6 min read
Posted on 12.04.08
  • 6 min read
  • Posted on 12.04.08

From a speech recently delivered by Jeff Rainford:

You have heard about the remarkable renaissance going on in City St. Louis. We have been recognized nationally and internationally for the progress we are making.

More people are moving into the City for the first time in 50 years.

We have seen more than five billion dollars in new investment. There is new investment in neighborhoods in all parts of the City.

Our Downtown is once again the beating heart of the region. City government is operating more efficiently and effectively. Despite some very tough economic times over the last eight years, our credit rating has gone up. The city is cleaner, safer, and better run.

But, there are many other good things happening in our City that you may not know about. That's what I want to talk about tonight.

It is true that Francis Slay has been able to accomplish some big things. He has stood up for the City of St. Louis. But, it is what he does for people that may be more remarkable. Quietly, without a lot of fanfare, he has improved the way the City delivers services to people.

He has a remarkable record of achievement when it comes to giving a hand up to people who need help.

The City of St. Louis is the only city or county in the State of Missouri that spends its own money creating affordable housing. Our Affordable Housing Trust fund has invested tens of millions of dollars creating places to live for people who are homeless, who have low or moderate incomes. Most of that housing has been created in minority communities.

The City of St. Louis is also the only city or county in the State of Missouri to provide direct assistance to help people in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. Mayor Slay set aside $500,000 this year and expects to set aside another $300,000 next year. Because of that, we expect to help more than 1,000 families avoid foreclosure.

To help low income senior citizens stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter, the City has spent millions of dollars on energy assistance.

The mayor created a nationally recognized program to end chronic homelessness. Because our plan is so well thought out, we have received more than 50-million dollars in federal grants... and have reduced homelessness by 30%.

The mayor believes in second chances. He was able to convince the Missouri General Assembly to allocate $1-million to create a prisoner re-entry program in the City of St. Louis. The program has helped ex convicts that are coming back into our neighborhoods get a new start. It has also had the additional benefit of reducing crime because almost none of the people in the program have committed additional crimes.

The mayor has also focused on children and families.
The mayor created a nationally recognized program to prevent low income children from being exposed to dangerous lead paint. Before he took office, the City waited until kids got sick, then did something. The mayor changed the focus to prevention. His remarkable program has reduced the lead poisoning rate by almost two thirds... from 13.6% to 4.6%.

Under the mayor's leadership, the City created the Family Justice Center, a place where victims of domestic violence and their children can go to get all of the services they need in one place.

After federal cutbacks and changes gutted summer jobs programs for low-income kids, the mayor created his own program to give kids a chance to make some money and learn the value of hard work. He hired three of those young people in his office this summer. They had a remarkable experience that will help them for a long time to come.

The mayor has also worked with the community to dramatically expand after school programs and recreation programs to give young people meaningful things to do both to keep them out of trouble and enrich their lives.

I mentioned the remarkable turnaround in the City. Some folks mistakenly think it is just Downtown. It is true that Downtown is enjoying an incredible renaissance. But, so are many of our neighborhoods.

Let me give you a statistic that most people will find remarkable. In the wards represented by African American aldermen, there has been $1.7-billion in physical investment, including more than 8,000 new or substantially rehabbed homes.

We know more needs to be done. So working with African American aldermen, the mayor has created a neighborhood stimulus plan to generate more than $150-million in new development in predominantly African American wards over the next five years.

Nearly 65% of the federal HOME and Community Development Block Grant funding for housing production has been allocated in wards led by African-American aldermen. (By comparison, ½ of 1% has been invested Downtown.)

The mayor has also focused on creating economic opportunities for African American businesses and workers.

Since the mayor took office, more than half a billion dollars has gone to minority and women owned firms under the mayor's minority participation executive order.

Working with businesses, labor, community leaders, educators, and other elected officials, the city created a new initiative to train and educate thousands of African American men and women, and connect them to good-paying jobs. Working with the convention center, unions and county executive Charlie Dooley, we are expanding opportunities for union jobs for minority workers at America's Center and the Edward Jones Dome.

The mayor is also working to make all of our neighborhoods better-particularly our challenged neighborhoods.

Under Mayor Slay's leadership, the City has demolished thousands of vacant buildings. For the first time in decades, the number of homes on the demolition list finally started going down.

The mayor created a Problem Property Task Force to do something about run down property and nuisance crimes that drive people crazy. We are closing in on 10,000 violations that we have forced landlords to address.

We have picked up thousands of tons of trash and debris dumped on streets, alleys and vacant properties.

We in the planning process and have the money to build a brand new recreation center in North St. Louis. That will be an amenity that will strengthen families and strengthen neighborhoods.

The mayor believes Martin Luther King Boulevard should reflect the greatness of its namesake. So, the City has invested millions of dollars to make improvements.

While the City has done a lot to improve our challenged neighborhoods, it will take private investment to rebuild our tough neighborhoods. So, the mayor and his development team are working very hard to convince developers to invest in those neighborhoods. It is private investment that will benefit our residents the most.

The mayor also has a strong record of inclusion in City government.

Most people know about our remarkable new police chief, Dan Isom. He is a terrific leader and very smart guy who is going to make a difference.

But, you may not know that the mayor hired Rodney Crim, the City's first African American development director. He hired Ron Smith, the first African American deputy mayor for operations. He hired Kevin Dolliole, the first African American airport director. He hired Marjorie Melton, the first African American female Board of Public Service president. These are very significant jobs held by very qualified people.

The mayor has also been a leader in doing what's right for our community. He donated $10,000 to the successful effort to kill the initiative petition to end Affirmative Action in the State of Missouri.

He recently raised $65,000 for the NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner.

That's the mayor's record. It is a strong one. It demonstrates that Francis Slay has been the mayor for the entire City of St. Louis.