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Mayor Berke Keynotes Global Summit on Countering Violent Extremism

Posted by on 11-May-2016

On May 11, 2016, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke addressed a global delegation of leaders from cities and countries across the world regarding the July 16, 2015, terror attack and provided feedback on ways cities can establish their own strategies to counter violent extremism.

The first annual Strong Cities Network Global Summit is currently being held in Antalya, Turkey. At the Summit, Mayor Berke also announced that Chattanooga would join the Strong Cities Network. Other American cities currently members of the Strong Cities Network include New York, Atlanta, Denver, Minneapolis, and Montgomery County (Maryland).

During his keynote speech this morning, Mayor Berke first briefed the audience on the city of Chattanooga, in particular demographics and social challenges. He went on to outline the circumstances of the July 16, 2015, terror attack and the impact on citizens. Mayor Berke praised the response of the Chattanooga Police Department (CPD) and detailed how the community responded to the attack.

“To be a great city, we have to be an inclusive and resilient city,” Berke told Summit attendees. “How cities respond to these types of events says much about who we are.”

“For Chattanooga, hate was not the answer to this terrible incident,” said Mayor Berke of the July 16, 2015 terror attack.

Mayor Berke led the U.S. delegation of two dozen leaders to the summit and, of the five keynote speakers, Mayor Berke was the only keynote speaker representing the United States. The keynote speakers included Hassan Ali Joho, Governor of Mombasa, Nairobi; Frank Jensen, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, Denmark; Dr. Ranjit Patil, Minister of Maharashtra (Mumbai), India; Hans Bonte, Mayor of Vilvoorde, Belgium; and Andy Berke, Mayor of Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States of America.
The Strong Cities Network was launched last September and features 50 cities from around the world, including small and medium-sized cities along with metropolises such as London, New York, and Paris.


Launched at the United Nations in September 2015, the Strong Cities Network (SCN) is the first ever global network of mayors, municipal-level policy makers and practitioners united in building social cohesion and community resilience to counter violent extremism in all its forms.

Led by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, the SCN strengthens strategic planning and practices among municipal-level policy makers and builds the capacity of local practitioners to prevent the spread of violent extremism in all its forms. The network catalyses, inspires and multiplies community-centric approaches and action to counter violent extremism while respecting the fundamental rights of citizens.

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New Avondale Youth & Family Center; $6 Million Capital Project will Strengthen East Chattanooga Area

Posted by on 06-May-2016

In early May, a room full of community members joined Mayor Andy Berke as he announced the City of Chattanooga will be investing over $6 million into East Chattanooga through the building of a new Avondale Youth & Family Development (YFD) Center. The new center will be built from the ground up at the site of the current Avondale center and will add additional new amenities. The new Avondale YFD center is expected to more than double the square footage of the current Avondale YFD center

“We believe in the future of Avondale,” said Mayor Andy Berke. “This community has worked hard over the last several years to make today a reality. Our major investment will result in a new, larger center -- but more than that, it will allow us to provide opportunities and resources to even more families in this important area of our city.”

The current Avondale YFD center was built in 1949 and is one of the cities smaller centers. The last major upgrade to Avondale YFD Center was nearly 15 years ago. Since that time, YFD staff has held numerous discussions with the community to discuss needed renovations and changes to the center.

Preliminary discussions with staff and community members have highlighted several priorities to include in the center, including official size Gymnasium with bleachers, a computer lab, a Library/Reading lab, multiple classrooms, a multipurpose room, full-sized kitchen, and office areas. Preliminary discussions for exterior improvements include larger softball fields on Wilcox Boulevard, improved parking areas, and an improved outdoor basketball court.

A tentative timeline for the new Avondale YFD Center includes a July 1, 2016, planning and design start date. The community will be engaged to provide feedback and suggestions during this time. The City expects to begin demolition of the current Center in the fall of 2016. The new Avondale YFD Center will be officially open by the end of 2017. Leadership at YFD is currently working to ensure those who use the Center will have easy access to surrounding Centers once demolition occurs.

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CPD Committed to Open Data through Police Data Initiative Commitment

Posted by on 05-May-2016

In May of 2014, Mayor Andy Berke signed an executive order establishing an Open Data Policy for the City of Chattanooga. Since that time, the City has taken a number of steps as directed by Mayor Berke’s order, including creating an open data portal as well as participating in the White House’s Police Data Initiative.

Last year the White House launched the Police Data Initiative. Since that time, the initiative has mobilized 53 leading jurisdictions across the country to take fast action on concrete deliverables responding to the White House’s 21st Century Policing Task Force recommendations in the area of data and technology.

"This is the community's data. It's the community's actions, victimization, response — we just happen to be the ones responsible for writing that information down,” said police Chief of Staff David Roddy. “So we are making that data as available and transparent as we can."

Through this effort, the City is responding first to White House’s 21st Century Policing Task Force recommendations within two streams of work;
Using open data to increase transparency, build community trust, and support innovation.

