Mayor Weaver Presents her Fourth State of the City Address October 21, 2019

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(FLINT, Mich)– Mayor Karen Weaver presented her fourth State of the City Address before residents, community leaders and government officials Monday, October 21, at 6:00 p.m. This years State of the City was held downtown at the Capitol Theater. A larger venue was chosen to give more residents an opportunity to attend. Some of the highlights of this years speech included an update on pipe replacement, blight elimination and employment opportunities.

The following is a transcript of Mayor Weaver’s speech:

First, I want to give praises to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Thank you all for being here this evening.  I cannot believe that this is my 4th state of the city address as the Mayor of this great city. And here we are again at the beautiful Capitol Theater!  These 4yrs have been a journey, has it not? A good journey! A productive journey! A journey full of change, for the better! Last year, I welcomed you all back to bedrock and boy have we been rocking!

I want to thank my Family, my husband and children, my sister.  We are still struggling with those social media arguments…true flintstones, ready to fight for what you believe in and who you love…just ease up on the twitter fingers. Seriously, I love you all and I thank you for being my strength and for loving this city as much as I do.

I want to thank each and every one of the City of Flint employees, you have maintained a level of professionalism and compassion during an uncomfortable time.  A lot of you have been working for the city longer than I have been Mayor, and this year in particular, there has been a lot of scrutiny because of the current season. So, I thank you, for your patience and for your eagerness to serve the residents every day. As Mayor and a resident, I appreciate and thank you.

Director Jackson, Makini, I thank you and your team for ensuring that we have capable, competent and qualified employees that help to keep Flint moving forward.

I also want to thank you for your diligence when it came to working with the ethics and accountability board to ensure that we have a qualified Ombudsperson. Yes, you heard me right, we have an ombudsperson and she is with us this evening, welcome Tanae Dorsey

I introduced the Health in All Policies model a while back and we have been able to move forward with decisions that work on behalf of the residents and not against them.

Clean water in Flint

One of our greatest needs here in the city of Flint is SAFE, CLEAN AFFORDABLE drinking water. We are almost done checking the 28,000 service lines that we were told needed to be replaced.

Local contractors have excavated over 23,000 pipes to date, through my FAST Start service line replacement program. From the start, we have been ahead of schedule of the fastest service line replacement job in the history of this country. While this year, we have seen a few unexpected challenges as we power through replacing lead and galvanized service lines, we are still on our way to replacing all of the known tainted services lines in the city by the end of the year.

As you drive around the city, you see that restoration of properties is happening, with close to 7,000 completed.  In addition to lawn restoration, you will also notice a much smoother ride. We have been fixing the streets here in Flint!

I have to pause right here and applaud the residents for their patience during this time. We finally got the contract in place and you will see crews working all over the city on restoration.  So, to the residents, I say thank you, thank you so very much for sticking with us during a difficult and frustrating time.

Don’t think we haven’t seen the meme’s on social media about Flint potholes!

We have completed a rebuild of Keasley St. and resurfaced many other residential streets.  We are working hard at repairing the North end of Dupont Street, which is one of our main streets and next year we are set to start the South end of Dupont, Atherton Road and Court St.

For the third consecutive year, our water testing levels for lead have improved.  According to data the state released earlier this month, the City’s 90th percentile lead levels for the first half of 2019 was six parts per billion.

While I am happy to hear that the water is testing better for lead, we continue to work closely with the science, public health, and medical community to ensure that the health of our water system is restored.

We cannot ignore the damage that has been done to in home fixtures, water heaters, and appliances.  As I said last year, I will continue to speak out and press for these things to be fixed as well, at no cost to the residents.

As we restore the quality of water to our city, during construction, I will continue to encourage residents to use filters and drink bottled water, as well as get your water tested, kits are still available at city hall. I have stated time and time again that every known tainted service line will have to be replaced and that the medical community and scientist will have to clear the water before I will tell residents to drink from their tap without a filter, Because Flint Lives Do Matter and We will not be rushed through a crisis that we did not cause just because it is politically expedient.

