Forget the Willie Brown Bay Bridge

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EDITORIAL As the California Legislature prepares to wrap up before fall recess, a resolution is working its way through the approval process to rename the western span of the Bay Bridge the "Willie L. Brown Jr. Bridge."

Brown, who formerly served as mayor of San Francisco and speaker of the California Assembly, is known for boasting about his hobnobbing with the rich and famous in his San Francisco Chronicle column, "Willie's World." But to longtime progressive San Franciscans who spent decades trying to stem the tide of gentrification, he was the powerful figure that rolled out the welcome mat for high-end developers and corporate interests, whose interests in San Francisco revolved around profit alone.

As mayor, Brown presided over land-use policies that resulted in high-end developments at a time when evictions were rampant, a trend that rings familiar in today's tech-saturated San Francisco. Once, when pressed on the idea that his approach was making the city increasingly unaffordable, Brown's famous retort was: "If you don't make $50,000 a year in San Francisco, then you shouldn't live here."

It's not just Brown's insensitivity to struggling tenants, deep ties to corporate interests and high-end real-estate developers, or continued behind-the-scenes influence in San Francisco politics that cause us to squirm when we think about the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge bearing this politician's name. There's also the key question of whether Bay Area residents actually want to see this happen — and, given Brown's historic role as a divisive figure, the idea that there is universal support for such an idea is laughable.

A legislative analysis presented to the Assembly Committee on Transportation a few weeks ago noted that lawmakers actually came up with ground rules for big decisions like whether a bridge ought to be named after someone, to "promote fairness." The rules stipulate that such a proposal "must reflect a community consensus" — and guess what? Even Brown's editors over at the Chronicle issued a June editorial opposing the idea.

Not only that, but proposals like this are only supposed to come from representatives of the district where the thing being renamed is located — yet this scheme came from Assemblymember Isadore Hall, a Democrat from Compton. But despite clear failure to adhere to these basic rules, only a single committee member voted against naming the bridge after Brown.

Interestingly enough, the bill even includes a request for Caltrans to determine the cost of posting signs commemorating Brown, which would evidently be funded by donations from unspecified private sources.

If the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is going to be named after anyone, we agree that the honor should be reserved for beloved 19th-century San Francisco eccentric Joshua Abraham Norton, the Scotsman who proclaimed himself Emperor of the United States in 1859 and printed his own currency.

So far, a Change.org petition calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to name it the Emperor Norton Bay Bridge has garnered 1,800 signatures. "He was a champion of racial and religious unity, an advocate for women's suffrage [and] a defender of the people," the petition notes. That sounds more like something motorists can be proud of when they drive back and forth across the bay.

 

Comments

naming something after a black or hispanic.

As long as it is one of their hispanics or blacks, of course.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 03, 2013 @ 4:21 pm

I don't see why it has to be named after anyone at all. I don't want the Willie Brown Bridge, the Emperor Norton Bridge, Ron Dellums Federal Building, Harvey Milk Airport, Gavin Newsom whatever-the-heck he will try to get named after himself. Let's just leave it the San Francisco (or Oakland depending on your POV) Bay Bridge.

Oh and I'm sure you'll be taking the NAACP to task for (at least according to Brown) being behind the push to name the bridge after him.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 03, 2013 @ 9:21 pm

to make him local NAACP chairman back in the day?

Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 03, 2013 @ 10:51 pm

I don't know about that. I do know that this proves that the NAACP will back someone regardless of their ethics as long as their skin color is the right hue (even more so if he did rig an election to make him NAACP chairman). Brown is an egotistical D-bag who doesn't deserve something this iconic named after him.

I'm still against the idea of naming something 1) after someone living and 2) after someone had nothing to do with the project. Although Brown had a lot to do with the bridge, he, along with Jerry Brown, was the main reason why the damn thing took 25 years and over 6 BILLION dollars.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 11:07 am

not renaming the bridge. But you cannot have it both ways. If we name a street after a liberal, why can't we name a bridge after a conservative?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 11:28 am

Who knew.

