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Mayor Rizzo's State of the City Address - Monday, January 13, 2014

January 4, 2014

     Mr. President, Madam Clerk, honorable members of the City Council, Dr. Dakin, members of the School Committee, Mr. Speaker, Senator Petruccelli, Representative Reinstein, District Attorney Dan Conley, Sheriff Tomkins, to all department heads, and last, but certainly not least, citizens of Revere; Good evening,  and thank you for attending and/or watching tonight’s State of the City Address.

Before I begin I would like to offer a moment of silence in Memory of Gary Cioffi, a member of our Department of Public Works, who recently passed away.  Gary was a familiar and welcoming face to all who had the pleasure of knowing him.  He was a long standing member of our City Hall custodial staff and so, on behalf of all of us in City hall that had the pleasure of working with him, I offer our collective condolences to his wife Peggy, and his sons Gary, Michael, Derek, and Torre.

I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of our recently elected City Councilors and School Committee members. I value my relationship with both bodies, and look forward to continuing our work in moving Revere forward towards a better and brighter future.

Only through collaboration, and a shared vision, will we succeed.

     My Administration continues to work each and every day to preserve our shared values while pursuing our collective vision for our city. With your help, your passion, and your energy, we can achieve great things for both today, and tomorrow.

  1. Together we will create an environment that fosters strong economic development and investment opportunities.
  2. Together we will ensure that our children receive a first class education.
  3. Together we will improve city services, and continue to make Revere a safer place to live.

Revere is on the Rise and I know that our best days are yet to come.

In Revere, we start with a high-quality School System. You should know that last year, in 2013, our Superintendent Dr. Paul Dakin, was named Massachusetts Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators.

While Dr. Dakin has done outstanding work during his tenure, he would be the first to tell you that it is because he is staffed by some of the best teachers and administrators in all of Massachusetts.  Thank you Dr. Dakin for everything you do, you are an outstanding partner for our city, our schools, our parents and our kids.

Revere’s curriculum is one of the most rigorous in the state. That statement is validated by Revere students scoring among the very best in urban school districts across Massachusetts on standardized tests. 

But we move beyond rote education to give students the relevant skills they will need to succeed in today’s economy.  While learning is obviously critical, members of the Revere Public School Faculty are also charged with building personal and lasting relationships with students, tapping into their unique needs and backgrounds. We have terrific teachers here in Revere and I’m proud to serve with a City Council, and Chair a School Committee that continues to support all of the good work they do each and every day. 

In Revere while grades matter most, we are also committed to ensuring that teachers and students have the necessary tools to provide a 21st Century education that will give our students the best chance to succeed in life.  Teaching and learning is done best when we provide them with the best possible buildings and classroom environments.  Recently, with the support of the School Committee and City Council, we approved the construction of the long awaited McKinley Elementary School, now to be named, the Sgt. James G. Hill School.

Also, extracurricular opportunities are an important part of a child’s overall growth and development.  We have enhanced these opportunities by recently approving the construction of a new Little League/Softball complex in West Revere, and will be breaking ground next month on a new state of the art multi-use Harry Della Russo stadium that will host Football, Soccer, Lacrosse, and other Track & Field  events. 

This stadium will be one of the best facilities of its kind in the entire region and will have a lasting impact on our community for generations to come. The construction of the stadium would not have been possible without a $2.7 million dollar grant from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. 

You’ve heard me say, “Revere is on the rise” and one of the reasons I believe that has been our aggressive approach in attracting investors and developers to expose them to all that Revere has to offer.  This includes our beautiful oceanfront, our proximity to Logan Airport and downtown Boston, and our expansive public transportation system.  Much of what we show them to has been featured on a National Television segment hosted by football hall of famer; Terry Bradshaw called “Today in America”.  We’re also quick to point out that Revere was named a Top Spot to live by the Boston Globe Magazine back on May 6, 2013.

In keeping with our promise to beatify and revitalize our core Broadway Business District, we recently secured a $1.5 Million grant from the Executive Office of Housing and Community Development. 

