Mayor touts new Downtown business, vows graffiti fight

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May 10, 2004 // UPDATED 1:32 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Scott Russell
Scott Russell

Mayor R.T. Rybak's April 27 State of the City speech hinted at two 2005 budget initiatives: more money for roads and graffiti removal.

He also announced the move of 200 jobs from the suburbs into Downtown.

"Graffiti cleanup is an area where I believe we have a long way to go," the mayor said, speaking in the City Hall rotunda. "As you look at the budget process this year, know that my eyes are very much focused on the fact that there is far too much graffiti in this city, and we have not done a good enough job coordinating our efforts."

Rybak's liberally sprinkled his speech with thank-yous to key players in various city initiatives, and he credited Councilmember Gary Schiff (9th Ward) for efforts to shorten graffiti cleanup. Yet he said the city needed to do a better job on graffiti through the housing inspections and solid waste programs.

The mayor also said the city needed more money in basic infrastructure.

The city has focused on protecting the Police and Fire Departments budgets as it absorbed significant state aid cuts in the past two years. That left the Public Works budget to take the biggest hits, in some cases eliminating routine maintenance.

"I believe we've sacrificed Public Works and Transportation more than anything," Rybak said. "So look for us to continue to look that challenge in the eye as we move forward on the budget."

The mayor plugged several Downtown businesses during his speech, including Caldrea, a North Loop soap company and preferred hand cleaner in the Rybak household, and Capella, an online university with a growing national and international clientele.

He was particularly excited about Fair, Isaac and Company, a California-based credit-scoring firm, Rybak said. It is going to move half of its 400 Twin Cities' employees from Arden Hills to Downtown, Rybak said.

Fair, Isaac recently bought a multimillion-dollar British company, Rybak said. City officials are spending a lot of time talking to company officials, encouraging them to move more operations here.

"As Fair, Isaac grows, this company that is under the radar to most of us will continue to be a larger player in the economy," he said. "They didn't get a city subsidy. They got one call from the mayor, and that's it. Mostly what they're doing is going out and creating great jobs in the city."

The mayor sidestepped crime issues in the speech, saying he soon would give a speech on the city's summer crime strategy.