MLadies and gentlemen of the City Council, dignitaries, members of the clergy, Residents, and friends. Tonight we gather on the occasion of the eleventh State of the City address to reflect on what has been in the prior year and to in some ways forecast what will be in the coming years. This past year has been one of triumphs and challenges alike. We also gather to do something that we have never before done, give the city a permanent home. With the opening of these doors we make real our commitment to begin to define a town center for Miami Gardens and to give this community a home that it can build around and grow in. So Miami Gardens, welcome home.
This year the City will enter into our first collective bargaining agreements with the City’s two unions. As we move forward into this unchartered territory I ask that all parties understand that we are in this together with the common goal of providing excellent municipal service to the Residents. Specifically, I ask of the unions to partner with us as we better grow this city and shape this community. Understanding, that as city leaders our shareholders are the tax payers. Our commodity is public service. And, our profit is a senior citizen that can enjoy gathering and activity during their golden years, a child that has opportunity and hope through a robust parks system and a neighbor that enjoys the safety and sanctity of a home that is not plagued by the idea of violence.
This year we had the most successful Jazz in the Gardens in the history of the event. We need more events like Jazz in the Gardens in our city. Whether it’s Jazz in the Gardens, the Haitian Compas Festival, the return of Caribbean Carnival, international soccer matches, the Super Bowl, or major concerts, we need to grow our role as a destination location.
In last year’s State of the City address I announced the city’s intention to go out for its first general obligation bond. The bond revenue will be used to provide facilities on our parks and law enforcement on our streets. The Parks facilities will allow for programs that will help keep our children out of trouble. Programs like a science technology engineering and mathematics building so that we can help children explore interests that can make them competitive around the world. An Entertainment building with a recording studio and a television studio so we can engage our children at their point of interest year around; so that we can help them dream pass rap to production; pass the camera into the booth.
A culinary Institute so we can expand their horizons and hopefully create chefs and restaurateurs. As well as an alternative building; a building that will offer dance and gymnastics and boxing and martial arts, a building that would say very clearly that we reject out of hand the idea that our children should be limited to typical sports offerings in urban areas. We will also build a senior center so that our senior citizens will always have a dedicated place to gather and recreate. So that they are never again displaced to make space for others. The bond included something else. Understanding the need to be safe and feel safe. Understanding the need to augment our police presence throughout the community.
We included money for a program that will allow us to use technology to fight crime. Technology like surveillance cameras strategically placed around the city, they’ve reduced violent crime in other places significantly. Programs like the expansion of shot spotter. So that we know when a gun is fired even before a call is made to the police. Programs like expansions of license plate readers. If you’re driving through the city in a stolen car or with an active warrant we will know.
Now with this aggressive expansion of Parks facilities for programming, as well as our investment in law-enforcement-based technology we continue to advance our goal of making Miami Gardens as safe as possible from a preventive as well as enforcement perspective.
The bond says something else. It says that we’re going to try to actually solve problems and not just talk about them. Issues in our community have been welldefined for years. We know that idle hands are devils plaything; we have known that for years. So we know that we need to occupy our children’s hands. Occupy their time. Occupy their minds, so that they can be directed towards a future that can be bright and away from the trouble and trappings of a misspent youth.
I understand and respect everyone who took issue with the bond, for or against it. But in our debate there must be proposed solutions. Pointing out problems without presenting plausible solutions no longer has a place in our discourse. We need partners, people willing to roll up their sleeves, dedicate their time, and work to make this community better. We have to know where we are, plan where we want to be, road map our path, and travel the road together.
The General Obligation Bond is a corrective measure that will hopefully replace years of neglect with decades of possibilities. This Bond, this great undertaking is not meant to be the foundation of success in the next election; it’s meant to be the foundation for success for the next generation.
While we have made some progress in the area of crime reduction, it has occurred at too slow a pace, tragedy has visited us too often, and violence remains too permanent a fixture in our daily lexicon. As a community we can do better. We will begin the process of ensuring that every patrol officer is well versed in community policing techniques and has a full and complete understanding of mine and this Council’s position that we are safer when we work together. That requires that we trust each other. That requires that we respect each other.
To that end we are in the process of hiring sixteen new police officers. We are in the middle of the process and the class is not yet complete but of the eleven people that we have made offers to, eight are Residents of Miami Gardens. We will be sending at least eight of the members of the new class to the police academy such that we won’t just be giving them a job, we will be giving them a career in law enforcement and public service. To those new recruits, welcome to the family and thank you for accepting the call of service to your City. We are counting on you.
As a city we will offer activities to try to energize the interest and occupy the time of the children of this community. We will hire officers that live in the city with the hope that their special relationships and familiarity with the city and its Residents grow our togetherness in ways that make us safer. However, the future of our safety, in some ways the future of our society depends in large part on whether parents will begin again to parent their children. We used to do that. Actually spend time with them. Talk to them. Help them with their homework. Listen to them. Instruct them. And if necessary discipline them. I will not tell you how to discipline your child, but I will tell you that it is easier and more appropriate that you discipline them than the city disciplines them. I am often confronted with and have occasion to contemplate the African proverb that it takes a village to raise a child.
When people say that all too often they forget that we are the village. The City government is the village. Every person that ignores a child when they’re doing wrong instead of offering a corrective voice is the village. Every aunt and uncle. Every neighbor and teacher. Collectively we are the village and it does take a village but the village is meant to be a supplement not a substitute. So while it may take a village, it most certainly takes a parent. We need you to parent again. I understand the challenges that we are facing but I also know that we are not forsaken. I know that our problems will be addressed and resolved by us. We will, together, move this community forward.
So once again we stand confronted with the singular importance of a moment. This is it, this is the moment to put aside our rhetoric and become real pioneers of a future that is ours for the making. Our moment to lift as we climb. Our moment to stand in the gap. This is our moment to carry the burden of a bridge builder and a way maker. This is our moment and together we reaffirm that which all of us have always known. This Community, the 110,000 Residents, Businesses, Houses of Faith, Community Based Organizations, was not meant to be ordinary.
So, to my colleagues on the City Council. To our charter officers. To all our Residents, Businesses and Employees. It gives me great pleasure to report that the heart of this city is beating. The soul of this city is growing. The spirit of this city is rising. The nature of this city is resilient and the State of the City is strong.