This has special significance for me, as I advocated for it when I campaigned for mayor back in 2011. 

This grant, along with other funds that we’ve secured through our Community Development Block Grants, will help us accomplish many things-

They include the demolition of the old police station that pave the way for roughly 50 new parking spaces adjacent to City Hall.  These spaces will ease the parking burden placed on Broadway businesses and those visiting City Hall.  Additionally, we will invest in streetscape and signage improvements, as well as new sidewalks, lighting, and crosswalks. We believe the more visually appealing and pedestrian friendly Broadway becomes, the more interest businesses and residents will have in visiting our downtown.

Our goal is to once again, make our central business district a vibrant and attractive place to live and work.

In keeping with our goals to bring meaningful development to our city, we recently broke ground on The Vanguard at Waterfront Square, a 194-unit high end rental apartment community on Revere Beach. The Vanguard will be the first project to be developed as part of the Waterfront Square transit-oriented development master plan. The total estimated project cost is $41.7 million. In addition to the normally required Site Plan Review process, this project had to take an extra step by receiving approval from the Revere Beach Design Board ensuring that this, and any future project meets with the strict standards for excellence set forth as part of the overall TOD Master Plan.

In addition to the residential units laid out in this master plan, we can anticipate further construction that includes office, hotel and retail development components.  This master plan will create over 5 acres of public plazas and open space, and of course, access to Revere Beach over the beautiful Markey Pedestrian Footbridge.

As an administration, we are leveraging all of the investments made in our city to make needed improvements to our water and sewer infrastructure across our community. These improvements will enhance the quality of life for all residents and support evolving business and economic development opportunities for future generations.

Creating efficient city services continues to be a top priority of my Administration. Through technology, and our RevStat program of performance management, we have been able to streamline services and develop strategies that improve service delivery.

Soon, new personnel and state of the art technologies will be added to support our Inspectional Services Department. Inspectors’ paper pads will be replaced with modern mobile devices that will allow inspectors to automate code enforcement, identify troubled properties, and issue fines electronically. We have also bolstered resources within our Information Technology department to ensure that Revere stays current in an ever changing environment- one that mandates doing more with less...

Since we last spoke about our RevStat program, the City of Revere’s performance management initiative, we have held over 40 meetings with our DPW, Police and the Fire Departments. In these meetings we use up to date facts and figures to identify trends and solve problems in a collaborative manner. We will be working over the coming months to introduce additional departments into the initiative starting with our Inspectional Services Department.

We also continue to make changes in the way our budget is created, and presented. 

In keeping with our efforts to implement Performance Based Budgeting, our FY15 Budget will challenge department heads to set goals, celebrate accomplishments, and create measures for success.  We must change the way we manage our budget and think about the allocation of resources. It should be becoming increasingly clear that the new programs we’ve implemented over the last couple of years, Performance Management, and Performance Based Budgeting, is in keeping with our desire and commitment to provide the best and most cost effective delivery of city services to our residents. 

While there are numerous responsibilities in running a city with over 50,000 people, and over 1000 municipal employees, my number one priority and responsibility as Mayor is, and will always be, to ensure the safety and security of our residents.

We’ve made numerous changes in the way we approach public safety including routine walking patrols, stepped up visibility throughout our neighbourhoods, and consistent outreach to help create additional crime watch groups. 

Last summer, we successfully established a Neighborhood Substation in our central business district across from City Hall. This office is staffed by community policing officers dedicated to listening to the concerns of residents and providing a much needed presence in this part of our community.

Police Chief Joe Cafarelli is committed to bringing the police department into all of our neighbourhoods in a proactive manner. Through his leadership, one of the ways we have done that is by the reintroduction of the Citizens Police Academy;

a program where residents can learn firsthand what our police department does each and every day, and, how they as residents, can help protect their own neighbourhoods.  Feel free to contact the Revere Police Department for upcoming academies and how you may be able to participate. 

