Mayor Dan Rizzo delivered his State of the City address on Monday night – his first since taking office last January – and it was certainly full of information, good news and deserved optimism.
Make no mistake, there are some challenges coming.
Mid-year cuts to the City’s local aid funds from the state.
A state and national economy that sputters more than it spins.
And more and more money having to be spent for compliance with the federal consent decree on the water and sewer system.
But the bottom line is that optimism – for the first time in a long time – is overshadowing the problems in Revere city government.
The announcement about state funds to refurbish Harry Della Russo Stadium is a giant win for a facility that has long been embarrassing by modern high school athletic standards.
Meanwhile, the push to computerize City Hall, and then use those computers to compile data about the effectiveness of city programs and services, is spot on. Let’s face it; Revere is probably one of the most technologically challenged City Halls in the Commonwealth. Even our reporters still have to copy Building Permits by hand here, while other cities simply e-mail such permits over in electronic format. Rizzo is looking to roll out the CitiStat program this April, and the City has been testing the program since last summer. Running a City efficiently these days requires technology and data, just as getting good MCAS scores in the schools requires “mining” data from the test results.
Deciding where to put taxpayer dollars with facts rather than anecdote is the new way of being efficient.
As Rizzo said, we can’t keep doing things the same way just because that’s the way they’ve always been done.
A lot of times, what has been done for a long time has been broken for a long time, but how can one know that without looking at some facts and figures?
But beyond the policy and programming, the most interesting thing about this year’s State of the City was the crowd.
The speech brought a standing-room only crowd, with members of the State Delegation, the State Treasurer, virtually every local official and elected officials from other cities.
Beyond that, there were more than just the usual Revere City government types in the crowd. In a City that has changed dramatically, it was a better cross-section of the City than we’ve seen at such a gathering in a long time.
Rizzo said his administration has strived for that – to make the priorities of all residents its priority first and foremost.