(Actually, quite a few of us knew... and sometimes we use more colorful language.)

Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 1:19 pm

support for naming the bridge span after him because the overwhelming majority of Bay Area residents are politically moderate.

Hint: the Bay Bridge isn't just about SF.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

I would definitely support renaming Cesar Chavez back to Army street. If you read my earlier post, I said I didn't want these things named after anyone not involved in its construction or adoption. I didn't want Army Street renamed to Cesar Chavez, the Bay Bridge after Willie Brown, the federal building in Oakland after Ron Dellums, SFO after Harvey Milk, or anything after Gavin Newsom. I don't want a school named after Ed Lee. I understand the Moscone Center being named after Moscone because he helped push through a compromise plan that was approved overwhelmingly by the voters.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

for the new bay bridge span to be called, er, the new bay bridge span.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

I'm a conservative and I still don't want the bridge named after Brown. I don't like buildings (or bridges) named after politicians who are alive and had nothing to do with its construction.

I am completely for renaming Army street but I'm also a realist. Renaming something (especially something named for a famed civil rights leader) is much harder than choosing to not name a brand new structure after a person. Add to the fact that the street was named "Army" street? The Progressives of San Francisco have a clear animosity towards anything that has to do with the armed forces. Remember the fiasco with the Missouri? Or ROTC? Or the Blue Angels? And best of all how Gerardo Sandoval told the world that the US military is unnecessary because we have the police and Coast Guard?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 7:46 pm

Regardless of my opinion of Willie, naming a bridge after him i.e. the "Willie Brown Bay Bridge" just sounds horrible.

For starters, when did we start calling it the "Brown Bay"?

Then there is the excruciating alliteration.

Besides, he's not dead yet. It would be unseemly. Kind of like the "Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport". Let them die first, then, if you must, name something after them that no one ever has to say out loud or type, like a water treatment plant or a landfill.

Posted by David Kennerly on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 3:42 am

He was important both for the city and for the state, and honouring that seems appropriate and reasonable.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 6:36 am

Willie Brown has bent over backwards to allow Wall Street real estate developers take over and wreck San Francisco.

Brown is also a high paid PG&E consultant who is still in control of the Mayor's office and the SF Public Utilities Commission, and he has used his power over these offices to block the CleanPowerSF program from being started for a full ten years.

CleanPowerSF would compete with PG&E delivering cheaper and cleaner energy to San Francisco, and would put at least 1500 people a year to work for the next ten years building hundreds of megawatts of clean energy and efficiency; bringing San Francisco to over 50% clean electricity use within the next decade.

The fact that Brown is blocking this program which is -crucial- to San Francisco leading the world on reversing the climate crisis, makes him one of the most reprehensible losers to ever walk the face of the Earth.

Naming a bridge after such a corporate bought joke of a human being would be an outrage.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 10:30 am

left winger then I might object?

Most people are happy with PG&E, most people voted down public power, and most people enjoyed an uplift in income and wealth from developments in SF. If Brown was more in tune with those people than you are, then why should we listen to you on this?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 11:12 am

The claim that most people are 'happy' with PG&E is absurd.

PG&E ripped us all off during Enron's false 'energy crisis', just blew up and killed 8 people in San Bruno, sickened and killed even more people with its dumping of highly toxic chromium in Hinkley, California (the subject of the film Erin Brockovich), and jacks up its electricity rates every chance it gets without fail; and the public is well aware of all these outrages.

It is that sort of PG&E abuse of public safety, and social and environmental values, that Willie Brown is in -perfect- tune with, because PG&E has paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep its 'tune'.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 11:30 am

every time the voters have been asked to choose between PG&E and public power, they have chosen PG&E. So I'm sorry but your one opinion does not override election results.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 11:40 am

Give me break.

And also please explain how the voters' rejection of public power measures at the ballot (after PG&E spent tens of millions of dollars on PR campaigns to get them to vote that way) validates your contention that most people are "happy" with PG&E.

