Willie Brown (politician)
Willie Lewis Brown, Jr. is an American politician of the Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

. He served over 30 years in the California State Assembly
California State Assembly
The California State Assembly is the lower house of the California State Legislature. There are 80 members in the Assembly, representing an approximately equal number of constituents, with each district having a population of at least 420,000...

, spending 15 years as its Speaker, and afterward served as the 41st mayor of San Francisco
San Francisco, California
San Francisco , officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the financial, cultural, and transportation center of the San Francisco Bay Area, a region of 7.15 million people which includes San Jose and Oakland...

, the first African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 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. The San Francisco Chronicle called Brown “one of San Francisco’s most notable mayors” that had “celebrity beyond the city’s boundaries.”

Brown was born in Mineola
Mineola, Texas
Mineola is a city in Wood County, Texas, United States. It lies at the junction of U.S. highways 69 and 80, eighty miles east of Dallas in southwestern Wood County...

, Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 and attended a segregated high school. He moved to San Francisco in 1951, attending San Francisco State, graduating in 1955 with a degree in liberal studies. Brown earned a J.D. from University of California, Hastings College of the Law
University of California, Hastings College of the Law
University of California, Hastings College of the Law is a public law school in San Francisco, California, located in the Civic Center neighborhood....

 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
Whip (politics)
A whip is an official in a political party whose primary purpose is to ensure party discipline in a legislature. Whips are a party's "enforcers", who typically offer inducements and threaten punishments for party members to ensure that they vote according to the official party policy...

 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
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

, 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
California ballot proposition
In California, a ballot proposition is a proposed law that is submitted to the electorate for approval in a direct vote . It may take the form of a constitutional amendment or an ordinary statute. A ballot proposition may be proposed by the State Legislature or by a petition signed by members of...

 to limit the terms
Term limits in the United States
Term limits in the United States apply to many offices at both the federal and state level, and date back to the American Revolution.-Pre-constitution:...

 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.

Brown served as San Francisco mayor from January 8, 1996 until January 8, 2004. 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
Dot-com company
A dot-com company, or simply a dot-com , is a company that does most of its business on the Internet, usually through a website that uses the popular top-level domain, ".com" .While the term can refer to present-day companies, it is also used specifically to refer to companies with...

" 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
San Francisco Municipal Railway
The San Francisco Municipal Railway is the public transit system for the city and county of San Francisco, California. In 2006, it served with an operating budget of about $700 million...

 by tens of millions of dollars. He ended San Francisco's policy of punishing people for feeding the homeless.

The SF Board of Supervisors opposed Brown's agenda and some of his initiatives, in particular office and housing development. Brown was restricted by term limits from running for mayor and was succeeded by a political protege, fellow Democrat Gavin Newsom
Gavin Newsom
Gavin Christopher Newsom is an American politician who is the 49th and current Lieutenant Governor of California. Previously, he was the 42nd Mayor of San Francisco, and was elected in 2003 to succeed Willie Brown, becoming San Francisco's youngest mayor in 100 years. Newsom was re-elected in 2007...

. After being "termed out" of the mayor's office, Brown officially retired from politics, although he had often been associated with former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-American former professional bodybuilder, actor, businessman, investor, and politician. Schwarzenegger served as the 38th Governor of California from 2003 until 2011....

, who served for seven years after the end of Brown's Mayoral tenure. and participates in fundraising
Fundraising or fund raising is the process of soliciting and gathering voluntary contributions as money or other resources, by requesting donations from individuals, businesses, charitable foundations, or governmental agencies...

 and advising other politicians.

Early life

Brown was born in Mineola
Mineola, Texas
Mineola is a city in Wood County, Texas, United States. It lies at the junction of U.S. highways 69 and 80, eighty miles east of Dallas in southwestern Wood County...

, a small segregated
Racial segregation in the United States
Racial segregation in the United States, as a general term, included the racial segregation or hypersegregation of facilities, services, and opportunities such as housing, medical care, education, employment, and transportation along racial lines...

 town in east Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 marked by racial tensions, to Minnie Collins Boyd and Lewis Brown. Brown was the fourth of five children. During Brown's childhood, mob violence periodically erupted in Mineola, keeping African Americans from voting. His first job was as a shoeshine boy in a whites-only barber shop. He later worked as a janitor, fry cook, and field hand. He learned his work ethic at a young age from his grandmother. 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.

Brown originally wanted to attend Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

. 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
John L. Burton
John Lowell Burton is the current Chairman of the California Democratic Party. He is an American politician who served as a Democratic California State Senator from 1996 until 2004, representing the 3rd district. From 1998 until he was forced out of office by term limits in 2004, he served as the...

. 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
Alpha Phi Alpha
Alpha Phi Alpha is the first Inter-Collegiate Black Greek Letter fraternity. It was founded on December 4, 1906 at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Its founders are known as the "Seven Jewels". Alpha Phi Alpha developed a model that was used by the many Black Greek Letter Organizations ...

 fraternity. He also joined the ROTC. Brown earned a bachelor's degree
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

 in political science
Political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

 from San Francisco State College in 1955. 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
Dental hygienist
thumb|right|300px|Dental hygienist holding a scalerA dental hygienist is a licensed dental professional who specializes in preventive oral health, typically focusing on techniques in oral hygiene. Local dental regulations determine the scope of practice of dental hygienists...

. 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
George Moscone
George Richard Moscone was an American attorney and Democratic politician. He was the 37th mayor of San Francisco, California, US from January 1976 until his assassination in November 1978. Moscone served in the California State Senate from 1967 until becoming Mayor. In the Senate, he served as...

 for whom Brown would later manage a campaign. Brown earned a J.D.
Juris Doctor
Juris Doctor is a professional doctorate and first professional graduate degree in law.The degree was first awarded by Harvard University in the United States in the late 19th century and was created as a modern version of the old European doctor of law degree Juris Doctor (see etymology and...

 in 1958 and was class president at Hastings.

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. 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
Mario Savio
""...But we're a bunch of raw materials that don't mean to be - have any process upon us. Don't mean to be made into any product! Don't mean - Don't mean to end up being bought by some clients of the University, be they the government, be they industry, be they organized labor, be they anyone!...

 on his first civil disobedience
Civil disobedience
Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power. Civil disobedience is commonly, though not always, defined as being nonviolent resistance. It is one form of civil resistance...

 arrest. He quickly became involved in the civil rights movement
African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968)
The African-American Civil Rights Movement refers to the movements in the United States aimed at outlawing racial discrimination against African Americans and restoring voting rights to them. This article covers the phase of the movement between 1955 and 1968, particularly in the South...

, 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$
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

700. He lost the election to the California State Assembly
California State Assembly
The California State Assembly is the lower house of the California State Legislature. There are 80 members in the Assembly, representing an approximately equal number of constituents, with each district having a population of at least 420,000...

 in 1962 by 600 votes before winning a second election in 1964.

California State Assembly

Brown was one of four African Americans in the Assembly in 1964. He continued to be reelected to the Assembly until 1995. In the 1960s, Brown served as the Chair of the Legislative Representation Committee, a powerful Assembly position that helped Brown climb the Assembly ranks. He became the Democrats' Assembly whip
Whip (politics)
A whip is an official in a political party whose primary purpose is to ensure party discipline in a legislature. Whips are a party's "enforcers", who typically offer inducements and threaten punishments for party members to ensure that they vote according to the official party policy...

 in 1969. Brown also served on the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. In 1972, he delivered a speech at the Democratic National Convention
1972 Democratic National Convention
The 1972 Democratic National Convention was the presidential nominating convention of the Democratic Party for the 1972 presidential election. It was held at Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami Beach, Florida on July 10–13, 1972....

. He lost his bid for the speakership in 1972. In 1975, Willie Brown authored and lobbied the successful passing of the Consenting Adult Sex Bill
Consenting Adult Sex Bill
The Consenting Adult Sex Bill is a consenting adult law, passed in California in 1975 and effective in January 1976, that repealed the sodomy law in California and made gay sex legal for the first time...

 that legalized homosexuality
Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...

 in California, thus earning the strong and lasting support of San Francisco's gay community
Gay community
The gay community, or LGBT community, is a loosely defined grouping of LGBT and LGBT-supportive people, organizations and subcultures, united by a common culture and civil rights movements. These communities generally celebrate pride, diversity, individuality, and sexuality...

. During the 1970s, Brown continued to expand his legal practice that was representing several major developers. He won the Speakership in 1980 with 28 Republican and 23 Democratic votes.

Brown was California's first African American Speaker of the Assembly, and served in the office from 1981 to 1995. In 1990, Brown helped negotiate an end to a 64 day budget standoff. 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
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 led by Jim Brulte
Jim Brulte
James L. Brulte is a Republican U.S. politician who served as a California State Senator, representing the 31st district, from 1996 to 2004. He also served as the Senate Republican leader from 2000 to 2004. Brulte also served as Vice-Chair of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee...

. Brown regained control in 1995 by making a deal with Republican defectors Doris Allen
Doris Allen (politician)
Doris J. Allen served in the California Assembly from 1982 to 1995, representing part of Orange County, and as Speaker of that body from June 5 to September 14, 1995, before being recalled from office.Before entering politics, she owned a successful household lighting store...

 and Brian Setencich
Brian Setencich
Brian Setencich served in the California Assembly for one term from 1994 to 1996 and as Speaker of that body from September 14, 1995 to January 4, 1996. Setencich was the first freshman legislator to serve as Speaker of the Assembly. He was previously a city councilman in Fresno and played...

, both of whom were elected Speaker by the Democratic minority. During their tenures, Brown was the de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...


Brown's long service in the Assembly and political connections, his strong negotiation skills, and the Assembly's tenure system for leadership appointments, combined to give Brown nearly complete control over the California Legislature by the time he became Assembly Speaker. According to The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

, Brown became one of the country's most powerful state legislators. He nicknamed himself the "Ayatollah of the Assembly".

Brown was extremely popular in his home of San Francisco, though less so in the rest of the state. Nevertheless, he wielded great control over statewide legislative affairs and political appointments, making it difficult for his conservative opponents to assail his power. Partially to remove Brown from his leadership position, a state constitutional amendment initiative was proposed and passed by the electorate in 1990, imposing term limit
Term limit
A term limit is a legal restriction that limits the number of terms a person may serve in a particular elected office. When term limits are found in presidential and semi-presidential systems they act as a method to curb the potential for monopoly, where a leader effectively becomes "president for...

s on state legislators. 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.

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. As Speaker, he worked to defeat the Three Strikes Law
Three strikes law
Three strikes laws)"are statutes enacted by state governments in the United States which require the state courts to hand down a mandatory and extended period of incarceration to persons who have been convicted of a serious criminal offense on three or more separate occasions. These statutes became...

. 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 lead efforts in the Assembly for state universities to divest from South Africa and to increase AIDS
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus...

 research funding. Brown helped attain state funds for San Francisco, including funding for public health and mental health funds. Brown held the 1992 state budget for 63 days until Governor Pete Wilson
Pete Wilson
Peter Barton "Pete" Wilson is an American politician from California. Wilson, a Republican, served as the 36th Governor of California , the culmination of more than three decades in the public arena that included eight years as a United States Senator , eleven years as Mayor of San Diego and...

 added another US$1.1 billion for public schools.

Brown had a reputation in the Assembly for his ability to manage people. Brown attained the vote of Doris Allen
Doris Allen (politician)
Doris J. Allen served in the California Assembly from 1982 to 1995, representing part of Orange County, and as Speaker of that body from June 5 to September 14, 1995, before being recalled from office.Before entering politics, she owned a successful household lighting store...

 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".

Peoples Temple investigation

From 1975 to 1978, Brown supported the Peoples Temple
Peoples Temple
Peoples Temple was a religious organization founded in 1955 by Jim Jones that, by the mid-1970s, included over a dozen locations in California including its headquarters in San Francisco...

, led by Jim Jones
Jim Jones
James Warren "Jim" Jones was the founder and leader of the Peoples Temple, which is best known for the November 18, 1978 mass suicide of 909 Temple members in Jonestown, Guyana along with the killings of five other people at a nearby airstrip.Jones was born in Indiana and started the Temple in...

, while it was being investigated for alleged criminal wrongdoing. 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 "[l]et 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."

Mayor of San Francisco

In 1995, Brown ran for Mayor of San Francisco. 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
Frank Jordan
Francis M. “Frank” Jordan is a U.S. politician, foundation executive and former Chief of Police.Jordan was born in San Francisco in 1935 and graduated from Sacred Heart High School in 1953...

 in the December runoff. Brown gained the support of Supervisor Roberta Achtenberg
Roberta Achtenberg
Roberta Achtenberg is an American politician. She currently serves as a Commissioner on the United States Commission on Civil Rights. She served as Assistant Secretary of the U.S...

 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
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 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. According to the New York Times, Brown was one of the nation’s few liberal big city mayors when he was elected in 1996.

In 1996, more than two thirds of San Franciscans approved of Brown's job performance. 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. He helped to oversee the settling of a two-day garbage strike in April 1997. 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
Universal health care
Universal health care is a term referring to organized health care systems built around the principle of universal coverage for all members of society, combining mechanisms for health financing and service provision.-History:...

, 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
San Francisco City Hall
San Francisco City Hall, re-opened in 1915, in its open space area in the city's Civic Center, is a Beaux-Arts monument to the City Beautiful movement that epitomized the high-minded American Renaissance of the 1880s to 1917. The structure's dome is the fifth largest in the world...

 on Saturdays to answer questions. He would later claim of his mayorship that he helped restore the city’s spirit and pride.

Brown's opponents in his 1999 mayoral reelection campaign were former Mayor Frank Jordan and Clint Reilly. 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
Tom Ammiano
Tom Ammiano is an American politician and LGBT rights activist from San Francisco, California. Ammiano is a Democrat who has served as a member of the California State Assembly since 2008, representing the 13th district...

 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. The 1999 mayoral race was the subject of the documentary See How They Run.

Crime and public safety

Although scheduled on a flight to New York City the day of the September 11, 2001 attacks
September 11, 2001 attacks
The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th or 9/119/11 is pronounced "nine eleven". The slash is not part of the pronunciation...

, Brown received an alert from his SFO security detail and cancelled. After learning of the attacks, he ordered the city to close schools and courts, concerned over the potential for terrorist attacks in the city, and recommended to representatives of the Bank of America Tower and Transamerica Pyramid
Transamerica Pyramid
The Transamerica Pyramid is the tallest skyscraper in the San Francisco skyline and one of its most iconic. Although the building no longer houses the headquarters of the Transamerica Corporation, it is still strongly associated with the company and is depicted in the company's logo...

 that they should also close.

In February 2003, Brown's appointed Police Chief, Earl Sanders
Prentice E. Sanders
Prentice E. Sanders, also known as Earl Sanders, was Chief of Police of the San Francisco, California, USA Police Department for fourteen months in 2002 and 2003. He was born in Texas and moved to San Francisco's Laurel Heights at the age of fourteen, attended George Washington High School, and...

, and several top officials at the San Francisco Police Department
San Francisco Police Department
The San Francisco Police Department, also known as the SFPD and San Francisco Department Of Police, is the police department of the City and County of San Francisco, California...

 were arrested for conspiring to obstruct the police investigation into an incident involving off-duty officers that was popularly called "Fajitagate
Fajitagate was a series of legal and political incidents in San Francisco which began with a street fight on November 20, 2002. The fight involved three off-duty San Francisco Police officers, Alex Fagan Jr., David Lee, and Matt Tonsing, and two San Francisco residents, Adam Snyder and Jade...


Social policy

Brown ended San Francisco’s policy of punishing people for feeding the homeless. San Francisco continued to enforce its policy regarding the conduct of the homeless in public places. In 1998, Brown supported forcibly removing homeless people from Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park, located in San Francisco, California, is a large urban park consisting of of public grounds. Configured as a rectangle, it is similar in shape but 20% larger than Central Park in New York, to which it is often compared. It is over three miles long east to west, and about half a...

 and police crackdowns on the homeless for drunkenness, urinating, defecating, or sleeping on the sidewalk. Brown introduced job training programs and a $11 million drug treatment program. San Francisco, then the United State’s 13th largest city, had the nation's third largest homeless population at a peak of 16,000. In November 1997, he requested nighttime helicopter searches in Golden Gate Park. 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. In 1998, Brown wrote a letter to President Clinton urging him to halt a federal lawsuit aimed at closing medical marijuana clubs.

Mass Transit

One of Brown’s central campaign promises was his “100-Day Plan for Muni
San Francisco Municipal Railway
The San Francisco Municipal Railway is the public transit system for the city and county of San Francisco, California. In 2006, it served with an operating budget of about $700 million...

.” 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. 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. 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.

Brown helped mediate a settlement to the 1997 BART
Bay Area Rapid Transit
Bay Area Rapid Transit is a rapid transit system serving the San Francisco Bay Area. The heavy-rail public transit and subway system connects San Francisco with cities in the East Bay and suburbs in northern San Mateo County. BART operates five lines on of track with 44 stations in four counties...


During his first term as mayor, Brown quietly favored the demolition and abolition of the Transbay Terminal
San Francisco Transbay Terminal
San Francisco Transbay Transit Terminal, or simply Transbay Terminal, was a transportation complex in San Francisco, California, USA, located roughly in the center of the rectangle bounded north–south by Mission Street and Howard Street, and east–west by Beale Street and 2nd Street...

 to accommodate the redevelopment of the site for market-rate housing. Centrally-located at First and Mission Streets near the Financial District
Financial District, San Francisco, California
The Financial District is a neighborhood in San Francisco, California, that serves as its main central business district. The nickname "FiDi" is occasionally employed, analogous to nearby SoMa.-Location:...

 and South Beach, the terminal originally served as the San Francisco terminus for the electric commuter trains of the East Bay Electric Lines
East Bay Electric Lines
The East Bay Electric Lines were a unit of the Southern Pacific Railroad which operated a system of electric interurban-type trains in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area...

, the Key System
Key System
The Key System was a privately owned company which provided mass transit in the cities of Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, Emeryville, Piedmont, San Leandro, Richmond, Albany and El Cerrito in the eastern San Francisco Bay Area from 1903 until 1960, when the system was sold to a newly formed public...

 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
East Bay
-Places:In Canada:*East Bay, Nova Scotia, a small town in Cape Breton County, Nova Scotia*East Bay , the east arm of the Bras d'Or Lake located in Cape Breton County, Nova Scotia on Cape Breton IslandIn the United States:...

 commuters; AC Transit
AC Transit
AC Transit is an Oakland-based regional public transit agency serving the western half of Alameda County and parts of western Contra Costa County in the western, Bay-side area of the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area...

 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
North Bay (San Francisco Bay Area)
The North Bay is a subregion of the San Francisco Bay Area, in California, United States. The largest city is Santa Rosa. It is by far the least populous and least urbanized part of the Bay Area...

 aboard SamTrans
SamTrans is a public transport agency in and around San Mateo, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area. It provides bus service throughout San Mateo County and into portions of San Francisco and Palo Alto...

 and Golden Gate Transit
Golden Gate Transit
Golden Gate Transit is a public transportation system serving the North Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area in California, United States. It mainly serves Marin and Sonoma Counties, and also provides limited service to San Francisco and Contra Costa County.Golden Gate Transit is one of three...

 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
Caltrain is a California commuter rail line on the San Francisco Peninsula and in the Santa Clara Valley in the United States. The northern terminus of the rail line is in San Francisco, at 4th and King streets; its southern terminus is in Gilroy...

 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 1998, The Berkeley, California
Berkeley, California
Berkeley is a city on the east shore of the San Francisco Bay in Northern California, United States. Its neighbors to the south are the cities of Oakland and Emeryville. To the north is the city of Albany and the unincorporated community of Kensington...

-based Bicycle Civil Liberties Union, produced a two hour documentary film in the muckraker
The term muckraker is closely associated with reform-oriented journalists who wrote largely for popular magazines, continued a tradition of investigative journalism reporting, and emerged in the United States after 1900 and continued to be influential until World War I, when through a combination...

 journalism tradition, "July 25th: The Secret is Out," which gives evidence of Brown's designs for the Transbay Terminal site.

Critical Mass

Since 1992, cyclists riding in San Francisco's monthly Critical Mass
Critical Mass
Critical Mass is a cycling event typically held on the last Friday of every month in over 300 cities around the world. The ride was originally founded in 1992 in San Francisco. The purpose of Critical Mass is not usually formalized beyond the direct action of meeting at a set location and time and...

 bicycle rides had used the "corking" technique at street intersections to block rush-hour cross-traffic. In 1997, Brown approved San Francisco Police Department
San Francisco Police Department
The San Francisco Police Department, also known as the SFPD and San Francisco Department Of Police, is the police department of the City and County of San Francisco, California...

 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." 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
Unlawful assembly
Unlawful assembly is a legal term to describe a group of people with the mutual intent of deliberate disturbance of the peace. If the group are about to start the act of disturbance, it is termed a rout; if the disturbance is commenced, it is then termed a riot.- Section 144 :Section 144 is a...

, 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."

Urban planning and development

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
Urban planning
Urban planning incorporates areas such as economics, design, ecology, sociology, geography, law, political science, and statistics to guide and ensure the orderly development of settlements and communities....

 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
Mission Bay, San Francisco, California
Mission Bay is a neighborhood in San Francisco, California.-Location:Mission Bay is roughly bounded by Townsend Street on the north, Third Street and San Francisco Bay on the east, Mariposa Street on the south, and 7th Street and Interstate 280 on the west.-History:It was created in 1998 by the...

, and the development of a second campus for the University of California, San Francisco
University of California, San Francisco
The University of California, San Francisco is one of the world's leading centers of health sciences research, patient care, and education. UCSF's medical, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing, and graduate schools are among the top health science professional schools in the world...

. In contrast, critics objected to the construction of many live-work loft
A loft can be an upper story or attic in a building, directly under the roof. Alternatively, a loft apartment refers to large adaptable open space, often converted for residential use from some other use, often light industrial...

 buildings in formerly working-class neighborhoods that they believed lead to gentrification
Gentrification and urban gentrification refer to the changes that result when wealthier people acquire or rent property in low income and working class communities. Urban gentrification is associated with movement. Consequent to gentrification, the average income increases and average family size...

 and displacement of residents and light industry
Light industry
Light industry is usually less capital intensive than heavy industry, and is more consumer-oriented than business-oriented...


Under Brown, San Francisco’s city hall was restored from damages sustained during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake
Loma Prieta earthquake
The Loma Prieta earthquake, also known as the Quake of '89 and the World Series Earthquake, was a major earthquake that struck the San Francisco Bay Area of California on October 17, 1989, at 5:04 p.m. local time...

. Brown insisted on restoring the light courts and having the dome gilded with more than US$ 400,000 in real gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

. The Embarcadero
The Embarcadero (San Francisco)
The Embarcadero is the eastern waterfront and roadway of the Port of San Francisco, San Francisco, California, along San Francisco Bay, constructed atop an engineered seawall on reclaimed land, and derives its name from the Spanish verb embarcar, meaning "to embark"...

 was redeveloped and the Mission Bay Development project began. Brown also oversaw the approval of the Catellus Development Corp., US$ 100 million restoration of the century-old Ferry Building
Ferry Building
The San Francisco Ferry Building is a terminal for ferries that travel across the San Francisco Bay and a shopping center located on The Embarcadero in San Francisco, California. On top of the building is a large clock tower, which can be seen from Market Street, a main thoroughfare of the city...

, new Main Library
San Francisco Public Library
The San Francisco Public Library is a public library system serving the city of San Francisco. Its main library is located in San Francisco's Civic Center, at 100 Larkin Street at Grove. The first public library of San Francisco officially opened in 1879, just 30 years after the California Gold...

, the new Asian Art Museum
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco is a museum in San Francisco, California, United States. It has one of the most comprehensive collections of Asian art in the world....

, the new M. H. de Young Memorial Museum
M. H. de Young Memorial Museum
The M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, commonly called simply the de Young Museum, is a fine arts museum located in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. It is named for early San Francisco newspaperman M. H...

, the expansion of the Moscone Convention Center and San Francisco International Airport's
San Francisco International Airport
San Francisco International Airport is a major international airport located south of downtown San Francisco, California, United States, near the cities of Millbrae and San Bruno in unincorporated San Mateo County. It is often referred to as SFO...

 new international terminal. Brown worked to restructure the Housing Authority. Brown helped established an AFL-CIO housing trust to build affordable housing and he worked to increase the city’s share of federal and state grants. He oversaw declining crime rates and improvements in the city’s economy, finances, and credit ratings during his first term.

Brown was known for his shrewd and strategic use of the details of the planning process to affect and facilitate development projects on his watch. In regards to a parking garage on Vallejo Street desired by North Beach and Chinatown merchants, Brown circumvented neighborhood resident opponents of the garage by ordering demolition of the site's existing structure to commence on a Friday night and be done by Monday morning, when the group was certain to try to obtain a restraining order. "It was with the demolition permit I outsmarted them," Brown recounts proudly, claiming that as the critics rushed toward court, "someone shouted out to them that the building had disappeared over the weekend. They've never recovered from that little maneuver."

During his time as Mayor, Brown hoped to build a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers are a professional American football team based in San Francisco, California, playing in the West Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League . The team was founded in 1946 as a charter member of the All-America Football Conference and...

 and worked with the 49ers to create a plan. No new facility was built for the team during his tenure. Brown worked with the San Francisco Giants
San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants are a Major League Baseball team based in San Francisco, California, playing in the National League West Division....

 to build a new stadium in the China Basin after previous stadium measures had failed on the ballot. The stadium gained approval by San Francisco voters in 1996 and opened in 2000.

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.

Favoritism and patronage criticisms, FBI investigations

Allegations of political patronage followed Brown from the State Legislature through his tenure as San Francisco mayor. Former Los Angeles County GOP Assemblyman Paul Horcher
Paul Horcher
Paul V. Horcher is an American politician from California and a former member of the Republican Party.-Early career:A graduate of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Horcher practiced law before joining the Diamond Bar Municipal Advisory council in 1982...

, who voted in 1994 to keep Brown as Speaker, was reassigned to head San Francisco's solid waste management program. Brian Setencich
Brian Setencich
Brian Setencich served in the California Assembly for one term from 1994 to 1996 and as Speaker of that body from September 14, 1995 to January 4, 1996. Setencich was the first freshman legislator to serve as Speaker of the Assembly. He was previously a city councilman in Fresno and played...

 also was appointed to a position by Brown. Both were hired as special assistants after losing their assembly seats because of their support of Brown. Former San Francisco Supervisor Bill Maher was also hired as a special assistant after campaigning for Brown in his first mayoral race. Brown is also criticized for favoritism to Ms. Carpeneti, the lobbyist with whom he had a child. In 1998 Brown arranged for Carpeneti to obtain a rent-free office in the city-owned Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium is a multi-purpose arena in San Francisco, California, currently named after promoter Bill Graham...

. 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.

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
Lance Williams
Lance J. Williams is a prominent graphics researcher who made major contributions to texture map prefiltering, shadow rendering algorithms, facial animation, and antialiasing techniques...

 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
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

 investigated Brown when he was Speaker. One investigation was a sting operation concerning a fake fish company
Fish company
In this article one can find the top provinces where fish companies are mostly located and also account for almost half of the worldwide processed fish products...

 attempting to bribe Brown; he was not charged with any criminal act. The FBI further investigated Brown from 1998 to 2003 over his appointees at the Airport Commission for potential conflicts of interests. 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
Sutro Tower
Sutro Tower is a three-pronged antenna tower near Clarendon Heights in San Francisco, California. Rising from a hill between Twin Peaks and Mount Sutro, it is a prominent part of the city skyline and a landmark for city residents and visitors...

 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
Charlie Walker
Charlie Walker was an English footballer who played mainly for West Ham United.Born in Nottingham, Walker started his career at Arsenal. He spent a period on loan to Arsenal's nursery club Margate, but never played a first-team game for Arsenal themselves, with opportunities limited by the...

, 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.

Retinitis Pigmentosa

While serving as Assembly Speaker, Brown was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa
Retinitis pigmentosa
Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of genetic eye conditions that leads to incurable blindness. In the progression of symptoms for RP, night blindness generally precedes tunnel vision by years or even decades. Many people with RP do not become legally blind until their 40s or 50s and retain some...

 (RP), a disease that presently has no cure and that would slowly steal his eyesight. RP is a hereditary disease that causes a continual loss of peripheral vision and often leads to total blindness. Brown’s two sisters were also diagnosed with RP. Brown remarked, "Having RP is a challenge, as Speaker of the Assembly it was very important that I recognize people in the halls of the Legislature. But I couldn’t see people unless they were right in front of me. I needed to have the security people give me notes to tell me who was in the room. Reading is also very difficult so I use larger print notes and memos. Living with RP means having to use more of your brain function—I listen more intently, I memorize vast amounts of information, and I have trained my computer to recognize numerous verbal commands." Brown has worked with the Foundation Fighting Blindness
Foundation Fighting Blindness
The mission of the Foundation Fighting Blindness is to fund research that will lead to preventions, treatments, and cures for retinal degenerative diseases including: retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, Usher syndrome and Stargardt disease. These diseases affect more than 10 million...

 to raise awareness of the disease.

Aesthetic style

Brown has had an ostentatious sense of personal style from the beginning that he later parlayed into a political advantage. Even in high school he was fastidious about his appearance. In office he became famous for British and Italian suits, sports cars, nightclubbing, and a collection of dressy hats. He was once called "The Best Dressed Man in San Francisco" by Esquire magazine.

In his 2008 autobiography, Basic Brown, he described his taste for US$6,000 Brioni suits and his search for the perfect chocolate Corvette
Chevrolet Corvette
The Chevrolet Corvette is a sports car by the Chevrolet division of General Motors that has been produced in six generations. The first model, a convertible, was designed by Harley Earl and introduced at the GM Motorama in 1953 as a concept show car. Myron Scott is credited for naming the car after...

 to add to his car collection. In one chapter titled: "The Power of Clothes: Don’t Pull a Dukakis", Brown explains that men should acquire a navy
Navy blue
Navy blue is a very dark shade of the color blue which almost appears as black. Navy blue got its name from the dark blue worn by officers in the British Royal Navy since 1748 and subsequently adopted by other navies around the world....

A blazer is a type of jacket. The term blazer occasionally is synonymous with boating jacket and sports jacket, two different garments. A blazer resembles a suit coat cut more casually — sometimes with flap-less patch pockets and metal buttons. A blazer's cloth is usually durable , because it is an...

 for each season: one with “a hint of green” for springtime, another with more autumnal threading for the fall. He further remarks, "You really shouldn't try to get through a public day wearing just one thing. ... Sometimes, I change clothes four times a day."

Brown in the media

As Mayor of San Francisco, Brown was often portrayed mockingly but affectionately by political cartoonists and columnist
A columnist is a journalist who writes for publication in a series, creating an article that usually offers commentary and opinions. Columns appear in newspapers, magazines and other publications, including blogs....

s 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
The Godfather Part III
The Godfather Part III is a 1990 American gangster film written by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola, and directed by Coppola. It completes the story of Michael Corleone, a Mafia kingpin who tries to legitimize his criminal empire...

did not understand director Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. He is widely acclaimed as one of Hollywood's most innovative and influential film directors...

'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
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures is an American film studio owned by The Walt Disney Company. Walt Disney Pictures and Television, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Studios and the main production company for live-action feature films within the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, based at the Walt Disney...

 films, George of the Jungle
George of the Jungle (film)
George of the Jungle is a 1997 live-action, family-oriented, romantic-adventure-comedy film based on the characters from the original cartoon of the same name. The film was produced by Walt Disney Pictures with Mandeville Films and originally released to movie theatres on July 16, 1997...

and The Princess Diaries
The Princess Diaries (film)
The Princess Diaries is a 2001 comedy film produced by singer and actress Whitney Houston and directed by Garry Marshall. It is based on Meg Cabot's 2000 novel of the same name...

, and the 2003 Universal release Hulk
Hulk (film)
Hulk is a 2003 American superhero film based on the fictional Marvel Comics character of the same name. Ang Lee directed the film, which stars Eric Bana as Dr. Bruce Banner, as well as Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott, Josh Lucas, and Nick Nolte...

as the mayor of San Francisco. He appeared as himself, alongside Geraldo Rivera
Geraldo Rivera
Geraldo Rivera is an American attorney, journalist, author, reporter, and former talk show host...

, in an episode of Nash Bridges
Nash Bridges
Nash Bridges is an American television police drama created by Carlton Cuse. The show starred Don Johnson and Cheech Marin as two Inspectors with the San Francisco Police Department's Special Investigations Unit. The show ran for six seasons on CBS from March 29, 1996 to May 4, 2001 with a total of...


Brown was criticized in 1996 for his comments that 49ers backup quarterback Elvis Grbac
Elvis Grbac
Elvis M. Grbac is a retired American football quarterback who played in the NFL. During his career he was a starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, the Kansas City Chiefs, and Baltimore Ravens...

 was "an embarrassment to humankind." He was criticized in 1997 for responding to Golden State Warriors
Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors are an American professional basketball team based in Oakland, California. They are part of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association...

 player Latrell Sprewell
Latrell Sprewell
Latrell Fontaine Sprewell is a former American professional basketball player. During his time as a professional, Sprewell was named to the NBA All-Star game during four seasons, and played for the Golden State Warriors, the New York Knicks, and the Minnesota Timberwolves...

 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
Iron Chef
is a Japanese television cooking show produced by Fuji Television. The series, which premiered on October 10, 1992, is a stylized cook-off featuring guest chefs challenging one of the show's resident "Iron Chefs" in a timed cooking battle built around a specific theme ingredient. The series ended...

, suggesting San Franciscan Chef Ron Siegel
Ron Siegel
Ron Siegel is an American chef working in San Francisco. He is currently Chef of the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, taking over for Chef Sylvain Portray in 2004. Siegel is perhaps best known for his 1998 appearance on Iron Chef, becoming the first ever U.S. citizen to win in Kitchen Stadium...

 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
Hiroyuki Sakai
is a well-known Japanese chef who specializes in French cuisine. Sakai is most famous for being the second, and last, Iron Chef French on the Japanese television show Iron Chef, first appearing at the beginning of 1994 and continued his appearance in shows over nine seasons...


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?"

After Mayorship

After leaving the mayor's office, Brown considered running for the State Senate
California State Senate
The California State Senate is the upper house of the California State Legislature. There are 40 state senators. The state legislature meets in the California State Capitol in Sacramento. The Lieutenant Governor is the ex officio President of the Senate and may break a tied vote...

 but ultimately declined. From January 2006 through September 2006, Brown co-hosted a morning radio show with comedian Will Durst
Will Durst
Will Durst is an American political satirist; he considers himself a modern mix of Mort Sahl and Will Rogers....

 on a local San Francisco Air America Radio
Air America Radio
Air America was an American radio network specializing in progressive talk programming...

 affiliate. He also makes a weekly podcast
A podcast is a series of digital media files that are released episodically and often downloaded through web syndication...

. Brown also established The Willie L. Brown, Jr. Institute on Politics & Public Service, an unaffiliated nonprofit organization at San Francisco State University
San Francisco State University
San Francisco State University is a public university located in San Francisco, California. As part of the 23-campus California State University system, the university offers over 100 areas of study from nine academic colleges...

. 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 forty years in public office. He is also planning to mentor students, teach a course on leadership, and recruit guest speakers.

On February 5, 2008, Simon and Schuster released Brown's hardcover auto-biography, Basic Brown: My Life and Our Times, with collaborator P. J. Corkery. The book release coincided with California's Democratic
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 Presidential Primary on the same day. 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.

In 2009, Brown is defending general construction contractor Monica Ung, 49 of Alamo, California
Alamo, California
Alamo is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Contra Costa County, California, in the United States. It is located in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area...

. Accused of flaunting 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.

External links

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