Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton

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Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton makes his monthly appearance on Arizona Horizon to discuss current issues of importance in the state’s largest city.

CHRISTINA ESTES: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton makes his monthly appearance on the show and we'll dive into a new book about an Arizona man who influenced water management and helped shape or state's growth and development. That's next on "Arizona Horizon."

VIDEO: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

CHRISTINA ESTES: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon," I'm Christina Estes sitting in for Ted Simons who has the night off. The Phoenix-based parent company of the University of Phoenix announced another loss today. The Apollo education group posted a $5 million quarterly loss in August citing a drop in student enrollment. The for profit university has been hit by tougher regulations, questions about its student recruitment activities and more competition for online students. Once a month Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton appears on "Arizona Horizon" to talk about the current issues facing Arizona's biggest city issues like disconnected youth. Here now is Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. Thanks for coming in. Appreciate it.

GREG STANTON: Happy to be here tonight. Good to see you.

CHRISTINA ESTES: We've got a big event coming up next week designed to help disconnected youth. Explain what that means when we say disconnected youth. Who are we talking about?

GREG STANTON: There is a population of young people ages 16 to 24, so school age and a little bit beyond school age but that cohort of individuals that are not currently enrolled in school and not currently employed, not really on a pathway to success. That age group with those qualifications, if you will, that's the cohort we call disconnected youth. Unfortunately a report came out last year that indicated our community, this region had the highest percentage of disconnected youth in the entire country. When I saw that report I said this is not acceptable. We don't give up on anyone. These young people have their entire lives ahead of them, we have to get them back on a positive pathway. 16 to 24, not currently working and not currently enrolled in school.

CHRISTINA ESTES: That report was startling because we're totaling 20%, one in five people in that age group. I know the council yesterday approved a resolution for something called opportunities for youth. Tell us about that.

GREG STANTON: There's a lot of incredible nonprofits in this community doing great things for youth. But there was not one that was specifically in the space of disconnected youth, or we like to put a more positive spin and say opportunity youth. That's the definition I like to use. There wasn't a particular group focused in on bringing these young people back into positive activity. So we've put together an opportunity for youth task force, Councilman Laura Pastor for the Phoenix City Councilmen is one of the coaches working very closely with Dr. Don Covey of the Maricopa County educational services agency, and a leading list of nonprofit business leaders, foundations. And we're going to come up with solutions to the issue of disconnected youth. The reality is, is that we can't give up on a generation. 20%-plus of students 16 to 24, not on a positive path right now, these are lost years. It's too important that we get these people back into the economy either through education, through employment or through job training. We have a lot of work to do and we're rolling up our sleeves and getting to work.

CHRISTINA ESTES: The goal I read was to move that near 20% down to 11%. Is there a timetable when it comes to locally addressing?

GREG STANTON: Yeah, we want to make a big impact in a very short period of time. We want to make sure that family members, disconnected youth themselves, friends, colleagues, know that there are resources out there. We want to create reengagement centers throughout the city and throughout the Valley. Physical places where people can go to learn about opportunities that are out there. For so many of these young people, they may not realize there's a whole community rooting for them, that wants to provide them with opportunities to get back on a positive path. In Phoenix, Arizona, we don't give up on anyone. Everyone needs to be part of the solution. We want to make a significant impact in a very short period of time. And of course a week from tomorrow in Downtown Phoenix at the Convention Center the CEO of Starbucks is going to be in town along with 20-plus other major nationwide employers along with a host of local employers. We're going put on a job fair specifically for opportunity youth. It's a very, very exciting event that's going to happen in eight days.

CHRISTINA ESTES: The opportunity fair you mentioned is Friday, October 30th at the Phoenix Convention Center. As we talk we will put up the website so anybody interested can go on there. I think it's helpful if you register for that event beforehand. It's not just about showing up and filling out an application. It's a whole day filled with speakers and a lot of opportunities -- hence the name --

GREG STANTON: Exactly. We want to get people psyched up about their future. There may be young people that are not aware of these opportunities. There are employers we've asked to say make a specific effort to offer jobs at entry level positions. Let's get them started on a positive pathway in their own lives. We will put over a thousand young people, they will start the day without a job and end the day with a job. Lives are going to be changed. There's going to be a very positive trajectory in their lives. Some people say, no wait a minute, if one of these young people hasn't graduated from high school you give them a job, does that take them away from the path on education. The answer is that's an old way of thinking. Look at what ASU is doing with Starbucks. Starbucks is going to be hiring around the country over 10,000 opportunity youth. You get a job with Starbucks as a barista? Get what you can get? A degree from Arizona State University for free online because of that wonderful partnership between ASU and Starbucks. So that entry-level position into a service sector position like Starbucks can lead to a higher education and move that student on to careers in high-wage positions. It's not like it's a job or education. In today's modern economy we need to provide both level was support for our young people.

