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Mayor Daley to soon announce an agreement to address the digital divide

Subject: Mayor Daley said he will soon announce an agreement to address the digital divide
Date: 5/22/2007 12:53:10 A.M. Central Daylight Time

 
Daley Urges Continued Cooperation to Keep City Moving Forward
 
(May 21, 2007) Mayor Calls for New Initiatives in Education, Public Safety,Neighborhoods, Affordable Housing and Technology Asks City Council to Help Pass Key State Legislation

Mayor Richard M. Daley today called on members of the City Council to continue working together to realize the dream of "a city that offers boundless opportunity to all our people and, in every way, serves as a model for the world."

In his inaugural address to mark the beginning of his sixth term as mayor, Daley noted that "our city continues to thrive, while others are struggling."

"We can all be proud to live in a city with such promise for the future," he said, "but we must make sure that all Chicagoans share in that promise."

"The people of our city expect their leaders to work together," he said. "They want action to meet our challenges, not endless politics.

"I ask you to join me in making sure that Chicago remains a place where working men and women can pursue a brighter future for themselves and their children. We must work together to end poverty and provide support to those who need it most – the elderly, the poor and people with disabilities."

Daley congratulated all 50 members of the City Council who were also sworn in, along with City Clerk Miguel del Valle and City Treasurer Stephanie Neely.

In his remarks, the Mayor laid out a broad agenda for improvements in education, public safety, housing and technology.

He also challenged the City Council to work together with him in Springfield to get action this session on education, CTA funding reform, the 7 percent cap on home values and gun legislation.

"It can be done," he said. "We know that state government can help our families when it puts politics aside and addresses the issues that really matter."

Daley said the most important step Chicago can take is continuing to improve the public schools. He emphasized that students need to spend more time learning.

"The more our children are involved in some type of educational activity, the better they will do in school," he said. "Every child must have access to both pre-school and full-day kindergarten. We must work toward a longer day in the classroom. Chicago has the shortest school day of any major school district in the nation.

"We need even more after-school and summer programs. And we must consider a longer school year for those who need it the most."

He acknowledged that this will be costly. An extra hour of school each day would cost over $300 million more a year, he said.

The Mayor said the Chicago Public Schools need to focus more attention on high schools because "too many students drop out and too many others go through four years without learning enough to succeed in college or life."

CPS will continue to re-create high schools and bring in new charter operators under the Renaissance 2010 program, he said.

"I share the concern of many parents who don't want their children's school closed for a year," he said, "so I've asked school leaders to keep students in their school, whenever possible, and bring in new principals and teachers over the summer."

The school system will create new career academies targeting job sectors such as health care, computers and hospitality, where demand for workers is high.

"We will also focus on those neighborhood high schools that still need our attention," he said. "We know what works – from adding class time and summer school for incoming freshmen and sophomores, to paying high school teachers more to work longer hours, to holding tutoring and study sessions and running after-school clubs."

But he cautioned that if state government doesn't act to reform the way Illinois funds education "many of the steps we need to take to keep our schools moving forward will not be possible."

Daley said he will soon announce an agreement to address the Digital Divide, the gap between those who have access to computer technology and those who do not. To make Chicago safer, the Mayor said the City will step up its efforts against drug kingpins, in cooperation with the U.S. Attorney, Illinois Attorney General and the Cook County State's Attorney.

Citing the support of community groups and block clubs, Daley said the city will purchase even more neighborhood safety cameras. He said he will challenge the next Chicago police superintendent to transfer even more officers from behind desks to street duty. Daley reiterated his determination to prevent police misconduct and said he will ask the new superintendent to pursue the new personnel system that will help the department identify and intervene with problem officers.

Citing the recent shooting death of 16-year-old Blair Holt, Daley called on the legislature to ban assault weapons; limit handgun purchases to one a month; approve state licensing of gun dealers, and require all gun transfers be conducted through licensed dealers.

The Mayor said the City will invest even more in parks, libraries and upgrades to the transportation system. He also said the city would announce new ways to provide more affordable housing and continue to pursue making Chicago the most environmentally friendly city in the nation.

He vowed to work with the City Council to increase the number of City contracts going to African-American and Latino companies. "I'm not satisfied and I know many of you aren't either," he said.

The Mayor said the groundbreaking plan to transform public housing will reach a milestone later this month the return of public housing families to new homes at the site of the former Robert Taylor Homes and Stateway Gardens.

"We made a commitment to the residents of public housing," he said, "and we're delivering."

Daley also made a commitment to continue to better manage government and protect taxpayers. "As our property taxpayers are pressed to the limit, I will continue to challenge City government to do more with less, including restructuring our operations to further improve the delivery of city services and provide them more effectively and efficiently," he said.

Daley also reaffirmed his commitment to "assure the people of Chicago that we will continue to uncover misconduct whenever and wherever it occurs. We've learned from the mistakes of the past. We're committed to preventing them in the future."

"Our new Inspector General continues to seek out misconduct in city government. We've already given the office more staff and funding to do its job."

The Mayor concluded: "By working together, our city has made great progress in the last 18 years.

"In Chicago today, we see reflected our nation's greatest strengths – our willingness to work hard and tackle our problems; our tolerance for different points of view; and our commitment to help working people and those who are struggling.

"But in Chicago we also see reflected our nation's greatest challenges -- an education system that still needs improvement; an economy that must compete internationally; and a growing divide between the haves and have-nots.

"That's why I commit to each of you here today – and every Chicagoan – that we will continue to work together for a better Chicago for all.

"If we can join together in pursuit of our common interests, I see a future for our city that is even brighter than today."

Mayor's Press Office/312-744-3334