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State of the City address received with pomp and cheer Mayor sets big goals for Berkeley

By Kurtis Alexander Daily Planet Staff
Tuesday May 14, 2002


In the annual “State of the City” address Monday night, Mayor Shirley Dean lauded Berkeley’s progress over the tough economic and political times of the past year and said recent momentum was assurance of an even brighter future. 

Dean laid out an ambitious and politically-broad plan for the upcoming year that ranged from taking a tougher stance on crime to boosting the use of solar energy at city facilities. Calls for restoration of the city’s historic train station and expanding parking facilities in the downtown were also warmly received by the more than 100 residents who packed a standing-room only Old City Hall. 

The mayor’s aplomb at the speaker’s stand was grounded in a host of projects she touted as “real progress,” which included completion of a pedestrian-bicycle overpass on Interstate 80 and the 91-unit residential and cultural GAIA Building downtown. 


“I remain vigorous in seeking a better life for all of our residents,” Dean said. 

The mayor’s message of accomplishment and forward motion, many insiders say, comes at a critical time. This is an election year and the two-term mayor will face what is arguably the biggest challenge yet to her office — candidate Tom Bates, a popular veteran in state politics. 

No mention of the political race was made during Dean’s 60-minute speech, but afterwards, in the lobby, supporters confidently chanted “four more years.” 

One of the few references to political partisanship made by the mayor Monday night came when she broached the issue of moving the city’s utilities underground. 

“Undergrounding is expensive. It makes sense, however, to eliminate the poles that will topple into the street and upon homes in the event of a major earthquake,” she said. 

“The Council has been sharply divided on the issue,” the mayor noted. Because of the division, the city has missed opportunities to move forward with the work, she said. 

Dean made repeated pleas for collaboration, among city leaders and residents alike, suggesting that successes would be the result of team efforts. 

“Together we can and will work through the rough spots,” she stated. 

Her commitment to increasing the city’s law enforcement resources admittedly stemmed from recent monetary issues. 

“It has been difficult to achieve a satisfactory level of staffing, particularly in the police department,” Dean said. “Throughout this city, residents are crying out that they don’t feel safe where they live.” 

She pledged that there would soon be more officers on the streets, and in addition, noted that City Council was looking to boost police resources for addressing hate crimes, which have increased amid the recent Middle East conflict. 

Her environmental goals, also an affirmed priority, include reducing the city’s overall demand for non-renewable energy sources, promoting the use of public transit, and finding the Audubon Society a home in Berkeley. 

The mayor also promised more playing fields for youth athletes. 

The goals that the mayor set for herself for the upcoming year, while numerous, were not beyond her means, her supporters said after the speech. 

“I think she has some good plans, and I think she’ll accomplish them,” claimed Berkeley resident Miriam Ng. 


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