much of which to be proud. There are still, however, big issues we need to deal with. We have accomplished a great deal together and there appear to be fewer obstacles to a bright future than just two years ago. We are all no doubt relieved the dark days of 2008 and 2009 are behind us.

We need to learn from that hard experience. For those of us engaged in public policy we need to be honest in our review of the past three years. We learned several lessons that we will need for the future.

First, government was too big. While few in government want to admit it, we were all just a bit too complacent in the past. Today we perform needed services with far fewer resources. Since 2004, we have closed a $180 million deficit. We have reduced the number for public employees and now have a budget that is smaller in nominal dollars than it was in 2009. There is little doubt that some desired services have been curtailed, but the city’s essential services continue successfully even with fewer resources.

Second, to “kick the can down the road” is a prescription for serious problems. There is a natural tendency for policy-making bodies and in human nature, to put off decisions until they have to be made. Often, delay, “foot-dragging,” “temporary patches” are used in the hope that conditions will change or that a problem will be suspended long enough to becomes someone else’s issue. I would argue that much of State budgeting over the past two decades falls in this category. But putting off a decision or to delay handling a serious problem never bears sound results.

Finally, if there is one thing that I have learned in my professional life it’s that a problem should be dealt with directly and swiftly. Waiting only reduces your options for resolution and often exacerbates the problem itself. We should learn the lesson that public policy needs to be grounded in reality and needs to be implemented for its stated purpose. We should not, as has been done, adopt one policy to “make up for” the difficulties in implementing another. The cost consequences of this policy will largely fall on future generations, so that costs and benefits never are “squared up” in the same time frame.

Last year, I indicated an immediate threat to our future was the potential for the State to take funds from local government. A combination of sound legislative action and the passage of Proposition 22 have reduced this threat. But alas – we aren’t done yet.

Yesterday’s budget announcement has some encouraging provisions to rein in state spending, just like every city or county in California has done for the past several years. But, under a vague outline for something called “realignment,” the Governor indicated he plans to eliminate local redevelopment agencies as part of a proposal to return many functions now performed by the state to local government.

Upon initial review, Long Beach will lose out annually on millions of dollars that are re-invested into areas of the City with the most entrenched poverty and crime. The proposal takes away a vital tool for lifting up our urban core and to what end? The funds don’t go towards eliminating the state’s deficit but instead are shifted to pay another bill the state can’t otherwise afford. One thing is clear: at-risk communities across California lose out and the winners will be happy only for a while.

Policy makers may find comfort and support in satisfying the desires of interest groups in the present, but they sacrifice our future. As George Bernard Shaw said, “the government with the policy to rob Peter to pay Paul can be assured of the support of Paul.”

We will all need to watch this issue closely, since it promises to be a significant part of the budget reform in Sacramento and could put local resources at risk. As we all know, the devil is in the details.

While we continue to manage our budgets well, we will have shortfalls for the foreseeable future. In my budget message this year I indicated that these deficits are being driven primarily by increased pension costs. The increases are a result of massive losses by the Public Employees Retirement system and the increased benefits given to employees in 2001. Pension costs will rise to nearly 45% of the public safety budgets by 2014, which means for every dollar of salary we pay, another 45 cents will be needed for pension obligations. The City’s total unfunded pension liability is over $1.2 billion and rising.

Indeed, the added payments recently required by PERS do not even keep pace with our growing liability. It’s very similar to a mortgage with negative amortization; the principle keeps increasing every year.

These costs are the sword of Damocles hanging over our city. We simply cannot afford to pay them. If we do not reform our pension system the costs will outstrip our capability to provide essential services. Police, fire and all quality of life service will be reduced. Contracting with other agencies, such as the county, may be necessary to provide basic services.

This year, I proposed a thoughtful, relatively painless way to help solve our city’s pension problem. Since employees pay little of their pension costs and are held harmless for the CalPERS fund’s investment losses, I suggested that contracted raises be applied to the employee share of pension costs. Over the next several years the employee’s contribution would increase until their full and fair share was reached. Employees would not see the raise in their check, but their pay would not decline and we could gradually get to a point where they were paying their fair share.

