Special thanks to Nancy.
It is a pleasure tonight to have here my son Kenny and his wife Cheryl and our three
grandchildren, Taylor, Bobby, and Ryan. Welcome.
Thank you to the various attendees and special guests.
Welcome to residents from across the City who are watching from their homes and places of
work as this speech is again streaming live over the web. Welcome all to the beautiful Center
Theater in Downtown Long Beach.
The requirement to deliver the State of the City is part of our City's charter and I am proud to
continue the tradition of a speech accessible to the entire City.
Because above all else, this speech is the annual application of democracy's demand that citizens
be informed of how well their government is performing.
It is my pleasure tonight to tell you that we have successfully come through a very difficult time
and fortunately emerged a stronger City for it. The experience reminds me of a sign I saw on a
telephone pole recently. It read "lost dog, black and grey German Shepard, walks on three legs,
blind in one eye, missing one canine tooth, neutered, answers to the name Lucky."
While the economy does not yet have the strength we all desire, growth has returned,
employment is modestly up, business activity is increasing and this City continues on the road to
better financial footing.
The increase in economic activity in the form of consumer spending, the rebound in the real
estate market and the up tick in development projects provide an important barometer on revenue
levels that have been unpredictable for the better part of 4 years.
More importantly, your City government took difficult and proactive steps vital to healing our
I stood before you last year and made the difficult pledge to bring true reform to Long Beach
public pensions. It was a difficult path but this much was certain: I was going to implement
these reforms on behalf of this City even if that meant asking you the voters to take action when
employee groups would not.
I am very proud to report that after much time and toil and with the great cooperation of our City
employees, we now have substantial and meaningful pension reform across the City.
Employees gave up their contracted raises in order to pay a greater share of their pensions.
They agreed to benefit reductions that are more in line with fiscal reality. These actions put our
finances on a sustainable path; one that protects both the City and employee in the future.
I am grateful to and proud of each of you who cast a ballot in support of the City's common
All in, these pension reforms will save this City nearly $250 million dollars over the next decade,
sparing draconian cuts and maintaining the outstanding service levels that the residents of Long
The time is now at hand for us to rebuild our essential assets and restore some much needed
services. We are now poised to accelerate our investments in the future. We can advance the far
more joyful work of rebuilding and catalyze the energy of this great City.
Having weathered the tempest we should also take a moment to reflect on the past. We must
understand and learn the lessons of the last several years; what was done right and what was
done wrong. We must also take time to celebrate our success and provide a path and a future
vision for the city we love.
First the lessons: I believe providing for the future and creating a smoother and better path for
those that come after you is the first moral principle in government. In short, our primary
responsibility is to assure that opportunity is available for the next generation.
Yet, when you look at troubled governments, the most common element is spending beyond their
means, beyond fiscal capacity, in effect, borrowing from the future. There are little or no
reserves for poor times; no provision for emergencies; and little concern for the next generation.
Abraham Lincoln said it best: "You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it
I know political forces, however worthy the cause may be, are always present to make it almost
irresistible for elected officials to spend recklessly. There are always too many needs and not
enough resources. There is always the next election, groups to satisfy, campaigns to win - the
choices are rarely easy.
Strong character is needed to resist these temptations and prioritize the greater good over your
own political benefit. The public deserves that you treat its money with more care than you
would your own.
In Long Beach, during the flush period in the early part of the last decade, rather than reserve
funds from the absence of pension payments or continue to make payments and create pension
reserves, we increased benefits. It was the easy choice. We had the money and were assured we
would never have to make another pension payment.
More recently, with the help of a majority of the City Council standing firm on fiscal policy, our
City maintained its bond ratings. In an era when downgrades were common, Long Beach was a
Indeed, the rating agencies noted that part of the reason was our policy of not using one-time
revenue for on-going expenses. In a welcomed abundance of caution, Fitch's rating service
reminded us that to deviate from that policy would trigger a negative action on their part.
With better times on the horizon, let us please not forget these lessons. Please let us not make
the same mistakes. And let us hold fast to the disciplines we have adopted. We can do better,
we should do better, indeed, we must do better. The well being of the next generation depends
So what is that future? This is my seventh State of the City Speech and the first one in which I
feel confident in saying that the hard work, and adherence to sound fiscal policy is paying off;
we are at a point of real optimism. There will be revenue to do more and we must be judicious in
So let's take just a moment to do something we simply do not do enough of in this great City:
Let's look back and take just a moment to celebrate our successes.
