LANCASTER – Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris gave the annual State of the City address at a luncheon hosted by the Antelope Valley Chamber of Commerce Wednesday. He addressed Lancaster’s challenges – one in particular — before highlighting the city’s economic growth and strides in health, wellness, education, and solar energy.
“The biggest threat to the city right now are the people using Section 8 for their own purposes, for their own political agenda,” Parris said.
Parris described the city as being “under attack” by both the lawsuit (read the complaint here), which claims blacks and Latinos on Section 8 face discrimination in Lancaster and the ongoing federal investigation into alleged harassment and mistreatment of Section 8 recipients in the Antelope Valley.
Parris said federal officials were demanding several years’ worth of documents, phone messages and emails from the city that were impossible to produce.
“It would literally take us about $100,000 to respond, and there’s no way we can respond,” he said.
Parris said requesting the documents was a tactic meant to scare the city into a settlement, and said the city would not be backing down.
“It doesn’t matter how big the dog in the fight is, it matters how big the fight is in the dog, and they picked on the wrong dog,” Parris said. “This is the city of Lancaster and we are proud of what we are doing.”
In listing the city’s highlights, Parris said Lancaster had rebuilt its downtown during one of the worst economic turns, had cut its crime rate nearly in half, and now boasted the most diverse and integrated population in Los Angeles County.
“I actually think we may be the most integrated city in America,” he said.
He pointed to the revitalized BLVD as one of the city’s grandest accomplishments — creating 40 new businesses and providing 1,100 construction jobs and 802 permanent jobs within the city’s core.
He said even with the city’s reduction in crime, the much talked about aerial surveillance system or “Eye in Sky” was still needed.
“We have to be the safest city in America,” Parris said. “It’s no more intrusive than the helicopters up there now, it’s just available when we need it. That’s the only difference.”
Parris also touted the city’s five Wellness Homes as evidence of commitment by the city to proactively address the healthcare needs of community residents and said the Master Plan of Trails and Bikeways would put in motion a community-wide project to make staying healthy easier.
Parris stressed the city’s commitment to seeking foreign investors, saying he was willingly investing his own money for trips such as the one recently taken to Abu Dhabi in order to secure foreign investment.
Parris also listed some of the city’s ongoing solar generation projects as evidence of its commitment to becoming one of the first net-zero cities in the world.
View the slide presentation used for the State of the City Address 2012 here.