In contrast to the usual mayoral State of the City address, a group of elected officials, city commissioners and activists will present the first ever “People’s State of the City” on Tuesday.
Councilmember Kriss Worthington said the address will take the form of a community celebration that will present visions of the city from a variety of perspectives. Topics will include housing, education, the environment and disabled issues.
A flier for the event invites the public to “enjoy food from the four corners of the world.” There will also be musical presentations by local jazz performer Gwen Avery and The Nancys, a group of women with the given name Nancy, who will be singing in public for the first and possibly only time.
Worthington said the event is not designed to be a direct counter to Mayor Shirley Dean’s May 1 State of the City address.
“We’re very explicitly not about politics or feuding,” Worthington said. “It’s an attempt to provide a positive vision of the future for the whole community.” In Dean’s address she touted the success of her six-and-a-half years in office and outlined her vision of Berkeley’s future, which included new housing, solar energy and a controversial plan to build a 500-car garage under Civic Center Park.
Dean also called for an end to the non-productive bickering that often breaks out between progressive and moderate councilmembers.
Speakers at the Tuesday event will include former Councilmember Nancy Skinner, Rent Stabilization Commissioner Max Anderson and State Administrative Law Judge Frederico Chavez.
Chavez said he will address the hopes and aspirations of the city’s burgeoning Latino population. “We are getting to be close to a third of the population statewide and we are relegated to low-paying jobs and substandard and dilapidated
housing,” said Chavez, nephew to United Farm Worker founder Cesar Chavez.
Anderson said he will address the needs of tenants who are in danger of losing their housing to owner move-ins. “We are going to pursue the vigorous implementation of protections for the most vulnerable tenants,” he said. “We are also going to coordinate with other city departments and landlords to see that the habitability of units under rent control is as high as it can be.”
Dean was upbeat about the event. “It sounds like it should be interesting. I’m anxious to hear what they have to say,” she said.
For more information on the event call 981-7170.
The People’s State of the City will begin at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at 2134 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. It will be televised on B-TV Channel 25 and broadcast on KPFB 89.3 fm.