Ed Lee Calls Candlestick Blackout "National Embarrassment." Ain't That a Bit Harsh?

Categories: Government, Sports
candlestick explosion.jpg
ESPN television broadcast
If John Madden were calling this clip, no doubt he'd say "Boom!"
When Mayor Ed Lee told gathered throngs of media that the multiple power failures during Monday Night Football were a "national embarrassment," he used strong -- and curious -- language.

San Francisco's infrastructure failures didn't lead to rampant death and destruction; regional chaos; or cars and steel in the river. That would be tragic -- this is merely embarrassing. But locals don't need anyone to remind them that it's no fun to have one's shortcomings broadcast on national television. So why does the mayor feel the need to toss fuel on the fire? (Which would have been a decent way of illuminating the ballgame). Why play up his own city's shortcomings, or undiplomatically dump on PG&E or the San Francisco 49ers?

Three possibilities come to mind:

  • Lee has "owned" the problem, which is beneficial no matter who is eventually found negligent for Candlestick going dark.

Lights out.jpg
Let's focus a bit more on that last one. Because, whether Lee meant to do so or not, it was a sound idea. "There's nothing anyone else can say that's worse than what Lee is saying," notes political consultant Jim Ross -- who adds that he was needled by out-of-state colleagues the day after Monday Night Football, and, yes, it was embarrassing. "Now, even if it's the city's problem, it sets Lee up to be the solver of a problem."

This figures to be the opening act of an awkward pas de deux between the city and 49ers, as the latter are all but certainly headed south to a publicly funded stadium -- with publicly generated electricity -- and the former is left to maintain a stadium that could generously be described as "decrepit."

Over the next few years, San Francisco will have to figure out how to avoid sinking massive amounts of money into the obsolete Candlestick Park while ensuring the stadium's next failure doesn't result in people being maimed or killed.

That would be far worse than a "national embarrassment."

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