Willie Brown
Willie Brown
Willie Lewis Brown, Jr. is an American politician of the Democratic Party. He served over 30 years in the California State Assembly, spending 15 years as its Speaker, and afterward served as the 41st mayor of San Francisco, the first African American to do so. Under the current California term limits law, no Speaker of the California State Assembly will ever have a longer tenure than Brown's.
Biography
Willie Brown's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Willie Brown from around the web
Cleveland Councilman Reed Says He's Still Weighing Mayoral Bid
NPR - 22 days
Yesterday’s announcement that popular Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson will seek a fourth term hasn’t stopped Councilman Zack Reed from weighing a bid for the office. Reed says he will continue raising money and finding out if voters will support him. “We think we put ourselves in a position to at least be a viable candidate. But are we a viable winning candidate? ... Willie Brown always taught me not to run a race you can’t win. He’s my mentor out in San Francisco and he said don’t run a race you can’t win. So we want to look at and evaluate the race from start to finish.” Reed says he would challenge Jackson’s focus on improving downtown and accuses him of not spending enough on other neighborhoods and on services. With Jackson , there are eight announced candidates, including Councilman Jeff Johnson , a harsh critic of the mayor. The candidates must file their petitions by June 29 th to qualify for September’s non-partisan primary. The top two primary finishers compete in November’s
Article Link:
NPR article
America's Oldest Park Ranger Enjoys Special Treat For 95th Birthday
Huffington Post - 5 months
Happy birthday, Betty Reid Soskin! The nation’s oldest active park ranger celebrated her 95th birthday Thursday with a special day that was quite a whirlwind. Soskin, who works at the Rosie The Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park in California, is currently on a 10-day trip to the nation’s capital. She’s been invited to attend the opening ceremony of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Saturday. Soskin, who lived through the Civil Rights era, already enjoyed a preview tour of the museum, which she says brought back memories of her childhood.  Soskin said she’ll be a little starstruck at Saturday’s opening event.  “This ‘lil ole lady ranger will be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Laura Bush, Oprah Winfrey, Quincy Jones, Willie Brown, General Colin Powell, etc., and we may all be wondering just how on earth she ever got on the A-List!!” Soskin wrote on her blog.  The spunky nonagenarian, who only became a park ranger a ...
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Huffington Post article
Big names to help rechristen Bay Bridge span for Willie Brown
San Francisco Chronicle - about 3 years
A who's who of more than 500 people from politics, sports, entertainment and high society is expected to join former San Francisco Mayor and ex-Assembly Speaker Willie Brown on Treasure Island for Tuesday's official rechristening of the western portion of the Bay Bridge in his honor. Caltrans crews were hoping to catch a break from the rain over the weekend to install the two new placards - each 6 feet wide by 2 feet high - welcoming drivers on the upper and lower decks to the Willie L. Brown Jr. The $6,500 cost of making and installing the signs is being paid by the California NAACP - whose president, Alice Huffman, made the legislative resolution renaming the bridge after Brown the group's top priority. Rich Robinson, a San Jose political consultant who helped the NAACP raise the money to cover the new signage and festivities, said Brown "may be controversial, but he is a hall of famer in the world of politics." [...] while the governor apparently won't make the sign unveiling, h ...
Article Link:
San Francisco Chronicle article
Considering Henry Waxman: Despite Drawbacks, the Congressman and the Scene He Helped Create Had Massive Accomplishments
Huffington Post - about 3 years
In part of my mind, it seems like it was yesterday. The Watergate scandal had driven Richard Nixon from the White House and ushered in a young band of fresh-faced politicians who were going to do it all differently, with more respect for the environment, less reverence for violence, more concern about an increasingly diverse America, an aversion to the imperial presidency. With Jerry Brown, who first became governor in that Watergate year of 1974, still sounding if not looking much as he did then as he prepares to go for a fourth term as governor of California with a 60 percent job approval rating in the latest poll, it's not hard for my time warp to continue. Then something dramatic happens to remind that not only is that halcyon era very much in the rearview mirror, the eternal Brown notwithstanding, but also that most of its leading lights have long since departed. Henry Waxman's decision to retire from Congress after 40 years service there (following six years in the California ...
