In Inaugural Address, Mayor Rybak Hails Four Years of Progress, Calls for Raising the Bar Even Higher
Mayor Rybak inaugurated today for third four-year term; 10 returning and three incoming City Council members also sworn in
January 4, 2010 (MINNEAPOLIS) — In an address delivered in the historic rotunda of Minneapolis City Hall to mark his inauguration for a third four-year term, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak hailed the last four years of progress in Minneapolis and called for raising the bar of expectations and accomplishments even higher in the City of Lakes.
Returning City Council President Barbara Johnson, returning Council Vice President Robert Lilligren and the remaining members of the City Council also took their oaths of office. A total of 10 council members are returning to office. They are being joined by three new council members: Council Member Kevin Reich from Ward 1, Council Member Meg Tuthill from Ward 10 and Council Member John Quincy from Ward 11.
In his address, Mayor Rybak reflected back on a passage from his inaugural speech of four years ago in which he asked people to imagine a great Minneapolis. The mayor used the passed both to measure progress since then in the areas of public safety, jobs, transportation and kids, and to challenge himself, the City Council and all those in attendance to raise the bar and do more. The passage the mayor referred to is:
"Imagine a city where we can walk safely down every single street and where prosperity reaches every corner. … Where you can take a streetcar or a bike or even walk to great jobs and stores nearby. Imagine a city where every kid grows up knowing they can succeed."
After reviewing progress and issuing new challenges in each area, the mayor concluded today:
"A lot has happened since I said those words four years ago. We survived the collapse of a bridge and the collapse of an economy, and still delivered real results that have made thousands of lives better. Minneapolis is a great city that has proven that we can do great things in spite of a crisis — and sometimes because of one.
"Some critics will say that an economic crisis is no time to think big, no time to invest, no time to plan for the future. But we have proven them wrong before and it's time to do so again. It’s time to expect more of our work, of ourselves and each other.
"Now it’s time to raise the bar again. We have imagined a great city. Now let’s build one — together."
Excerpts from Mayor Rybaks inaugural address are below. The full text of the address as prepared for delivery is available at: /mayor/news/speeches/mayor_speeches_2010inaugural-speech
On the wall outside my office there is a large photo of the first time I stood in this spot eight years ago at my first swearing-in. I pass that picture every time I walk in or out of my office, and from time to time I try to remember what we were all thinking back then, a rookie mayor, a mostly new city council, and a building full of City employees who didn't really know much about this new crowd in charge.
Four years later, we came back to this same spot. We had made some progress, and we could have chosen that time to congratulate ourselves for navigating some very tough waters.
On that day four years ago, I said that we should be proud of what we accomplished together, but I warned that it wasn't enough — because Minneapolis is not a good city, it is a great city, and we needed to reach higher. Then I said:
"Imagine a city where we can walk safely down every single street and where prosperity reaches every corner. Where you can take a streetcar or a bike or even walk to great jobs and stores nearby. Imagine a city where every kid grows up knowing they can succeed."
So let’s take each of these ideas and ask ourselves: How far have we come in four years? And how much further do we have to go?
"Imagine a city where we can walk safely down every single street…"
Today, we can say that by every measure, Minneapolis is a far safer city than it was four years ago. We have seen dramatic decreases in crime in virtually every category: last year there were fewer homicides in our city than in any year since 1983, and over the last four years, there have been dramatic decreases in every single category of violent crime and property crimes.
This enormous community achievement has involved every police officer, every arm of city government, foundations, businesses, block clubs and hundreds of community volunteers. We should be proud that an entire community has made an entire community far safer.
But we must remember that no level of crime is acceptable. Our challenge will continue to be to mix tough enforcement when necessary with more innovation, such as:
- Upstream prevention efforts, led by our ongoing youth violence prevention work.
- Focusing on chronic offenders and problem properties;
- True community-policing models where every single resident knows exactly what they can do to partner with us to make their neighborhood safer.
"Imagine a city where prosperity reaches every corner."
For too long, people thought it was just a normal state of affairs that a core city would face greater economic challenges than the suburbs and state that surround it. Well, we just don't buy that in Minneapolis — and we’ve done something about it.
Four years ago, in the recognition that North Minneapolis was one of the most economically challenged parts of the state, we launched North Force. We focused every part of City government, along with the foundation and business communities, on making North Minneapolis stronger. And today, millions of dollars in new investment are bringing new life onto Broadway and Lowry Avenues.
Four years ago, the unemployment rate was one percentage point higher in the city than in the suburbs. Today, most months of the year Minneapolis is one of the only big cities in America that can boast that unemployment in the core city is lower than in the suburbs.
We have trained thousands of people and helped create and place people in thousands of new jobs. Creating jobs has become our most important job.
Our challenge will be to:
- Continue to make it easier to expand businesses in the city and start new ones.
- Support the two pillars of the Minneapolis economy — medicine and education — and nurture new fields.
- Explore ways to help businesses in the creative economy.
- Expand Minneapolis' breakthrough job-training programs.
"Imagine a city where you can take a streetcar or bike or even walk to great jobs and stores nearby."
We are implementing Access Minneapolis, the most sweeping remake of the way Minneapolis moves — and the way Minneapolis is connected — in more than a generation. Along with that visionary work we are investing in the common ground with the Infrastructure Acceleration Program, which over the next four years will resurface or sealcoat one-third of all City-owned arterial streets.
- Keep partnering with the County on three new LRT lines.
- Partner with the state on high-speed rail.
- Develop the plan to fund streetcars.
- Put a special focus on creating connections around 35W and Lake Street.
- Fix the greatest planning mistake in Minneapolis history by finally reopening Nicollet Avenue.
"A city where every kid grows up knowing they can succeed."
Eight years ago the common way to talk about kids in Minneapolis was to say that their diversity creates tremendous challenges. But today we say that their diversity makes them the most valuable generation we have ever raised.
The change in the way we view our kids has taken place because of the Minneapolis Promise. The results of the Minneapolis Promise are extraordinary. Since we started:
- Minneapolis students have made 140,000 visits to the College and Career centers that are now in every Minneapolis high school.
- Nearly 10,000 Minneapolis students have benefited from good-paying summer jobs and internships at some of our best companies.
- More than 1,500 Minneapolis students have received free access to college.
But the Minneapolis Promise faces serious challenges. Our challenge will be to develop financial strategies that will make it possible for thousands more young people to depend on the Minneapolis Promise. We also need to do an even better job of reaching our kids earlier. We need to better coordinate our work with our partners, and work with the Minneapolis Public Schools to close achievement gaps.
We need to take the next step — to weave together all these efforts so our entire community supports our young people from the time they are born to the time they are ready for a career.
A lot has happened since I said those words four years ago. We survived the collapse of a bridge and the collapse of an economy, and still delivered real results that have made thousands of lives better. Minneapolis is a great city that has proven that we can do great things in spite of a crisis — and sometimes because of one.
Some critics will say that an economic crisis is no time to think big, no time to invest, no time to plan for the future. But we have proven them wrong before and it's time to do so again. It’s time to expect more of our work, of ourselves and each other.
You learn a lot about people when they are in a crisis — and you learn even more about communities.
We have weathered many crises, and each time we came out stronger and reached higher.
Now it’s time to raise the bar again.
We have imagined a great city. Now let’s build one — together.
Published Jan. 4, 2010