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Jackson provides state of the city address

James W. Wade III | 3/12/2014, 8:49 a.m.
The Department of Public Safety makes up 57 percent of the city’s operating budget. Improving public safety and the perception ...
WKYC TV 3 News Anchor Russ Mitchell interviews Mayor Frank G. Jackson during the 2014 State of the City address. Photo by James W. Wade III

Mayor Frank G. Jackson gave his annual State of the City address to over 1,000 people in the Cleveland Public Auditorium last week. For the second straight year, the mayor used a sit down forum with WKYC TV 3 news anchor Russ Mitchell.

Jackson didn’t run from questions about the 137 shooting and the police. He defended his police department, saying he has learned of officers who resolved threatening situations without firing their guns when they had justifiable provocation.

Jackson, who recently hired a Black police chief, has always stood his ground about the shooting. Former Police Chief Michael McGrath, while in that position, even handed down firings and suspensions.

With the goal of providing every child in Cleveland with an excellent education, education remains one of Jackson’s top priorities. He has two major initiatives.

• The Cleveland Plan for Transforming Schools is being implemented in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and partner charter schools, supported by a tax levy passed in the fall of 2012.

• Cleveland Transformation Alliance: Built in to the Cleveland Plan, the Transformation Alliance is responsible for reporting to the community on the progress of the Cleveland Plan and the state of the schools in Cleveland. A newly created website, www.clevleandta.org was launched this week, providing access to school “report cards” and encouraging families to choose the best school for their children.

Jackson said his work on the schools, the Cleveland Transformation Alliance, is “a work in progress” and said he hopes that, by the end of his four-year term, he will have “institutionalized quality education.”

The mayor also discussed the city’s finances. Since 2006, the City of Cleveland has overcome the greatest global economic crisis since the great depression. Despite this tremendous challenge and the loss of tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue, Jackson balanced the budget each year while protecting as many city jobs as possible and continuing to invest in the economy.

He has invested in departments and divisions in a way that encourages efficiency, allowing the city to maintain and even increase services in some areas. This year, Jackson proposed an operating budget of $540 million.

The Department of Public Safety makes up 57 percent of the city’s operating budget. Improving public safety and the perception of safety in Cleveland is a primary goal of the Jackson Administration. Despite some high profile challenges over the past several years, violent crime is trending down and accountability among the safety forces is increasing. In 2013, Cleveland joined the ranks of American cities with first class convention facilities. The opening of the new Cleveland Convention Center and the attached Global Center for Health Innovation makes Cleveland a competitive location for attracting national conventions. The expected increase in visitors is already resulting in the investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in new hotels and restaurants, creating thousands of new jobs for Clevelanders and making downtown Cleveland a vibrant “24/7” community. Jackson is committed to making city operations more sustainable as well as transforming our economy into a sustainable economy through Sustainable Cleveland 2019, now in its fifth year.

Jackson has been focus on improving the neighborhoods and the community. The City of Cleveland’s Department of Community Development continued to invest in Cleveland’s neighborhoods by supporting strategic demolition, housing renovation, new housing, and land reutilization. These efforts are guided by the citywide plan and the city’s sustainability policies. Over the past several years, community development leveraged nearly $60 million dollars in federal stimulus funding to support its work citywide.