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Huffington Post article
Bay Bridge: Too big to fail
San Francisco Chronicle - about 3 years
If the Bay Bridge were a football team, the coach would have been fired, the quarterback would have been dropped from the team, and the remaining athletes would have felt a pinch in their endorsement income. [...] because the new eastern span was a government project that ran four times over budget and took more than twice as long to complete than was expected - and required a retrofit even before it was open to the public - no individual will lose his job, no contractor will lose state business, and no politician need worry about this boondoggle sabotaging his re-election. [...] the Legislature expressed its sorry sense of remorse by naming the western span after Willie Brown, former San Francisco mayor, current Chronicle columnist and chief cause of delay for what ballooned into a $6.4 billion project. Last month, state Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Mark DeSaulnier presided over a hearing to examine a report commissioned on the project, "Lessons Learned From the Develop ...
Article Link:
San Francisco Chronicle article
Jerry Brown for President: The Way We Were
Huffington Post - about 3 years
Governor Jerry Brown said while touring inland California a few days that he's not planning to run for president in 2016. "No, that's not in the cards," he said in a rather off-hand response to a question about weeks of reports touting him as a presidential prospect. "Unfortunately. Actually, California is a lot more governable." Which is why he's running now for re-election, of course, as I've been saying since was elected to his renewed governorship in November 2010. Brown is already the longest serving governor in California history, with the current term following after his controversial yet largely successful first two terms from 1975 to 1983. He already has to be ranked as one of California's great politicians, not to mention one of the most intriguing American political figures of the modern era. Now he's in position to stake a serious claim to being California's greatest governor, rivaling the past governorships of moderate Republican Earl Warren and his own father, the leg ...
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Huffington Post article
Political in-crowd celebrates Joe Cotchett
San Francisco Chronicle - about 3 years
A crowd more than 300 strong, pals and clients of Joe Cotchett, gathered at the Fairmont Friday night to celebrate the mega lawyer's 75th birthday and 50 years of law practice. In the Terrace Room at the height of a predinner reception, there was a roiling sea of lawyers and judges, along with allies and adversaries who had fought alongside and against Cotchett in court, along with well-wishers Cotchett has supported politically and well-wishers-plus who hope to enlist his support in future political battles. Anna Eshoo and Jackie Speier; Mayor Ed Lee; mayoral pal Rose Pak; former Mayors Willie Brown and Frank Jordan; Supervisors Jane Kim, London Breed, David Chiu and Scott Weiner; Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Jennifer Siebel Newsom; state Treasurer Bill Lockyer; state Sen. Mark Leno (who brought an easel-ready proclamation praising the honoree's "commitment to social justice through his stellar legal career"); and former California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron and Barbara George. T ...
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San Francisco Chronicle article
Housing crunch poses challenge for Mayor Ed Lee
San Francisco Chronicle - about 3 years
With the economy showing no signs of slowing, and with more and more people moving to San Francisco, Mayor Ed Lee is finding himself walking a housing tightrope that is getting higher and higher every day. Jaye worked on the campaigns of both former Mayors Gavin Newsom and Willie Brown, and is no stranger to the town's shifting political winds and voter worries over being "priced out of the city." There are an estimated 40,000 units of new housing in the city's planning pipeline, about 10,000 of which have been set aside for families making less than $70,000 a year. Lee had hoped that the 12,000 homes being built at the old Hunters Point Shipyard would have been ready for the market by now, but construction is going slower than expected. Lee's call to reform Ellis Act eviction laws - something that would have been a radical idea just a couple of years back. Sources tell us that the Golden State Warriors are looking at reworking their plans for the luxury hotel and condo high-rise ...
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San Francisco Chronicle article
The man who talked back to Barack Obama
San Francisco Chronicle - about 3 years
Chronicle columnist and former mayor Willie Brown introduced his Sunday column with a short item. The White House is steaming over San Francisco's lack of vetting of the people who joined President Obama on stage in Chinatown for his immigration speech - especially after one of them started yelling at the president about halting deportations. The civil rights movement is the benchmark for all other movements. In that, people risked their reputations for civility by marching, by singing, by sitting in or teaching in or refusing to disperse. When the government sought to limit or deny funding for AIDS research, ordinary citizens were driven to civil disobedience. If the White House is steaming, the White House is not paying attention to the movements that brought the current administration into power. Even in the face of their election debacle, they have prevented the president's immigration reform bill from reaching the floor. The young man who spoke out at the immigration speech ...
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San Francisco Chronicle article
Initiative reform needed in California
LATimes - over 3 years
Former speaker Willie Brown would drop the state's direct democracy initiative process altogether. Willie Brown, the legendary Assembly speaker and former San Francisco mayor, says he has never voted for a ballot initiative.
