Environment

Green living a higher priority for San Jose

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

With San Jose facing a budget deficit and environmental sustainability becoming a higher priority, Mayor Chuck Reed's State of the City address today was all about the green.

Reed started the morning with a breakfast ceremony that was held for the winners of a contest for children under age 13 who illustrated one of the 10 goals of the city's Green Vision program.

The official State of the City program started at 8:15 a.m. with an award ceremony for the Pride of San Jose Awards.

These awards are given to individuals or groups who make living, working and raising a family in San Jose better, according to the mayor's office. The awards were presented by emcees Tomothy Near from the San Jose Repertory Theatre and Roy Avila from television station KICU.

After the awards ceremonies, Reed took the stage and spoke for 20 minutes about the good and bad aspects of 2007.

Reed highlighted some of the most important parts of his first year in office. In 2007, he introduced the Reed reforms, aimed at making "honesty, fiscal responsibility, and open government a part of the culture of City Hall." Reed also discussed a new community-based budgeting process that will help the city identify fiscal priorities.

Another star can be added to Reed's list of achievements as mayor for the success of having the California High Speed Rail go directly from San Jose to Los Angeles. He also worked on getting more money for the project to expand Bay Area Rapid Transit to San Jose.

Reed also discussed some of the shortcomings of San Jose. Gang violence and homicides have increased, tarnishing San Jose's reputation as one of the safest big cities in the nation. The city is also facing a structural budget deficit and its eighth consecutive year of budget shortfalls. Both of these problems will be dealt with in the coming year, Reed said.

As he addressed the spending problem, Reed emphasized that he was not just looking to cut salaries and instigate layoffs, but would look for other ways to decrease spending and increase money in the city's coffers.

"We will grow our revenues faster by having a vibrant economy ... we will get more efficient by using technology to increase productivity ... we will slow the growth in our expenses," Reed said.

He asked city businesses and residents to "accept fiscal reality, and help out with revenue increases and service cuts."

Reed brought his morning full circle as he finished his address by having the winners of the Green Vision contest stand up and receive a round of applause. Each of these students understand the need for San Jose to build green and keep our city environmentally sustainable, Reed said. Everyone can help in moving toward our Green Vision.

"If you will work together to make San Jose a great city, please stand with us," Reed thundered at the end of his speech.


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