Throughout this country, access to safe affordable drinking water has become a highly politicized conversation instead of treating it like the human right that it is.

My entire administration, especially, department of public works, finance and public health prioritize several goals around our water,  such as addressing our infrastructure which has been neglected for years,  providing safe drinking water and stabilizing water rates., .

Through a federal and state funding reimbursement system we have been able to complete innovative designs and projects

Our secondary water source, water quality monitoring panels, and Northwest Transmission Main.  These projects are scheduled for completion in 2020.  Other plans underway that will help right size our system and move us toward water rate stability using a responsible approach include:

  • The Dort & Cedar Street pump stations aimed at properly sizing our pump system, better meet demand, and reduce energy costs.
  • Water main replacements, scheduled to begin in late 2020, will assist with long and short term leaks.
  • I am excited to let you know that we are producing 30% of power which also helps the City reduce our energy cost.
  • We are now lining our sewers so that less water gets into sewage system and there is less water to be treated.

We recently hired American Leak Detection to locate leaks in the system. We were able to find 118 leaks throughout the distribution system, which included water main breaks, service line leaks, leaking fire hydrants, vacant houses with running water, and valves which had deteriorated. We have been able to repair over 100 of these to date which has resulted in a reduction of approximately 2M gallons/day in demand and we hope will result in a lowering of our overall costs

We are set to begin a large scale installation of brand new water meters this November, Which will include a new website and an app for monitoring water usage by both the City and the customer. The new meters will end any need to estimate costs, give residents access to view their usage, and address 7-10% of our Non-Revenue Water.

The hard working staff in our Department of Public Works, led by Director Rob Binscik, have been handling all of these projects. I just want to take this time to thank Rob and every single employee in our DPW Department.

We address water quality and rate concerns not only through infrastructure fixes but we’ve also been working on how we relate to our customers.  My deputy finance officer, Tamar Lewis, at the request of residents, has made it easier for customers to understand billing.

We are also improving our customer service at the water department by collaborating with our Chief Public Health Advisor and our Chief Recovery Officer to help residents with water account issues.

Dr. Pamela Pugh, continues to lead the City of Flint’s efforts to coordinate water affordability strategies with technical assistance from Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT).  Through this work, we are partnering with Consumers Energy to complete energy audits and replacement of low efficiency appliances in some homes.

This year we are pleased to announce that within our water affordability strategies we’ve been able to strengthen our partnership with the Mott Foundation to begin an assessment to determine if an Income Based water structure is doable in the City of Flint.  This is something that you, the residents have asked for.   With the Mott Foundation, we will soon find out if Flint can be the FIRST in Michigan to make water more affordable to residents struggling to pay their water bills.

HEALTH IN ALL POLICIES (HIAP)

The community has been wondering about the sustainability of our Public Health and Recovery efforts.  Well, I am pleased to say that the Chief Public Health Advisor and Chief Recovery Officer have worked diligently to leverage funding and resources to best ensure the continuation of Health, Resiliency, and Recovery services for Flint residents.

The Departments of Health, Recovery, and Community Recreation have restructured under the Department of Health and Recovery, The Team was successful in securing a U.S. Conference of Mayors childhood obesity prevention grant.  In May of this year, they were also awarded almost $2.3 million in HUD funding for a Lead Based Paint Reduction Project that will help make Flint Lead Free! The project will also help to create jobs for Flint residents by partnering with programs such as M.A.D.E. Institute to train residents with the skills needed for careers in lead abatement.

Funding and partnership opportunities have allowed for increased Public Health and Quality of Life services for City of Flint residents, an increase in staff capacity from 4 full time equivalent staff positions to 14 full time employees and 10 seasonal youth workers, and an expanded annual budget from $300,000 to approximately $2.3 Million, annually.