I will do all I can to ensure the department has the necessary personnel, vision, and resources to keep the city of Revere safe.

I am also thankful for the continued efforts of our Fire Chief, Gene Doherty and his entire department.

Gene’s leadership as head of our Emergency Management Team continues to be vital to the safety of our community. His department continues to be amongst the best in the state when it comes to response times, and the first to use NarCan, a drug used to counter the effects of opiate overdose.  They have saved hunders of lives in the process.  Chief Doherty has also utilized our CodeRed system to help keep our residents informed of any and all events that will impact them in a significant way.  I encourage you, if you haven’t already done so, to sign up for these CodeRed announcements.  You can receive them by phone, email, or text messaging.  To sign up, please check out our city’s website at Revere.org or by calling City Hall at 781-286-8111.  You can also stay informed by subscribing to our monthly newsletter where we update our residents on events and information that we feel is relevant.  You can subscribe to this newsletter by contacting us at revere_mayor@revere.org or by calling us once again at 781-286-8111.

Earlier, I talked about Economic Development and the exciting opportunities that I believe lie ahead for our community.  The tremendous by-products of these opportunities include job creation, and stabilizing our residential taxes.  To stabilize residential taxes we must do one of two things; cut expenses which in general means, cutting services, or, adding a steady stream of commercial tax revenues. 

I’d like to take a moment and talk about one of the most significant, and important project proposal in this city’s history;

the future of Suffolk Downs and resort style gaming here in Revere.

Back on November 5th Revere voters overwhelmingly said YES to a resort style casino development at Suffolk Downs. Since then, we have worked feverishly with the State Gaming Commission to see to it that their voices, over 6500 of them, would be heard.  After much debate, the Gaming Commission agreed with our position and has allowed this process to move ahead. 

Fast forward to today; Mohegan Sun, Revere’s new gaming partner and premier gaming brand here in New England is now proposing to invest $1.3 billion in developing a resort style casino at Suffolk Downs.  They will hire thousands of people, invest millions into our local economy, and spend tens of millions of dollars on transportation improvements that will have an incredibly positive and wide ranging regional impact for commuters on the entire north shore.   

Mohegan Sun brings a wealth of experience and expertise that will no doubt allow Suffolk Downs’ to survive and once again thrive as it had in days of old when Seabiscuit first ran, and when the legendary Beatles played to a packed house.

While the Gaming Commission has allowed us to move forward, they have required us to hold another referendum on this new Host Community Agreement.  That election will be held on February 25th

I recognize that this creates yet another burden on our already worn down electorate- however, I am confident that as the details and economic benefits of this new agreement become more publicized and understood, Revere residents will see that it is well worth coming out one more time in support. 

In fact, I believe that voters will come out in greater numbers and create a larger margin of victory than we saw back in November.

Let me explain why.  First off, They will create 2,500 construction jobs and 4,000 permanent jobs upon opening.  

 Before they open, Mohegan Sun will make upfront payments to the city of Revere in the amount of $33 Million.  Then, using estimates that call for $1Billion in yearly Gross Gaming Revenues, Mohegan Sun will make annual payments to the city of Revere of $40 million.  To put all of this in perspective; over the 15 years that their license will be granted for, we can anticipate receiving over $600 Million. 

Now let’s assume their estimates are wrong, and business doesn’t go the way they anticipate, we have instituted minimums that regardless of how business goes- Revere is taken care of.  The minimum the city of Revere will ever get during that same 15 year period is $429 Million.  On the other hand, if they exceed their estimates of $1 Billion, we could easily surpass that $600 Million figure.

Additionally, they will spend between $40 and $50 Million in transportation and infrastructure upgrades.  This is why I say our traffic situation will actually improve- not get worse.  This statement is not based on my interpretation, but rather, based on traffic engineers that have researched, studied, and developed a traffic mitigation plan.

Now many of you may be asking yourself- “why should I care about this project?”  “What does all of this mean for me?”

