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    Office Of The Mayor

    Inaugural Address of Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. January 2, 2000


    THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH - AND WELCOME TO EDGEWOOD SCHOOL - THE SECOND SCHOOL TO BE COMPLETED UNDER THE CITYWIDE SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION PROGRAM BEGUN IN 1995.

    ANYONE WHO VISITS THE CHILDREN AND STAFF WHO WORK HERE EACH DAY KNOW WHAT A SPECIAL PLACE EDGEWOOD SCHOOL IS. A PLACE OF HARD WORK, OF JOY AND OF OPPORTUNITY. MY THANKS TO THE EDGEWOOD SCHOOL COMMUNITY FOR HOSTING US TODAY.

    AS MUCH AS IT MEANS TO ME TO TAKE UP THIS HONOR, TO SERVE AS MAYOR OF MY HOMETOWN FOR A 4TH TIME, IT IS EVEN MORE TERRIFIC TO TAKE THIS OATH SURROUNDED BY THE THREE PEOPLE I CARE FOR MOST IN MY LIFE.

    YOU KNOW I HAVE OFTEN HEARD ELECTED OFFICIALS, OTHER POLITICIANS, SAY HOW POLITICS AND PUBLIC LIFE HAVE TAKEN THEM FROM THEIR FAMILY.

    BUT I HAVE NEVER FOUND THIS TO BE TRUE. SERVING AS MAYOR HAS IN SO MANY RESPECTS BEEN A SHARED EXPERIENCE.

    IN THE GOOD TIMES PUBLIC LIFE HAS BEEN AN EXCITING AND ENRICHING EXPERIENCE IN OUR FAMILY LIFE. AND IN THE DIFFICULT TIMES, FAMILY LIFE HAS SUSTAINED ME IN MY PUBLIC LIFE. SO TO MY BOYS, DAN AND JIM, AND ESPECIALLY TO KATHY, THANK YOU.

    AND TO MY PERSONAL CHEERING SECTION:

    • TO MY MOM JUDY, AND PHIL;
    • TO MY SISTERS CHAR AND JOANIE;
    • TO LARRY AND TOM; AND
    • ALL THOSE NIECES -

    I LOVE YOU ALL, THANK YOU.

    MY THANKS TO ALL THOSE WHO HELPED PLAN AND ORGANIZE THIS EVENT.

    AND, I MUST ESPECIALLY ACKNOWLEDGE OUR 3 HONORARY CO-CHAIRS FOR TODAY'S CEREMONY - TOMAS REYES, WILLIE MOORE AND LUISA DELAURO. THEIR YEARS OF SERVICE ARE TRULY THE STUFF OF DECENCY, COMMITMENT AND HONOR. MY THANKS FOR THEIR LEADERSHIP. TOMAS AND LUISA - WHY DON'T YOU PLEASE STAND UP?

    MY CONGRATULATIONS TO MY FRIEND CITY CLERK STANLEY ROGERS, WHO TODAY CONTINUES HIS OWN LONG RECORD OF ELECTED SERVICE TO THE CITY. STANLEY IS A FIGHTER - AND IT IS GOOD TO BE IN HIS COMPANY AGAIN.

    TO THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE NEW HAVEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN I EXTEND MY VERY BEST WISHES AND PRAYERS. YOU ARE ONE OF THE LARGEST AND MOST DIVERSE LOCAL LEGISLATIVE COUNCILS IN THE STATE - WHICH IS INDEED YOUR GREAT STRENGTH. YOU SERVE LARGELY AS UNPAID VOLUNTEERS GIVING FREELY OF YOUR TIME, JUDGEMENT AND WISDOM.

    I LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH YOU OVER THE NEXT TWO YEARS AS YOU HELP ME TO BE A BETTER CHIEF ELECTED OFFICIAL, AS I HELP YOU TO FULLFILL THE NEEDS OF THE NEIGHBORHOODS OF THE CITY WHICH YOU REPRESENT AND AS TOGETHER WE WORK ON BEHALF OF THE CITY.

    I RECENTLY CAME ACROSS A QUOTE THAT TOUCHED ME AND SPOKE TO HOW I FEEL ABOUT NEW HAVEN AND ABOUT CITIES. IT'S AN OLD QUOTE, BUT ONE THAT HAS THE TWIN VIRTUES OF BEING BOTH SIMPLE - AND TRUE.

    NOW I DON'T KNOW IF MARCUS TERENTIUS VARRO WAS A DEMOCRAT OR A REPUBLICAN - BUT IN ABOUT 100 B.C. HE SAID:

      "IT WAS DIVINE NATURE WHICH GAVE US THE COUNTRY, AND MAN'S SKILL THAT BUILT THE CITIES."

