Thursday, April 27, 2006

Mayor Gives 100-Day Report

Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs said Thursday (April 27, 2006) her first 100 days in office were devoted to listening to city residents and staff, planning to make changes and preparing to carry them out.

“Every decision was made with the interest of the community first,“ she said.

Broadly, the changes included making city offices “people-friendly,” firmly committing to build a new senior center on East Front Street, increasing youth activities and bringing back a program to level sidewalks heaved up by tree roots.

The city will also have an improved communications system, she said.

Robinson-Briggs and various department and division heads spelled out the changes in a presentation at Washington School that attracted about 300 people.

The administration adopted the theme of “Growth by Unity” and held two days of strategic planning sessions to get old and new staffers on the same accord about how the city should address long-standing issues of public safety, code enforcement, economic development and quality of life.

Among the revelations:

Public Safety Director Martin Hellwig said as the first non-African-American in the civilian post created after racial turmoil in the 1960s, he will uphold the standard of no one being mistreated on the basis of race, gender or other status. Hellwig said the Police Division will also add nine new officers this year at no additional cost to taxpayers and will add bilingual officers to assist the city’s burgeoning Latino population.

The Police Division will also crack down on traffic violations and increase street patrols, he said.

City Purchasing Agent Craig Smith, speaking on information technology, said the city will replace its old phone system with “voice over Internet protocol” and will make sure employees are trained to use the latest software to share information.

A.J. Jalloh, speaking on public information, said city news and events will be publicized on local Channel 74, in a newsletter and on the city’s web site.

Planning Director Bill Nierstedt said the city will have a new master plan and zoning ordinance by the end of the year.

Jennifer Wenson Maier, director of Public Works & Urban Development, said the new proposal for a senior center is one with a regional Veterans of Foreign Wars component as well as housing and a commercial portion.

Public Works Superintendent John Louise showcased new equipment that will allow the city to make in-house road repairs, warding off major reconstruction projects.

The evening also featured catered food and raffles for gifts, which extended the evening but also the camaraderie among the crowd of citizens and city staff that turned out.

“I enjoyed it very much. I’m looking forward to a change and to see what happens,” city resident Marian Roberts said as she left.

--Bernice Paglia