Technical Advisory

The water crisis has led us to partner more wisely and work together more strategically.  The City is working hand-in-hand with the Genesee County Health Department to make sure the public’s health is protected.

The County’s Board of Health has changed their bi-laws to add the City’s Chief Public Health Advisor as a member of the board.

Last year we announced a nearly ½ million dollar donation from Elon Musk that would provide new ultraviolet water disinfectant systems for water fountains throughout all of the Flint community schools.

Dr. Pugh continues to work with Dr. Derick Lopez and Flint Community Schools to place the first ever in the world “Smart Fountains”. We thank Dr. Nancy Love of the University of Michigan for guiding this work and we thank Kettering University and we are grateful to Murdock Manufacturing and Grey Matter Solutions.

On our recovery journey, one of the things we realized that we could not afford to wait to address is the mental trauma that comes along with what happened in Flint. We know that healing will take a multifaceted approach and that we must not leave any part of it out.

Our office began to research different ways to address the anger, anxiety and mental uncertainty that comes with being poisoned.

Resiliency & Mindfulness

In addition to our RECAST work, we’ve teamed up with the Crim Foundation to declare the City of Flint a Mindfullness City flagship and national launch site for mindfulness initiative. I want to thank Gerry Myers and his staff for leading this effort in our city, we know that this will be a critical step in helping Flint residents, specifically our children build resilience and reduce the negative impact of stress

City staff were able to engage in mindfulness training and   The Public Health Coordinator, Billie Mitchell, has continued to lead staff mindfulness moments at City Hall.

Recovery

Our Chief Recovery Officer, Jameca Patrick-Singleton, continues to help move the residents from crisis to recovery.

As a result of several community conversations regarding resident needs and in working with the County Health Department, the City of Flint, in a bold and unprecedented move, hired multiple Public Health and Recovery (Outreach) Navigators.

These Navigators work closely with residents to connect them to resources and make sure that they are involved in the healthy start initiatives taking place in Flint. To date, these Navigators have been able to connect residents to such programs as water bill assistance, the Flint registry, assistance with property taxes and many more services. This program continues to grow and is quickly becoming a vital part of constituent services within the City.

This year marks the third year for my Beautification Initiative (MBI), an initiative that came about as a way to acknowledge the beauty that we have right here in our neighborhoods and address the ongoing work that we are doing to fight blight.

We continue to recognize those Flint residents who go the extra mile in creating a beautiful neighborhood. I believe some of them have joined us this evening, will you please stand.

This year the initiative has been expanded and we wanted to go a step further and host community clean ups twice a month. City of Flint staff from various departments have joined me every other weekend at various locations, recommended by residents, throughout our community.

One of the things that we are most proud of and that residents who are raising children here have stated over and over again, is how happy they are that we have ramped up our community resiliency efforts through recreational activities.

Under the direction of Sean Croudy, we were able to finish a strong first year as collaborators in the Cities United initiative, CU is a comprehensive violence prevention program targeting young men and boys of color. Our CU Fellow, Myles Taylor, graduated from the program and received high recognition during the program. Congratulations to Myles Taylor

We continue to offer basketball, baseball, hockey, and football to our youth during the summer. Our Flint Athletes who participate in the CANUSA Games are on a 5 year win streak! We are able to keep both CANUSA and the Greater Flint Olympian Games going thanks to our partners at the Crim Fitness Foundation.

This summer, for the first time in 30 years, thanks to Volkswagon, the Cronin Family, UAW Local 569, and Audi, we were able to see the return of the soap box derby! Flint and county schools were involved in building their own vehicles and racing them at Chevy in the hole!  Preparations have already begun for June of 2020.

We have a few of the participants in the audience, as well as an instructor, will you please stand.

I look forward to defending my title as the reigning champ!

We know that the youth are the greatest asset of the future and in order to ensure that they become healthy, well-adjusted adults, we have to make sure that we tackle tough issues that we are facing now, so that it is not their concern later.

