“Best Days of San Jose Are Ahead of Us”

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed today delivered an optimistic State of  the City address despite the current economic downturn, stressing the need  for clean-tech growth, downtown improvements, help for the homeless and a  focus on schools and the arts.

Flanked by fellow council members, Reed addressed a sold-out crowd  of hundreds at the McEnery Convention Center this morning.

He praised the city's successes over the past year, including an  increase of the number of police officers, with 15 officers added in 2007 and  another 25 officers ready for Police Academy this year.

Reed also cited a drop in the number of homicides, a 20 percent  decrease in gang violence in 2008, and improvements to the fire department.

Though the mayor remained positive, he acknowledged the current  downturn, comparing it to previous recessions and financial crises.

"So, even though there's a lot of bad news in the economy, we've  been through this before," Reed said.

Reed attributed the city's anticipated $60 million budget  shortfall next year to the city's spending on new facilities such as  libraries and fire stations, a steady increase in union salaries outpacing  revenue, and the poor national economy.

"The combination of these three factors -- new facilities,  increased personnel costs and a bad economy -- will deepen our long-term  structural budget deficit and make it impossible to close the budget  shortfall next year without making hard decisions," Reed said.

Taking on a somber tone, Reed said layoffs are almost certain.

"In the face of such challenges, we must all work together to  identify our core services, determine our top priorities and consider  alternatives to layoffs," he said.

Reed said the city is open to suggestions on how to avoid layoffs,  even suggesting a $20,000 reward as an example for an employee or team who  saves the city $1 million.

Reed said the city must address its financial problems by taking  immediate action to create jobs. He suggested the city concentrate on  expanding the presence of clean-tech companies in San Jose, encourage and  assist development in the city's downtown, and help address the problems of  the city's downtrodden citizens and suffering art community.

Reed wrapped up his speech by mentioning President-elect Barack  Obama.

"Today, we join together with great hope on the brink of an  historic day, as we are about to inaugurate a president whose life inspires  us to believe in what opportunity and hard work can achieve," Reed said.

 Reed received a standing ovation and closed by saying, "The best  days of Silicon Valley and the best days of San Jose are ahead of us.  Together we will make it happen."

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