Wouldn't we all love to be residents of a place ranked among the top digital cities, among the
best at utilizing social media:
A City awarded as a top walkable city and an internationally recognized bike friendly city.
A City with an award winning cable tv channel;
With national award winning neighborhoods;
And noticed nationally for excellence in our financial management.
We would all be proud to reside in a city singled out by the Human Rights Campaign for its
inclusion of lesbian and gay individuals in municipal law and policy;
A City applauded for a progressive development plan in a Downtown that continues to grow as
convention destination without equal.
A City with such an excellent athletic tradition that it can claim some association with, if not
intense pride in, 32 Olympic athletes and 15 medals they earned in London this summer?
Well, those are all accolades and accomplishments bestowed on this great City of Long Beach in
There were many enhancements to our economic foundation as well; none more apparent, more
needed - and perhaps more overdue -- than the new concourse at Long Beach Airport.
If you haven't experienced the new LGB you will be pleasantly shocked. It's comfortable, has all
the latest amenities, great concessions -- the food is terrific and all from Long Beach businesses.
On one Sunday afternoon before opening, several thousand citizens took a walk through the new
terminal as part of Community Day - and they loved it. So I will say it one more time, then I
promise I won't ever again: Yes, you can now buy a sandwich before your flight without fear of
actually eating it.
I want to give special thanks to Mario Rodriguez and his entire staff, the design team at Long
Beach's own Studio 111 and the rest of the project team -- kudos for a job very well done. You
have made the prime gateway to the City beautiful.
The massive construction effort in the Port of Long Beach continues. The billion-dollar Middle
Harbor project is on track to receive its first container in 2015 and having toured the site I can
tell you it is a stunning display of engineering and logistics even before a single ship has docked.
Last week we officially kicked off construction to rebuild the Gerald Desmond Bridge, soon to
be one of California's most iconic structures, complete with bicycle lanes for the intrepid cyclist.
Little known about the project is that it is financed through a unique partnership between the City
and the State of California borne from necessity and a little creativity. I can tell you first hand it
wasn't easy, but this design-build project is projected to cut 6 - 12 months from construction time
and save an estimated 5 -10% in construction costs over original estimates.
In all, over $4 billion of construction - and 4,000 construction jobs annually -- will cement our
port as the place to send your cargo. We will move it faster, greener and in greater volumes than
anyone in the country. And to demonstrate that point, this past December was the best in the
Port's history, yielding the largest container volumes of any December ever before.
Thank you to the Harbor Commissioners and Harbor Department staff for their outstanding work
providing employment to thousands and making sure the future is strong and prosperous.
Speaking of jobs, our economic development moved at a brisk pace this year. The City's Small
Business Enterprise program saw a 25% increase in registrants over last year. Getting your
business registered is the first step in accessing City purchasing contracts and I am very proud to
report that we again improved on that count as well. Long Beach-based businesses earned $82
million in sales through City purchasing contracts. That accounts for over one-third of the total
purchasing dollars - and represents a 5% increase over last year despite reductions in overall City
We welcomed numerous large businesses to our City: Ignify is now located downtown; Airgas,
L.D. Products, and Rubbercraft in East Long Beach; and the RMD Group now calls North Long
Boeing, our iconic and historic partner, added more than 150 engineering jobs right here in Long
Beach. Despite a continuing transition of the C-17 workforce, Boeing's investments in other
business lines within the company provide a real indication that the last aircraft manufacturer in
California has a strong future in Long Beach.
Our City partners in business improvement districts across the City continued to do fabulous
work to cultivate our commercial corridors. Just two examples: 70 new businesses opened or
relocated in and around Bixby Knolls Improvement Area this past year and the Downtown Long
Beach Associates report 552 new jobs in their membership area. Whether new restaurants,
design and technology firms or manufacturing companies, each has discovered that Long Beach
is a great place to live and work.
The Convention and Visitors Bureau continues to set the standard and reports that occupancy
rates now exceed 2007 levels, which previously marked historic highs. Over the next several
months, we will complete state of the art upgrades that promise to make the Long Beach Arena
among the most innovative and creative event spaces in the nation.
