Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Last Waltz Salon for Joe Lynn

La Reina Taqueria on Howard near 12th Street was host to a huge, raucous farewell party on Friday afternoon for the former lawyer and San Francisco Ethics Commissioner Joe Lynn.

Joe (above) has lived next door to the taqueria for years, but is moving out of his apartment for the Maitri hospice facility at Duboce and Church while he undergoes experimental treatment for leukemia.

The crowd was mostly left-wing politicos and journalists, who tend to be fractious individuals by nature, with feuds and rapproachments galore.

Joe, however, has always been less controversial, and seems to be just about universally loved and respected.

Until about a year ago, La Reina was the scene of a weekly "political salon" hatched up by Harold Brown and Adriel Hampton (above right) who used to meet for lunch when Adriel was working for the Fang Family era "San Francisco Examiner." Currently he's working for the San Francisco City Attorney as an investigator, and running for Congress in the East Bay's District 10.

The weekly lunches lasted about three years, but the host h. brown (above right) who is a self-acknowledged alcoholic, kept picking fights with his friends and people stopped coming. Nevertheless, I loved the gatherings because there were such interesting people, particularly Joe Lynn.

About an hour into Friday's fiesta, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi gave a speech thanking Joe for his assistance at the Ethics Commission a few years ago. Adachi was running for office against Kimiko Burton, whose campaign spending went over a certain limit and nobody in City Hall seemed to care, particularly at the Ethics Commission which is supposed to be monitoring those things.

Joe gave a speech of his own about good government and how it can work in San Francisco, with specific strategies and policies that went over my head but which was probably understood by the vast majority in the room who are specialists in different kinds of political transparency and reform.

He also thanked and encouraged two of his young proteges, David Waggoner and Oliver Luby above. "They really are the hope of the future, their work is just outstanding."

"Bay Guardian" publisher Bruce Brugmann also gave a speech whose punchline was essentially that "Joe Lynn has always been too good a person to be in the political world."

I went to a Halloween "farewell party" for a friend, Larry Hunnicutt, who was gradually dying of AIDS complications in the 1990s. He had invited all his old friends from Texas and everyone assumed this would be the last time we would see him outside of a hospital. Nine months later I ran into Larry on the sidewalk looking great, and I couldn't help but blurt, "How did you crawl out of the grave?" It turned out he'd received the new AIDS cocktail just as it was appearing for the first time to the public, and his immune system had returned. I'm hoping the same for Joe.


Anonymous said...

The white-haired lady in the green sweater in Jane Morrison, who's in her late 80's, a very long-time SF Democratic Party activist--she and Agar Jaicks and the late Doris Kahn used to call themselves the "what's Left" as distinct from Old and New Lefts at the time. Jane's husband Jack, who died a good many years ago, was a very progressive Supervisor in the 60's and made a creditable bid for Mayor in 1967 but was beaten by Joe Alioto in a three-man no-runoff election. There was an anti-Vietnam War "policy declaration" measure on the same ballot; of the mayoral candidates, only Morrison endorsed it. But the Longshore union, which was strongly antiwar, supported Alioto--I think because he promised Harry Bridges a seat on the Port Commission, though that could just be my chronic cynicism. Nobody had a crystal ball and I don't even have a retrospective one, but I can't help believing Downtown would look a lot different--a lot less dense and more human-scaled--if Jack Morrison had won. (I've said this to Jane, for whatever that's worth.)

Civic Center said...

Dear rootlesscosmo: Thanks for the Jane Morrison background. Whenever I see her at an event, I always know that it's something essential.