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LATimes article
The downfall of Western civilization
San Francisco Chronicle - over 3 years
Litquake's annual Barbary Coast award was given this year to Ron Turner, founder and owner of Last Gasp Press, which publishes underground comics, art books and, over the years, some material you probably wouldn't want your children to see. The roastee sat onstage alongside his wife, Carol Stevenson, and son, Colin Turner, who works with his dad in the biz, while tales were told, about the time Turner took staffers to Willie Brown's party for Marilyn Chambers at the O'Farrell Theatre; about the time at a BookExpo America convention in New York when the Last Gasp staff was selling a book about flesh eating and necrophilia across the aisle from folks selling "Chicken Soup for the Soul" and books about Betty Crocker; about Turner sharing a joint with Lee Harvey Oswald at a Communist Party meeting in Chicago. Perhaps most evoking fond memories from the hometown crowd, though, was Jon Longhi's description of Turner's being in charge of the entertainment for political consultant Jack Davis ...
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San Francisco Chronicle article
From Africa, at the core of us all
San Francisco Chronicle - over 3 years
The crowd gathered at the Palace was shining (with jewels), glittering (with sequins), curvy (with cleavage) and best of all gleaming (with optimism). The atmosphere was both brimming with a feeling of achievement for surviving and radiating gratitude for the people who made it happen, from Belva Davis, who was the engine that chug-chug-chugged and pulled the museum into existence, to Willie Brown, who forged a deal that included space for MoAD in a redevelopment project centered on the Yerba Buena Gardens area. Preparing for the role, he visited Howard, looked at photographs and history, particularly the young lawyers' determination to overturn Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 decision that had established the legality of "separate but equal." Moet Hennessy USA, which has long supported Tuskegee Institute, was honored with a Corporate Leadership award; San Francisco Foundation chief Sandra Hernandez received a Legacy of Philanthropy award; and Woodard was honored particularly for creat ...
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San Francisco Chronicle article
Driving through the city, pursuing the fog
San Francisco Chronicle - over 3 years
Two previous film collaborations of Green and sounder designer Dave Cerf were shown, one about the astonishing link between Bay Area icon of the '70s Rainbow Man and 9/11 (!), and another about memorabilia shot into space aboard Voyager II. The paintings, taken down over the weekend, looked wet, soft, watery; a fitting contrast to the stone-like lobby wall panels. Journalist Kate Coleman, an old friend of restaurant co-owner Ken Friedman (and, incidentally, a fellow swimmer with McGurrin), reports that Etheredge looked pleased to have pals Tom Luddy and John Keker there for the rebirth, and that Willie Brown and Ed Lee were sitting with Joe Montana. Rosenthal was honored by admirers from the San Francisco Chapter of the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association last week with the placement of a bronze plaque at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Virginia. -- In recognition for programs engaging young people, Jonathan Moscone, artistic director of the California Sh ...
Article Link:
San Francisco Chronicle article
The Week to Week News Quiz for 9/20/13
Huffington Post - over 3 years
Take a break from reading doomed congressional budget bills and take our Week to Week news quiz. Here are some random but real hints: 41st time's the charm; no-blame game; maybe he'll become Harvard's president again, instead; and that'd become da museum. Answers are at the bottom of the quiz. 1. The House of Representatives passed a bill that would prevent a government shutdown in return for what? a. The defunding of Obamacare b. The impeachment of President Barack Obama c. The passage of a flat tax d. The appointment of an independent prosecutor to examine Banghazi 2. Who told NBC News that "We have never sought or pursued a nuclear bomb and we are not going to do so"? a. North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un b. Texas Senator Ted Cruz c. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani d. Syrian President Bashir al-Assad 3. Where were 19 people shot in one day (Thursday)? a. Outside the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan b. Damascus, Syria c. Chicago d. The town of Kerdasa, near Cairo, Egypt ...
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Huffington Post article
Herhold: It'll be the Bay Bridge no matter its official name
Good Morning Silicon Valley - over 3 years
Go ahead and name the western span of the Bay Bridge after Willie Brown. It won't make any difference.
Article Link:
Good Morning Silicon Valley article
Dealing with Reagan National
The Sacramento Bee - over 3 years
Re "Willie Brown Who?" (Letters, Sept. 16): Letter writer James R. LaCroix opposes naming the San Francisco- Oakland Bay Bridge for Willie Brown because he dislikes Brown's politics.