 

Legal

Last year, our legal department, under the direction of City Attorney, Angela Wheeler, took the steps to ensure that we confronted a growing epidemic around the country, we wanted to face it head on and make it known that our community would stand up and fight against it.

On February 18th, the City of Flint, through The Beasley Allen Firm and the CK Hoffler Firm filed a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributions alleging the marketing of these drugs in Flint contributed to the creation of the opioid epidemic, a public health and safety crisis in the City.

We filed this lawsuit because, like other communities across the country, the opioid epidemic has left a terrible mark on the City of Flint. The problems that accompany opioid addiction, including overdose, crime, and sadly, death, force the City to spend money to address emergencies to protect its residents.

To help facilitate understanding and knowledge around the opioid epidemic during the pendency of this litigation, we held a community dialogue.

As a result, the first Opioid Town Hall meeting was held on August 22, at the Berston, to educate the public on the status of the litigation and also connect the community with service providers such as Flint Serenity House, Wellness Services, Drug Free All Stars, Genesee County Prevention Coalition, Hope Not Handcuffs, Families Against Narcotics, MDHHS, and Prescription Drug Collection Disposal services.

We know that addiction as well as many other factors can lead a person to experience homelessness. It is my firm belief that nobody should be without a home, so we are also addressing affordable housing and homelessness in our city.

The City signed onto an amicus Brief through the Public Rights Project. The brief recognizes the practice of using consumer reports in access to housing, employment, credit and insurance and we have a strong interest in ensuring that these consumer reports are fair and accurate.

City of Flint residents could be impacted by this ruling, which would further exacerbate problems with obtaining affordable housing for middle and low-income residents. City residents have the right to fair and accurate consumer reporting and heavily rely on Federal agencies such as Fannie Mae.

The larger cities joining the brief have issues with housing scarcity and inability for residents to afford housing. By joining1, we support residents to have access to mortgages and refinancing, especially with the impact the water crisis had on home values.

Another way that we are working with residents who are experiencing homelessness is by helping with past records.

The City in collaboration with the Courts is working to establish the Flint and Genesee Homeless Court.  The Court is brought to the person at the homeless shelter.

The participants comply with a Plan of Action to remove outstanding misdemeanor warrants and traffic tickets, addressing other issues that lead to experiencing homelessness such as obtaining stable housing, employment, getting food assistance, mental health services, AA, NA, Education, among other issues.

The collaboration includes The Flint City Attorney’s Office, Flint Police Department, Genesee County Judges, Genesee County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and Social Service Agencies such as Shelter of Flint, My Brother’s Keeper and other partners.

 

PUBLIC SAFETY

Police

The city of Flint Police Department stands on the front line of public safety day in and day out, with limited resources. Chief Timothy Johnson and the dedicated men and women truly walk out their oath with everything in them. In partnership with the state police, county police, Mott Community College police and the University of Michigan-Flint police, we are able to cover the city.

During this fiscal year, the Police Department wrote and received just under 2.5 Million Dollars in grant funds.  We are very proud of the police staff and grant writers.  By receiving the various grants, programmatic needs are being met and expanded every day.

This year has been filled with so many new innovative ideas and developments to aid the men and women that are sworn to protect us.  The Police Department’s Intelligence Operations Center continues to use the latest technology and techniques to analyze, map and monitor criminal activity in the city of Flint.

The Intelligence Center is staffed with 6 Intel Analyst that provides support not only to our Police Department, but to Law Enforcement Agencies throughout the county.  Our Police Chief, Tim Johnson and his staff are continuing to add the best industry proven technology that will provide real time surveillance and evidence to support criminal cases.

We have received three federal grants that are running in succession through 2022.  These funds allow for the testing, investigation and prosecution of cold cases of sexual assault.  More specifically, to address our back logged, untested CSC kits.  The grant also allows for victim services to be provided.

Last year, we received a $250,000 grant to address safety. This year, we were able to use the grant to place security camera systems at River Park and Howard Estates to improve security and monitoring.