CHRISTINA ESTES: The opportunity fair which is part of the larger national initiative involve as lot of companies that are in a lot of cities, you know, the Starbucks and Targets and Walgreens. I wonder here in Arizona or Phoenix will we have any specific companies that really need help? We talked about the construction industry is now returning and they're having a hard time finding framers and plumbers and all that sort of things. Is that an effort?

GREG STANTON: Yes. It's called 100,000 opportunities, 100Kopportunities is the website now. It's what you should search on your Google engine if you want to participate in this job fair. Some of the major national corporations are coming and providing jobs for a thousand-plus young people at this job fair. In addition, we're working with Local First Arizona. There will be local employers right there. As you and I both know, as people watching this television show know, the real economic development occurs with small locally owned business. So we've got to make sure these young people have a path to success in locally owned businesses in addition to the opportunities for national businesses. In the industries you just described -- yes. The economy's turning around, we're headed in a much more positive direction. Still work to do, I'm not Pollyanna-ish about it. We need companies that are committed to hiring and providing apprenticeship opportunities, learning opportunities. Giving students real hands-on experience at work. That's an area frankly where the United States of America doesn't do as well as some of our competitor nations around the world. Those nations that do a better job of giving people real world work experiences, while they are still getting educated, those are the economies that seem to be doing the best. We've got a great education system here in the United States but not a perfect one. And providing more hands-on experiences for young people I think would go a long way to advance or economy.

CHRISTINA ESTES: I know you're passionate about biking, bicycling. Sometimes when this is brought up you get snickers from people who think, oh, people just like to ride their bikes around. Phoenix is pretty serious about this. The city launched this morning a public safety awareness campaign not just geared to somebody who wants to bike to work or ride down to South Mountain for the weekend. It's a serious issue. Why is it a serious issue when it comes to safety?

GREG STANTON: We have a bike plan for the City of Phoenix. When the voters of Phoenix overwhelmingly supported proposition 104, we're going to go big on biking in the City of Phoenix, over 1,000 miles of bike lanes, including dedicated bike lanes. You see the beautiful green bikes in the heart of the city, the grid bike program. You see more and more people utilizing bikes as day-to-day commuting to and from their places of employment. Biking is very important to the future of our economy. Cities that are more bikeable are more competitive, particularly as it relates to attracting milliennials in this competitive economy. We want to get higher educated young people staying in this community, not moving elsewhere. And those from elsewhere moving to this community. I'm in competition with major cities around the country to attract those young people. And having a more bike friendly city, a more bikeable city, is a very important thing. We want to make sure people can commute in the city on their bikes as safely as possible. That involving the responsibility of drivers and the responsibility on the bikers themselves. The campaign you were talking about is a good campaign to educate both, but also educate the bike riders that they have a responsibility to obey the laws of the road. They have a responsibility to do their part to keep themselves and their fellow bikers and drivers as safe as possible.

CHRISTINA ESTES: Let's move from on the street to what's underneath the streets, talking about pipes. The water services department is working on a five-year financial plan asking for something like more than $1 billion to address water and wastewater spending. Looking at rate increases for six years. Why?

GREG STANTON: Well, first off we're going to go through a whole series of public meetings on that to seek public input and provide information to the public. I don't want to get to the end of the story or presume what the end of story is going to be. Katherine Sorensen, who is an astounding director of our water department, someone I respect and trust a great deal, she is always reminding me and other members of the council that woe is the city that doesn't take care of its infrastructure. If you allow your infrastructure to age too much without replacing it, without doing the necessary repairs, you're not going to be a competitive city over the long haul. The costs go up if you don't take care of them. She's going to present a comprehensive plan to ensure we can provide clean, safe drinking water to every resident of the city, that we can engage in significant conservation planning, using our water bill, the rate that citizens pay, use a portion of that on our conservation efforts. And also use it appropriately for repairs of our aging fluctuate. A great city plans for its future. And keeping up with infrastructure, repairing, making necessary repairs to infrastructure, those are critically important. I don't know where it's going to end but we're beginning a very important process of looking at the long term investment needs of our water infrastructure system and the City of Phoenix.

CHRISTINA ESTES: I know the public input is expected in November and I'm sure we'll address this again.

GREG STANTON: I'll be back any time you'll have me here.

CHRISTINA ESTES: Thank you so much, Mayor Greg Stanton. Appreciate you coming in.

GREG STANTON: Of course.

Greg Stanton:Phoenix Mayor

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