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With h. brown

h. "Court Jester" brown
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

Hennessey throws eighth inauguration reception

By h. brown

January 10, 2008

"You look great. Did you have cosmetic surgery?"
(Jester greets just re-elected D.A., Kamala Harris)

We have "the best in the country/world" of lots of things here if you'd hear us tell it. When we apply those kinds of accolades to Sheriff Mike Hennessey, we aren't exaggerating.

"Nothing bad seems to happen in your department"
(guest at Hennessey's bash)

She was really wrong. Lots and lots of bad things happen in jail. It's how you deal with them that shows what kind of sheriff you are, and Mike Hennessey, he deals.

See him on 60 Minutes 15 years or so back? They were amazed that he'd done 2 things. First, he'd hired an ex-con as a top-level assistant (guy killed his dad - we won't get into that). Then, he let the guy design a circular jail for him.

Guard station in the center and it's round too, with windows all around. Total view of inmates at all times. Single shower stalls with one prisoner at a time allowed in. Cuts down on that pesky rape thing.

Few years back he started a damned school in the jail! Imagine having prisoners doing something that helps them get out of their lives of crime. That was a first too.

He's not afraid of public opinion. When there was some clamor over him releasing some prisoners a few weeks early, he didn't flinch. "I didn't have room for them and we won't violate the law." A federal judge had told him that having prisoners sleeping on the floor wasn't legal and Hennessey (still thinking like the lawyer he is despite the fact he hasn't practiced in around 30 years - wears a suit with that big gold badge proudly pinned on instead of a uniform) … Hennessey didn't even think about public opinion. He just did the right thing.

He was first to put female guards in prison and hire 'out' gay deputies. The list goes on and on.

Kamala did look beautiful

She was just back from her own inauguration party at Delancey's and here she was, top cop in the City and County, respectfully coming to pay homage to the longest serving top law enforcement office holder. It was a good move. The lady has class.

Two stars of law enforcement: District Attorney Kamala Harris
and Sheriff Michael Hennessey

And, her bodyguard can kick your assss. Well, he's not officially her bodyguard. He's Chris Cunnie, for many years the head of the Police Officers Association and now Chief Investigator for Harris' office. They made quite a pair entering the party and Hennessey's collection of 30 years of memorabilia (some of the artifacts are a century old and some are baseballs hit out of Giants stadium recently - I added a hand puppet of Tatiana, late tigress of SF Zoo fame) … I swear, when the D.A. and Cunnie entered, I'm certain everyone was thinking of Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner in 'The Bodyguard.'

Kamala to Chris: I Will Always Love You!

Harris is lean but not tiny and shaped like an hourglass. Chris Cunnie is well over 6' and a mound of muscle. He had a dark full-length overcoat that I pinched a bit when we spoke to confirm that it was cashmere. Good-looking pair. And, no, I didn't say they were having an affair.

"I haven't read you for over a year!"
(Aaron Peskin)

Then he starts bitching about something I wrote last week. It's kind of sad, really. I like the guy but he has less than a year to latch onto some issue and create at least one positive long-term in effect legislation to cement any positive legacy. I don't see him doing it. I see him getting more and more petty and vindictive. Doing as Pier and Maxwell now do and giving the corporate interests extra time at public comment. That kind of thing.

I gave Hennessey a big hug as Luke Thomas, his plus-one, Fog City collaborator, Elaine Santore and I entered the festivities. Handed him the little hand puppet and got caught in a bear hug with Jake McGoldrick who was fired up about the 'SFSA' legislation (San Francisco Set-Aside … guarantees a very modest - 33 million a year - guaranteed building fund for low low-income housing that you know will be filled mostly with artists and dancers and cops and firemen and nurses and writers and on and on) …

Elaine Santore holds court with with h. brown, Sheriff Michael Hennessey
and Hennessey's brother Sean Hennessey

We were pretty jovial. Ross Mirkarimi chimed in and Luke's Fog City Trio got into a conversation about the long-term implications of the funding with he and District 7's Sean Elsbernd, who was one of 3 supes to vote against it.

Elsbernd started telling us what better uses the City had for the 33 million other than keeping some kind of creative diversity in the population and I cut in that it was about the same amount he'd spent bringing Harding Golf Course up to 'World Class' standards so that he could give it to his buddy, Sandy Tatum for one dollar. He's a good guy and it was a good exchange. Elsbernd has a good heart and that's all I care about. People can change their minds. It's much harder to change character. Maybe impossible.

My old buddy, Randy Knox, from the Board of Appeals was there (he was one of my first customers at my jazz club in St. Louis back in the mid-70's) … Randy was there and I told him I was gonna ask him to represent me when Peskin sues me. Peskin started yelling that he had no plans to sue me. Well, we'll see what we can do about that.

Sheriff Michael Hennessey fans: Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, Fog City legal eagle Randy Knox, Sheriff Michael Hennessey, h. brown, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd,
Board President Aaron Peskin and Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi.

