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The Mayor of Dallas says the city needs to stimulate the economy in the State of the City speech

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson is more optimistic than ever about the city’s future.

During his third state-of-the-city speech, Johnson promoted Dallas’s newest budget, which increased investment in police and public safety. He also spoke about focusing on economic and human resource development, which is prioritizing south Dallas, and tackling ethics reform to root out corruption in City Hall.

The first-term mayor also praised residents’ resilience amid the COVID-19 pandemic and winter storm in February.

The mayor said the city would release a report on Thursday on how the city can encourage more people development opportunities and programs for residents. He said he plans to  -point an advisor early next year to ensure the recommendations are implemented.

But the city is only slowly recognizing serious problems in its own backyard, said the mayor. He said delays and delays with the  -proval authority, deteriorating roads, and other problems have drawn people and businesses to neighboring cities instead of Dallas.

He also mentioned that the city’s poor data and technology management had raised concerns about the integrity of the police investigation and the ability of the fire department to respond to emergency calls.

Even so, Johnson said he believes he and his other elected leaders are on track to make the city better.

“If we continue to get back to basics here at City Hall and continue building for our future, we can trust the people of Dallas to take it over from there,” Johnson said in the City Hall Council Chamber. “They’ll roll up their sleeves and do what they have always done since this city was founded, they’ll make their own fortune.”

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson (left) speaks to Senator Royce West (center) and Councilor Tennell Atkins following his state of the city address at Dallas City Hall on Wednesday November 17, 2021. (Elias Valverde II / The Dallas Morning News )

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson speaks during his state of the city address at Dallas City Hall on Wednesday November 17, 2021. (Elias Valverde II / The Dallas Morning News)

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson speaks during his state of the city address at Dallas City Hall on Wednesday November 17, 2021. (Elias Valverde II / The Dallas Morning News)

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson speaks during his state of the city address at Dallas City Hall on Wednesday November 17, 2021. (Elias Valverde II / The Dallas Morning News)

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson speaks during his state of the city address at Dallas City Hall on Wednesday November 17, 2021. (Elias Valverde II / The Dallas Morning News)

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson speaks during his state of the city address at Dallas City Hall on Wednesday November 17, 2021. (Elias Valverde II / The Dallas Morning News)

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson (right) greets Dallas Police Chief Eddie García prior to his speech on the state of the city at Dallas City Hall on Wednesday November 17, 2021. (Elias Valverde II / The Dallas Morning News)

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson speaks during his state of the city address at Dallas City Hall on Wednesday November 17, 2021. (Elias Valverde II / The Dallas Morning News)

Different tone

The Dallas charter requires the mayor to deliver a state of the art address each year to inform the public of achievements, plans, and future needs. The speech was postponed for two weeks to Wednesday after Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 last month.

Mayor Eric Johnson speaks at the Jack Evans Police Headquarters in Dallas, Texas on Monday, October 11, 2021.  (Emil Lippe / Special Contributor)

Johnson’s most recent speech was visually and thematically different from last year.

In December 2020, when the first COVID-19 vaccines were released in Texas a month before they were released, Johnson stood alone at a lectern in the Hall of State at Fair Park to deliver his public address.

Last year, he did not mention any other city official by name and praised residents and rescue workers who are dealing with the pandemic. He urged the public to help the city council hold the city manager and other top officials accountable. And he distanced himself from the majority of the city council because he  -proved a budget that, in his opinion, did not provide enough money for the police to fight violent crime.

Johnson delivered his address this year in a crowded council chamber in City Hall, standing at a lectern, with the majority of the council and several top officials sitting behind him. He shook hands with them before and after his speech. He named several of them based on either achievements from last year or initiatives they are working on.

He praised Police Chief Eddie Garcia, recruited in February, for the results so far with his plan to reduce the city’s violent crime. Statistics from the police authorities up to October showed that violent crime has declined by around 7% compared to the previous year.

Murders and robberies through October are lower in 2021, while serious assaults have increased slightly compared to 2020. Johnson said the results were “nothing less than remarkable”.

Johnson expressed support for this year’s budget, saying that the current group of elected leaders “has shown a greater commitment to the safety of our neighborhoods than any other councilor in recent history”. They passed a $ 4.35 billion spending plan in September, with the total police budget  -proved this fall at nearly $ 566 million, up from the previous budget of $ 513.5 million.

He highlighted plans to hire 250 more police officers since October and hire the same number from next fall, raise minimum wages and salaries for first responders, and get hiring efforts in the city’s 911 call center and law enforcement departments .

He referred to the city’s $ 25 million contribution to a $ 72 million regional r -id relocation program designed to help more than 2,700 homeless people find housing. He also mentioned plans to renew hundreds of kilometers of roads over the next two years.

accountability

Johnson said he asked Councilor Cara Mendelsohn to lead the development of a process to regularly review the city’s departments, offices and programs to see if they are working efficiently.

The city needs to set up an inspector general’s office, Johnson said, to oversee investigations into ethics and urban litter complaints, and Councilor Paula Blackmon would spearhead those efforts and other suggestions to strengthen the city’s code of ethics.

The establishment of the office and other recommendations were part of a report by the mayor’s task force released last month.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson (right) discusses the results of a new report recommending nearly two dozen changes to the city's code of ethics at Dallas City Hall on September 27, 2021.  Ethics Committee Chairman Tim Powers headed the task force that the reporting is watching.

Driving the economy forward

Johnson said Dallas must be more aggressive in its economic development efforts to be a statewide, national and global leader, and said he believes that continued focus on regional efforts “will leave Dallas in the dust of new builds up north” .

The city should lower the property tax rate, which is among the highest in the state. He said the city should also do more to prioritize growth in south Dallas, encourage ways to promote entrepreneurship in the city, find ways to connect more international tourism and business, and redesign the convention center to accommodate the To promote the redevelopment of the inner city.

“Dallas is the economic engine for this entire region and, my friends, we have to start acting like that,” said Johnson.

Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in downtown Dallas.

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