by : Rey Andres
The City of Anaheim’s top “to do list for 2013” includes emphasis on a year-long program to increase volunteerism, a citizen review commission and a districting system which Mayor Tom Tait unveiled in his Third Annual State of the City speech before some 800 business leaders at the City National Grove of Anaheim recently.
Hosted by the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, the City Executive highlighted his administration’s accomplishment for the past year punctuated by the new expansion of world-famous California Adventure, the recently opened outdoor Grand Plaza of the Anaheim Convention Center featuring a world-class approach to event hosting, and the groundbreaking of the new transportation hub known as Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center.
Emphasizing the importance of engaging his constituents in transforming Anaheim, Mayor Tait invited the community “to work together in the effort”.
The Mayor also invited the community composed of diverse backgrounds and different ethnicities to work together to transform Anaheim into a city where “all people feel included, where families feel safe, where schools are successful and jobs are plentiful.”
In announcing 2013 as the “Year of Kindness”, Mayor Tait envisions to encourage Anaheim residents to step up with volunteerism with local nonprofit groups which this year will target connecting people and community organizations and “begin a lifetime of volunteering and helping those in need.”
Mayor Tait reiterated his support for the creation of a new Neighborhood Improvement Fund which the City Council recently directed the city manager to evaluate telling his audience “It is time that the neighborhoods share in the benefit of the tax investment we made in the Resort so many years ago.”
The leader of one of the nation’s premier municipalities and one of California’s most populous cities with more than more than 343,000 residents took issues with the civil unrest that occurred in Anaheim last summer that showed the extent of divisiveness in the city and with prevailing sentiment of some residents of “not having a voice.”
“For as long as anyone feels that the people are excluded in their government, their community, their city, then we have an issue,” the Mayor said.
In addressing the issue, the Mayor outlined the findings of The Disneyland Resort-funded study of the Olin Group through Anaheim Community Foundation where it identified safety, program availability and access as top challenges in helping at-risk youth.
The study identified gangs to be a major issue that “cause problems in the neighborhoods and schools and make it difficult for teachers and parents to keep kids on the right path.”
Along this area of concern, the Mayor announced that Angels Baseball, with the Ducks, Disney and other local businesses, had committed “to create a plan of action that would engage the local business community in a comprehensive effort to help the city’s most challenged neighborhoods and youth.”
Mayor Tait also apprised his audience on his administration’s achievements in budget/pension reform, regulatory relief and education. He reported of the City “being back-on-track” in its financial picture. He also noted how over-regulation is hurting small businesses in his jurisdiction and how the City is working on “eliminating or reducing the burden on local small businesses.”
In the area of education, the Mayor noted the achievement of Anaheim Union High District of having the largest graduating class in the 34 cities of Orange County for two consecutive years with three-quarters of the students going on to attend a two or four-year colleges. He added that the graduation rate is higher than the county and state averages with “2/3 of the students coming from home where a language other than English is spoken.”
The Filipino-American community constitutes two per cent of Anaheim’s demographic pie and the members have notably gained inroads in the City’s professional and business circles.