Willie Brown (politician)

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Willie Brown (politician) : biography

March 20, 1934 –

Due to vacancies on the Board of Supervisors prior to 2000, Brown was able to appoint 8 of the 11 members of the board. Due to a change in San Francisco’s election laws that took effect in 2000, the board changed from at-large to district based elections, and all seats on the board were up for election. The voters elected a new group of supervisors that ran on changing the city’s development policy. Voters also passed a measure that weakened the mayor’s control over the Planning Commission and Board of Appeals. The new majority limited Brown’s power over the Elections Department, the Police Commission, and extending San Francisco International Airport’s runways into the bay to reduce flight delays. In July 2001, the Board of Supervisors overrode Brown’s veto for the first time, creating legislation that created the new home ownership option of tenancies in common.

Brown in the media

As Mayor of San Francisco, Brown was often portrayed mockingly but affectionately by political cartoonists and columnists as a vain emperor, presiding in a robe and crown over the inconsequential kingdom of San Francisco. He enjoyed the attention this brought to his personal life, disarming friends and critics with humor that directed attention away from the policy agendas he was pursuing.

Brown’s flamboyant style made him so well known as the consummate politician that when an actor playing a party politician in 1990’s The Godfather Part III did not understand director Francis Ford Coppola’s instruction to model his character after Brown, Coppola fired the actor and hired Brown himself to play the role. Brown later appeared in 2000’s Just One Night as a judge. 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. He appeared as himself, alongside Geraldo Rivera, in an episode of Nash Bridges.

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.

Brown remained neutral throughout the 2008 presidential campaign. 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?"