Technology has become a major tool in fighting crime and the city of Flint is joining technological communities by utilizing the best practices that police organizations are deploying across the country.

Through a proposed video surveillance ordinance, we are partnering with local businesses to connect them to the CATT Eye program which is monitored by the city of Flint intelligence center.

Chief Johnson and the administrative staff are continuing to build relationships with community groups and residents across the city.  This year, Chief Johnson ordered that a command level staff person attend community meetings to address neighborhood needs on the spot.  The Police Department is now receiving a larger number of assistance from the community providing information on criminal cases.

We salute the brave police staff that fulfill their commitment daily to protect and serve this community.

Fire

If you have been following the city of Flint on Facebook, Instagram, twitter, our website and the news, then you know that the Fire Department has had a very busy year protecting residents and providing needed services to the community.

Under the direction and strong leadership of Chief Raymond Barton, the firefighters responded to over 4800 calls for service, nearly 300 were structure fires and over1900 were calls for emergency medical service.

In preparation for the various types of calls responded to and to continue to provide exceptional service, the fire departments’ Training Division conducted nearly 800  hours of fire and ems training including opioid training to address the opioid crisis in our city.

The Fire Prevention Bureau conducted nearly 400 Fire/Life Safety Inspections and 250 Code Enforcements and has educated over 500 children from the Flint schools in fire safe practices during Fire Prevention Week and throughout the school year.

The firefighters have participated in over 50 community events supporting back to school rally’s, career fairs, and fire safety house presentations and at any event in which children may be present being a positive force and making a difference in their lives. The firefighters installed smoke alarms and CO2 detectors in over 500 homes in the city of Flint this year.

Deputy Chief Edwards Please stand

In November of 2018, the City of Flint made history with the promotion of Deputy Chief Edwards. Deputy Chief Edwards is the highest ranking female in the history of the Flint Fire Department.

The Fire Department held its’ first ever “Camp Fire Summer Youth Camp”. Through this summer initiative, we were able to show boys and girls from Flint and surrounding areas ages 9-17 that they are able to overcome any obstacle faced through knowledge, strength, determination and the will to do it.

The Fire Department will roll out a new safety program in October in conjunction with the Flint Police Department’s Active Shooter Training called “If You Can’t Leave, Use the Sleeve”. This safety initiative involves the use of old fire hose as an adjunct to aid in securing a door in the event of an active shooter situation for which it is unsafe or you are unable to leave the building.

Last but definitely not least, the Fire Department in conjunction with Community and Economic Development and the Department of Natural Recourses have acquired and placed into service a utility task vehicle (UTV-1), a Ford pick-up truck with skid which will be used to fight grass fires in areas requiring off-road access, a 12-passenger transport unit, three (3) made in Michigan fire apparatuses: an HME squad (equipment truck), two HME fire engines and a 104’ HME aerial ladder truck christened AOI McGee in honor of Apparatus Operator Jorael McGee, updating equipment and regaining vehicles sold off by emergency managers.

Moving Flint Forward

Blight remains an ongoing challenge that we are facing head on and we have much to be proud of this last year. The City has a Blight Elimination Framework that both quantifies the scope and amount of blight in the City and spells out strategies to mitigate blight.

We know that remediating blight is something that requires all of us, residents, businesses, neighborhood associations, and community partners to work together on, especially because the Blight Elimination Framework points out that over 60% of blight in the City is on privately owned property.  No one person can solve the problem.

Our strategy includes partners such as our Blight Division, Police Department, Law Department, and many community partners. In addition, the City has a comprehensive code enforcement strategy that guides the implementation of our remediation efforts.

It involves Code enforcement inspections

Follow up inspections

We are also working with residents on a one-on-one basis to help understand the impact of blight and encourage compliance.

Our “Blight Court”, which is handled through our Administrative Hearings Bureau has held 1,000 hearings to date and collected over $9,000 in fines.