Let me talk about that for a moment.  First and foremost, it is our intention to provide property tax and water and sewer rate relief and stabilization for all Revere property owners.  We are still working to quantify the true value of these benefits but are committed to ensuring that it is the maximum amount that we are capable of providing.

Second, the city intends to use over $6 million of the first years’ community impact fee to:

  1. Put more police on the streets
  2. Bolster fire preparedness and response times
  3. Supplement our school budget, and
  4. Continue to contribute to our Stabilization or “Rainy Day” funds

            We will also use funds from this project to support the replacement of Harry Della Russo stadium, and based on discussions I’ve had with our parks & Recreation Director, Michale Hinojosa, and new Director of Elder Affairs, Steve Fielding, I have committed to the construction of a much needed new Youth Center, and a new, or completely refurbished Senior Center, making both of these facilities and services, the best in all of Massachusetts.  We have also provided for a recurring $250,000 annual grant that will be used to promote smart growth and economic development throughout the City.

            With respect to jobs and local investment, Mohegan Sun will hold job fairs and vendor forums in order to meet and honor the following commitments;

-20% of all permanent jobs will go to Revere residents

-75% of all permanent jobs will go to people residing within 15 miles of Revere.

-They will spend $10 million annually on goods and services with Revere businesses. 

         -$50 million per year will be spent on businesses that are also located within a 15 mile radius.  This is a regional project that will not only bolster Revere, but the entire North Shore as well. 

            I talked about traffic earlier and I’d just like to highlight a few of the ways we’re addressing those concerns; Before I do, I think it’s important to remember that as important as the issue of traffic is to the city- it is equally or if not, more important to Suffolk Downs and Mohegan Sun.  They want to keep traffic moving smoothly and eliminate bottlenecks. 

            Think about this; they are spending over $1 Billion on this project- it does them no good if they can’t get their customers in and out of the property in as little amount of time and effort as possible. 

            One of the most significant and important improvements will be their almost $25 million commitment on improvements to Route 1A including the Boardman Street Flyover, or an equivalent that meets the needs and requirements of the DOT.  Another is an almost $4 Million investment in and around Donnelly Square in Beachmont.  Residents of the Beachmont Community have been an active voice in this overall discussion and clearly, their voices have been heard.

At this time, I would like to thank the people at Suffolk Downs and Mohegan Sun for being such great partners in the negotiation process.

Since 1936, Suffolk Downs has been an excellent neighborhood partner, and we believe that Mohegan Sun will follow their lead by continuing to be a major part of Revere and its imminent transformation. 

This agreement is an extraordinary deal for Revere that will ensure our future economic vitality and well being for decades to come; I urge all Revere residents to learn about this important proposal and to vote Yes for Revere on Election Day, February 25th.

The state of our city is strong.

It is strong because of its people.

I’d like to take a moment to recognize some of them and tell you how they make our city a better place;

Kathi Reinstein is stepping down after 15 years of service as our State Representative.  Currently, she is part of leadership ranking number four overall and amongst many other achievements and accomplishments, was the driving force behind the legislation that paved the way for expanded gaming here in Massachusetts.  Kathi is not only a friend, but an extremely competent and well respected member of the legislature.  She has worked on big issues, but never forget the day to day problems her constituents deal with each and every day here in Revere and throughout her district.  Her work ethic speaks for itself.  She, like her father before her, lived and worked Revere each and every day.  In my opinion, she will go down as one of our city’s great true leaders.

As she moves on to the private sector, I wish her and her family all of the success and prosperity that she so deserves, though, for selfish reasons, I hate to see her go because she leaves me with a legislative void that will be very hard to fill.   Congratulations Kathi.

During World War II, Lt. Eileen Merullo was stationed at the Walter Reed amputation center in Bethesda, Maryland.

She joined the Women’s Army Corps in 1944 after graduating from Boston University. As a registered physical therapist, she helped wounded veterans.