In addition, I proposed that new employees, would have new pension rules. For public safety, the new retirement age would be 55 rather than 50 and the formula would change from 3% per year of service to 2%. For all other employees the retirement age would move from 55 to 60- and the formula from 2.5% to 2%. These are reasonable changes that are consistent with a modern workforce and actuarially sound.

Importantly, these changes would have saved money now and reduced future budget deficits. Without these changes the cumulative deficit from fiscal years ‘12 to ‘14 would be approximately $59 million; with the changes, the deficit would be cut more than half to $28 million. At these reduced levels, we could still provide for our essential services, including public safety.

I proposed these changes in the spirit of shared sacrifice and with hope that our employee groups would look beyond their immediate self-interest to a larger more sustainable and stable future. I was to be disappointed.

While I applaud the four employee organizations, including our City’s management group, which agreed to the changes, the 3 largest groups — police, fire, and the machinists — took raises and rejected the reforms.

I know it’s difficult to explain to any organization that sacrifice needs to be made and no one wants to be first. But the future of public pensions is so clear — they cannot be sustained. Claims were made and will be again that we are putting life and property at risk calling for reductions in all areas. Not so, it is the unreasonable rejection of reform and an ingrained entitlement mentality that puts our City at risk.

Earlier in this speech I indicated there were lessons that we should learn from the past three years. We need to put those lessons to use here. We cannot allow government to grow to pay for unreasonable and unsustainable pensions. At this time in the economic recovery, we should not encumber businesses or individuals with a greater tax burden.

We cannot and should not “kick the can down the road”. To leave an even larger burden for our children and grandchildren would be immoral. They will receive no benefit from this program but will bear the painful costs.

We should and must attack this problem now. We have more options for resolution and the pain will be far less now than in the future. We created this problem and we need to solve it.

We will continue to engage in collective bargaining to bring these changes about. I know they must be made and I am determined to see them through. That is my responsibility to all of you. My job is to help protect your future and your children’s future and solve today’s problems today. Unfortunately, I’m not optimistic for a meaningful outcome.

Therefore, if I am unsuccessful in bargaining for these changes I will propose a ballot initiative that will constrain future Mayors and Councils from providing any more in pension benefits than those outlined above. These restrictions, if passed, will go into effect when the current contracts with our unions end.

There is too much at stake to ignore this problem or to pass it on to those who had no hand in its creation. Our future demands that we stabilize our finances and put our house in order. If we can achieve stability, have a great future ahead of us in Long Beach.

Just last week, 28 Long Beach small-businesses graduated in the first cohort of what will become a national program by Goldman Sachs to educate, train and foster growth opportunities for 10,000 small business owners. I was very honored to be asked to speak at the graduation. I had the opportunity to meet these leaders and their families, some of whom, like Fred Johring of Golden State Transportation, that I have had the opportunity to get to know well over the past 5 years. These businesses are emblematic of our City in our diversity, our creativity and in our desire to achieve. Fred and his wife Jheri are out there in the audience tonight – if you get a chance on the way out, tell them thank you for what they do for the Long Beach economy, for using clean trucks and for those 7 new hires.

Later that same day, I spent some time talking with a thoughtful observer of California and the world who recently suggested that our nation’s biggest challenge may lie in how we address the void created by our society’s diminished ambitions.

It struck me quite clearly that neither Fred, nor the 27 other small business owners completing that program, have a void in their ambitions. In fact, I remarked in my speech that morning that they represent not only the best of our City but of our country. It was one of those moments when you feel a reinforced confidence in our future.

We have weathered a great storm and been tested and tempered by hard times. We have a great place to live right on the Pacific Ocean. We have a vibrant and growing creative class whose energy will propel us into a new and robust economy. We have become a destination for travel from all over the county. We have a people willing to help one another and work cooperatively toward a better future. We have good public schools and ready access to institutions of higher learning. We have great climate, and the means to generate economic growth. I love this City; I love its people and admire its spirit.

