Milton Marks, City College defender, dies at 52

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Milton Marks III, the son of a state senator who for 12 years tried, often against long odds and strong opposition, to clean up the San Francisco Community College District, died Aug. 9 of complications from a brain tumor. The whole city -- particularly the college district and its community of teachers and students -- should be mourning a genuinely good guy who stood up to corruption and secrecy and was an honest progressive on the College Board back when that was a lonely position.

"Of all the public servants I've known, he was the one I really admired most," his colleague, board member John Rizzo, said. "For all the shit he took, he never wavered. He was the nicest guy in politics, but he never backed down."

Marks was elected to the board in 2000, when it was a snake pit of sleaze, and he fought valiently -- often against the board majority and the administration -- to bring accountability and openness to the district.He's been re-elected twice, and would have been a shoo-in for another term this fall. (Unlike many College Board members, Marks wasn't constantly running for higher office. He loved City College and saw his role right there on the board.)

With all the problems the college is facing today, Marks and his voice of reason and credibility will be sorely missed.

The mayor will appoint a new member to that seat, and the person will have to run in November.

I don't know all the details about memorial arrangements; I'm still waiting for the formal statement from City College. The school paper, the Guardsman, has a solid obit you can read here. I'll fill in more details when I have them.

Meanwhile, we'll all miss you, Milton. You gave it the good fight.