After leaving the Army in 1946, she spent the next four years as the head therapist of rehabilitation at the Naval Hospital in Chelsea.

In 1969, she began a 25-year career in the Revere public school system as a science teacher.

As time went on, Eileen began documenting women veterans from the area. She realized there was not much in the way of recognition for women who served, especially those who served in World War II. Shortly after I became Mayor, she began a campaign looking for women veterans from Revere, searching newspaper articles, speaking at social groups and appearing on local cable access television.

After tracking down 154 names of Revere women who participated in World War II, she went out to raise more than $10,000 to erect a monument that would honor their service.  On September 2, 2013, a monument acknowledging these women, and their service to our country was erected and now stands prominently on the lawn of the American Legion; a validation decades later for the commitment these women had to our city and our nation, and a fitting tribute to Eileen’s hard work and perseverance.  During the 9th annual Women Veterans’ Appreciation Day at the State House, Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs Coleman Nee presented Eileen with the Deborah Sampson Award.  This award is named after a woman who dressed as a man to fight in the Revolutionary War. There are currently 27,000 women veterans in Massachusetts, according to the Department of Veterans' Services.  We honor them, Eileen, and all the men and women of our Armed Forces that continue to serve us here and around the world. 

Chief Joe Cafarelli – On April 19th, shortly after the Marathon bombings, the North Metro SWAT Team was called in to Watertown at around 3 a.m.  Shortly after, a wild chase and dramatic gunfight played out on the streets of that city.  Tsarnaev, now known as the second suspect in that bombing had escaped and law enforcement needed every tactical team available to help search the homes within the 20-block perimeter.

Taking their armored SWAT Humvee with them, Chief Cafarelli and his team were assigned a certain section to search inside and outside numerous homes- ultimately, with no results.

After 14 hours of continuous searching, the North Metro SWAT was ready to rotate out and stand down.

They were exhausted.

But then duty called.

They were ready to move off the rotation when, as luck would have it, they got the call to respond to a Franklin Street residence immediately- blood had been seen on and around a boat that sat in the yard of a Watertown resident. The Boston team leader said, ‘We’re going.’ To which the Chief said, ‘We’re coming with you’.  They convoyed over to Franklin Street together. Boston took the right side of the house and they took the left side. Others then came in and filled the perimeter around the house. Everyone was there, all working together…There were some they hadn’t trained with before, but as the Chief said, it was like pick-up basketball. They just needed to work through any potential problems.”

They waited patiently and on high alert for hours while federal negotiators moved in to talk with the suspect; trying to convince him to come out peacefully.

As time went by though, Chief Cafarelli and his team began to wonder if they were on another false trail – something that had happened to them over and over that same day.

They started second guessing because there had been so much misinformation during the course of the day- so many reports – some factual and some erroneous. As they sat on the perimeter, they began to wonder “maybe the blood was a result of someone who just may have been working on the boat?”  “What if there is an animal inside the boat that was wounded?”

However, when the suspect poked his head out from underneath the tarp, they saw his hair which was very distinctive. They knew then they had the right guy.

At that time, law enforcement – including Chief Cafarelli along with his Revere contingent of the North Metro SWAT Team stormed the boat and took Tsarnaev into custody.   Fearing the suspect may have explosives or other deadly devices, Chief Cafarelli put his Marine training that he obtained while overseas as a respondent to the 1983 Marine Barrack Suicide Bombings in Lebanon to good use by searching the suspect and helping place him into custody.  Residents of Revere are well served by our Chief and the great officers that you see with us here tonight.

Revere High School Principal, Dr. Lourenco Garcia has done some incredibly outstanding work.  During his relatively short time here in Revere, he, along with his entire staff of teachers and administrators, have quickly become known as some of the most progressive group of educators in the state. 

So much so that Revere High School is receiving both National and State-wide recognition.  In Massachusetts, they are being highlighted in the State's "Year 3 Race To The Top Report".  The Race to the Top (RTTT) is a competitive grant program intended to encourage and reward states that “create conditions for innovation and reform.” When the program was announced back in July 2009, the U.S. Department of Education asserted that participating states and districts “will offer models for others to follow and will spread the best reform ideas across their States, and across the country”.