Construction is nearly completed on the new Deukmejian Court House and construction has
begun on the new home for Molina Health Care, the old Press-Telegram Building. These
projects have the potential to add many hundreds of new jobs and create new corridors for robust
commerce in our City.
We have approved an agreement to begin development of the new Shoreline Gateway project
bringing more life to the eastern side of downtown.
And the approved Downtown Plan makes new projects easier to approve and faster to build.
Seven new structures are either completed or near completion at Douglas Park. And with the
acquisition of the enormous 717 facility across the street by the world-class Sares-Regis
Company, I am confident more high-quality development is on the way.
There is nothing more frustrating to new businesses or residents looking to make improvements
to their homes than a protracted and confusing, user-unfriendly building permit process. And
most frustrating to me, this is often the first and most substantial interaction outside developers
and businesses will have with the City. We better get it right.
It has been my personal crusade to make this process easier, user-friendly, and turn the culture in
Development Services from that of regulators into facilitators.
We now have a planning and permit process second to none. It's one-stop, in one location, and
easy to understand. The efficiency improvements have allowed us to save you money, reducing
fees by nearly one-third. I am most proud to report that our customer approval ratings are now
over 90% positive under the new program.
Businesses and residents love it and freely say so. Most importantly, we have a true culture
change - our staff now facilitates projects. Their mission is to get your business located or home
remodel completed as quickly as possible. As they say, it takes a village and several people are
owed thanks for bringing about these changes, but I want to bring special attention to Amy
Bodek and Angela Reynolds who have personally shepherded this transition.
All of our economic and capital improvement success would mean little and our progress would
come to a halt if we were not a safe city.
I am happy to report that violent crime dropped again this past year, to the lowest level since
We have been smarter about how we deploy resources and have used technology to increase
efficiency and reach. Our Police and Fire Departments maintained some of the fastest response
times for big cities in California.
Residents are always amazed to learn that about 84% of all the calls for service made to the Fire
Department are for medical assistance. The Fire Department will soon launch a brand new
service model to deliver paramedic response faster and at a reduced cost citywide. They will
also begin utilizing electronic patient care reporting which is expected to generate a 40%
reduction in work-hours spent on paperwork.
We have new technology enhancements to assist the Police Department in their all-important
mission. The LBCOP system came online this year, linking public and private security cameras
from throughout the City into a real-time feed at the Emergency Operations Center.
We added surveillance cameras at various parks and intersections throughout the City further
adding to the network of information available to our first responders and investigators.
None of this is meant to say we are not without our challenges. Our public safety resources, like
every department in this City, have been under tremendous financial strain. These fiscal
challenges coincided with a policy decision in Sacramento called "realignment" that pushed
many criminals back on the streets instead of locked up where many still belong.
I highlighted this decision in last year's speech and nearly every city and county in California is
struggling with its effects, seen most acutely as a spike in property crimes.
Partnerships between each citizen and our first responders are incredibly important. Think of the
LBCOP program I just mentioned: every camera system installed at a business or by a property
owner is yet another potential community partnership to fight crime and speed investigations.
This community embraces those partnerships and understands their value. Just last week, a
watchful neighbor called 911 after seeing strangers knocking on doors in the neighborhood.
Within minutes, PD arrested suspects and recovered stolen property.
As part of the Long Beach Unified School District curriculum, 4,000 third graders participated in
the Fire Department's Fire Safety House Program last year. Thank you to everyone in
neighborhoods across the City who has become trained as part of the Community Emergency
Response Team program. These are just examples of the how citizens contribute everyday to
making Long Beach a remarkably safe city.
To Police Chief McDonnell and Fire Chief DuRee, our residents can trust that you are thinking
creatively, innovating and in constant pursuit of our shared goal of making Long Beach the safest
large City in California. Thank you to your command staff and thank you to the officers and
firefighters under your leadership for their service to this City.
We continued our work to make Long Beach a sustainable city. The long hard process to
improve our recreational water quality is paying off. In the summer, 93% of our beaches
received A grades from Heal the Bay.
We've added Recyclebank to our waste and recycling programs. This gives even more
incentives to residents to increase recycling and should help the City improve an already
impressive nearly 70% waste diversion rate.