And I am proud to lead Long Beach. I passionately accept the responsibility you’ve given me. Working together, we will have a bright future – and we will fulfill those ambitions.

Thank you.

©2010 Bob Foster
State of the City: Last Planning Meeting

Yesterday morning was the last planning meeting before the 2011 State of the City!

We are very lucky in the Mayor’s office to be able to work with so many great and experienced professionals with the City of Long Beach and the Long Beach Performing Arts Center.  All pending decisions from the Antioch Young Adult Choir’s band placement to how people were going to enter/exit were all hammered out.  This is the second consecutive year we are all working together on the State of the City and it showed in the yesterday’s meeting, which only lasted 30 minutes.

Looking forward to seeing everyone on January 11!

©2010 Bob Foster
2011 State of the City Streamed Live on the Web

 

State of the City attendees are encouraged to bring a canned or packaged food item for Long Beach Community Food Drive.

January 7, 2011 – Although all 825 tickets have been distributed for the 2011 State of the City, Long Beach community members will be able to watch the event live over the internet.

People who were unable to attain tickets for the 2011 State of the City can visit www.longbeach.gov or www.MayorBobFoster.com on January 11 at 7:00 pm to watch the live webcast of the event.

LBTV, (Charter channel 3, Verizon FiOs channel 21) will be re-broadcasting the State of the City on the following dates and times:

· Tuesday, January 11 at 10:00 pm

· Wednesday, January 12 at 12:00 pm

· Thursday, January 13 at 7:00 am and 12:00 pm

· Friday, January 14 at 12:00 pm and 10:00 pm

· Saturday, January 15 at 9:00 am, 3:00 pm, and 9:30 pm

· Sunday, January 16 at 1:00 pm and 9:00 pm

Playback of the event will also be available on www.MayorBobFoster.com or www.longbeach.gov.

State of the City ticket holders are encouraged to help the Long Beach Community Food Drive by bringing a canned or packaged food item to the event. Food Drive bins will be located in the plaza area of Center Theater. Food Finders will be distributing the donated food to more than 100 organizations in Long Beach help out needy families. The Long Beach Community Food Drive’s goal is to collect 100,000 pounds of food, which would provide three meals a day to approximately 2,547 families for a week.

# # #

©2010 Bob Foster
2011 State of the City Facebook page

Want the latest information on the 2011 State of the City?  There’s a Facebook page with photos and video from last year, as well as updates on the State of the City.  Visit Facebook today or click here to go to the State of the City page!

©2010 Bob Foster
Mayor Foster Will Deliver 2011 State of the City at Center Theater on January 11

 

Mayor Bob Foster will deliver the 2011 State of the City on January 11 at the Center Theater/ Long Beach Performing Arts Center. All Long Beach residents are invited to attend for free, but you must reserve a ticket for admission. Tickets are expected to go quickly as this year’s venue is smaller than previous years.

“I’m delighted to invite the Long Beach community to the 2011 State of the City at the Center Theater,” said Mayor Bob Foster. “The State of the City has been an opportunity for our City’s residents and community leaders to join together to reflect on the past and look forward to the future of Long Beach.”

This will be the Mayor’s fifth State of the City.

Attendees can reserve their tickets by calling 562-570-5089 or through www.MayorBobFoster.com. Residents are encouraged to reserve their tickets as soon as possible as there are a limited number of seats in the Center Theater. The Center Theater’s capacity is smaller than the last year’s venue, Terrace Theater. The State of the City was moved to Center Theater due to construction at Terrace. Two tickets may be reserved per address.

WHEN:

7:00 p.m. – State of the City

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

WHERE:

Center Theater/Long Beach Performing Arts Center

300 East Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach, CA 90802

# # #

©2010 Bob Foster
Mayor Foster Delivers 2010 State of the City Address

January 12, 2010

Long Beach, CA

Good Evening.

