"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
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
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
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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