As another year comes to an end, I hope that you and your family and friends enjoy a happy, healthy holiday season and prosperous new year.
As Mayor, I would like to take a moment to share with you some of the progress we have made in 2010 and some of the challenges we continue to address.
Most significantly, our City is the safest it has been since the 1950s. This past summer, 700,000 people participated in our Summer Night Lights program and the areas served by the 24 SNL parks, we saw a 57% reduction in gang-related homicides, and a 55% reduction in the number of shots fired.
Our economic development team, trying to address our city's 14% unemployment rate, has worked day and night to make Los Angeles more business friendly. With a hands-on approach and outside-the-box thinking, they have been listening to what job-creators need and are actively helping businesses to stay and grow in or relocate to Los Angeles.
The efforts are starting to pay off. Between our Business Tax Holiday, expanded state enterprise zones, and our local preference policy, jobs are coming back to LA.
We also made significant progress on our efforts to accelerate the spending of Measure R funding to build 12 transit projects in 10 years instead of 30. If we are successful, our 30/10 initiative will bring 166,000 jobs to Los Angeles and give Angelenos an alternative to cars, traffic, congestion and gridlock on the roads.
And as I reflect on our efforts to build the Los Angeles of the future -- whether it is through planned development or infrastructure investment -- I must reiterate that the most important thing we can do is invest in our greatest asset: our young people.
To maintain our status as a global city, we must ensure that every young Angeleno has access to a world-class education, regardless of income, race, or ability. That is why I partnered with parents, teachers, principals, the school district and school board, and the charter, business and non-profit communities to bring choice and competition to LA's public schools.
By the end of 2011, nearly a hundred new or failing schools will have been given a new chance at success through the Public School Choice resolution, allowing anyone with a proven track record of success to bid to operate a campus.
My Partnership schools continue on their trajectory towards success: this year, the 21 Partnership Schools averaged a 21-point increase in Academic Performance Index (API) score, outpacing the average growth at LA Unified and the average growth statewide.
As we approach 2011 and think about the year ahead, I would like to thank you for helping to making Los Angeles the best it can be. Warm wishes for a joyous holiday season.
Follow Antonio Villaraigosa on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LAMayorsOffice