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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fight Ends For Good Government Advocate Joe Lynn, Who Dies at 64

Posted By on Thu, Dec 10, 2009 at 7:30 AM

Over the summer, Joe Lynn's condition grew so dire that his close friends gathered for somber discussions about the pending decision to pull the plug. At the time, one of them told me "It will take a miracle" for Lynn to ever wake up again. And yet, after 50 days in California Pacific Medical Center during his bout with acute Leukemia, Lynn not only woke up but walked out -- in good humor. Truly this was a miracle; "I'm told I pulled quite an act there," he joked to SF Weekly days before his release.

Cheating death, however, is only a temporary condition. The former ethics commissioner and open government activist fell while staying with friends yesterday, was briefly hospitalized, then later died at Maitri Hospice on Duboce. He was 64 years old.

And yet, Lynn's amazing resiliency, his refusal to go gently into that good night allowed him to do something very few people have to opportunity to do: Lynn, almost literally, got the chance to read his own obituaries. In life, he heard the things people almost invariably wait until too late to tell. Here's what we wrote before (and Lynn read):

As Lynn's health bottomed out, I sent out e-mails to his friends and colleagues in preparation for an obit. Here's some of what I got back:

Former Ethics Commissioner Paul Melbostad recently called Joe "the living embodiment of San Francisco Campaign Finance reform."

Joe's efforts include:

  • providing a sounding board and well of sagacity for the development of good government policy and campaign finance etiquette; exposing good government scandals;

  • facilitating the dawn of SF's electronic campaign finance database in 1998 (once considered the best in the nation);

  • enhancing local press access to campaign finance data during key elections such as Nov. 2000;

  • providing a great example of making the best of a hostile, retaliatory work environment by resigning from Ethics Commission staff in 2003 and then promptly getting appointed as a Commissioner;

  • facilitating unprecedented amendments to the SF Campaign Finance Reform Ordinance in 2006; & tirelessly working on improving the routinely inept and corrupt operations and direction of the SF's good government watchdog, the Ethics Commission; not to mention motivating and encouraging the good works and creative endeavors of his friends and colleagues, be they political, artistic, culinary, or academic.

It should be noted that, even after it became apparent to Lynn that his time was short, he never stopped working to make San Francisco government more transparent and accountable. Even from what almost turned out to be his deathbed, he would call and pitch stories he thought were important.

And they were. 

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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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