Listening to our city’s youth – and addressing our city’s future.
On Wednesday, June 6 – prior to giving his first State of the City Address – Mayor Wharton took time to speak to a group of 30 middle and high school students from across Memphis in the auditorium of Booker T. Washington High School. In addition to BTW, participating schools including Middle College High School, Vance Middle School, Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering, and The Soulsville Charter School.
“You all are the future of our community,” Mayor Wharton told the student group. “Before I go to the Peabody and talk about the ‘state of our city,’ I wanted to come hear from you about what’s really on your mind.”
After a few brief remarks, the Mayor opened the floor to questions from the students. The teens focused their questions on the future of their community. Will there be a job available for me in Memphis after college? What can the Mayor’s office do about crime? What can be done to ensure that all students across our city receive fair and equal access to a good education?
Having heard the issues weighing on the minds of Memphis youth, the Mayor delivered his first State of the City Address at the Peabody Hotel later that afternoon. In keeping with tradition, the Kiwanis Club of Memphis invited the Mayor to be the special guest at their first regular meeting of the year. Mayor Wharton’s appearance drew a standing room only crowd of over 200 guests, eager to hear our city’s new leader lay out his vision for the year ahead.
“We are, and always have been, a city of resilience, a city of innovation, a city of hard work. A city of faith, in God and in one another. A city of pride,” the Mayor said to open his address. “This is the state of our city: proud of our heritage, but restlessly, relentlessy focused on keeping our competetive edges sharp. However, these great things cannot and should not mask the very serious challenges that we face. At the outset of an exciting new decade, too many of our people feel their feet tangled in a net as they try to move forward.”
Among the most significant points in the Mayor’s 2010 State of the City Address:
- Proposing a new, objective, third-party re-evaluation of current crime trends and possible new crime-fighting techniques.
- Establishing “Community Councils” in areas hardest-hit by crime, in partnership with the Sheriff’s Department, Memphis Police Department to provide neighborhood associations and non-profit organizations with more direct access to law enforcement officials.
CREATING JOBS AND GROWING OUR ECONOMY
- Collaborating with the Greater Memphis Chamber and other economic development entities to arrange more face-to-face meetings between local companies and the Mayor.
- Evaluating the costs and opportunities of a new convention center, including potential sites, land acquisition strategies, development costs, and public responsibility.
- Advising the Vice-President’s Office personally to request more municipal control over more funds rom the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
- Joining Shelby County in lawsuit against Wells Fargo, alleging predatory, improper lending practices in inner-city, high-poverty, mostly minority areas of Memphis.
- Developing a coordinated, comprehensive city-county plan for revising code enforcement and engaging grassroots groups in neighborhood cleanups.
SERVING OUR YOUTH
- Establishing a Youth Advisory Council to provide teens and young adults with more direct, regular access to the Mayor.
- Fundamentally revising and restricting the City’s Summer Jobs Program to include more service, mentoring, and leadership development components.
CREATING AN EFFICIENT, TRANSPARENT GOVERNMENT
- Continuing advocacy for a new, metropolitan city-county form of government to reduce wasteful, duplicative spending and encourage new business development.
- Continuing and expanding use of social media and web-based tools to facilitate communication between City Government and constituents, including a new website to launch in summer 2010.