4 min read
Posted on 10.07.11
  • 4 min read
  • Posted on 10.07.11

Good afternoon.

Thank you for joining me.

I particularly want to thank national Edward R. Murrow award-winner Jasmine Huda, who has stepped up to fill a vacancy at the microphone today. Jasmine is an excellent reason to watch local news on KMOV-Channel 4.

Today is a chance for us to celebrate successes. There are many of them on today's program. What strikes me about these successes, is how different they are from each other: a bicycle station that doubles as a bike store, office, and coffee shop; the long-awaited removal of an eyesore that has led to the revitalization of several of downtown's landmarks and their coming transformation into a new shopping and entertainment district ; dozens of new stores and businesses that now anchor and enhance their city neighborhoods; the expanded presences of some corporate mainstays; and the national recognition of the success of a thousand planning, engineering, and business decisions along Washington Avenue.

Ladies and gentlemen, despite every obstacle posed by a sluggish world economy, St. Louis has managed to sow and grow in the past year.

I am not going to delay the show by previewing it all for you now. But I do want to talk about some things I liked in the past year, whether they will be mentioned on this program or not.

I love the new food trucks and the extra energy they bring to our streets. I say this, even though I am much more likely to have my dinner sitting down in a great city restaurant.

I love the Peabody Opera House, which looks and sounds better today than it ever has. I was there Saturday night and I can tell you that it is now one of those rare places where the reality is brighter and better than its nostalgic memory. It's amazing what a little spic' and span and $79 million will do for a building.

I love what I have already seen of the Central Library renovation. The City is proud and lucky to have such an impressive and extensive library system. This update of the Central Library will allow our great librarians to work more confidently in the 21st century, while protecting their historic mission to be the free gateways to ideas through the printed word to all citizens. In a world in which the sale of e-books rivals the purchase of printed books, it's important for the library to understand its place. And the St. Louis Public Library leadership has done that in a strikingly bold renovation of one of the city's greatest public spaces.

I love the fact that access to more and more municipal data and city services no longer requires a personal visit to City Hall or even a phone call to a clerk. More and more information is available on-line. More and more interactions with government are possible by computer, by tablet, or by smart phone. I tweet, as do our Citizens' Service Bureau and many City officials and department heads. It's a good thing - and it allows us to provide better customer service to our constituents.

One of the main goals of my administration is to provide that great customer service in the ways that is expected - and some of the data from the recent federal census validates that approach.

The City of St. Louis has seen an 87% gain in college-educated young adults. That is a group of individuals who generally have some expendable income, some freedom, and some flexibility. They wouldn't be here if they didn't like St. Louis - but they are here, they are staying here, and they are moving here.

I expect that all of them have purchased a good or a service from a company represented here today. I expect that many of them work for the companies that are represented here today. And I am increasingly certain that some of them founded and own the companies that are represented here today.

I want to conclude my remarks by acknowledging the recent passing to two great innovators. One was a native son of St. Louis. The other was not. Both made major impacts on how we work and live.

We were saddened on Wednesday by the passing of Apple founder and CEO, Steve Jobs. Many of you tapping away on your iPhone are direct beneficiaries of his genius. He saw things differently. He knew what we needed before we did. And he was generally right. His life is a lesson that informs many of the decisions you make in your own businesses.

Our other great loss was of Bob Cassilly.

Bob's ideas did not always - how can I say this nicely? - run parallel to the city bureaucracy. He defied almost every expectation about what it was possible to do in a building, to do in a park, or to do in St. Louis. In most cases, we just tried to stay out of his way. And I promise you that that is our intention for you, too. Do great things. We will try to stay out of your way.

We will all be reminded of Bob's sense of fun, his optimism, and his great talent every time we visit City Museum, bike by Turtle Park, or stroll down Washington Avenue.

Knowing that, I want to add one more to the roster of honors that have been offered to his memory over the past several days.

We have been notified that Washington Avenue has been named one of America's Top Ten Streets of 2011 by the APA.

I am so confident that this award would not have happened without the renaissance to that great street that Bob Cassilly helped spark that I formally dedicate the Washington Avenue Great Streets award to him.

Thank you very much for coming today. I plan to visit with all you as this program proceeds.

Congratulations to the winners. Congratulations to us for having winners like you. Enjoy your meal.