Article Link:
The Sacramento Bee article
Span named for Willie Brown, but no signs may go up
San Francisco Chronicle - over 3 years
The Legislature's overwhelming approval of a resolution renaming the western span of the Bay Bridge in honor of former San Francisco Mayor and Assembly Speaker Willie Brown is no guarantee the signs will actually go up. Would the governor take such a public slap at one of the state's senior Democrats - not to mention the NAACP, main backer of the renaming - over a largely symbolic measure? The governor's office isn't saying "yes," but it isn't saying "no," either - a spokesman declined to say anything about a state Senate vote Thursday giving the measure final approval. Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, who just announced he is running for the Assembly, was decidedly more noncommittal, saying he hadn't received many calls or e-mails on the subject and was "looking forward" to hearing from his constituents. The renaming resolution, which covers the bridge from Yerba Buena Island to San Francisco, was co-authored by San Francisco Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting and was a to ...
Article Link:
San Francisco Chronicle article
Jerry Brown opposes renaming span for Willie Brown
San Francisco Chronicle - over 3 years
On the eve of a state Senate vote that would give final legislative approval to the idea, Gov. Jerry Brown has come out against renaming the western span of the Bay Bridge in honor of former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. Lawmakers and other sources have been saying privately for days that the governor was unhappy about naming the western span after the former mayor and Assembly speaker and current Chronicle columnist. The governor reportedly noted that the Legislature's rules forbid naming roadways after living people, although lawmakers have ignored that ban repeatedly. Despite his objections, lawmakers say there appears to be every indication the Senate will approve the nonbinding resolution, which has already passed the Assembly on a 68-0 vote. Normally talkative Bay Area politicians are privately expressing consternation over the idea of renaming the bridge in honor of Willie Brown, given the outcry the suggestion has prompted on his home turf. With the tense relations bet ...
Article Link:
San Francisco Chronicle article
Public often ignores officially designated names
San Francisco Chronicle - over 3 years
While campaigns to name it officially for Emperor Norton or Mayor Sunny James Rolph failed, the effort to name it after former mayor and Assembly speaker and current Chronicle columnist Willie Brown has already passed the Assembly 68-0, and could be voted on by the Senate as soon as Wednesday. [...] while lawmakers like to name things, it's up to the public whether the name becomes commonly used. John Goodwin, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, said he thinks many drivers don't pay attention to official names, which are usually marked with green-and-white signs that are paid for by donors. Caldecott, a name now associated with frequent gridlock, at least until a fourth bore opens in a couple of months, was Thomas Caldecott, an Alameda County supervisor and president of the joint highway district that built the first two bores of the modern tunnel beneath the Oakland hills. Not named for BusterThe Posey Tube, which carries Oakland-bound traffic beneath the O ...
Article Link:
San Francisco Chronicle article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Willie Brown
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2015
    Age 80
    In early 2015, Brown was named to the board of directors of the San Francisco-based biopharmaceutical company Global Blood Therapeutics.
    More Details Hide Details In late 2012, Brown became the regulatory lawyer for Wingz, a ride-sharing service. In that capacity, Brown represented the company before the California Public Utilities Commission, which was creating new regulations to legalize the ability of Transportation Network Companies to operate ridesharing services in California.
  • 2013
    Age 78
    In September 2013, the western span of the Bay Bridge was officially named for Willie Brown.
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  • 2009
    Age 74
    In 2009, Brown was defending general construction contractor Monica Ung, 49 of Alamo, California.
    More Details Hide Details Accused of flouting labor laws and defrauding immigrant construction workers of their wages from laboring on Oakland municipal construction projects, Ung was arraigned for dozens of felony fraud charges on 24 August 2009 in Alameda County Superior Court. Brown's decision to defend Ung angered many in the East Bay's labor community.
  • 2008
    Age 73
    On July 20, 2008, Brown began writing a column for the San Francisco Chronicle, a move that has drawn the ire of some Chronicle staffmembers and ethicists for the failure to disclose the multiple conflicts of interest Brown has.
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    On February 5, 2008, Simon & Schuster released Brown's hardcover autobiography, Basic Brown: My Life and Our Times, with collaborator P. J. Corkery.
    More Details Hide Details The book release coincided with California's Democratic Presidential Primary on the same day.
    Brown remained neutral throughout the 2008 presidential campaign.
    More Details Hide Details Brown has been working in recent years as a radio talk show host and as a pundit on local and national political television shows and is seen as attempting to build credibility by abstaining from endorsing candidates for office. "I've never been high on endorsements," Brown said. "When you get one, all it does is keep the other guy from getting one. Really, what did getting John Kerry's endorsement do to help Barack Obama?"
  • 2006
    Age 71
    After leaving the mayor's office, Brown considered running for the State Senate but ultimately declined. From January 2006 through September 2006, Brown hosted a morning radio show with comedian Will Durst on a local San Francisco Air America Radio affiliate.