Better using technology, such as early warning systems, to identify problems, increase internal accountability, and decrease inappropriate uses of force.

"This is the community's data. It's the community's actions, victimization, response — we just happen to be the ones responsible for writing that information down,” said police Chief of Staff David Roddy. “So we are making that data as available and transparent as we can."

The City of Chattanooga currently provides data through the Chattanooga Open Data Portal. This is a public site developed by the City and allows community members to examine information on police incident reports dating back to 2005, traffic citation information and 911 calls for service.

"It's a continuation of what we see as our commitment to providing open and transparent government through our open data program," said Tim Moreland, director of performance management and open data for the city.

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Mayor Berke Challenges Businesses and Organizations to be Family Friendly

Posted by on 27-Apr-2016

On April 27, Mayor Andy Berke launched his Family Friendly Workplace Challenge along with the first businesses and organizations signed on to take the Challenge. Berke announced the Challenge on Monday night during his third State of the City Address. During a press conference today at the Edney Center for Innovation, Tennessee American Water and CO.STARTERS joined the list of businesses taking the Challenge.

“There are many types of benefits that help a business attract and retain employees with families,” said Mayor Berke. “There are lots of options depending on what works for business owners and their employees. Each company has unique challenges, and their employees have different preferences. But as a city, we prosper when employers get this right, when we find ways for everyone to participate in the workforce, use their talents, and help Chattanooga employers succeed and create even more jobs.”

Creating more family friendly workplaces was a recommendation made by the Economic Committee of the Mayor’s Council for Women. The Committee spent several months studying barriers that women face in the workplace and looking at programs local companies and women’s groups have implemented to empower and encourage women to support one another.

“The Family Friendly Workplace Challenge is a great way to begin to have this important conversation,” said City Councilwoman and Mayor’s Council for Women Chairman, Dr. Carol Berz. “We know that too many companies are not providing the kinds of benefits that allow their employees to thrive. By taking part in the Challenge, businesses and organizations can talk to their employees and create policies that fit with their specific needs. And most importantly, we’ll have multiple examples of how to make family friendly practices feasible in the workplace.”

Under the Challenge employers commit to engaging their employees and developing a plan to make their businesses attractive for working mothers and fathers. At the end of a year, the City will highlight success stories and use them as a model for other businesses throughout Chattanooga.

In addition to the City of Chattanooga, a number of large businesses and organizations have signed on to Mayor Berke’s Family Friendly Workplace Challenge, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of TN (second largest employer in Chattanooga with 4,437 full-time employees), University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (1,218 full-time employees), Chattanooga State Community College (679 full-time employees), and
EPB (545 full-time employees).

"Chattanooga State Community College eagerly accepts the Family Friendly Workplace Challenge,” said Dr. Flora Tydings, President of Chattanooga State Community College. “We have already begun recruiting employees who will be gathering input from our campus community in order to help design what we want ‘Family Friendly’ to look like in our quest to provide a great place to work and learn."

At today’s press conference, Mayor Berke announced the inclusion of Tennessee American Water to the list of those taking the Challenge.

“As changes occur in our workforce and society, we recognize the importance of work-life balance for our employees. That’s why Tennessee American Water is pleased to join Mayor Berke’s Family Friendly Workplace Challenge,” said Tennessee American Water President Valoria Armstrong. “We look forward to building upon existing programs we have that focus on health and wellness while identifying new opportunities with our employees.”

Small businesses and organizations with 50 or fewer employees taking the Family Friendly Workplace Challenge include The Bread Basket, Co. LAB, Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, Epiphany Day Spa & Brow Couture, and Ovalle’s Catering Company.

“The key to finding a job that launches a career is to find a company that matches your needs. Ovalle’s is not the biggest company out there, nor are we the flashiest, but we are a company that puts our employees and their families first,” said Erwin Ovalle, owner of Ovalle’s Catering Company. “We want our employees to know that when you join Ovalle’s, you join a company that will commit to supporting you and your unique needs, whether it is our support for professional development and education, or our commitment to helping find a work-home balance that fits your family’s needs.”

In addition to Ovalle’s, local small business the Bread Basket is also taking the Challenge saying, “We are a family-owned business, so we understand the importance of creating an environment that provides our employees with the flexibility needed to balance demands of work and family life.”

“The Bread Basket is proud to be part of the City of Chattanooga’s Family Friendly Workplace Challenge, and we look forward to working with our employees to come up with new ideas for managing stress and improving our overall wellness,” continued Anson Hyde, owner of the Bread Basket. “That’s tough when we work with cookies and cakes all day, but I’m confident we can be successful!”

Today’s announcement added CO.STARTERS to the list, furthering the number of small businesses and organizations looking for innovative ways to ensure a family friendly workplace for their employees.

“Our purpose with CO.STARTERS is to grow thriving communities by supporting local business, which starts with providing the most supportive environment possible for our own team to thrive,” said Enoch Elwell of CO.STARTERS. “We are excited to join the other members of this challenge as we together highlight the family friendly culture that gives our employees the freedom to do their best work."

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