We employed 20,000 community service hours to collect 1,250 tons of litter from alleys. Our
Parks and Recreation Department saved 33,000 gallons of water and we replaced the old
inefficient and costly lights in City Hall and City Place garages with LED lights, saving $58,000
a year and conserving electric energy.
Open space in a built up city is always critical and 2012 saw the City continue to stretch and
creatively work to expand parks and open space. Projects such as the Orizaba Park expansion,
McBride Park Teen Center, McBride Skate Park, the Beach Restrooms, and El Dorado Nature
Center Improvements were all completed.
Work is underway at Craftsman, Baker, Willow Springs, Alamitos Parks and Harvey Milk Park.
The soccer fields at Drake/Chavez and Seaside Park are in process. We will also renovate the
Leeway Sailing Center and continue on rebuilding all of the City's marinas. The massive effort
on the large, centrally located Chittick Field will continue after the rainy season and Longview
Point at Willow Springs Park had an unveiling celebration this past 4th of July.
Finally, we have improved our roads and other infrastructure with the limited resources we have.
We repaired 42 miles of streets, trimmed 28,000 trees, cleaned 226,500 graffiti sites, and filled
over 48,000 potholes.
We also completed 32,000 building inspections, provided nearly 15,000 vaccinations, issued 448
film permits, and had nearly 750,000 youth participants in our Park and Recreation programs.
All this should give you a sense of the scale of work that is performed on your behalf.
So Long Beach has had a good year; we have accomplished much, and weathered a difficult
financial time; now what do we do? Where do we go from here?
"A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next
month and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen," said
the ever-quotable Winston Churchill.
My crystal ball is no better than yours, so I'm not going to predict the future. We do, however,
need to move into a new phase of our history. Much still needs to be done and we must focus
intently on structures, systems and programs that accelerate the rate of investments in our future.
Our streets, sidewalks, public buildings, and systems all need repair. In the coming year, it will
be my purpose to develop a systemic and citywide program that prioritizes repairs and efficiently
utilizes our resources for the greatest good.
We need to modernize our City with more technological systems to improve communications,
speed the diagnosis of problems, improve our response, and integrate our resources.
As I stated earlier, the LBCOP system is a great example of smart technology on a citywide
I had the opportunity to see this type of technology more fully deployed in Rio de Janeiro, where
the entire city is televised on an 80 meter segmented screen. Most city services are viewed in a
large center and all the city departments work together in the same room.
Police, fire, traffic control, refuse collection, water and sewer service, flood control, public
works, and public transportation collaborating in real time.
The result is amazing. Information is rapidly communicated, integration of city departments is
assured, savings are substantial, and service levels are very high.
We use a similar structure in times of emergency to great affect. Imagine the impacts if we
could use such a system in our day-to-day business! A system like this should be our goal. It is
a modern, fast, efficient, cost effective way to serve the public.
This year I will ask City staff or explore bringing such a system to Long Beach. There is no
doubt that it would benefit our City and move us into the 21st century. So let's not only imagine
how such a system could work for us, let's learn how to make it a reality.
Environmental improvement should be a constant policy for any great city. Improving our air,
water, open space, and reducing our resource use will make our City a better and more desirable
place to live, work, and play.
We have made significant progress on cleaning the air from Port activity. I mentioned the
improvements to our beach water quality, but more needs to be done to expand our partnerships
with upstream cities along the LA River, the largest source of pollution on our coastline.
The next big project should be an increase the amount of land under public control in the Los
Cerritos Wetlands and to restore the Wetlands themselves.
This is one of the major gateways to our City and it too, forms an impression of who and what
we are. It is clearly better than two or three years ago, but both esthetically and functionally,
restoration will improve the area.
Finally, we need to make sure that we are doing everything we can to increase commerce in our
City. It is the best answer to the need for more revenue. More sales mean more sales tax.
Higher property values mean more property tax. There really isn't a secret formula.
Our improved process in planning and building will help; there is nothing more comforting to a
potential business than knowing that they have a partner to walk them through any process,
attempt to remove roadblocks, inform them of available assistance, and link them to other
We do much of this now in a workable partnership between the Mayor's Office, Development
Services, Asset Management and Workforce Investment Board resources. Our next step is to
further fine-tune our organization to assure that we are deploying our top talent into service on
the vital mission of enhancing opportunities to capitalize on growth and job creation within the
I can't fix worker's comp, or the state regulatory process or tax code or any of the things you
always hear make California a tough place to do business. But I can make sure that this City
cultivates entrepreneurship, connects businesses with resources, is aggressive in getting your
business permitted and putting our property stock to the highest and best commercial use.
