Salt Lake City is bucking a national trend, according to Mayor Rocky Anderson: While the rest of the country regresses economically, culturally and environmentally Salt Lake City is in the midst of great progress.
In his final State of the City address before his second and last term in office ends in December, Anderson spoke for an hour and 40 minutes Tuesday night, focusing not just on current issues but on city initiatives during the seven years he has been in office.
The mayor contrasted the city's progress to a declining purchasing power among America's working class, an Iraq war that has had "mind-numbing costs in lives, tragedy and national treasure," the federal debt and deficit, and "the wholesale demolition of our nation's moral standing in the world."
The environment: The mayor has become recognized worldwide as a leading advocate against global warming, and his speech outlined "how measures to reduce energy consumption and to utilize clean, alternative energy sources promotes a better quality of life, saves taxpayers' money and is central to long-term economic growth."
Anderson had committed Salt Lake City to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from municipal operations 21 percent from 2001 to 2012; six years early, it has already reduced them 31 percent, Anderson said.
The City Council this year passed an ordinance requiring all new city-funded buildings to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.
"Unless city residents have access to clean air and water and are protected from potential environmental catastrophes like global warming, our other efforts as a city count for little over the long term," Anderson said.
Under his administration, the city has preserved 450 acres of open space, from Rose Park to Library Square to Big Cottonwood Canyon.
"The preservation of natural spaces is a victory of spiritual values over short-term material greed," Anderson said.
He vowed to continue to fight to preserve disputed open space on the city's border with North Salt Lake.
The economy: During his tenure, Anderson said, budget surpluses have increased each year, with the administration spending $2.8 million below last year's budget and bringing in $8.9 million in extra revenue.
The mayor said the city has loaned more money to small businesses under his administration than in years past more than $9 million since 2000 vs. $705,000 from 1991 to 1999.
Law enforcement: Anderson described the city's restorative-justice programs, an array of law enforcement, court and social services he and his staff have implemented that focus on rehabilitating criminals and aiding victims.
He said the city's Division of Housing and Neighborhood Development will actively lobby the federal government to reverse the Bush administration's "outrageous, regressive" cuts in community development block grant funding, which the city has used to build a number of low-income housing units.
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