    More Details Hide Details He also makes a weekly podcast. Brown established The Willie L. Brown, Jr. Institute on Politics & Public Service, an unaffiliated nonprofit organization at San Francisco State University. The center trains students for careers in municipal, county and regional governments. The center will be one of the first to focus on local government in the country. Brown gave the center's library a collection of his artifacts, videotapes and legislative papers from his 40 years in public office. He is also planning to mentor students, teach a course on leadership, and recruit guest speakers.
  • 2003
    Age 68
    He also played himself in two Disney films, George of the Jungle and The Princess Diaries, and the 2003 Universal release Hulk as the mayor of San Francisco.
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  • 2001
    Age 66
    Although scheduled on a flight to New York City the day of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Brown received an alert from his SFO security detail and cancelled.
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  • 2000
    Age 65
    Brown later appeared in 2000's Just One Night as a judge.
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  • 1999
    Age 64
    The 1999 mayoral race was the subject of the documentary See How They Run.
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    Brown's opponents in his 1999 mayoral reelection campaign were former Mayor Frank Jordan and Clint Reilly.
    More Details Hide Details They criticized Brown for spending the city’s US$1 billion in budget growth without addressing the city’s major problems and creating an environment in city hall of corruption and patronage. Tom Ammiano was a late write-in candidate and he faced Brown in the runoff election. Brown won reelection by a 20 percent margin. He was supported by most major developers and business interests. Ammiano campaigned on a promise that he would raise the minimum wage to US$11 per hour and scrutinize corporate business taxes. Brown repeatedly claimed that Ammiano would raise taxes. President Clinton recorded a telephone message on Brown’s behalf. Brown’s campaign spent US$3.1 million to Ammiano’s US$300,000.
  • 1998
    Age 63
    The FBI further investigated Brown from 1998 to 2003 over his appointees at the Airport Commission for potential conflicts of interests.
    More Details Hide Details Brown friend, contributor, and former law client, Charlie Walker was given a share of city contracts. He had served jail time in 1984 for violating laws concerning minority contracting. The FBI also investigated Brown’s approval of expansion of Sutro Tower and SFO. Scott Company, with one prominent Brown backer, was accused of using a phony minority front company to secure an airport construction project. Robert Nurisso was sentenced to house arrest. During Brown’s administration, there were two convictions of city officials tied to Brown. The FBI investigated Brown’s friend Charlie Walker, who won several city contracts. Walker had previously thrown several parties for Brown and was among his biggest fund raisers. Brown reassigned Parking and Traffic chief Bill Maher to an airport job when his critics claimed Maher should have been fired. Brown put his former girlfriend, Wendy Linka, on the city payroll. Brown was known for his strong loyalty to his supporters.
    In 1998 Brown arranged for Carpeneti to obtain a rent-free office in the city-owned Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Between then and 2003, a period that spans the birth of their daughter, Carpeneti was paid an estimated $2.33 million by nonprofit groups and political committees controlled by then Mayor Brown and his friends.
    More Details Hide Details Brown increased the city’s special assistants payroll from US$15.6 to US$45.6 million between 1995 and 2001. Between April 29, 2001 and May 3, 2001, San Francisco Chronicle reporters Lance Williams and Chuck Finnie released a 5-part story concerning Brown and his relations with city contractors, lobbyists, and city appointments and hires he had made during his tenure as Mayor. The report concluded that there was an appearance of favoritism and conflicts of interest in the awarding of city contracts and development deals, a perception that large contracts had an undue influence on city hall, and patronage with the hiring of campaign workers, contributors, legislative colleagues, and friends to government positions. The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated Brown when he was Speaker. One investigation was a sting operation concerning a fake fish company attempting to bribe Brown; he was not charged with any criminal act.
    In 1998, Brown was Mayor during the summer of the Muni meltdown as Muni implemented the new ATC system and Brown promised riders there would be better times ahead.
    More Details Hide Details A voter approved initiative in the following year would help improve Muni services. Brown increased Muni's budget by tens of millions of dollars over his tenure. Brown later said he made a mistake in over promising with his 100-Day Plan.
    In 1998, Brown wrote a letter to President Clinton urging him to halt a federal lawsuit aimed at closing medical marijuana clubs.
    More Details Hide Details One of Brown’s central campaign promises was his “100-Day Plan for Muni”, in which he boasted he would fix the city's municipal bus system in that many days. Brown supported the "Peer Pressure" Bus Patrol program, which paid former gang members and troubled youth to patrol Muni buses. Brown claimed the program helped reduce crime. He fired Muni chief Phil Adams and replaced him with his chief of staff Emilio Cruz.