There will be a great temptation to use one-time revenue for on going programs, particularly
programs that have been reduced. We must avoid that trap. Fitch's rating service has given
policymakers fair warning; shame on us if we make the mistake of not listening.
We also have far too much to rebuild and a long way to go to truly modernize this City. The
future demands that we do the right thing and create a place that is safe, attractive, well
functioning, efficient, and full of opportunity for our young people.
While the physical constructs of any city are important, equally critical is the manner in which
we deal with one another. Creating an atmosphere of respect and responsibility is necessary if
we are to govern ourselves. It's not only necessary; it's contagious.
Recently, I spoke to a group of students representing each of the City's high schools as part of
Youth Leadership Long Beach. Most of them wanted a future involved in the political process.
I was asked how I liked my job, why I did it, how I went about it each day and why there was so
much conflict in politics. The students were very focused on the "how" of government. They
were asking questions to understand and help develop some sense of what politics really was all
It was an early morning, my first meeting of a long day and right around the time the fiscal cliff
discussions began to take center stage in our national debate.
So you can imagine that my first thoughts were not always constructive. I almost used a
comment attributed to Napoleon that, "in politics stupidity is not a handicap."
But I refrained.
Their questions allowed me to reflect on some of the essential reasons we have conflict and
protracted policy debates.
I told the students that we should all remember that our own experiment in self-government is
designed to cure defects in previous democratic societies, many of which ended badly and rather
quickly because they succumbed to chaos and tyranny.
Our system is foremost designed to prevent tyranny either by one faction or individual. Hence it
is structured to play interest off against interest not only between each level of government but
within each level of government achieved through checks and balances and separation of
The price we pay for preservation of our Constitution is often the conflict, frustration, and near
glacial speed of government.
I thought it important to reflect on this notion given the brinksmanship we see in modern day
politics. At the very least, I offered these thoughts to try and explain a context where that
friction may be appreciated rather than scorned.
I spoke about the importance of having fundamental beliefs of what was good or bad or right or
wrong. You needed to act accordingly, but never to make the mistake of thinking you have
And then I added, "Believe it or not I have been wrong on occasion."
Meeting another party halfway, but still in the right direction was not a flaw. None of us have
perfect understanding or information. What is important, however, is never to divert from the
path of improving the lives of the people you serve. Not to tell them how to live, but instead
work to improve their opportunities and provide tools for a better life.
Finally, I stated that if you at any time put your own interests and needs ahead of those you
serve, then you have failed. You have broken faith with the covenant between you as an elected
official and the public; your governance equation will not solve.
My purpose in relating this story is to urge each of us to be less hasty with negative judgments
and disparaging remarks toward our institutions and those that occupy them.
Frustration and cynicism about government abound in our country. With time, an overly
negative view has a corrosive effect on our public life. We become weary of the partisan fights,
the brinksmanship, and the slow pace of reform or progress. Worst of all, we become cynical.
There are moments when this cynicism strikes me as well.
It helps to remember that the framers of our democratic republic were well schooled in history
and chose durability over efficiency. Much of the conflict and endless debate is part of a larger
design intended to protect us from actions inflamed by passions of the moment or the
demagogue, or those who would seek to lead us only for their own ends.
My responsibility is to use my authority on your behalf; to provide safety today and opportunity
tomorrow. To make sure your tax dollars are spent well and that sound financial principals
govern our conduct.
I will do everything I can and use every power of my office to assure that resources are used
consistent with that imperative. It is my part of the equation I spoke of earlier and it's my
responsibility to us and our children and grandchildren. Never losing sight that all of this is to
ensure a better and smoother path for those that follow.
It is my honor and pleasure to serve, represent and lead this City. I look forward to the future
with great optimism. I know that together we can make this City one that adheres to the first
moral principal of government: make better the future for those who follow.
You have my pledge to work tirelessly and continue in my efforts to make that vision a reality.
Thank you for participating in our democracy and goodnight.