Mayor Greg Ballard gave his fifth State of the City Speech and focused on eliminating panhandling from the downtown area and curbing panhandlers in other areas of the city./county. In his speech before 240 people at the new Alexander Hotel at CityWay, Mayor Ballard talked about the growing problem of both aggressive and passive panhandling and vowed to curb it saying that people who panhandle aren’t homeless but taking advantage of people. In the speech broadcast on AM1310 The Light, The Mayor also talked a new and somewhat controversial plan to improve education. Call NEO or Neighborhoods of Educational Opportunity the Mayor wants to encourage school districts to created 30,000 “high quality seats” in area schools to help encourage families with children to move back to Indianapolis from the suburbs. The Mayor also talked extensively about his push to make America energy independent by converting all city-owned vehicles to hybrids which use electricity or natural gas. Unfortunately, Mayor Ballard’s State of the City Speech mentioned nothing about reducing Indianapolis 8.9% unemployment which remains stagnant and high while the national unemployment is falling. The Mayor said virtually nothing about the continuing problem of abandoned houses in the older neighborhoods of the city, or about efforts to revitalize older neighborhoods other than Downtown or Broad Ripple. The Mayor briefly talked about Public Safety but said little about the city’s rising violence crime and the community’s perception that crime is increasing. Finally the Mayor’s speech said nothing about proposals in the Legislature that would increase the Mayor’s power while curbing the City-County Council. Including proposals to eliminate the four At large Council seats, and give the Council now authority of oversight over major Mayor appointments or even charter schools. Click the Link To Hear the Full State of the City Speech. Runs 29 Minutes.