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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Willie Brown Bridge: A Political Boss Marks His Territory

Posted By on Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 11:59 AM

click to enlarge Read it and weep - MIKE KOOZMIN/SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/San Francisco Examiner
  • Read it and weep

In a gala ceremony today, the Western Span of the Bay Bridge -- the gorgeous, arching structure that swells to encompass your entire sightline as you exit the Yerba Buena tunnel and lets you know that, now, you're somewhere -- was named after former Mayor Willie Brown. 

Rechristening a perfectly good bridge after the city's most ostentatious influence-peddler, a man who now wields more power than he did as an elected official with none of the pesky accountability, has been deemed "controversial." 

It's not. 

For that to be the case, there would have to be some controversy. But, other than the NAACP officials who proposed renaming the bridge after Brown, it's hard to conceive of anyone wanting this. Other than the state lawmakers who obeisantly rammed through the legislation honoring the former "Ayatollah of the Assembly" with rapidity befitting an oncoming hurricane and near-unanimous votes recalling Soviet parliamentary procedures, it's hard to think of anyone who thinks this is necessary. 

And yet, it happened.

There's no shortage of sour grapes consolations for those displeased by the events of this day. 

The most bandied-about reassurance is that no one will call the bridge The Willie Brown Bridge, just as surely as no one refers to Highway 380 as the Quentin Kopp Freeway, or sees fit to refer by name to the myriad thoroughfares named after fallen CHP officers. 

That's undoubtedly true, and Willie Brown is far too smart not to realize this. So it's interesting that he told The Examiner that his -- again, undoubtedly true -- reputation as the "Ayatollah of the Assembly" didn't "have anything to do with reality." Instead, a farcical and transparently rule-breaking power play to rename a portion of a bridge after him "is reality." 

No. That's, obviously, the very opposite of the truth. Here's reality: 

No one is going to call this structure "The Willie L. Brown, Jr. Bridge." But it is. 

No one is going to call this city "Willie L. Brown, Jr.'s City." But it is. 

And that's the case regardless of whether you put up a sign saying it's so. 

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

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