San Francisco Politicos Really Don't Want to Name Bay Bridge After Willie Brown (Update)

Update, Thursday, 11:14 a.m.: The State Senate Housing and Transportation Committee will hear the Willie Brown Bridge bill on Monday, Sept. 9.

Update: Good news, guys. Assemblyman Phil Ting can't bat for Team Brown, since his district doesn't include the Bay Bridge.

williebrown.jpg
You may recall that fateful day in June when a group of state assemblymen in Sacramento floated a resolution to name the flashy western span of the Bay Bridge after San Francisco's flashy former mayor. And if that group has its druthers, "The Willie L. Brown, Jr. Bridge" may go down in history as San Francisco's tawdriest vanity project.

It gets worse.

Democratic Assemblyman Issadore Hall III, who introduced the resolution, suggested we name the new eastern span after a prominent East Bay politico. One suggestion: use another person with surname Brown. The prospect of a Willie Brown Bridge going west and a Jerry Brown Bridge going east created a veritable explosion in the blogosphere.

And journalists weren't the only ones crying foul. This morning three former San Francisco supervisors submitted a letter to Senator Darrell Steinberg, requesting that Sacramento not Brown-out two beloved pieces of local transit architecture. Not surprisingly, the people behind the letter -- Aaron Peskin, Matt Gonzalez, and Quentin L. Kopp -- are all staunch critics of Willie Brown.

And they make some good points. For one, Assembly Concurrent Resolution 65 wasn't authored or co-authored by a legislator whose district encompasses the western span, which lies entirely within San Francisco. Rather, the idea generated from members of the NAACP, who enlisted Assemblyman Hall to introduce it. At least, that's the story according to San Francisco Chronicle, where Willie Brown is employed as a columnist.

The prospective Willie Brown Bridge also defies Senate rules that require legislators to only name transit architecture after dead people, the trio says. But most importantly, the Brown Bridge does not "reflect a community consensus. And that's when they really bring on the pain:

"While we respect Mr. Brown's years of public service, Mr. Brown remains a very controversial figure in San Francisco and there exists significant concern in our community that naming the Bay Bridge for him is not appropriate," the ex-Supervisors write.

In a phone interview, Matt Gonzalez acknowledged that he does, indeed, hold a lot of respect for Willie Brown, even if the two have been sworn adversaries at times, and even if -- as our office gadfly noted -- he'd probably rather swim than take the Willie L. Brown Bridge. Gonzalez remained coy. "I've always felt that the naming of a public monument should be done after somebody is gone, when you can have a real fair and open discussion about it," he said.

But Peskin, Gonzalez, and Kopp might be out of luck, because ACR 65 does, indeed, bear the imprimatur of San Francisco Assemblyman Phil Ting, which could help Brown win on a technicality -- although a quick review of district lines revealed that Ting's district doesn't include the Bay Bridge. And not surprisingly, Brown is bolstered by a fervent Brown Bridge lobby -- though granted, an equally fervent group is campaigning for the Brown Bridge's demolition.

A spokeswoman from Steinberg's office says that the Senate Rules Committee referred ACR 65 to the Senate Committee on Housing and Transportation today, although a hearing date for the name is still pending.

Update: It warrants mentioning that the Bay Bridge already has an unofficial name, for former San Francisco mayor James B. Rolph (1912-1931). We're not sure how his descendants feel about the proposed rechristening.

Also worth mentioning: a vigorous Change.org campaign to name the western span for Emperor Norton.

And: Per our office Gadfly: "The preferred nomenclature is 'wag.'"

Here's the letter:

href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/164314787/ACR-65-Peskin-Kopp-Gonzalez" style="text-decoration: underline;" >ACR 65 Peskin Kopp Gonzalez




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54 comments
mercurywoodrose
mercurywoodrose

This is the most supremely stupid and politically hackworthy gesture ive seen in a long time. im more sympathetic to the George HW Bush airport in texas than this, and im a democrat. I swear, i wont drive across that bridge if its named after him.

Andrew K.
Andrew K.

hell no. Name it after Emperor Norton

Dirk Dieter
Dirk Dieter

How about "couple of screws loose bridge"

Jan Blum
Jan Blum

NO. That would be like naming it Master Manipulator 's Bridge.

Ima Hemp
Ima Hemp

OH HELL NO!!!! He nearly made the city go bankrupt when he was in office with his lavish over the top BS parties!!

Sue E Hepner
Sue E Hepner

How about just the Brown Bridge, fits in two Governors too.

gkoskovich
gkoskovich

My proposal: The Norton Memorial Bridge. The western span would honor Emperor Norton (1819–1880), the 19th-century San Francisco eccentric who first ordered the construction of such a bridge — and the new eastern span would honor LGBT rights trailblazer José Sarria (1922–2013), who dubbed himself Empress I José, the Widow Norton. José gets the eastern span because it's considerably younger — and because he started his six-decade drag career by winning a female impersonation contest at a bar in Oakland.

Lou Kief
Lou Kief

Hell no. If you want to name it after someone who deserves it, make the span the Jose' Sarria Memorial bridge. That man fought for human rights his entire life.

Eric Ehrhardt
Eric Ehrhardt

HORRIBLE idea .... It's time to stop idolizing unworthy Liberalism altogether, lest it become a badge of shame for generations to come. Let it be known simply by its "natural" name: The Oakland Bay Bridge.

Jessica Tovar
Jessica Tovar

Willie Brown who pioneered gentrification of this city. Backstabbed black folks in SF & Shirley Chisholm (first black female radical for president 1972). FUCK NO!

Steven Python
Steven Python

Tearing down one bridge after building another is such an eminently Gracie Allen logical progression I think she deserves the honor.

Steven Python
Steven Python

Gracie Allen is my favorite San Franciscan. Name it after her.

Steven Python
Steven Python

If they dig a mile-deep hole in the ground - that they should name after Willie Brown. But not a bridge.

John Lilly
John Lilly

That's on Onion headline, right?

NorCal Crowe
NorCal Crowe

And if you are going to name it after anyone it needs to be name after SOMEONE IN OAKLAND!!!!!!!!! I say name it after Oaklands most famous personality. The Al Davis Memorial Bay Bridges. He hired the first first hispanic and black head coaches and the first female ever to run a team.

NorCal Crowe
NorCal Crowe

If we name after a willie....should be more like WILLIE NELSON!!! Hes been spanning generations of music fan for years!!!

Todd Ganser
Todd Ganser

Name the new bridge after Willie? Hahahaha. Only if he's paying for it.

John Regnary
John Regnary

How about making the unofficial Bay Bridge name official: James B. Rolph, longest serving San Francisco Mayor and Governor of California.

Jamie Guzzi
Jamie Guzzi

I love that Matt Gonzalez is in the mix on this though. Gonzalez in 2015!

Steve Gaultney
Steve Gaultney

My understanding... HE was one of the people that held up construction for something like eight years over who go control of the Admirals house below the tunnels on Buena Vista Island. Reward for that...don't think so...

Greg Olwell
Greg Olwell

He will need to find something else because his legacy has nothing to do with the western span of the already named San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Besides, no bridge is flashy enough to be named after Mr. Brown. Perhaps he can fund-raise enough to buy naming rights to the baseball stadium?

Adam Sawyer
Adam Sawyer

That fucking Crook?? How about naming the new sewer system after him?? Why heap ANY accolades off of ANY politician ever?? They are ALL Lawyers first, than money grubbing back room dealing arrogant self serving for a career..

Will Kardas
Will Kardas

Name it after Rolph or Emperor Norton, but not Willie Brown.

Marc Acton
Marc Acton

I say name it after Heklina Heklina!

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