  • 1997
    Age 62
    In 1997, Brown approved San Francisco Police Department Chief Fred Lau's plan to conduct a crackdown on the rides, calling them "a terrible demonstration of intolerance". and "an incredible display of arrogance."
    More Details Hide Details Brown said after arrests were made when a Critical Mass event became violent "I think we ought to confiscate their bicycles" and that "a little jail time" would teach Critical Mass riders a lesson. On the night of the July 25, 1997 ride 115 riders were arrested for unlawful assembly, jailed, and had their bicycles confiscated by the police. By 2002, Brown and the city's relations with Critical Mass had changed. On the 10th anniversary of Critical Mass on September 27, 2002, the city officially closed down four blocks to automobile traffic for the annual Car-Free Day Street Fair. Brown remarked concerning the event: "I'm delighted. A new tradition has been born in our city." As San Francisco mayor, Brown was criticized for aggregating power, and for favoring certain business interests at the expense of the city as a whole. Supporters point to the many development projects completed or planned under his watch, including the restoration of City Hall and historic waterfront buildings; the setting in motion of one of the city's largest ever mixed use development projects in Mission Bay, and the development of a second campus for the University of California, San Francisco. In contrast, critics objected to the construction of many live-work loft buildings in formerly working-class neighborhoods that they believed lead to gentrification and displacement of residents and light industry.
    Brown helped mediate a settlement to the 1997 BART strike.
    More Details Hide Details During his first term as mayor, Brown quietly favored the demolition and abolition of the Transbay Terminal to accommodate the redevelopment of the site for market-rate housing. Centrally located at First and Mission Streets near the Financial District and South Beach, the terminal originally served as the San Francisco terminus for the electric commuter trains of the East Bay Electric Lines, the Key System of streetcars and the Sacramento Northern railroads which ran on the lower deck of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge. Following the termination of streetcar service in 1958, the terminal has seen continuous service as a major bus facility for East Bay commuters; AC Transit buses transport riders from the terminal directly into neighborhoods throughout the inner East Bay. The terminal also serves passengers traveling to San Mateo County and the North Bay aboard SamTrans and Golden Gate Transit buses respectively, and to tourists arriving by bus motorcoach. Today, the terminal is being planned for redevelopment as a region wide mass transit hub maintaining the current bus services, but with a new tunnel that would extend the Caltrain commuter rail line from its current terminus at Fourth and Townsend Streets to the site. Once completed, Caltrain riders would no longer need to transfer to Muni in order to reach the downtown financial district. Additionally, the heavy rail portion of the terminal would be designed to accommodate the planned High Speed Rail lines to Los Angeles.
    In November 1997, he requested nighttime helicopter searches in Golden Gate Park.
    More Details Hide Details The Brown administration spent hundreds of millions of dollars creating new shelters, supportive housing, and drug treatment centers to address homelessness, but these measures did not end San Francisco’s problem with homelessness. In 1996, Brown approved the Equal Benefits Ordinance that required city contractors to provide domestic partner benefits to their employees.
    He helped to oversee the settling of a two-day garbage strike in April 1997.
    More Details Hide Details During Brown's tenure, San Francisco’s budget increased to US$5.2 billion and the city added 4,000 new employees. Brown tried to develop a plan for universal health care, but there wasn’t enough in the budget to do so. Brown put in long days as mayor, scheduling days of solid meetings and, at times, conducting two meetings at the same time. Brown opened City Hall on Saturdays to answer questions. He would later claim of his mayorship that he helped restore the city’s spirit and pride.
  • 1996
    Age 61
    In 1996, more than two thirds of San Franciscans approved of Brown's job performance.
    More Details Hide Details As mayor, Brown made several appearances on national talk shows. Brown called for expansions to the San Francisco budget to provide for new employees and programs. In 1999, Brown proposed hiring 1,392 new city workers and proposed a second straight budget with a US$100 million surplus.
    According to the New York Times, Brown was one of the nation’s few liberal big city mayors when he was elected in 1996.
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    Brown served as San Francisco mayor from January 8, 1996 until January 8, 2004.
    More Details Hide Details His tenure as mayor is marked by a significant increase in real estate development, public works, city beautification, and other large-scale city projects. He presided over the "dot-com" era at a time when San Francisco's economy was rapidly expanding. Brown presided over the city’s most diverse administration with more Asian Americans, women, Latinos, gays, and African Americans than his predecessors. He increased San Francisco's funding of MUNI by tens of millions of dollars and ended the city's policy of punishing people for feeding the homeless.