Welcome to those of you that have joined us here tonight from across the City or are watching from home for the second address that is free and open to the public.

A special welcome to someone who has worked hard to help those suffering from mental illness, my wife, and your first Lady, Nancy Foster.

I also want to welcome our son Kenny and his wife Cheryl, our son James, and our grandchildren Taylor, Bobby, and Ryan.

Welcome to Downtown Long Beach and the renovated Terrace Theater where just a few weeks from now, this very stage will play host to the likes of Bill Gates, Nobel Prize winner Dr. Elie Wiesel and England’s Jamie Oliver, the Naked Chef.

But tonight, you get just another pretty face!

This year marks my fourth State of the City and, like the years before, tonight is a chance to reflect on the past and look ahead to the future.

I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing most of you here tonight were simply delighted to see 2009 disappear in the rearview mirror.

It was a year of economic turmoil unknown in most of our lifetimes. We witnessed the collapse of our credit markets, driven by greed and unbridled self-interest on a global scale. In all, the Great Recession tested our resolve, our habits and our character. It also showed us what is important and brought us closer together.

When you came into the theater this evening, I hope you were able to spend a few minutes getting to know a small selection of the charitable and non-profit groups that do tremendous work within the City.

On your way out tonight, stop by to see how you can help. And say thank you, because the work of those organizations, and others like them, weave the fabric of our community; whether delivering food, helping fund after school programs or offering compassion and kindness in an hour of need.

You may remember when I spoke of the Greatest Generation last year, recalling the need to draw upon the historic character of that time to weather the storm. If we could summon the resolve of our parents and grandparents during the years of the Great Depression and World War Two, we could answer the call of our challenge – and just maybe, learn from our mistakes.

The signs are everywhere that we have met that challenge with character and courage.

There will be moments over the next 12 months that will be very difficult. The pre-recession prosperity will not return quickly – I believe, in fact, that it is going to take years.

But unlike this time last year, the prospect for the months ahead is brighter.

Personal savings rates in America continue to climb; the markets are up, credit is beginning to flow again. Retail sales, a key ingredient to economic recovery, were up in December; and imports saw their first gain in 28 months. In the fall, for the first time in months, the jobs report saw a glimmer of hope — but the important fact is this: While much more needs to be done to return to economic health, we are at least off life support.

From the City’s perspective, we trimmed government, while maintaining vital services. Every part of Long Beach City government learned to do more with less. Through reduced positions, employee furloughs and re-structuring of contracts, we were able to manage our way through an acute fiscal crisis.

We again produced a balanced City Budget. On one of our most difficult issues, we demonstrated that we could work together toward the common purpose of making our City better, even with fewer resources.

I want to thank our firefighters, police officers and all our City employees for their understanding and cooperation during these very difficult times.

Last year, while many other cities were decimating their reserves, we took the important step of saving for a rainy day with the creation of a $9 million budget stabilization fund. The same story, unfortunately, cannot be told for our state government. The mercurial revenue swings and spending are part of what wreaks havoc on our State Budget.

On this point let me be very clear: the most immediate threat to the financial stability of this City is raids on our general fund by Sacramento.

Long Beach’s credit rating is 5 grades higher than the State of California’s – and while that indicates strong fiscal health for the City, it does not present a pleasant picture of things in Sacramento.

Frankly, the system of funding local governments in California is broken. The gimmicks, smoke and mirror budgeting, and kicking the can down the road that got the State into this mess needs to end.

Indeed, there will likely be a ballot measure sponsored by the California League of Cities in November that will prevent the State from stealing funds from local government. While I usually oppose such draconian ballot measures, candidly, there is now little choice. Our police and fire departments, streets and roads, park programs, and libraries need to be protected.

Sacramento must change the way it does business. Money does not fall from the sky; it’s earned and expanded by private sector productivity. Commercial activity is the engine to get us to a healthier economy. It builds wealth, employs people and grows tax revenues to provide services.

