The following is the complete, unedited transcript of Mayor Richard M. Daley's City of Chicago Speech delivered on July 15, 2009.
Related: Video of Speech
Before we begin, I want to thank you for supporting the Mercy Home for Boys and Girls by attending today's event.
For more than one hundred twenty years, Mercy Home has opened its doors to children in crisis. It is one of Chicago's most cherished organizations.
Like so many nonprofit groups across our city, it makes a profound difference in people's lives.
During these tough times, all our city's nonprofit groups need your help and I hope you'll support them.
I also want to thank each of you for supporting our efforts to make Chicago a better city.
We have come far with the involvement of our business, civic, faith-based, neighborhood, non-profit and foundation communities and it is important that they remain involved.
I come before you today as I do each year, still humbled by the opportunity to serve as your Mayor and energized to tackle the serious challenges we face to keep Chicago moving forward.
Although we have accomplished much together and made Chicago a better place to live, work and raise a family, there is still much more to do.
The challenges we face today are greater than ever -- from the worst economic recession in modern times to an epidemic of violence that is needlessly killing our children.
But, even though we're facing difficult times, I am confident we will get through them and that Chicago will emerge stronger for it, just as we always have.
Our city is resilient and resourceful. The people of Chicago are tough and innovative and can weather any challenge, regardless of how great.
After all, the people of Chicago rebuilt our city after the Great Fire 138 years ago.
These tough times demand that we roll up our sleeves and redouble our commitment to address our challenges head on. Because the measure of government isn’t how it performs when times are good, but how it responds when times are hard.
I love Chicago and want every person to succeed and have a good life. When we fall short -- as we sometimes have -- I want us to do better. It's important to me that the people of Chicago have confidence in the way I've managed government and that they know we're doing our best to serve them honestly and openly.
We are up to the challenges ahead. I’m confident of that.
Since I've been Mayor, we’ve improved our schools, driving up attendance and graduation rates and sending more of our young people to college. Test scores for many students improve year by year.
But many schools still aren’t good enough and too many children leave home each day to attend a school that doesn’t serve their needs.
We've cut over $2.5 billion dollars in spending and implemented new management improvements to protect taxpayers and do more with less.
But, many people feel burdened by higher taxes. In fact, in the midst of the worst economic crisis in modern history, people are upset about a lot of things.
They’re worried that they might lose their job, their home, their health insurance.
They won’t be able to pay off student loans or take a vacation.
They want to know we get all we can from every tax dollar and manage government prudently and transparently, and they want to know that our streets are safe.
We’ve taken over one hundred thousand guns off our streets and reduced homicides from all-time highs.
But, gun violence continues to escalate and an epidemic of youth-on-youth violence is tearing some neighborhoods apart.
We've worked with businesses -- large and small -- to create thousands of new jobs both downtown and in our neighborhoods.
But, for many people the nation's recession has meant jobs lost, homes foreclosed and livelihoods threatened.
Today far too many in our city, our state and across our country are struggling or out of work.
It's heartbreaking to talk with someone who has always followed the rules and worked hard, but has lost a job, a home or their life savings.
It's just as sad to meet someone who can't find a new job to help secure their future.
People are anxious. They feel pressured by a higher cost of living and higher taxes. If
they have a job, they see everything going up but their paychecks.
Our hearts go out to those businesses, large and small, that have difficulty meeting their payrolls or getting credit to secure their future. Many are forced to lay off workers or shut down altogether.
Even today, major companies such as Boeing and U.S. Airways are laying off thousands of employees.
At the same time, the recession has meant that governments at all levels are challenged by slowing revenues, growing deficits and increasing demands for services.
Looking to the future, some economists see signs of hope, although most say there will continue to be layoffs in the private sector, as we've recently seen.
In Chicago, we've been hard hit by jobs lost in the private sector and the unemployment
rate remains high.
But, we will never abandon our workers or stand by at the very time Chicago's families need our help. That's why we're working against the tide of job loss to create and retain good jobs for today and lay the foundation for the jobs of tomorrow. One job lost is one
We've invested in our neighborhood infrastructure to a greater extent than other cities, something that creates jobs and improves quality of life.
Through our Tax Increment Financing program we've leveraged more than $10 billion in private investments through less than $1.8 billion in public investments. These funds help create jobs, sustain businesses and strengthen neighborhoods.
Through Chicago LEADS, we're training our workers and students for jobs of the future, while providing local employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the
Last year's convention and trade show attendance at McCormick Place was the highest it's been in three years. With our new website and neighborhood tourism program, we're stepping up our efforts to bring even more tourists to our city.
We're helping our hardest hit workers take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit and property tax relief, both of which I’ve been promoting for years.