The program’s purpose, according to the department, is to advance reforms in several areas:

1)      Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy

2)      Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and that inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction; and

3)      Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most

In addition, we are being recognized nationally through an Excellence in Urban Education Award issued by the National Center for Urban School Transformation. 

Sixteen schools are recognized each year nationally.  These urban schools have multiple challenges; yet, they have outstanding evidence of academic achievement for all students. Winning schools contribute to an ever-growing effort to understand how educators can create excellent urban schools for all students. Evaluators are charged with visiting each finalist school, to observe and record educational practices first hand. While the majority of the finalist schools demonstrated great effort and accomplishment in providing quality education, the winning schools went above and beyond their peers in developing truly amazing learning environments. Some of the reasons our High School is receiving such attention and recognition, and there are many, include;

- The implementation of a Freshman Academy to help 9th graders adjust to the demands at Revere High School.

- The changing of the schedule so all students can participate in an Advisory session with teachers

- Bringing the JROTC Program to Revere

- Moving us from a mere High School library to a 21st Century Learning Commons

- Securing a $500,000 Nellie Mae grant to transform Revere High School to a Digital Learning Community

And,

- With the help of his teachers, Dr. Garcia has carried out the district's vision of an iPad in the hands of every High School students while providing teachers the opportunity to utilize these iPads in a Flipped Learning Environment.

We are proud of all the great work that is going on in Revere High School, and across the entire School District.

Many of you know, my administration puts a lot of time and effort into fostering community spirit and instilling pride in our city and our neighbourhoods.  This next story is another example of how hard work, and how dedicated coaches and volunteers have joined us in that effort.

Last month, The Revere Pop Warner A squad, led by coach Meredith Stavrinos,  the B squad, led by coach Jen Mora, and the C squad, led by coach Melissa Elam, went down to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida to compete in the 2013 Pop Warner Super Bowl and National Cheer & Dance Championships.  Together, they soared to heights that no other organization in eastern Massachusetts, and quite possibly, in the entire country, had ever reached before: Three teams competing; three teams winning national championships.

We are so proud of the work that these young girls and boys have done, and we salute them, along with President Marc Tango, their head coaches and assistants, the Pop Warner Board of Directors,  and all of the parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles that helped make all of this possible.

From Massachusetts to Florida and the 48 states in between- one fact has become clear: When it comes to Pop Warner cheerleading, the city of Revere is a national powerhouse and it has the hardware to back it up.

The Financial Literacy Pilot Program, which was established by the Legislature in July 2012, is a three-year pilot program to help 10 Gateway City school districts equip high school students with the knowledge and skills necessary to become self-supporting and make critical decisions regarding personal finances. Last year, State Treasurer Steve Grossman informed my office and Superintendent Dakin that Revere High School was one of the first to receive such a grant in the amount of $20,000.  This grant is a result, in large part, through the efforts of many including Matt Costa, and Mr. John Kingston of the Revere Municipal Employees Federal Credit Union.  Others included Robert Adams, Joe Ciccarello, Diana DeCristoforo, Jon DeMarco, Julianne Esposito, John Fergus, Chris Kingston, Jon Mitchell, and Don Pinkerton.

Their hard work in securing this grant has provided the support necessary in the development of a financial literacy program that aligns with the 2011 Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for Mathematics and the Economic Education Council's National Standards for Financial Literacy.  

The grant is being implemented this year and will ultimately touch each and every student at Revere High School.  Hopefully, the work students engage in through this program will make them more informed consumers who are equipped to make well-informed decisions with their hard earned money.

It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve the citizens of Revere over the past two years as your Mayor.    Let’s continue to work together to foster a positive environment of progress and make our great city an even better place to live, work and raise a family.

Thank you. God bless our city, our Commonwealth, and our nation.

 

 

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