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Wharton, One Year In

I wrote a story in Wednesday’s Daily News about Mayor Wharton hitting the one-year mark in office.

How do you think he’s done?

The man himself has some thoughts of his own, which he posted as a note on his Facebook page. In case you missed it:

Earlier today, I personally filed 138 lawsuits on behalf of the City of Memphis against owners of properties that have fallen into serious neglect within the city limits.

This action was taken as a part of the legal strategy we are now employing in our larger campaign to end the blight that has lowered property values and stained the appeal of neighborhoods from Westwood and Orange Mound to Frayser and Raleigh. Overgrown lots and abandoned properties are a community-wide epidemic. Statistics show that less than 1% of the complaints we receive from citizens involve properties that are actually owned by the city. Holding the real negligent property owners accountable is critical to address this issue.

If you live near or know of a house that the City of Memphis should consider for legal action, please call the Mayor’s Citizens Service Center at 901.576.6500 and let us know the address and condition of the property. We are relying on YOU to be our eyes and ears in the neighborhoods!

Today is also significant in that it marks exactly one year since I was sworn in as Mayor for the City of Memphis. It has certainly been a productive year:

* After years of negotiation, the signing of the 20-year lease for the Pyramid by Bass Pro will result in the creative reuse of this major facility and the more expansive development of the Pinch District and Uptown.
* Our economic and workforce development efforts have gained speed through a major retooling of the Workforce Investment Network, the efforts of our Office of Talent and Human Capital, and an unprecedented level of cooperation between city and county government around the pivotal issues of job creation and retention.
* We were successful in securing the support of the Memphis City Council for a $5 million fund for economic development opportunities, portions of which will be applied to a revolving loan program for minority and women-owned businesses.
* As a first step in the improvement of the Fairgrounds area, Tiger Lane was completed within 90 days and 55% minority participation.
* We have met the challenge of funding Memphis City Schools head-on by outlining funding for fiscal years 2011 and 2012 inclusive of some $23 million in budget reductions.
* The Memphis Police Department continues to advance our war on crime using state-of-the-art, data-driven police techniques that have earned international acclaim. Since last year, the most violent crimes in the city of Memphis are down over 40%.
* The Shelby Farms Greenline opened with much fanfare, providing a world-class health and fitness amenity that connects the farthest reaches of Memphis with the core city.
* The new Unified Development Code, Midtown Overlay, and University District Overlay will now guide sustainable, high-quality urban design for Memphis.

Along with our budding partnerships with reputable community development corporations in neighborhood redevelopment, our HOPE VI projects, and the new level of engagement our city is experiencing with federal and national agencies, we have been busy on many different fronts to advance our great city.

Beyond these and other accomplishments, however, we know that the issue of trust is much more important and much more difficult to quantify. We work daily to rebuild your trust in your government by being more transparent, routing out inefficiencies and broken systems, modeling cooperation, and ensuring that civility continually defines our discussions, actions, and even our disagreements.

With your help, we have accomplished a lot — but we know that much more needs to be done. The days and weeks ahead will continue to be best measured by the progress we make and course we set.

Today, I want to reaffirm to you that I am resolved to the work ahead. Our highest hopes for this city and its people will be realized by working together.

Dansette

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