It’s time to put the State’s fiscal house in order rather than make it a contest for survival.

Long Beach was named the Most Business friendly city in LA County last year due in large measure to changes in the way we approach our business.

Not only did we focus on attracting new employers to the City, but we also invested in retaining the employers already here. Long Beach now has a small and local business preference program to help keep tax revenues here at home. It opens the door to city contracts by leveling the playing field for small business owners.

We adopted programs and partnerships to maximize our sales tax revenue and attract new opportunities to grow our tax base; a creative effort that looks to revenue sources beyond tax increases and big box stores.

And we took the first steps to a substantial long-term growth in general fund revenues through modern, environmentally friendly oil extraction in the Wilmington Oil Field. This one initiative has the potential to add millions to the general fund annually in the next several years without expanding the current environmental footprint.

As you all know, we are home to the C-17 and nearly 5,000 jobs through Boeing. Working together, we were able to get an additional 18 C-17′s funded. In recent days more global sales have been announced, promising to keep the line in production for the next several years.

Boeing also holds two other very valuable assets that will be important to Long Beach; the former 717 site and the new industrial development at Douglas Park. The 717 site alone has over 1 million square feet of space under one roof – and one day soon, it will be home to a movie studio, maybe an electric car plant, maybe a movie studio, maybe an electric car plant.

One corporate CEO I had met with several months ago stopped by my office recently to tell me that Long Beach is a finalist for his firm’s corporate headquarters. And our competition? Another state – not another city, but an entire state. That is the playing field that our City competes on.

Our Port, our institutions of higher learning, the access to a skilled workforce, and the incentives we can offer through the Enterprise Zone all come together to make Long Beach a very special opportunity for growing companies.

Another of our city’s key employment centers is the medical community. And as 2009 came to a close, we celebrated a substantial expansion of Miller’s Children’s Hospital. Already one of the premier institutions in the country, Miller’s addition of a new state-of-the-art pediatric surgical center and 124,000 square foot in-patient pavilion means even more children from throughout the region will be able to access the very best care right here in Long Beach.

But Southern California’s largest jobs generator is neither the medical community nor Hollywood, but the industries and companies that attend to the nation’s largest port complex.

The Port of Long Beach has had a year marked by challenge and tremendous achievement.

Our Port has made significant strides in cleaning the air we all breathe. This was our first full year under the Clean Trucks Program, and I’m proud to say that the program is ahead of schedule.

We are well on our way to replacing more than 6,000 dirty trucks with new, cleaner diesel and liquefied natural gas vehicles. January 1st launched the second phase of the program and ushered in even stricter clean air guidelines.

When we embarked on the Clean Tucks Program in 2007, the goal was an 80% reduction in pollution from trucks by 2012. We are on track to reach that goal this year, two years early.

It was not easy and it was not without trial, but you should all be proud that Long Beach remained focused on the goal of cleaner air, not a political agenda.

I want to take a moment to thank the Port staff and the Harbor Commissioners for all their hard work.

The Port also embarked on a massive decade-long construction project known as Middle Harbor.

Once completed, the Middle Harbor project will make the Port greener and more competitive with growing ports on the East Coast and in Canada.

The project will cost over $800 million and employ nearly 14,000 people over the next 10 years.

The project will also be covered by a project labor agreement, ensuring an uninterrupted flow of work and a significant number of local hires. Now we can train our young people for not just jobs, but real careers, right here in Long Beach.

Linking our investment in job training programs with actual jobs is a point I cannot emphasize enough.

Using the one-time federal stimulus funds, our Workforce Investment team put 1,200 young adults ages 14-24 to work at 250 local businesses.

In total, 20,000 local workers took advantage of the opportunity to strengthen their job skills in anticipation of a new career path.

When I travel to Washington next week to meet with the White House and Congressional leaders, my message will be this: let’s invest in our cities by building bridges, fixing our streets and roads, laying the infrastructure for a green economy. This is where stimulus funds need to be put to work; because a job-training program cannot be an end unto itself.

