OAKLAND (AP) — Taking an optimistic approach, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said Wednesday during her first State of the City address that while the troubled city has issues, it's still on the rise.
As she proudly pointed out that the city's burgeoning arts and culinary scenes has attracted national attention and spike in sales tax revenue, Quan did not mention the Occupy Oakland movement that has received international attention and cost the city about $5 million.
Quan's first year as mayor has also been punctuated by key defections among her staff including the police chief, city attorney and the deputy mayor. Her legal adviser even quit, citing her handling of the Occupy protests.
"This has been an amazing year with lots of turns and more than our share of bumps along the way," Quan said. "But Oakland is a city that faces crises and comes back stronger."
The atmosphere around City Hall was tense as security was tight for the standing-room-only event as only city leaders, invited guests and select media were allowed up in the City Council chambers.
Downstairs, several Occupy Oakland members were relegated to watching the speech in meeting rooms as the group held its weekly general assembly meeting outside.
Scott Olsen, the Marine Corps veteran who was struck in the head during a clash between police and protester in October, watched Quan's speech and said, "There was nothing of substance. It was a joke. It was a waste of my time being here."
Quan, who is facing two mayoral recall campaigns, remained upbeat in her speech, citing a slight drop in unemployment and 5,000 as signs that the city is progressing.
She said her goals for 2012 include more affordable housing, adding more retail businesses and making sure that all three pro sports teams stay in town.
Quan later mentioned Oakland's crime problem as the city had 110 homicides last year and 14 already this year. She touted police's efforts on reducing crime in the city's 100 most dangerous blocks that covers about 5 percent of the city, but where 92 percent of the murders occur.
"We have to reduce homicides and violence in the city," Quan said.
She went on to say that what affects one, affects all.
"We'll learn from our challenges and mistakes and we will rise," Quan said. "We will rise together."