Mayor's town hall meeting omits Occupy Oakland

Mayor Jean Quan's 'State of the City' address left out any direct mentions of Occupy Oakland.
February 8, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
In Oakland Wednesday night, Mayor Jean Quan delivered her "State of the City" address. She talked about budgets, taxes, and tourism, but it is what she didn't talk about that is making some people angry.

Quan painted a positive picture by pointing out the New York Times report that ranked Oakland among the top five cities to visit and saying Oakland is on the rise. However, she refused to acknowledge the Occupy Oakland movement and a group of demonstrators who had to watch the speech in a separate room.

Quan pointed to a rise in revenue, the sales tax that is up 12 percent, and the hotel tax up 11 percent.

"Our economy has created 5,000 new jobs in the last year and those are just the ones that we could document," said Quan.

But recently, there have been layoffs, including 100 redevelopment jobs cut last month. The mayor explained the city's $58 million deficit was balanced twice, leaving the city's first full reserve in a decade.

"I cut my own salary by 25 percent too and we still have tough times," said Quan.

She launched a cost-saving app for residents to report and upload photos of city problems that need to be fixed called SeeClickFix.com. Still, she did not acknowledge the Occupy Oakland movement. She's been criticized for her handling of the demonstrations that have led to a recall petition.

"She didn't address the horrible police brutality," said Molly Batchelder from Occupy Oakland.

Occupy protester Scott Olsen, the Iraq war vet who suffered a head injury during a clash with police, had to watch the speech with other protesters in a separate viewing room.

"It was a joke. She did not say anything of substance, I believe. She got up and introduced her friends and she didn't care about the public of Oakland," said Olsen.

The closest Quan got to acknowledging them was her call to reduce crime, most of which happens in 100 of the city's toughest blocks.

"I don't care whether you're standing at the corner of 98th and Avenue C or in Frank Ogawa Plaza, we can protect and yet respect the rights of our citizens in this city," said Quan.

In a speech that lasted over an hour, Quan also called for more volunteers to help transform some of the city's most disenfranchised neighborhoods.

Warm weather seems to provide the perfect backdrop for groups wanting to speak out and have their voices heard.

Around 6 p.m. at City Hall, our cameras were there as angry parents and retired teachers sounded off against budget cuts and schools targeted for closure by Oakland Unified schools. In October the school board voted to close five schools at the end of the year. Deep budget cuts and a reduction in programs have many parents believing that the children in their community are being left short changed.

Just a few blocks away, there was another rally primarily made up of seniors from Oakland's Chinatown neighborhood. The group came together to take a stand against the violence and drop in business that they say is in direct correlation to the Occupy demonstrations and anti-police action.

Chinatown residents say that the demonstration on January 28th hit the community particularly hard. It was the 6th day of the Chinese New Year and festivities were cut short because of the violent clash with police, forcing many to take shelter in their homes.

"And when the families with children and elderly, when they heard what happened they all ran home quickly. And the Chinese New Year Celebrations stopped short right there," said Carl Chan with the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce.

"I hear the sound of the helicopters every Saturday night from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. I feel like I'm in a battle zone," said one Oakland resident.

Community members say Occupy activities have caused violence, destruction and scared their workers.

On Monday, activists also got into a shouting match with a citizens group calling themselves "Stand For Oakland" who say that they are also fed up with the violence and vandalism. Around 6:30 p.m. Occupy Oakland was scheduled to have a general assembly meeting at the steps of City Hall.

Pretrial dates set for Occupy Oakland protesters

Occupy Oakland protesters detained in January during that huge protest that damaged city hall were back in court Wednesday.

The hearing was to set a pretrial date for several of the 12 demonstrators ordered to stay away from Frank Ogawa Plaza.

The attorney for one protestor says he has video that shows his client was arrested for simply tripping over her bike. Joanne Warwick is charged with blocking the sidewalk and resisting arrest.

The others face charges from vandalism to felony assault.


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