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Anaheim Mayor Tait Calls for Cutting Spending, Pension Reform and Building a "Culture of Freedom and Kindness" in City Hall and Anaheim's Neighborhoods
ANAHEIM, CA - (January 25, 2011) - Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait delivered his first State of the City Address today, in which he praised the tremendous strides the city has made in recent years while calling attention to the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Mayor Tait’s speech focused on three areas: the future of the city’s finances; economic competitiveness; and fostering a culture of “freedom and kindness.”

After reviewing accomplishments of the last several years – such as protecting the growth of the Anaheim Resort District, clearing the way for the construction of the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC) and the expansion of city parks – Mayor Tait drew a sober focus on the state of Anaheim’s budget.

Budget Reform
“Let us begin with clarity; today, Anaheim is facing a structural deficit of nearly $10 million dollars,” Mayor Tait told the audience of Anaheim business, community and city leaders. 

“We must balance the budget and stop the drain on our reserves. There is no responsible alternative. However, even when we close this year’s budget gap, I believe we will face larger deficits year after year unless we also address the underlying cause of our deficit.”

Mayor Tait called for closing the immediate budget shortfall by cutting spending, and addressing the structural deficit by restructuring city expenditures by bringing them into line with revenues.

Just as important, Mayor Tait declared the necessity of candidly addressing the pension issue.

“Our pension costs have skyrocketed - and as a result, an inordinate percentage of city funds are consumed by our pension obligations,” said Mayor Tait. “The percentage is much larger than in the past, and will continue to grow and consume revenues that would otherwise go to providing essential city services.

“The overriding reality is that we cannot ensure Anaheim’s long-term fiscal health without addressing pensions.” 

Mayor Tait pointed out it is in the interest of everyone to enact reforms to place Anaheim’s pension system on a sustainable foundation, and called for all concerned to work together in a spirit of unity.

Jobs and Regulatory Relief
Mayor Tait then turned to the issue of unemployment and called for action to spur job creation in the city.

“No city can truly be healthy with high unemployment. Its impact is more than just economic. It is devastating to the person, their family and affects the lives of people around them.

“The solution is to simply bring jobs to Anaheim.  We will do this by making Anaheim the most business and jobs-friendly city in the entire state.”

Mayor Tait called for the city to view every business regulation through the “lens of freedom” and said that wherever possible, the city should apply federal and state regulatory mandates with maximum latitude for job-creators.

The Mayor took it a step further and said he would establish a citizens’ commission of innovators, key business leaders and city staff to comprehensively review Anaheim’s regulatory structure and report back with a detailed plan for reducing regulation.

“Our goal should be to eliminate as many job-killing regulations as possible, streamline those that are truly needed, and make Anaheim the most jobs-and-business friendly city in California – a place where entrepreneurs can make their dreams come true and create jobs for the many that so desperately need them,” said Mayor Tait.

Freedom and Kindness
Lastly, Mayor Tait pointed out that restoring the City Hall’s finances and the local economy’s vigor was only part of the equation. He said that a city is more than its government, and the health of a community depends as much, if not more, on what is happening in its neighborhoods.

The Mayor saluted the freedom-centered mindset that anchored many city policies in recent years, and went on to talk about the symbiotic relationship between freedom and kindness.

“We don’t often think or talk about freedom having a moral dimension, but it does.  Another way of describing this moral dimension is in a word: kindness,” said Mayor Tait.

“I’ve been thinking about kindness as part of my vision for leading this city - it is something that I believe will transform our city and equip us to meet any challenge ahead.”

Tait noted how a culture of risk-avoidance and rigid work-rules can arise in governmental bureaucracies and called for replacing that with a culture of kindness.
“Everyone knows that rules and structure are, of course, needed. But I want to put kindness on an even higher footing,” said Mayor Tait.  “I want our staff to have the freedom to be kind.”

In addition to inculcating a culture of freedom and kindness within city government, Mayor Tait put forward a vision for how the city could extend that to the community at large by actively facilitating a strengthening of neighborhood bonds.

He called for reviving and reinvigorating the “Hi Neighbor” program of the late 1950s and adapting it to our 21st century needs.

“Hi Neighbor” was a response to the rapid influx of new residents into the city and aimed at tightening community bonds by connecting them with each other and with long-time residents.

Mayor Tait’s revived version would have three focuses:

Crime prevention: Use a neighborhood watch-type approach to develop improved ways for residents to report suspicious activity, to cite new graffiti, and encourage greater community policing programs.

Emergency preparedness: Hurricane Katrina demonstrated that in the event of a major disaster, we cannot wait for the government to come and rescue us. Residents must be equipped to be each other’s first responders and help each other in such emergencies. Such mutual aid works best in neighborhoods where residents know each others names, needs and circumstances.

The third component is community building. In Mayor Tait’s words, the goal of  “Hi Neighbor”’ is to “create  neighborhoods - not just the streets and sidewalks and houses, but a place where you feel at home and connected; where residents take pride in where they live, and where friendships with neighbors foster a richer life for everyone.  Strong bonds and neighborhood pride will make Anaheim a safer, more vibrant city. The city can and will explore ways we can encourage and facilitate this kind of interaction with our community.”

Conclusion
Summing up his first State of the City Address, Mayor Tait returned to the central themes of his speech:

  • Careful stewardship of the taxpayers’ money and enacting sound fiscal policies to secure future prosperity.

 

  • Encouraging job growth by providing regulatory relief to job creators and risk-takers.
  • Creating a culture of freedom and kindness that is alive in the halls of city government and the streets of Anaheim’s neighborhoods.

 

“We can reinvigorate our neighborhoods by bringing people together,” Mayor Tait told the audience in closing. “And best of all, we can truly become the freest and kindest city in the State of California.”

For more information and to see the State of the City Address in its entirety, please visit www.anaheim.net.


Media Contact: Ruth Ruiz 714.765.5060more city news

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ABOUT ANAHEIM – The City of Anaheim, founded in 1857, is one of the nation's premier municipalities and is one of California's most populous cities. Anaheim covers 50 square miles with more than 346,000 residents and more than 2,950 City employees. The municipal corporation's annual budget is $1.6 billion. Anaheim supports a thriving business community with companies such as Carl Karcher Enterprises, Inc., L-3 Communications, Pacific Sunwear, and Disneyland Resort. Successful sports franchises call Anaheim home, including Angels Baseball, Anaheim Ducks, the U.S. Men's National Volleyball Team, and the 2012 Olympic Games Silver Medal winning U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team. Anaheim also boasts world-class meeting and entertainment venues with the Anaheim Convention Center, LEED-certified and the largest on the west coast, Honda Center, City National Grove of Anaheim, Anaheim GardenWalk, and Angel Stadium of Anaheim. In addition, Anaheim embraces its vibrant cultural arts community, including the world-renowned Anaheim Ballet. Annually, Anaheim welcomes millions of visitors to the city, truly making it where the world comes to live, work and play. For more information, please visit www.anaheim.net.

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