We've proven the cynics wrong. Today, it's clearer than ever that New York City has turned around and is building momentum. On September 17, the Mayor's Management Report for Fiscal Year 1997 was released. The MMR is an annual report that describes the performance of City agencies for the previous fiscal year and reports on the progress of major initiatives of the administration.
This year's MMR shows that we're continuing to take energetic action to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of our government. A cleaner, safer, better-managed city is also a more confident one -- a better place to live, work, and start a business.
The nation has taken notice. According to two separate nationwide polls -- a Gallup Poll released earlier this month and a Harris poll released two months ago -- New York City is the most desirable place to live in the country. They must have heard that crime is down dramatically in every precinct in the city, and major felony crimes have declined to their lowest levels in nearly three decades.
That means that we're back in control of our city again, no longer forced to live in constant fear and intimidation. In neighborhoods where crime had a stranglehold on economic growth, parents don't have to worry as much when their children are outside playing, and businesses are growing and expanding with a newfound sense of security.
But what many people may not know is that, even though accidents happen, they don't have to be as afraid of fires or other kinds of trauma as they once were. Civilian fire fatalities are at their lowest level in 38 years, and EMS ambulance response times to life-threatening medical emergencies are at their lowest in nine years.
Thanks to efficient management, our streets and parks are cleaner than they've been in years. For the first time ever, the city's streets earned their highest cleanliness ratings ever -- 83.2 percent were acceptably clean, compared to just 71.4 percent in
FY 1994. An even more impressive rise was seen in the cleanliness of our parks, which have risen from 73 percent acceptably clean in FY 1993 to 92 percent clean in FY 1997.
These are the kinds of changes that revitalize neighborhoods.
Our schools are showing serious signs of improvement under the strong leadership of Chancellor Rudy Crew. After winning historic governance reform in Albany, Chancellor Crew now has the authority to hold principals and superintendents accountable for your children's educations, and he is sending the clear message that we expect every student to reach his or her potential.
As a result, last school year our students registered the highest single jump in reading scores in a decade, as every one of the city's 32 Community School Districts showed improvement. Math scores also continued to improve. And with innovative programs like Project Smart Schools, Project Read, and Project Arts underway this school year, we expect students to continue to make progress.
We continue to move people off the welfare rolls as successfully as anywhere else in the nation. Since March 1995, the number of individuals receiving public assistance has decreased by more than 300,000. Each one of those individuals is becoming self-sufficient, gaining responsibility and control over his or her life. That's better for each one of them and better for the City as a whole.
In response to these successes and lower taxes, the city's economy is thriving. Since June 1993, private sector employment has surged by 170,000 jobs. That's a complete turnaround from the prior administration, when 330,000 jobs left our city. We're halfway there to gaining back all of the jobs lost then.
But even though we've made great strides over the past four years, we're not complacent. We consider the achievements we've made thus far to be evidence of how much better still the city can become. Together, we are committed to building on these successes and accomplishing even more.
When we do that, the rest of country will continue to look to us as an example of what they can achieve. Of course, according to the Gallup poll released earlier this month, we still have at least one major problem, according to the rest of the nation: our rudeness. The poll called New York the rudest city in the country. I don't agree. We may be direct and fast-paced, but we're not rude -- unless, of course, you're rooting for the Indians.