    THE FIRST PART IS OBVIOUS - "IT WAS DIVINE NATURE WHICH GAVE US THE COUNTRY".

    TO UNDERSTAND THE SIMPLE TRUTH OF THIS OBSERVATION, THINK OF EAST ROCK AND WEST ROCK. CAN YOU REALLY IMAGINE ANY WORK OF MAN THAT COULD EVER - AS MAJESTICALLY OR POWERFULLY - MARK OUR CITY?

    YOU KNOW I HAVE SEEN THE SETTING SUN HIT THE FACE OF EAST ROCK - AND CREATE AN IMAGE AS IF THE ROCK ITSELF WERE ON FIRE.

    I CAN REMEMBER DRIVING HOME FROM COLLEGE AT UCONN, 20 PLUS YEARS AGO, AND SEEING EAST ROCK IN THE FAR DISTANCE, AND KNOWING WHAT THAT MEANT - THAT HOME WAS CLOSE BY.

    IT'S TRUE:

      "IT WAS DIVINE NATURE WHICH GAVE US THE COUNTRY,...".

      "...AND MAN'S SKILL THAT BUILT THE CITIES."

    TRUE ENOUGH TOO! AND BECAUSE HUMAN BEINGS BUILD CITIES, THEY ARE NOT PERFECT. ALTHOUGH WE COME CLOSE: THE GREEN, A DRAFTY OLD HOUSE - EDGEWOOD SCHOOL.

    BUT OFTEN WE MISS THE MARK. CITIES - LIKE ALL WHO BUILD THEM - ARE NOT PERFECT. BUT WE ARE DRAWN TO THEM.

    ARISTOTLE SAID:

      "MEN COME TOGETHER IN CITIES IN ORDER TO LIVE, BUT THEY REMAIN TOGETHER IN ORDER TO LIVE THE GOOD LIFE."

    TODAY, WE ARE HERE BECAUSE WE ARE CITY BUILDERS. BE WE ELECTED OFFICIALS, NEIGHBORHOOD ACTIVISTS, BUSINESS OR INSTITUTIONAL LEADERS, WE ARE HERE BECAUSE WE BELIEVE IN CITIES - AND BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT THROUGH OUR EFFORTS WE CAN DO BETTER FOR OURSELVES, FOR OUR FAMILIES, AND FOR OUR NEIGHBORS.

    I BELIEVE IN THIS CITY. MY COMMITMENT AND MY FAITH IN IT - IS TOTAL. AND TODAY WE REDEDICATE OURSELVES TO THE TASK OF CITY BUILDING HERE IN NEW HAVEN.

    WE, THE ELECTED OFFICIALS SWORN IN THIS DAY, HAVE BEEN GIVEN A PRIVILEGE BY YOU - OUR FELLOW CITIZENS. A GIFT, TO USE OUR SKILLS AND OUR TALENTS TO BUILD OUR CITY - AGAIN.

    NOW THE WORK BEFORE US IS NOT SIMPLY A MATTER OF BRICKS AND MORTAR. RATHER, WE ARE ENTRUSTED WITH BUILDING A CITY WHICH WILL BE THE HOME OF OUR HEARTS, OUR MINDS AND OUR DREAMS. A CITY WHERE THE HOPES OF IT'S PEOPLE ARE PROTECTED AND CHERISHED. AS SURELY AS ANY BUILDING THAT WE MIGHT CONSTRUCT TO SHELTER OUR CITIZENS FROM THE ELEMENTS, SO TOO MUST WE SHELTER THE PROMISE OF THE PEOPLE OF OUR NEW HAVEN.

    EACH OF US HERE TODAY CARRIES WITHIN OURSELVES DREAMS AND HOPES AND THE YEARNING FOR POSSIBILITIES UNRECOGNIZED. OUR JOB, THE REAL OATH OF OFFICE THAT WE TAKE TODAY, IS TO OPPORTUNITY.

    • OPPORTUNITY FOR THE CHILDREN OF EDGEWOOD SCHOOL WHO DREAM OF SOMEDAY SERVING THEIR COMMUNITY AS TEACHERS, OR ARTISTS, OR DOCTORS OR ENGINEERS;
    • OPPORTUNITY FOR THE GRADUATES OF OUR HIGH SCHOOLS, OUR UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES WHO DREAM OF MEANINGFUL WORK WHICH WILL SUSTAIN BOTH THEIR FAMILY AND THEIR SOUL;
    • OPPORTUNITY FOR THE STRUGGLING SINGLE MOTHER WITH LITTLE JOB SKILLS, NO DAY CARE AND NO TRANSPORTATION, BUT WHO DREAMS OF A HOME OF HER OWN FOR HERSELF AND HER CHILDREN;
    • OPPORTUNITY FOR THOSE WHO STRUGGLE TO PAY THE MORTGAGE, PAY THE GROCERIES, THE TUITION, INSURANCE AND CAR PAYMENTS;
    • OPPORTUNITY REGARDLESS OF RACE, GENDER, INCOME LEVEL OR SEXUAL PREFERENCE; AND
    • OPPORTUNITY ESPECIALLY FOR THOSE WHO HAVE FORGOTTEN HOW TO DREAM.

    AND ENSURING OPPORTUNITY IS NOT JUST A CIVIC MATTER BUT, LIKE MOST POLITICAL ISSUES, IS A MORAL ONE AS WELL.

    AS ST. PAUL SAYS IN FIRST CORINTHIANS:

      "...BUT AS IT IS, THERE ARE MANY PARTS, YET ONE BODY....IF (ONE) PART SUFFERS, ALL THE PARTS SUFFER WITH IT; IF ONE PART IS HONORED, ALL THE PARTS SHARE IT'S JOY".

    FOR THE PEOPLE OF NEW HAVEN, OF CONNECTICUT AND, INDEED, OF ALL AMERICA, THERE CAN BE NO GREATER CIVIC OR MORAL CALL TO ACTION TODAY, THAN TO ENSURE OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL PEOPLE.

    AND WHERE IS OPPORTUNITY TO BE FOUND? THE ANSWER IS OBVIOUS: OPPORTUNITY IS TO BE FOUND IN THE CITIES OF AMERICA.

    FOR IT IS IN CITIES SUCH AS NEW HAVEN, THAT THE CURRENCY AND WEALTH OF TODAY'S SOCIETY IS BEING CREATED - IN IDEAS. IN IDEAS TAKING ROOT IN THE RICH EXCHANGE OF KNOWLEDGE, OF THOUGHTS AND EXPERIENCES GENERATED FROM AN OPEN AND DIVERSE SOCIETY IN WHICH ALL CITIZENS ARE FREE TO PARTICIPATE.

    JUST AS THE STRENGTH OF THIS NATION WAS ONCE BUILT ON THE FACTORY FLOORS OF NEW HAVEN, NOW THE FUTURE OF AMERICA LIES IN THE IDEAS OF NEW HAVEN. FOR IT IS IN THE CITIES THAT THE FRONTIERS OF IMAGINATION, OF INNOVATION AND IDEAS ARE BEING FORGED.

    IT IS IN NEW HAVEN, IN THE CITIES THAT NATURE CANNOT BUILD AND WHICH CAN ONLY BE CONSTRUCTED WITH OUR SKILL, THAT OPPORTUNITY, THAT THE FUTURE OF AMERICA WILL BE FOUND - OR BE LOST.

    AND OUR GOAL FOR OUR CITY, FOR NEW HAVEN, IS NOT MODEST. WHAT WE SEEK WAS STATED A GENERATION AGO BY PRESIDENT JOHNSON ON BEHALF OF AMERICA. WE SEEK A CITY THAT:

      "...IS NOT A SAFE HARBOR, A RESTING PLACE, A FINAL OBJECTIVE, A FINISHED WORK. IT IS A CHALLENGE CONSTANTLY RENEWED, BECKONING US TOWARD A DESTINY WHERE THE MEANING OF OUR LIVES MATCHES THE MARVELOUS PRODUCTS OF OUR LABOR."

    WHAT WE SEEK IN NEW HAVEN IS A PROMISE MADE REAL. A PROMISE THAT EACH OF NEW HAVEN'S CITIZENS WILL BE GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO ACHIEVE THEIR DREAMS.
    THAT IS THE CHALLENGE OF CITY BUILDERS - THAT IS OUR CHALLENGE, YOURS AND MINE.

    IN MEETING THIS CHALLENGE, IN KEEPING FAITH WITH THIS PROMISE, WE ELECTED OFFICIALS, OUR CITIZENS AND OUR PARTNERS FACE SOME HARD REALITIES.

