and New Orleans Receive First-Place City Livability Awards for 2000
June 26, 2000
Mayors Marc H. Morial of New Orleans and Steve Means of Gadsden (AL) were awarded top honors in the 2000 City Livability Awards Program, sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Waste Management, Inc. The awards were announced in Seattle on June 10 at the 68th Annual Conference of Mayors.
The City Livability Awards were announced and presented at the Conference of Mayors’ Annual Luncheon by Mr. Maury Myers, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Waste Management, Inc., the world’s leading provider of comprehensive waste services. Waste Management’s support makes the City Livability Awards Program possible.
City Livability Awards recognize and honor mayors for exemplary leadership in developing and implementing programs that improve the quality of life in America’s cities. The winning cities were determined by an independent panel of judges, selected by the Conference of Mayors.
In addition to the awards won by Mayors Morial and Means, Outstanding Achievement awards were received by Mayors Thomas M. Menino of Boston; Frank C. Roberts of Lancaster (CA); Brian Ebersole of Tacoma (WA); and Dannel P. Malloy of Stamford (CT) for cities with populations of 100,000 or more. Outstanding Achievement Awards were also won by Mayors David Ragucci of Everett (MA); Paul Oysaki of Euclid (OH); Patrick C. Guerriero of Melrose (MA); and Johnny Isbell of Pasadena (TX) for cities with populations of 100,000 or less.
Honorable Mention Citations were awarded, for cities with populations of 100,000 or greater, to Mayors Anthony M. Masiello of Buffalo (NY); Joe Putnam of Irving (TX); Alex G. Fekete of Pembroke Pines (FL); Carleton S. Finkbeiner of Toledo.(OH); and Robert Walkup of Tucson (AZ).
Mayors Frank N. Nicastro, Sr. of Bristol (CT); Michael J. O’Malley of Hoffman Estates (IL); William E. Standley of Farmington.(NM); Glenn Lewis of Moore.(OK); and John Barrett, III, of North Adams (MA) received Honorable Mention Citations for cities with populations of 100,000 or less.
"We at Waste Management are very proud to support the continuing strong efforts of mayors across this nation to improve the quality of life in their communities," said Mr. Myers. "Their leadership and creativity are critical to achieving greater livability in America’s cities, and we are delighted to showcase the exciting and innovative projects they have developed."
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director of the Conference of Mayors, added, "Every year we are heartened by the strength of commitment and vision of mayors across this country in their struggle to improve the overall well-being and quality of life in America’s cities. Our City Livability Awards Program gives us an opportunity to express our pride in their determined leadership and share in the celebration of their achievements.
"We are extremely grateful to Waste Management for their support and commitment to America’s cities that allows us to publicize these exciting and worthwhile programs so that other mayors and cities can use them as models," Mr. Cochran said.
New Orleans Police Department Reform Plan — A Model For Police Reform Around The World
In 1994, when Mayor Marc H. Morial took office, the City of New Orleans had the highest murder rate in the nation and crime was spiraling out of control. In addition, some 73 percent of murders went unsolved. The New Orleans Police Department was also notorious for corruption and mismanagement. Mayor Morial made reform of the New Orleans Police Department a top priority of his administration, and set about transforming the department from the top down.
Following a national search, Mayor Morial hired Richard Pennington, a veteran police officer from Washington, D.C., with a proven record of crime reduction. Several months later, the mayor and police chief launched the reform plan, enforcing high standards of conduct and targeting crime on the streets.
The reform plan was launched in phases. The first phase involved cleaning up the department, setting new policies and standards for officers’ details, vehicles, recruiting and the way that complaints against officers were handled. The second phase involved a major decentralization plan, shifting detectives, officers and supervisors from police headquarters to the streets, significantly raising police pay and launching an aggressive recruit campaign to hire 300 new qualified officers.
The changes that occurred at the police department are nothing short of revolutionary. A dysfunctional and corrupt organization has been transformed into an effective and efficient crime-fighting organization. Since 1994, murder is down 55 percent and violent crime is down 60 percent. This radical transformation of the New Orleans Police Department earned Mayor Morial First-Place Honors in the 2000 City Livability Awards program.
"The mayor was the driving force behind this reform," said the panel of judges. "He took control of a dismal situation and turned it around. Now that’s leadership!"
The Center For Cultural Arts Revives "American Dream" In Gadsden And Sparks Downtown Revitalization
In 1989, a Rand McNally article listed Gadsen as one of the "Seven Worst Cities to Live in the United States." Specifically, the article mentioned Gadsden’s economy and lack of cultural opportunities. Earlier, a 30-minute documentary on CBS’ "Our Times with Bill Moyer," depicted Gadsden as a dying city. Advanced publicity for the show stated "The American dream is dying in Gadsden, Alabama."
Mayor Steve Means assembled a group of civic leaders in his office and told them, "This will never happen again." The mayor appointed a "Blue Ribbon Commission for Economic Development" and charged it with formulating a plan to address the city’s most pressing problems. The commission spent almost a year meeting with all segments of the community and developed a plan of action.
The commission submitted a report to Mayor Means with three primary priorities, one of which was to establish an organization to create and promote cultural opportunities for city residents. The Gadsden Cultural Arts Foundation was born and by 1990 the Foundation had given birth to the Center for Cultural Arts (CCA). The CCA, a non-profit organization, serves as a visible and accessible hub for the arts with the mission of enriching lives, supporting artistic progress, affirming individual values and promoting a sense of well-being for all people.
Two buildings and a courtyard compose the 60,000 square foot cultural campus located in the heart of downtown Gadsden. More than 100,000 people participate annually in the following community-initiated programs: Gadsden Community School for the Arts; Etowah Youth Orchestras; Imagination Place Children’s Museum; Courtyard Concert Series; Coosa Valley Model Railroad Club; YouthALIVE!; Centerstage Presents; Concert Series; and the Gadsden Metropolitan Arts Council.
"Mayor Means went from zero to hero with this program," noted one City Livability judge. "The American dream, like Lazarus, has risen in Gadsden, Alabama," said another, adding, "Mayor Means is to be commended for his leadership for the arts that has resulted in a true downtown revitalization for the city."
Members of the 2000 City Livability panel of judges were William Althaus, former Mayor of York, Pennsylvania, and former President of The U.S. Conference of Mayors, currently serving as a consultant to several organizations; Sam Kathryn Campana, former Mayor of Scottsdale, Arizona, and a long-time member of The U.S. Conference of Mayors Advisory Board; and Tom Fetzer, former Mayor of Raleigh, North Carolina, and Fellow, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
Waste Management, Inc. based in Houston, Texas, is the global leader in providing waste management services. In North America, the company operates throughout the United States, and in Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico, serving municipal, commercial, industrial and residential customers.