"Will tolerate" and "are happy with" are two very different concepts, and I'll bet those voters know the difference.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 4:04 pm

time the voters have been asked whether they want such a risky business managed by the same people who fix our streets and run Muni, the voters have made their views very clear.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

to an entirely different issue, but it is not going to save your butt.

The subject at hand was whether or not "most people" are "happy" with PG&E.

My guess is not.

And actually the San Francisco public has never once been asked to weigh in on where they get their natural gas; just electricity.

However, now that the San Bruno explosion has happened and 8 people have died, it would be a safe bet that "most people" would rather trust another source for their natural gas.

To argue otherwise, as you have done, is pretty amusing, but not rational.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 6:05 pm

IOW, you have no idea. And I'll bet you never ask people want they think - you prefer to tell them, like all activists.

The only objective evidence we have is the series of public power voter initiatives and, despite massive prejudicial support for public power from the hapless Bruce Brugmann. public power lost every single time.

Now, maybe losing once could have been written off. But losing every time?

Since the global privatization of the 1980's, most western nations now have private utilities and customer satisfaction surveys show consumers to be happier with that. You've said nothing to change my mind about that.

Anyway, Willie did far more than secure SF's power sources. He gave us the tech boom which has made millionaires out of tens of thousands od SF'ers. A bridge name is little compared with that.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 6:16 pm

..for making it unnecessary to continue the debate.

Now that you have securely sailed into your traditional neo-liberal fantasy land, where up is down and black is white, and the 2008 economic crash (which proved that a world run by unfettered privatization is a really stupid idea) is an event which apparently in your mind never happened..

..I think we're done.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 6:45 pm

"I'm right; you're all wrong" pathetic throwaway and give up all semblance of an intelligent coherent argument.

You may not like it but most SF voters have repeatedly said yes to PG&E and NO to public power. Heck, even this clean power joke is being run by Shell, who are far worse than PG&E.

I'd have more respect for you if you simply admitted that you're wrong, but people like you never do.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 7:01 pm

..to be operating under the misapprehension that I either need or value your respect. Neither is the case.

As I said, now that you are repeating the same very tired neo-liberal/neo-con arguments which you endlessly use to draw people into constant useless debate on this blog, I'm done with you.

You were doing ok when we were debating about Willie Brown, because at least your arguments, if not compelling, were somewhat new.

But now that we are back into your broken record territory, of ceaselessly promoting privatization and frothing at the mouth incessantly about your evil arch nemesis 'public power' I'm not interested.

So rant on dark Don Quixote, you are tilting only at wind turbines of your own imagining now.

If you believe my declination means you have triumphed over actual public power wind farms?

more power to you ;)

That's a lot of wind mills though. You'd better get cracking. And you'll need Sancho for sure. <\;'>

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 7:39 pm

Nobody minds that you carry on regardless, but don't go pretending that your views are somehow supported by most of us. They are not, as every election has demonstrated.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 5:38 am

..the obvious point that you keep refusing to answer.

How do those (PG&E multimillion dollar PR campaign skewed) votes prove that "most people are happy" with PG&E?

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 9:40 am

then the election was bought, or there was voter fraud, or some other excuse or rationalization.

But when Progressives win, then it's genuinely the voice of the people.

How convenient.

Regardless, the voters have always support PG&E over municipal options, even if you don't like that.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 10:16 am

Let's assume for sake of argument, that your ridiculous claim that the tens of millions that PG&E has spent to influence voters has had no impact on votes. Let's just grant that, so you can actually stop bullshitting and answer the question. Here it is again:

How does voter rejection of public power in San Francisco prove that "most people are happy" with PG&E?

And by the way, even though PG&E spent nearly $50 million to pass the anti public power state ballot measure Prop 16 in 2010 - Prop 16 lost bigtime. So your claim that voters always reject public power in favor of PG&E is also bullshit.

