Mayor Johnson Gives State of the City Address

Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson hosted his annual "State of the City" address at the Civic Center Wednesday, and talked at length about the city's progress over the last year.

"The state of the city of Savannah, Georgia is strong, and it is growing stronger every day," said Johnson.

He says Savannah's made a lot of proactive moves and improvements, but didn't go overboard. Johnson says the city's far from perfect and still has a long way to go to achieve his goals.

He pointed out that Savannah's got a lot of pieces in place right now: a new police chief, a new superintendent of schools and a community that continues to come together to try and solve problems.

That being said, there's still a lot of work to do.

"Savannah cannot continue to simply revel in it's historic ambiance," explained Johnson. "We've gotta move beyond that."

One of the biggest issues, as usual, is crime. Despite the fact that Part One crime rates continue to drop, 2007 has already seen 5 murders.

Johnson says most of the worst crimes all have one common, troubling statistic: "What disturbs me is the fact that in the group of 16-24, it seems like we have lost control of many of our young males."

People who turned out for the address say getting teenagers involved in positive activities isn't just a nice idea, it's vital.

"I'd like to see this kid who pointed a pistol at me get in to a good after school program, a good jobs program and have a damn good future that will cause him to be as well off as I am," said one man, getting a round of applause.

The mayor says those types of programs would not only help crime problems, but could also relieve the more than 20% poverty rate in town as well.

Johnson says he's taking a hard look at city funded programs aimed at helping teenagers, and isn't happy with how that's being handled. He says frankly, the city has got to do a better job providing opportunities and outlets for at risk teenagers.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite,