Taken together, I believe these steps will help put us ahead of other cities.
So will the Chicago 2016 Olympics and Paralympics Games, should we be named to host them.
Remember: this is America’s bid now, not just Chicago’s, which is one reason President Obama has been so supportive and I want to thank him for it.
I, along with many others, believe that at a low risk to taxpayers, hosting the Games would be an ongoing economic benefit for Chicago for decades to come. The Games would also leave a legacy of sport for future generations as well as many, lasting neighborhood improvements.
Another point that seems to get lost is that 2016 has not spent a dime of taxpayer money.
If we get the Games, tens of thousands of good jobs for Chicagoans would be created, with some starting as soon as next year. Chicago would benefit from $13.7 billion in economic activity, generating $7 billion in wages for working people.
With greater recognition around the world, the Games would help define Chicago even more clearly as a global destination for business and tourism alike.
Leaders in other cities that have hosted the Olympics, from Atlanta, to Tokyo, to Barcelona will tell you that the Games benefitted their economies for decades after the Games were over. In most cases, host cities have benefited to the tune of nearly $750
To ensure that the entire city benefits from the Games, Chicago 2016 has signed an agreement with more than 75 community groups to assure participation for minority, disabled and women owned businesses.
In addition, Chicago-area foundations have committed millions for workforce development in neighborhoods near the proposed venues.
Still, I understand many people have questions about the Olympics agreement and Chicago 2016's financial and other plans. They will be addressed fully.
There will be hearings before the City Council. I've also asked the Chicago 2016 Committee to conduct public hearings covering all 50 wards, which have already begun. People's concerns and questions must be addressed so that they have the same confidence in our plan that I do.
But, the nation's recession is only one way our quality of life is being challenged today.
As a father and grandfather, nothing pains me more than seeing Chicago’s children, our children, killed.
For me, ending the violence is one of the most frustrating challenges we face.
I've challenged the Chicago Police Department to continually update their strategies to protect our children and put behind bars the gang bangers and drug dealers who terrorize our neighborhoods.
I've asked them to be vigilant and enforce our city's curfew. I'd rather a parent be embarrassed by a knock on the door when a police officer brings a child home for violating curfew hours than for that knock on the door to be followed by news that
another child has been killed.
We must also keep our children involved in positive activities and away from gangs, guns and drugs -- and we are.
I’ve asked Chris Mallette of my office to become our point person on youth violence and ways to keep our children out of harm’s way. Chris has broad experience in this area. Among other things, he has run a youth center, worked in the public school system, and
served as a prosecutor with the city.
His job is to integrate the city’s efforts with the community and with other parts of government and find ways to keep our children safe.
Toward that end, this summer we're providing over 19,000 jobs to our children and we're offering almost 270,000 positive recreational and educational opportunities, starting with After School Matters.
This fall, for the first time, I want us to provide as many paid jobs after school as we can, in addition to offering our ongoing after school programs. If paid jobs aren’t possible, volunteer or job-shadowing opportunities are equally important.
I can't emphasize how important it is for parents to accept their responsibility to keep their children safe. If they can’t, they can call 311 and ask for help.
I also want to again plead with every person in every community to march with us and stand against the violence.
If you know about a crime, report it. If you know who is involved in a crime, report them.
The code of silence in many neighborhoods that protects the gang bangers and drug dealers is killing our children. It must end.
Something as simple as using a cell phone to report a crime can solve a crime.
I pledge to you that we will never give in to the gang bangers and drug dealers who perpetuate violence and don't give a damn about whether people live or die.
They'd rather murder our children than have their profit and power taken away.
That's why I will keep meeting and marching with faith-based, law enforcement and community leaders across the city -- day and night. We need their ideas, and yours, for ending the violence.
The challenge is that we're now in the summer months when the risk of violence rises
across the country.
While the number of homicides in Chicago remains far lower than a decade ago, during warm weather it can easily increase overnight or over a weekend. One death is one too many.
With that concern, the Chicago Police Department will permanently reassign 150 more officers from desk jobs to street patrols and this summer 450 officers are being reassigned to street duty.
They have created new strategic teams that are quickly sent to neighborhood gang and drug hot spots.
Through federal economic stimulus funding, they're seeking to hire another 400 police officers, who I will insist be assigned directly to street patrols.
I've also challenged them to increase their efforts to better coordinate their crime prevention efforts with the City's human services programs. Many families that police officers come in contact with need counseling and other support.
The Department is also stepping up its efforts to find and confiscate guns, which we know are involved in the majority of homicides in Chicago.
Since I've been Mayor we've made confiscating guns a priority. This summer we will hold our annual gun turn in on August 15 at locations across the city.