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Mayor Michael Bloomberg: January 2012 Archives

January 2012 Archives

Innovative Steps For a Brighter Year Ahead

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Over the past 10 years, our Administration has turned around the city’s schools, strengthened our economy, protected our environment, and improved our quality of life. And last week’s State of the City laid out the innovative steps we’re taking during 2012 to do even more to help all New Yorkers fulfill their dreams.

We all know that in today’s world, that starts with education. And it’s clearer now than ever that success in schools is keyed to having the best teachers. So we need to attract more students who graduate at or near the top of their college classes to teach in our schools. To do that, we’re proposing this idea to the teachers’ union: let’s offer to pay off up to $25,000 of those students’ college loans. And let’s also agree to boost the salaries of our most effective classroom teachers by $20,000 a year.

We also intend to step up our efforts to keep only the best teachers. We’ll establish committees in 33 persistently low-achieving schools that will assess the teachers there; only the best will be brought back. That process will also enable our schools to receive $58 million in State ‘school improvement grants.’ At the same time, we’ll continue to give parents and students more schools to choose from; we announced plans to create 100 new schools over the next two years. This year, we’ll also make sure students’ lessons and assignments are geared even more closely to preparing them for college or careers.

That’s because our students have to be ready for the ‘knowledge economy’ that more and more of them will be working in as adults. To create jobs in that economy, this year, we’ll encourage expansion of our city’s growing ‘tech’ sector – while beginning to connect more low-income New Yorkers to knowledge-based jobs. We’re also going to build the economy in all five boroughs by, for example, joining local elected officials to bring businesses and jobs to the Bronx’s long-vacant Kingsbridge Armory – and also to keep thousands of good jobs at the Hunts Point produce market. We’ll strongly support State Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver’s proposal to increase the State minimum wage. And we’ll step up our efforts to place more New Yorkers in new jobs – including currently unemployed veterans of our Armed Forces.

To help put more New Yorkers to work, we’re also going to streamline the processes of getting City approval for development projects and construction plans. And to keep New York a place where people want to live and businesses want to locate and expand, we’ll continue enhancing our great quality of life, with more affordable housing, new parks, a new bike-sharing program, and new cultural attractions in all five boroughs. We’ll also begin to double the amount of waste we recycle instead of sending it to landfills, start to develop more renewable sources of energy, and move ahead aggressively toward our goal of giving New York the cleanest air of any city in the nation.

Cities around the globe look to New York for leadership – and for good reason. In areas from public schools to public safety to public health, we’re the world capital of innovation. And in 2012, that spirit of innovation will power New York toward a brighter future.

New York is entering the new year riding a crest of good news. On average, we’re living longer and healthier lives than ever. We’re also the safest big-city in the nation, and safer from crime, fire, and traffic fatalities than at any time in modern memory. And we’ve got good reasons to hope that these trends will continue in 2012.
Let’s start with life expectancy. Babies born in New York City, in 2009, can now expect to live an average of 80.6 years. According to the city’s Department of Health, that’s almost three years longer than newborn life expectancy was in the year 2000. It’s also nearly two-and-a-half years longer than the comparable national average. Life expectancy for adults is up too. For 40-year-olds, it now averages 82 years. That’s nearly two years longer than life expectancy for 40-year-olds nationwide. Our lifespan gains are also greater than those of people living in counties with other major cities across the nation have seen. 
There are two big conclusions to draw from this hopeful news. The first is that many of the aggressive steps we’ve taken to improve public health, such as encouraging New Yorkers to quit smoking and also to get tested and treated for HIV, are big factors in adding years to our lives. The second thing to remember is that these life expectancy figures are averages. If you carry out those New Year’s resolutions to watch your weight, exercise, and stop smoking, the chances are that you can live even longer.
There’s lots of good news on the public safety front, too. The NYPD and FDNY have just given New Yorkers the safest decade on record. The number of murders in our city last year was the third lowest ever. It was also the 10th consecutive year that we’ve recorded fewer than 600 murders. While even one murder is one too many, keep in mind that before 2002, we hadn’t seen as few as 600 murders a year since the early 1960s. During the past 10 years, we’ve decreased crime overall more than 34 percent. 
We’ve also just closed out 10 years with an average of 88 fire deaths per year. That’s by far the safest decade since the FDNY started keeping records. Over those 10 years, we’ve made average response time to fires 20 seconds faster than it was during the previous decade. During 2011, ambulances cut their average response time to life-threatening emergencies to six minutes, thirty-one seconds – a new record low.
We’ve also made our streets safer than ever. Thanks to better engineering, education, and enforcement, we ended 2011 on track to having the fewest traffic fatalities on record. Over the past 10 years, we’ve cut traffic deaths in the five boroughs by 40 percent. That means that today, our rate of traffic fatalities is roughly two-thirds lower than the national rate. Now let’s all get 2012 off to a safe start by remembering to drive responsibly as this New Year’s weekend comes to a close.
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