About 400 people gathered this past Saturday to talk about issues ranging from economic development and education, to transportation justice and youth empowerment, during another well-attended Town Hall meeting hosted by Mayor Jean Quan, this time at St. Jarlath’s Church and School in the Fruitvale District of East Oakland.

The passion and commitment of the participants was apparent as they returned from the 10 break-out groups with creative solutions along with the tried and true responses. These included youth empowerment – more youth events and positive places for young people to go in the evenings as deterrents to danger to themselves and others; and improving bus service – come up with creative funding ideas for AC Transit. Quan expressed satisfaction with the outcomes.

“Many of your solutions are doable right now, and we have the means,” she said. “The rest we will look in to.”

The budget review came next, but nothing seemed to surprise the audience enough for many comments or questions.

Mainly a quiet day, tempers flared during the “question and answer” session over the No. 1 source of contention – the gang injunctions. Reports of the effect of the injunctions on families and neighborhoods brought several people to anger and to tears. Those for the injunctions cited fear for their safety. Quan and Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, in a “point-counterpoint moment” each weighed in on the issue, Quan against “the way the injunctions were rolled out” and De La Fuente for them as a tool for public safety.

Tempers flared again when one of the speakers charged De La Fuente with “no longer being a man of the people,” making allegations about the Councilman’s son, which caused many in the audience to hiss and boo. After a painful moment, the session, then the meeting drew to a close on a more upbeat ending.

Larry, who has lived in the Fruitvale area for more than 30 years, captured the mood of the gathering best when he said, “I like Mayor Quan and these Town Hall meetings. There’s a feeling that she really hears us and things are getting done.”

Go to KTOP for a replay and check out the proceedings on www.oaklandnet.com. The next District 5 meeting will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 28, at the Dimond Branch of the Oakland Public Library, 3565 Fruitvale Ave., Oakland.