And it suggests that "most people" and not in fact "happy" with PG&E.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 11:52 am

It's possible that PG&E spend money on all of those elections. That's what interested parties do in our electoral system. But if the people really had been unhappy with PG&E, they would have taken one of those many opportunities to dump PG&E. They never did and you cannot deny that.

You're obviously hopelessly biased on this topic and out of touch with how most ordinary SF'ers feel. but in the end PG&E are still here and probably always will be. As long as the lights come on, I'm fine with them, and trust them far more with energy that the same folks who do not seem to be able to run Muni.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

Here it is one more time, just to make clear you didn't answer it.

How do votes against public power prove that "most people are happy" with PG&E?

Your bogus ploy to now lamely switch your verbiage to say that they are not "unhappy" with PG&E is nothing but a bs cop out, and even itself, doesn't cut it.

Just because people opt to stay in a situation that they don't really like because they assume the alternative would be worse, that doesn't prove by any stretch of the imagination that they are "happy" with that situation.

Now, by all means, proceed to not answer the question one more time...

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 12:37 pm

tech bomb where tens of thousands of people were laid off and left town. Do you remember that?

Posted by Guest III on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 7:58 pm

So called 'free market' aficionados seem to selectively forget every capitalist crisis brought about by unfettered profit seeking, so that they can continue to blithely believe in a Randian fantasy land that never existed and never will exist; this belief tenaciously persisting, even though we now have more than a century of evidence and several major economic collapses (along with a looming planetary environmental collapse) to prove that their vision is a dismal failure.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 8:17 pm

was merely part of "the cycle" and that the negative effects were negligible compared to the wealth produced. (Or too bad for those on the losing end..they were just lazy anyways and were not smart enough to put money away for when the market crashes, which, it invariably does.)

Posted by Guest III on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 8:49 pm

Tell that to all those losers at Google, Apple and so on who cashed in six and seven figure stock options.

IT has given the Bay Area massive wealth, prosperity and opportunity. But of course you prefer failure, and I feel sure you will find it.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 5:40 am
Posted by Guest III on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 7:02 am

It's the fanciful responses that are shocking.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 7:23 am

Boom - Bust = 0

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 9:43 am

Here's a graph of the stock market over the last 20 years. You can clearly see the two dips you refer to, but overall the market has quadrupled, and is now at double what it was when Greenspan uttered his "irrational exuberabce" speech.

http://finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=SPY+Interactive#symbol=spy;range=my;c...

Home prices show a similar secular rise. The market may operate in cycles, but those cycles have higher lows and higher highs.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 10:19 am

What the stock market is doing has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with community and personal prosperity. There are plenty of peer reviewed statistics and graphs which show clearly that wealth disparity has vastly increased and the income of the average wage worker income is now declining. Stock market, GDP, and 'average' income numbers conveniently ignore that blaring reality.

Here is a report, with a graph (from CNN, no bastion of radicalism) that displays the reality. And bear in mind as you read the graph that it ends at 2008. Since the economic crash, real worker income has indeed gone down.

http://money.cnn.com/2011/02/16/news/economy/middle_class/index.htm

Here is a report from Pew (even more middle of the road than CNN) with lots of graphs and charts which show this dramatic post 2008 nose dive in middle class and lower class income and wealth.

http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2012/08/22/the-lost-decade-of-the-middle-...

Having a handful of rich people at the top growing -far- more wealthy, while the rest of us get screwed, is not economic success. And this is exactly what has been happening here locally, as well as nation wide; which has led to a low and middle income diaspora from the City.

Finally, here's an article showing the deep decline in real dollars, of the federal minimum wage.

http://www.epi.org/publication/declining-federal-minimum-wage-inequality/

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 11:41 am

they are good metrics for assessing prosperity. And since you raised the topic of booms and busts, it's important to understand that those describe markets, and so I used market data to prove you wrong.

And yes, of course, there are some who have not shared in this vast increase in wealth (although personally i do not know any). so what? Wasn't it always that way? Isn't it that way everywhere else?

