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Sabonjian's State of the City Address
I missed this event, unfortunately, and I m wondering if it will be on youtube?
City Facebook page says it will be recorded and placed on youtube like the council meetings.
Check the link later for comments, sometimes I learn more from those than the article. 8-)

State of Waukegan 'Reckless, unprofessional' path to crisis
Mayor says he may invite federal investigation

May 21, 2010
By DAN MORAN <!-- e --><a href=""></a><!-- e -->

Reporting that "the state of the city is critical," Mayor Robert Sabonjian said Thursday that a mix of factors have contributed to Waukegan's economic crisis -- including individuals with financial oversight who "may have violated state and local laws."

"Because of past practices and lack of effective legislative and management oversight, we are now struggling with the greatest financial crisis the city of Waukegan has ever faced," Sabonjian told a gathering of around 300 people at the Genesee Theatre for his first State of the City address.
» Click to enlarge image
Waukegan Mayor Bob Sabonjian speaks at the State of The City address at the Genesee Theatre.
(Michael Schmidt/News-Sun)

Adding that the city's expenses have outpaced revenues since 2003, Sabonjian said "reckless and unprofessional" methods led to larger deficits, and should be investigated.

Sabonjian said either an internal investigation will be launched when funds become available, or federal authorities will be asked to determine "whether or not our dollars were handled in a legal fashion over the last 10 years."

While not making specific accusations against anyone, Sabonjian did say that previous elected officials and financial staff members "should have been aware or sought out the knowledge" about such things as three years of municipal audits being up to 42 months late.

Sabonjian did accuse past mayoral adminstrations and councils of allowing the city's tax levy to go down from 1999 to 2008 while expenses increased.

"This was one of the areas where politics reared its ugly head," Sabonjian said, adding that this year's levy increase will likely be repeated over a three-year period because deficits have "forced us to play catch-up."

At other points during a wide-ranging, 50-minute address, Sabonjian said alternative energy and green-technology initiatives will be sought as part of lakefront redevelopment; demolition is continuing at the vacant Outboard Marine Corp. site; city-owned land at Fountain Square of Waukegan will either be sold in one parcel or in pieces that could include space for another "large-scale retailer" and that "a major restaurant chain" is exploring an outlet downtown.

On the entertainment front, Sabonjian said that funds toward a fesibility study for a Grand Prix-style race were among the budget cuts. "So as of now, that effort is effectively dead." He also confirmed that an informal "Scoop Unplugged" version of Scoop the Loop will take place on July 10.

But the primary focus was on a financial crisis that has forced layoffs, longer shifts and unpaid days off for employees, and cuts in services.

"I admit that the report I give you tonight is not filled with optimism, (but) while we may be down, we are not out," he said, calling on city employees and citizens to "share in the sacrifices it will take to ensure the survival of the great city of Waukegan."

During a question-and-answer session following his speech, Sabonjian admitted to feeling frustration.

"A lot of people have asked me, if I knew what I know now, would I have run for mayor? And I have to say, I probably wouldn't have," he said. "But we're in it, and we're in it together, and we'll get through it together."

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