Many of you know about the partnership between my office and the Long Beach Unified School District that formed the ACE Academy program up at Jordan High School in North Long Beach.

With us here tonight are 20 students, several of which will be part of ACE Academy’s first graduating class this spring. These young people are emblematic of the importance of skill development and career training – please join me in welcoming them here tonight.

Last year, our City had some remarkable achievements by people who work hard everyday at providing quality service to all of us that work, live and play in the City of Long Beach. Your City staff and partners are second to none when it comes to trying to make life better and our city brighter.

We are a safer City and a well-protected City. In 2009, crime rates dropped again, by nearly 3%.

In particular, gang-related shootings dropped more than 8%.

We deployed wireless 911 citywide and response times for priority one calls are faster than ever before.

Traffic accidents are down 6% – but now for the bad news: traffic citations are up 3%. Even though the City needs the money, I’d rather you all paid more attention out there!

Our fire department responded to more than 57,000 calls for service; an ever-increasing workload for a department that continually demonstrates it is among the best in the nation.

Our business improvement districts, in every area of the City, worked hard to connect local businesses with residents, reminding everyone to spend locally.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau continues to showcase the City despite the challenging national economy.

As I frequently tell visiting groups: Welcome to Long Beach and thank you for choosing our City for your conference. Now remember, there is only one rule: you must go out and spend money!

We transformed the roof of the Long Beach Arena into a canvas, as Wyland completed an ambitious mural in a day’s time in honor of Earth Day.

On New Year’s Eve, Travis Pastrana launched his car 269-feet across a sparkling Rainbow Harbor and into the Guinness Book of World Records as nearly 26 million television viewers across the country watched.

In every corner of our neighborhoods, the bread and butter programs of street and sidewalk repair continue.

We filled 32,400 potholes, with an average 48-hour response time; we repaired 15.6 miles of streets and 13.5 miles of sidewalks; and 2 million square feet of graffiti was removed within

48-hours of being reported.

We opened 3 dog parks, broke ground on 4 new park facilities and cleared the way for more than 9 acres of additional park space for the future.

No area of our city should live with anxiety simply from the threat of a rainstorm. But that is what the residents near the Arlington Storm Drain did every year. No less than seven times during the past 20 years this Westside area fell victim to flooding, damaging homes and cars and destroying the dreams of many residents. Candidly, this problem was an embarrassment that went unattended for far too long – and to me, a stark example of the “Tale of Two Cities” of which I so often have warned. Our residents deserved much better.

This year, with cooperation from the County and the creative help of our Public Works Department and Southern California Edison, we will finally fix the Arlington Storm Drain to provide flood protection for the first time in two decades.

The Colorado Lagoon is on track to be cleaned up. A combination of persistence on the part of the Friends of the Colorado Lagoon and an infusion of federal and local funds have come together to create a project that will be used to increase tidal flow in the lagoon as well as improve the Termino storm drain. This will return the lagoon to a healthy recreational asset for the first time in 50 years, and protect the adjacent homes from the threat of flooding.

For the second year running, we are among the top ten green fleets in America, in recognition of our efforts to use alternative transportation fuels, which now account for nearly 30 percent of our city’s vehicle fleet. And that isn’t even counting City Manager Pat West’s bicycle or my electric car!

After years of debate and controversy, we are moving ahead with modernizing our airport.

Last month we put shovels in the ground on the airport-parking garage, which will be built in two phases and appropriately sized, to meet our current needs. The terminal improvements should begin by year’s end and it too will proceed in phases to allow for continued operation during construction. By 2012, we should have a modern airport with expected services and concessions for today’s traveler.

We will also keep the art deco style and historic feel of our airport. More importantly, we will keep the airport size within the parameters of our noise ordinance and protect our neighborhoods.

So what will the next year be like? Well, we have much to do.