  • 1995
    Age 60
    In 1995, Brown ran for Mayor of San Francisco.
    More Details Hide Details In his announcement speech, Brown said San Francisco needed a “resurrection” and that he would bring the “risk-taking leadership” the city needed. Brown placed first in the first round of voting, but because no candidate received 50 percent of the vote, he ran against incumbent Frank Jordan in the December runoff. Brown gained the support of Supervisor Roberta Achtenberg who had placed third in the first round of voting. Brown campaigned on working to address poverty and problems with Muni. He called Jordan the "inept bumbler" and criticized his leadership. Jordan criticized Brown for his relations with special interests during his time in the State Assembly. Brown easily defeated Jordan in the runoff. Brown's inaugural celebration included an open invitation party with 10,000 attendees and local restaurants providing 10,000 meals to the homeless. President Bill Clinton called Brown to congratulate him, and the congratulations were broadcast to the crowd. He delivered his inaugural address without notes and led the orchestra in “Stars and Stripes Forever". He arrived at the event in a horse-drawn carriage.
    Brown regained control in 1995 by making a deal with Republican defectors Doris Allen and Brian Setencich, both of whom were elected Speaker by the Democratic minority.
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    He continued to be reelected to the Assembly until 1995.
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  • FIFTIES
  • 1992
    Age 57
    Brown held the 1992 state budget for 63 days until Governor Pete Wilson added another US$1.1 billion for public schools.
    More Details Hide Details Brown had a reputation in the Assembly for his ability to manage people. Brown attained the vote of Doris Allen by treating her with the respect she thought she deserved. Republican State Senator Ken Maddy of Fresno noted Brown’s ability to “size up the situation and create, sometimes on the spot, a winning strategy.” According to Hobson, "He was a brilliant day care operator.... He knew exactly how to hold the hand of his Assembly members. He dominated California politics like no other politician in the history of the state".
    Brown gained a reputation for knowing what was occurring in the state legislature at all times. In 1992, he gave US$1.18 million to the Democratic Party to help with voter registration and several campaigns, some of which was from contributions from tobacco companies and insurance companies.
    More Details Hide Details As Speaker, he worked to defeat the Three Strikes Law. Critics have claimed Brown did not do enough to raise the legislature’s ethical standards or to protect the environment. During his time in Sacramento, Brown estimates he raised close to US$75 million to help elect and reelect state Democrats. Brown led efforts in the Assembly for state universities to divest from South Africa and to increase AIDS research funding. Brown helped attain state funds for San Francisco, including funding for public health and mental health funds.
  • 1990
    Age 55
    Partially to remove Brown from his leadership position, a state constitutional amendment initiative was proposed and passed by the electorate in 1990, imposing term limits on state legislators.
    More Details Hide Details Brown became the focus of the initiative. Brown raised just under US$1 million to defeat the initiative. The California Legislature challenged the law but it was upheld by the courts. California Proposition 140 also cut the legislature's staff budget by 30 percent, causing Brown to reduce legislative staff by at least 600. After term limits forced Brown out of office, the Assembly re-structured its rules to give most of the powers formerly held by the Speaker to a leadership committee made up of senior members of both major parties.
    In 1990, Brown helped negotiate an end to a 64-day budget standoff.
    More Details Hide Details In 1994, Brown gained the vote of a few Republicans to maintain the Speakership when the Democrats lost control of the Assembly to the Republicans led by Jim Brulte.
  • FORTIES
  • 1984
    Age 49
    He also made a cameo appearance in the 1984 Jefferson Starship music video Layin' It on the Line (depicting a futuristic 1988 presidential campaign).
    More Details Hide Details Brown was criticized in 1996 for his comments that 49ers backup quarterback Elvis Grbac was "an embarrassment to humankind." He was criticized in 1997 for responding to Golden State Warriors player Latrell Sprewell choking his coach P. J. Carlesimo by saying, "his boss may have needed choking." In 1998, Brown contacted the Japanese television cooking competition Iron Chef, suggesting San Franciscan Chef Ron Siegel to battle one of the Iron Chefs. Brown appeared on the telecast himself, enthusiastically promoting the Chef. Siegel won the battle, in a rare clean sweep against Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai.
  • 1981
    Age 46
    Brown was California's first African American Speaker of the Assembly, and served in the office from 1981 to 1995.
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  • 1980
    Age 45
    He won the Speakership in 1980 with 28 Republican and 23 Democratic votes.
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  • 1977
    Age 42
    Similarly, he voted against AB 607, which banned same-sex marriage in 1977, further building his reputation as a supporter of the civil rights of gays and lesbians.