I hit Knox about a vote his Appeals Board avoided that would have permitted a pot club to get properly licensed at their last meeting in December. There are 5 members and 3 of them voiced support for the club which has been a 722 Columbus for 5 or 6 years. As commissioner, Fong commented, you can't even tell the thing is there.

Knox weighed in supporting the permit as did Mike Garcia who is from New Orleans and thinks that having a party district is OK and always takes his out of town friends to North Beach because it is closest to being like New Orleans and if you watch these hearings, the guy will remind you of John Wayne. Interesting group to watch that Board of Appeals. Fong, Knox, Garcia … plus Madeline Albright's little girl who is the most conservative member, and then there's Robert Haaland.

"We should raise the bar for this club"

All they had to do was take a vote, and after all the years of uncertainty North Beach would have its own medicinal pot outlet all locally secure and legal. Robert Haaland screwed it up.

I couldn't believe it. He couldn't get low enough to kiss Albright's behind as she ignored staff recommendations and made preposterous … anyway, I'm off topic here but seeing Randy reminded me of Haaland's knife in the back to the pot club (there were 41 when this process started and so far only 2 are permitted and only 31 even made it through the expensive process, and before Planning).

So, what people like Albright and Elsbernd and Pier do when they are losing a vote (so does the other side) … what they do is to try and have the item continued until they can work up enough support to either pass or kill a measure. Haaland went along with Albright and that club is dead come the hearing in March at which a long line of cops and the Pope will probably appear and say 'Down with this evil land usage'. Or, something like that.

People mistake me for James Dean

Of course he's been dead for 50 years so I don't know if that's a compliment. No, they don't. What I'm getting at was that there is this huge poster of James Dean walking in the rain in the street in NYC wearing a huge overcoat (a' la Chris Cunnie) and smoking a cigarette. Luke got it in his head that because I had on a raincoat and looked as in-the-bag as Dean in the photo, that we should do a shot of me standing against the photo with a cigarette dangling from my lips.

h. "James Dean" brown

Trouble is, photo was up high over the desk of Mike's intriguing lady-at-the-gate (yeah, I was scoping her out, I mean no offense, it's just my nature) … poster was so high that Luke told me to stand on the desk to be next to it and we settled on my standing on a chair to get the shot but no one had a cigarette (that's a good thing) … so, I dug a full joint of pot out of my fanny pack and dangled it from my lips for the shot.

There was much silence in the room. Almost everyone there had a concealed weapon. Lots of law enforcement types. Here was this raging maniac (to them, and they aren't far off) hippie, standing on a chair in the Sheriff's reception area with a joint dangling from his lips. Would he light it?

Course not. It was legal for me to possess anyway. The guards at City Hall (Hennessey's people) have taught us that if we have legal cards to possess pot, we can have it in our possession as long as we don't smoke it there, but we must not have pipes because they are not legal and so we carry joints or no pot at all when we visit da dome.

The janitors talk about war

Luke finished his pictures and most of the 'notables' started to scatter and I sat down in the reception area where a couple of the cleaning crew were waiting to bring the Sheriff's fabulously decorated and good-vibed museum back to perfection. I drank champagne and ate shrimp and wondered what the poor people were doing.

One janitor asked me something about casualty figures in Iraq as compared to other American conflicts. In any other town, a smart-ass wiseacre like me would have choked on the delicacies. In San Francisco, you aren't surprised if the cab driver is a physicist or the janitor is an expert in the history of war.

Thanks Mike

Hennessey with Rhodessa Jones of Cultural Odessey

With the term Mike Hennessey just won, he'll have been in office for 31 years come the next election for Mayor of San Francisco. He's put himself into the history books already. He should take the next step and start running for Mayor now. Not so surprisingly, some of his likely competitors were there to fete him.

Mirkarimi will certainly run. Kamala Harris will run. Peskin would be formidable (no matter what I say about him). Elsbernd has youth and a huge basket of markers from some very powerful people. McGoldrick could win on a populist platform. Fortunately for them, I don't plan to run for that particular office again because the people spoke to me loud and clear on election day (less than half of a percent) and they don't deserve me and I'm not going to speak to them again except for writing and flirting with the girls and running for supervisor in District 3 this time and stuff like that.

No answers on my personals ad.

What's up with that?

So, I'm widening my parameters from 18-80 to 18-90.

Think about it.

Rain … reservoirs … good.

Dating Service


h. brown is a 63 year-old keeper of sfbulldog.com, an eclectic site featuring a half dozen City Hall denizens. h is a former sailor, firefighter, teacher, nightclub owner, and a hard-living satirical muckraker. Email h at h@ludd.net.


Editor's Note: Views expressed by columnists published on FogCityJournal.com are not necessarily the views or beliefs of Fog City Journal. Fog City Journal supports free speech in all its varied forms and provides a forum for a complete spectrum of viewpoints.



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