    • CITY GOVERNMENT HAS EXPERIENCED A FINANCIAL RECOVERY - BUT IT IS ONLY TENTATIVE. A DOWNTURN IN THE ECONOMY TODAY WOULD BE MORE DISASTROUS FOR NEW HAVEN THAN THE RECESSION OF THE LATE 1980'S AND EARLY 1990'S. WE IN CITY GOVERNMENT MUST DO EVEN MORE TO DISCIPLINE OUR FISCAL HOUSE. ARE WE, THE ELECTED OFFICIALS OF NEW HAVEN, PREPARED TO MAKE THE HARD CHOICES ABOUT PERSONNEL AND PROGRAMS, SO THAT WE CAN FINISH THE JOB WE HAVE BEGUN?
    • DESPITE OUR EFFORTS AND THE HARD WORK OF OUR STATE DELEGATION, THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT HAS NOT FULFILLED IT'S RESPONSIBILITY TO THE CITIES OF CONNECTICUT. MUTUAL EFFORTS TO INCREASE HOME OWNERSHIP, REDUCE PROPERTY TAXES AND RESTORE JOBS AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY ARE LONG OVERDUE. THE RECESSION MAY BE OVER IN THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT, BUT IT IS NOT OVER IN THE CITIES OF CONNECTICUT. TOO MANY PROJECTS LANGUISH AS STATE GOVERNMENT DELIBERATES AND DELAYS. IS STATE GOVERNMENT READY TO KEEP THE PROMISE?
    • THE CITY AND IT'S SUBURBS ARE CONNECTED. NONE OF US HAS THE LUXURY OR CAN AFFORD TO KEEP OUR HEAD IN THE SAND. IN ORDER FOR EACH PART TO SUCCEED, WE MUST ALL SUCCEED - OR WE WILL ALL LOSE. REGIONALISM AS A ONE WAY STREET, IS A DEAD END STREET. IT IS TIME FOR THE SUBSTANCE OF MUTUAL COOPERATION TO MATCH THE RHETORIC.
    • THE FUTURE OF THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY OF GREATER NEW HAVEN IS DEPENDENT ON A HEALTHY CENTER CITY AND A SKILLED AND WELL TRAINED WORKFORCE. BUSINESS LEADERS MUST PROVIDE LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE - BY CREATING OPPORTUNITY. RATHER THAN IMPORTING LABOR, BUSINESS MUST TRAIN THOSE WHO ALREADY LIVE HERE.
    • THE INSTITUTIONAL COMMUNITY OF NEW HAVEN HAS BEGUN REDEFINING THEIR ROLE IN OUR CITY. THIS IS GOOD, AS IT SHOULD BE, AND IN THEIR INTEREST AS WELL. HOWEVER TIME RUNS ON AND OPPORTUNITIES PASS BY. THESE INSTITUTIONS MUST RECOMMIT THEMSELVES TO THE JOB OF CITY BUILDING - AND WE IN PUBLIC OFFICE MUST SET A HIGH BAR FOR THEM. AND IN NEW HAVEN, YALE UNIVERSITY MUST LEAD IN THIS EFFORT.

        "IT WAS DIVINE NATURE WHICH GAVE US THE COUNTRY, AND MAN'S SKILL THAT BUILT THE CITIES."

    THE JOB OF BUILDING THE CITIES, OF BUILDING NEW HAVEN, IS THE JOB OF BUILDING OPPORTUNITY - AND IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF ALL OF US.

    FOR TOO MANY OF OUR FELLOW CITIZENS, THE PROMISE OF AMERICA REMAINS JUST THAT - A PROMISE.

    I NEED ONLY LOOK AT MY SONS TO MEASURE BOTH THE UNSTOPPABLE MARCH OF TIME, AND THE MORAL IMPERATIVE OF OPPORTUNITY.

    I NEED ONLY LOOK TO MY CITY TO SEE ALL THAT IS POSSIBLE AND ALL THAT IS SHAMEFULL AT THE HANDS OF MAN.

    I NEED ONLY LOOK TO THE PEOPLE OF NEW HAVEN, TO KNOW THAT THIS IS A THING THAT WE CAN AND MUST DO.

    NEW HAVEN IS A METAPHOR - A METAPHOR FOR THE EFFORT, THE SWEAT AND BLOOD OF ALL THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE US. MEN AND WOMEN WHO CROSSED A WIDE OCEAN, SOME BY CHOICE, SOME IN CHAINS. BUT ALL JOINED IN THE SUM THAT IS WHAT WE ARE TODAY. AND ALL THAT THEY WERE, ALL THAT THEY DID, POINT TO THIS MOMENT.

    LET US CONTINUE THEIR WORK.

    LET US JOIN TOGETHER IN THIS EFFORT. LET US GRASP THE PROMISE OF AMERICA BY BUILDING OPPORTUNITY, HERE IN NEW HAVEN. LET US CHALLENGE OURSELVES AND EACH OTHER IN A MEASURE FULLY EQUAL TO THE PROMISE OF OUR TIME AND OUR STRENGTH.

    TO BUILD A MONUMENT OF OPPORTUNITY AS HOT AS NATURE'S EVENING FIRE ON EAST ROCK, AND AS IMMOVABLE AS WEST ROCK.

    LET US ALL CONTINUE, TO BUILD. TO BUILD BOLDLY AND BRAVELY - TO CREATE OPPORTUNITY - TO FINISH THE JOB - TO KEEP THE PROMISE.

    GOD BLESS EACH OF YOU,

    AND GOD BLESS THE CITY OF NEW HAVEN.

    Added February 1, 2000
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