We have organized cleanups in partnership with neighborhood associations, block clubs, Republic Waste, and residents.  City provides dumpster delivery and pickup, trash bags, gloves, and tools, and helps to recruit volunteers for scheduled cleanups.  This year the city assisted with 130 cleanups, up from 93 last year, and removed over 600 tons of trash across the city. This is more than 1.2 million pounds!

We have adopted lots in partnership with the Genesee County Land Bank through their Clean and Green program.

We have had 1000 demolitions in partnership with the Genesee County Land Bank

Working together with Genesee County Land Bank, Flint Police, and NCCC teams we have boarded vacant properties

We continue to address blight through ongoing implementation of the Flint Property Portal.  The portal was a strategy identified in the Blight Elimination Framework and exists to ensure transparency in City government and also provide residents with the opportunity to report and update property conditions.

Our work with the portal has landed us as finalist for the Bloomberg engaged cities award, we are in the top ten and will find out next week if we will receive a grant to help continue in our efforts to eliminate blight.

We will continue our aggressive approach to dealing with blight and including the community to address it.

And if you want to be a part of helping us, download the app!

If you look around, you will notice that Flint is starting to look at lot different and in a very good way!

 

Planning and Development

We started downtown, with the opening of the Mott Culinary School and the new ELGA Credit Union.

If you drive downtown, you will see that we are hard at work finishing up both a hotel and new mixed income housing.

The City invested $250,000 and a pilot to help construct Flint Marketplace – a new construction mixed-income housing and mixed-use project downtown.  Nearly complete, the project will have 92 units.  Total project cost is approximately $19.5 million. This project, which is now accepting applications, will be complete in 2020.

Thank you to Suzanne Wilcox, our Director of Planning and Development, and the whole Planning and Development team because you sure have been busy partnering, planning and developing all over this great city!

While we may have started downtown, we certainly did not stay there, we moved into the neighborhoods with more housing, more playgrounds.

We have partnered with Communities First, Inc. (CFI) to develop Coolidge Park Apartments, the ribbon cutting was in September and it was magnificent!  The City contributed nearly 800 Thousand towards this adaptive reuse of the old Coolidge School and new construction of 54 units of affordable housing, community and commercial space on the first floor. Congratulations to communities first!

The City provided funding and a PILOT to CFI to help preserve Avon Park – an apartment complex in foreclosure by MSHDA.  Acquisition by Communities First allowed the property to remain an affordable housing asset within the City

We partnered with Habitat for Humanity and contributed $250,000 towards the development of 1214 W University.  The project has broken ground.  It is a mixed-use duplex (rental).

We partnered with Habitat for Humanity again and contributed $250,000 towards the development of another duplex located at 603 W. Court. This Project is completed and moving towards occupancy.

We contributed Nearly 500 thousand towards the Sylvan Court Quad – construction has begun.  Genesee County Habitat for Humanity will partner with Traverse Place to house formerly homeless veterans.

The City of Flint works to build partnerships, recruit volunteers, and supported grants to bring significant investment to Flint’s neighborhood parks.

Since September of 2018, there has been over $750,000 invested in Flint’s parks.  This includes:

Seven new playgrounds

Eight new basketball courts

Two new walking paths at Brennan and Eldorado Vista

And we have contributed $10,000 to the construction of the new Paddler’s Landing at Mott Park to allow canoeing and kayaking access to the river.

 

Economic Development

After reintroducing economic development back into the City, I told my department that they had to deliver, that residents were counting on us to do what we said.

Our Economic Development department, Linnette Phillips, Aoine Gilcreast, and Jim Durian, have been working to empower local entrepreneurs by equipping them with the tools and access needed to build their businesses.

This past summer we held a six week entrepreneur program at Hallwood Plaza for small business owners comprised of 4 panel discussions with relevant subject matter experts.

Followed by pop-up vendors that were open to the public. This gave the entrepreneurs an opportunity to introduce their goods and services to the community. 40 small businesses participated and we had about 300 people attend the sessions that were offered.