    More Details Hide Details During the 1970s, Brown continued to expand his legal practice, including the representation of several major real estate developers.
  • 1975
    Age 40
    From 1975 to 1978, Brown supported the Peoples Temple, led by Jim Jones, while it was being investigated for alleged criminal wrongdoing.
    More Details Hide Details Brown attended the Temple perhaps a dozen times and served as master of ceremonies at a testimonial dinner for Jones where he stated in his introduction "let me present to you a combination of Martin King, Angela Davis, Albert Einstein... Chairman Mao." Brown later said "If we knew then he was mad, clearly we wouldn't have appeared with him."
    In 1975, Willie Brown authored and lobbied the successful passing of the Consenting Adult Sex Bill that legalized homosexuality in California, thus earning the strong and lasting support of San Francisco's gay community.
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  • THIRTIES
  • 1972
    Age 37
    He lost his bid for the speakership in 1972.
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    In 1972, he delivered a speech at the Democratic National Convention.
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  • 1969
    Age 34
    He became the Democrats' Assembly whip in 1969.
    More Details Hide Details Brown also served on the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1964
    Age 29
    Brown was one of four African Americans in the Assembly in 1964.
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  • 1962
    Age 27
    He lost the election to the California State Assembly in 1962 by 600 votes before winning a second election in 1964.
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  • 1958
    Age 23
    In September 1958, Brown married Blanche Vitero, with whom he had three children, Susan, Robin, and Michael. He has four grandchildren, Besia, Matea, Mateo, and Lordes, and a step-granddaughter, Tyler. The couple separated in approximately 1976 but remain married.
    More Details Hide Details He has a daughter, Sydney Brown, by political fund raiser Carolyn Carpeneti. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Brown was one of a few African Americans practicing law in San Francisco when he opened his own practice. He practiced criminal defense law, representing pimps, prostitutes, and other clients that more prominent attorneys would not represent. One early case was to defend Mario Savio on his first civil disobedience arrest. He quickly became involved in the civil rights movement, leading a well-orchestrated sit-in to protest housing discrimination after a local real estate office refused to work with him because of his race. Brown helped organize the public protest and helped attract media coverage. His role in the protests gave him the notoriety to run for the Assembly. Brown began his first run for the Assembly by having local African American ministers pass around a hat, collecting US$700.
    Brown earned a J.D. in 1958 and was class president at Hastings.
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  • 1955
    Age 20
    Brown earned a bachelor's degree in political science from San Francisco State College in 1955.
    More Details Hide Details Brown later stated that his decision to go to law school was "more upon the avoidance of military service than anything else." He quit the ROTC and joined the National Guard reserve where he was trained as a dental hygienist. Brown attended Hastings College of the Law where he also worked as a janitor to pay for law school. Brown befriended future San Francisco Mayor George Moscone for whom Brown would later manage a campaign.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1951
    Age 16
    He graduated from MacFarland High School, an all-black school he later described as substandard, and left for San Francisco in August 1951 at the age of 17 to live with his uncle.
    More Details Hide Details Brown originally wanted to attend Stanford University. His interviewer from Stanford also taught at San Francisco State and was surprised by Brown’s ambition. Brown did not meet the qualifications for San Francisco State, but the professor got him enrolled on probation. Brown adjusted to college studies after working especially hard to catch up in his first semester. He joined the Young Democrats and became friends with John L. Burton. Brown originally wanted to be a math instructor but campus politics changed his ambitions. He became active in his church and the San Francisco NAACP. Brown worked as a doorman, janitor and shoe salesman to pay for college. Brown is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. He also joined the ROTC.
    Brown was born in Mineola, Texas and attended a segregated high school. He moved to San Francisco in 1951, attending San Francisco State University and graduating in 1955 with a degree in liberal studies.
    More Details Hide Details Brown earned a J.D. from University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 1958. He spent several years in private practice before gaining election in his second attempt to the California Assembly in 1964. Brown became the Democrats' whip in 1969 and speaker in 1980. He was known for his ability to manage people and maintain party discipline. According to The New York Times, Brown became one of the country's most powerful state legislators. His long tenure and powerful position were used as a focal point of California's initiative campaign to limit the terms of state legislators, which passed in 1990. During the last of his three allowed post-initiative terms, Brown maintained control of the Assembly despite a slim Republican majority by gaining the vote of several Republicans. Near the end of his final term, Brown left the legislature to become mayor of San Francisco.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1934
    Born
    Born on March 20, 1934.
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