I can tell you that we will continue to have economic and budget challenges, but we will manage our way through them. We will work harder at being more efficient and continue to do more with less.

We will continue to provide a safe city for all our residents. As the budget debate in Sacramento turns to prison spending, let’s make sure it is smart budgeting that doesn’t just shift the cost of crime back on cities and counties across the State. Hardened criminals returning to our neighborhoods starting the crime cycle all over again isn’t saving any of us a dime.

We must continue to examine our programs and constantly seek ways to deliver services at lower cost and in a timely manner.

We will simply not have the resources to spend on non-essential programs or those that can be performed better by the private sector. We no longer have the luxury of not examining how we do things and assuming we need to perform everything “in house.”

From technology to towing, we must get the most for the taxpayer. And a gentle reminder to everyone who serves the public, it’s not our money; we have a higher standard of care when dealing with the public’s money. At a time when every social service is being reduced we owe the taxpayer no less.

We need to continue to examine our pensions and seek ways to reduce costs even if the State does not pass pension reform. Quite simply, we owe it to those in retirement now, to those that plan to draw from it in the future and to the taxpayers who pay the bill.

And to all those involved in this debate, let’s stop wasting time in the same old arguments and finger pointing, and get real reform in place; because beyond the rhetoric, the fact is, sustainable

pensions are in everyone’s best interest.

We won an award as the Business Friendly city. Now let’s take the title to heart, and improve our relationship with business through more efforts to incent job creation, and fast-track the permit process for those companies coming in to Long Beach with green jobs and a bright future.

Within the next two years we will see several thriving businesses call Douglas Park home, and the former 717 facility will be the source of good jobs once again. The city will strive to improve its customer service and enhance its reputation to attract even more business. Our young people will be trained for real jobs that have a future.

Earlier this week, the US Department of Energy announced Long Beach will soon be able to leverage $4.3 million in stimulus funding for energy-efficiency retrofits for residential, commercial and municipal buildings. Not only does that help reduce our City’s carbon footprint

and provide a tremendous opportunity to cut energy costs, it again makes the connection for those trained in the green economy with a real job.

We still need a well-funded program to fix our infrastructure, the very thing robust commerce depends upon. I will say again that we will not be a great city without improvement to our bones: our streets and roads, our sidewalks, our storm drains, our public structures.

April of 2010 will also bring the decennial census. Millions of dollars in federal funding is at stake – and as it is, California gets back only 78 cents of every dollar we send to Washington. In addition, Long Beach left an estimated $21.5 million dollars in federal funding on the table because over 9,000 of our residents didn’t fill out their Census forms. So let me take this opportunity to remind everyone: Get Counted.

I presented this speech last year amid turmoil, fear, and an anxious doubt that our best days were behind us. Things look much brighter today. We have much to do but we have a better spirit and optimism about the future. The spirit of the Greatest Generation, the “can-do-attitude”, the ambition free of entitlement, the quiet, unassuming “just doing my job” demeanor of that generation is what helped us this year and will propel us in the future.

We have come through a very tough year. We have managed our way through great economic uncertainty and budget shortfalls. And we have stayed true to who and what we are. We are a city that appreciates difference. A city that is increasingly home to a creative class. A city that cares for its less fortunate members and seeks opportunity for its young people. Our budget process proceeded with common purpose and little rancor.

On the big issues we demonstrated that we could disagree and still be civil, and recognize that we are all neighbors in Long Beach.

This is the city you and I chose to live in. The city in which we raise families and educate our children. The city that practices inclusion and embraces diversity as an asset.

All of us should be optimistic about the coming year because we are a city of character; character that has now been honed in our Great Recession.

We will work hard together to make 2010 and beyond better for all of us. I believe we have a bright and prosperous future and the state of our City is healthy and sustainable. I am proud of the kind of people we are and how we live together. I would choose to live in no other place.

It has been my privilege to lead this City for the past four years. I thank you all for that opportunity and I thank you all for being here tonight.

# # #

Slider by webdesign