The President of the National Mircro Loan Conference along with Best Practices Consulting, Metro Development, SBDC, the Chamber and 100k ideas partnered with us to bring a micro loan conference for small businesses owners.

Also, we continued working with some of our larger industries as well.

We secured a MICA 2.0 work force development grant for 2 hundred thousand dollars to work with four local employers; Genesee packaging, Northgate solutions, Landaal Packaging and Android to improve workforce development.

One of the things that we know about residents in Flint, is that if given the opportunity we will work and we will work hard!

Which is why we focus on employment, employment opportunities, talent building and collaboration. We have a database of approximately 50 companies that we track and provide retention visits to.

Genesee Packaging is adding 150 new jobs now that they have moved to their new location.

General Motors has added 1,000 new jobs to our area and 150 million dollars in expansion

Lear, which has added 400 jobs between February and June of this year, expanding the number of jobs created to 600

Android has hired 200 people and are expected to hire 150 more

MTA has added 37 new jobs

Right inside of MTA you’ll find Happys Pizza, a new business! Thank you Brandon for investing in Flint

160 driving academy graduated 40 CDL drivers with most of them having jobs after graduation

We have 2 new prospective employers that we hope to be able to welcome really soon, there is a potential for 2,500 more jobs, right here in Flint!

Oh and we have a new eco-friendly way for residents to get around!

Kuhmute is a new small business in Flint that has created a new mode of transportation in downtown Flint.  Peter Deppe and Scott Spitler created Kuhumte, providing e-scooters and e-bikes with 15 universal charging stations on Saginaw Street downtown and connecting Kettering University.  The future expansion plan is for other businesses to use Kuhmute chargers for their e-scooter, e-bikes and other small e-engine businesses.

When I took office, I promised that we would have a comeback story like no other and I have been committed to keeping that promise.

As you can see Flint, we have made a lot of progress and we made it together.

I know you may have noticed a common thread in everything that I have said tonight, and that is “collaboration, partnership”. I’ve said we a lot, for a reason.

I have made sure that as my administration moves this city from crisis to recovery to transformation, that as we tell our comeback story, that we include residents, employers, employees, foundations, schools, entrepreneurs, businesses and everyone willing and able to go in a positive direction.

Because if there is one thing that we have learned in our great city of Flint, MI, it is that we are stronger together and we get far more accomplished when we work with each other and not against each other.

I stood here last year and I said that we would continue to roar against economic depression and unfair working wages right here in Flint. Saying that this is the home of the sit-down strike and we don’t play unfair labor practices. And this year, we stood union strong together, in solidarity. When we strike, we strike together. I know that we have some union members here this evening. Will you stand and be recognized. We can never thank you enough for your dedication and your willingness to stand and make sure that everyone gets their proper respect. We salute you.

When we have our various victories whether they be in the ring or in the courtroom against those who thought that they would never see their day, we win together.

As we move forward, we will do so together. Our progress is proven and our steps are ordered. We will not be distracted nor will we allow ourselves to be divided.

Together, we work daily to assure that our city continues to thrive.

We have housing going up downtown, north of downtown, south of downtown and west of downtown

We have soccer, basketball, baseball, hockey, football, golf, the soap box derby, water activities, walking/bike riding trails, and disc golf

We have jobs and more jobs coming, we have Genesee packaging, Lear, General motors, android, hospitals, colleges, technology, entrepreneurs, banks, credit unions, fashion and a host of other job industries.

We have new and improved equipment for fire and police

We have hours of training to help build up our public safety efforts

Oh and we have a new innovative intel center and a coalition across departments to help address crime

And the list goes on

So the next time someone comes up to you trying to tell you what we don’t have in bedrock

And talking bad about flint you tell them don’t be down on what you’re not up on.

We will continue our roar even louder and prouder, stronger and longer, bigger and bolder & remind them all from near and far what it means to be a Flint proud Flint strong flintstone!

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Candice Mushatt

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