There is not just a "handful" of wealthy. There are several million millionaires in the US and California has more of them than any place else. In fact, if you own a home in Sf and have paid off your mortgage, you're probably a millionaire. It's not even that big a deal any more.

The American Dream is true for millions, and could be true for the rest.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 11:50 am

Now that you are fully back in fantasy land; see ya.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 11:59 am

the rest."

Come on, that is a ridiculous statement. If everyone could be rich, everyone would be rich.

Your comments prove that propaganda and brainwashing work.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 12:08 pm

Arguing in the 'comment' section is like running in the Special Olympics.

Even if you win, you're still retarded.

Posted by the 'real' Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 12:44 pm

the atrocities that Shell Oil has committed worldwide?

oh, right, those don't matter because we aren't getting too much power from them, not paying them too much money for it. Right?

argue clean power SF all you want, but to compare PG&E vs. Shell as to who is the worse corporate citizen is just weak sauce

(that said, I think naming the bridge after a crook like WB is a freakin' joke)

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 1:42 pm

Many thanks for referencing the Change.org petition to name the entire Bay Bridge system --- Western *and* Eastern spans --- for Emperor Norton.

Leah Garchik of the San Francisco Chronicle reported on 14 August that Willie Brown himself has said that he favors this idea. (Second item at http://bit.ly/1a5fWI4.)

The petition now is at 2,700+ signatures. Those who wish to add their support can sign at http://chn.ge/1eu7qju.

Also: The naming policy that now applies is the one adopted in April 2013 by the California State Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.

According to the policy --- at http://bit.ly/14VYvpK --- a resolution such as the one, ACR 65, calling for the Western span of the Bay Bridge to be named for Willie Brown is to be considered by the Committee *only* if it satisfies a number of conditions, including the two mentioned here...

(1) The author (or co-authors) of the resolution must include at least one representative of the district in which the facility is located.

(2) The resolution must have community consensus and no local opposition.

...plus a third: The proposed honoree must be deceased.

The resolution to name the Western span for Willie Brown fails on all three counts.

Posted by John Lumea on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 10:09 am

Many thanks for referencing the Change.org petition to name the entire Bay Bridge system --- Western *and* Eastern spans --- for Emperor Norton.

Leah Garchik of the San Francisco Chronicle reported on 14 August that Willie Brown himself has said that he favors this idea. (Second item at http://bit.ly/1a5fWI4.)

The petition now is at 2,700+ signatures. Those who wish to add their support can sign at http://chn.ge/1eu7qju.

Also: The naming policy that now applies is the one adopted in April 2013 by the California State Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.

According to the policy --- at http://bit.ly/14VYvpK --- a resolution such as the one, ACR 65, calling for the Western span of the Bay Bridge to be named for Willie Brown is to be considered by the Committee *only* if it satisfies a number of conditions, including the two mentioned here...

(1) The author (or co-authors) of the resolution must include at least one representative of the district in which the facility is located.

(2) The resolution must have community consensus and no local opposition.

...plus a third: The proposed honoree must be deceased.

The resolution to name the Western span for Willie Brown fails on all three counts.

Posted by John Lumea on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 10:10 am

after Stalin or Che, but do you really have nothing more substantial to worry about than this?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 11:10 am

In the people and events that we choose to honor by placing their names on our most-iconic landmarks, we send powerful messages to ourselves, to the world and to future generations about whom we are and what we value.

I don't consider this insubstantial at all.

We should pay much better attention to our symbols than we do.

Posted by John Lumea on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 1:06 pm

captured a good amount of the high tech and internet revolution, and ensured that construction of new business and home locations enabled a more modern, updated population could live and work here.

So yes, a 21st century bridge deserves an icon of progress and not some throwback to the bad old days when SF was overlooked by Silicon Valley and looked more like the new Detroit.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 1:23 pm
Posted by Guest III on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 8:26 pm

and continue to drive prosperity in the Bay Area. Noticed rents and home prices rising to all-time highs? That's not indicative of a bust industry. Go to Detroit if you want to see real busts. I feel sure you'd like it there.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 5:41 am

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