Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mayor delivers State of the City address

Mayor Landrieu with a Concerned Citizen
On Saturday evening, I was dropping a letter into one of the few remaining mailboxes on St. Charles Avenue and noticed the mayor crossing the street. Mitch Landrieu was headed to the Jewish Community Center with two teens, apparently taking them to the Sock Hop - no limos, no entourage, no fuss.

Then, yesterday, I heard him deliver the State of the City address at the Mahalia Jackson Center for the Performing Arts. The poor man has had his work cut out for him but, after two years, has accomplished a whole lot. From my point of view, the city does look remarkably better and the news about the schools, parks, libraries and health care demonstrates it really is a whole lot better for many of us.

While cutting the budget, Landrieu has helped jump start new businesses, increase jobs, create affordable housing, reform the public belt railway, airport and taxi service. We finally got a recycling program, filled 67,000 pot holes and repaved 60 miles of roadways. Even five years after the storm, a third of the streetlights weren't working when he took office and residential neighborhoods were filled with blighted properties.

He invited the feds in to help reform the police department and they've helped strike at the root of corruption and police misdeeds.

Our lingering problem is the unnatural" murder rate, one of the worst in the country, mostly afflicting young, black males. The mayor's murder-reduction strategy, dubbed "NOLA for Life," has five goals: stop the shooting; invest in prevention; promote jobs and opportunity; get residents involved in rebuilding the neighborhoods; and improve the Police Department.

He emotionally recited a verse from a Langston Hughes poem, "A Dream Deferred," which was being studied by a promising student who died from a gunshot wound in March.

"What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like  sore - and then run?"

"As every parent knows, you can only be as happy as your saddest child," he said, "and unfortunately in this beautiful, precious city, we have too many of those."

Landrieu called on attendees to join mentoring programs and "Fight the Blight" volunteering events. It would take all of us to make a difference.

I have said this issue is the one thing I would volunteer time to do, so I need to sign up at Saving Our Sons.

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