Mount Vernon Mayor Davis Stresses Cohesion In 'State Of The City'

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MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. –Mount Vernon Mayor Ernest Davis stressed the importance of the community and city working cohesively, and touched on the city’s budget, which still has many residents seething in his annual “State of the City” address.

In his speech Wednesday, Davis praised many of the city’s elected officials for their hard work during his second tenure as mayor, noting that, while things may seem bleak to some taxpayers, the city could be in worse shape without the various commissioners and politicians.

Davis said that residents and merchants have become complacent in the city, and need to be on the forefront of beautifying the city and improving its reputation.

“In parts of downtown, merchants ignore trash right in front of their stores, while others think that plastering signs all over their windows will encourage more sales. We must restore the dignity of the Fourth Avenue strip,” he said. “The city is trying to take the lead in the beautification effort.”

According to Davis, 65 percent of taxpayer dollars are spent on education, but he opined that City Hall has no input into how that money is spent.

Davis said he is convening a panel to discuss how the city and school district can collaborate to devise a partnership. He hopes to assess similar models to create a “mayoral influenced system where the mayor and City Council would appoint some or all members of the Board of Education,” similar to Yonkers.

“Education is too important to just leave to the educators. The community has to buy into the education, making it a cause for celebration,” he said. “At any rate, it is apparent that some movement needs to be made toward a city/school relationship. This country cannot maintain its leadership in the world without the education of the coming generations.”

Although he believes there should be more influence from City Hall in the schools, Davis took the time to praise interim Superintendent Judith Johnson, who will retire at the conclusion of the school year after laying out a complex multi-year restructuring plan.

“(Johnson) has helped provide excellent leadership for our education effort at the right time,” he added. “More cooperation with the city was evident under her stewardship than any other superintendent in recent time.”

When addressing the city’s $96 million budget – which was a point of concern for politicians and taxpayers alike due to the 7.78 percent tax rate increase – Davis said that his hands were tied due to the city’s surplus, which is dangerously low at around $2 million.

According to Davis, when starting the budget process nearly a year ago, the auditor warned that there was a projected budget deficit that would require a 17 percent tax hike. Despite “political mischievousness,” Davis noted that he was able to trim 9 percent of that increase.

“Citizens are strapped economically and the burden is real. This past year was really difficult; it required all the creativity and ingenuity that we could muster. With that energy we were able to shave 9 percent,” he said. “Still, I knew to shave more would endanger the city’s ability to deliver services. Without the services, our strong middle class will find this city untenable.”

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Comments (7)

Attitude is a little thing that makes a BIG difference. Winston S. Churchill

Every department I've been to is clearly out-dated. In 2014 where telephone systems are VOIP, City Hall barely has intercom. Information is still being entering into ledgers in some cases and billing is being passed by hand in triplicate (shades of the 1970's). Software upgrades would streamline many departments and save money for infrastructure improvements. President Day was established in 1985, why does City workers get Lincoln's birthday and President's Day? Stop building apartments and turn the old "white elephant" homes into condos. It will bring in tax dollars; it worked well in the Boston area. Start thinking "out-of-the-box" and the community will follow


Looking forward and bringing this city into the 21st century requires progressive thinking.
If this administration is constantly looking back and living in the past, there is very little hope for the future.

Take a look at the city's web site and you'll see how sadly lacking it is. The budget for last year is still posted, but the new current budget has been in effect for two months. Maybe the Mayor doesn't want the people to see the current budget with all its discrepancies, etc?

He destroyed the city, starting with the first day of his first term. Now he's more than mid way through his fourth term and the city is in shambles. His commissioners are all appointed by him, none are elected, and they have done a shoddy job of running things in their respective departments.
Mount Vernon's streets are filthy because the police do not enforce city ordinances, under indirect orders from the Mayor himself.
Crime is perceived as being at a lower rate because many crimes are not reported, and of those that are, the police are hiding the numbers, again under indirect orders from the Mayor himself.
The schools are among the worst in the state, with about 60% of the students failing (thanks to the previous Superintendent, Welton Sawyer), and now the Mayor wants to take full control of them? That will definitely be the end of what could and should be a quality education for the students.

I sat, watched and heard (BEFORE A STACKED AUDIENCE):
Veiled threats by, the mayor, to person(s) in this administration.
Acknowledgement to various relatives, religious leaders and others (IN HIS CORNER.)
North and South Carolina tales, mules and 80 acres.
Upcoming capital expenditures related to services.
Taking over or sharing the school tax revenue.
Personnel shortages in emergency service departments.

“Under certain circumstances profanity provides relief denied even to prayer.” Mark Twain
What I did not see or hear:
Creative thinking to resolve the tax situation.
Proposed boondoggles to South Korea on the taxpayer dollar.
Cutbacks on the double dipping patronage appointments.
Others and I could probably go on and on about what’s wrong, because there is so little about what is right.

Machine politics, in my opinion, has forced upon us recycled mumbling politicians of the old school.

A public man must never forget that he loses his usefulness when he as an individual, rather than his policy, becomes the issue.
Richard M. Nixon

5 Early Warning Signs of Ineffective Leadership

1. Visible, but unavailable.
2. Answers rather than guidance.
3. Communicating without openness.
4. Mistaking position for power.
5. Putting popularity ahead of respect.