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‘Da Mayor’ Willie Brown moves into sinking Millennium Tower

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Former Mayor Willie Brown moved into the Millennium Tower earlier this month. (Dan Chambers/Special to S.F. Examiner)

On Guard column header Joe

Seriously, readers, some news is too ridiculous to believe — but I swear on my red-dyed mop that the following is a true-blue scoop.

The sinking, tilting Millennium Tower has a new tenant: Da Mayor, hizzoner, Willie Brown.

When this info first hit my eardrums I didn’t believe it either. So I hopped on the horn and called up our former mayor to verify it.

“Oh yeah!” he said heartily, when I asked if he had indeed moved in.

“The price was right,” he added. I asked him how much. “Not your ‘bidness,’” he answered.

Willie moved in last week, he told me, before returning to the meeting I interrupted for my questions. Sadly, I didn’t have enough time to ask if he was nervous about the 58-story tower continuously sinking about an inch a year, as various outlets have reported.

At least Willie has good company: 49ers legend Joe Montana also owns a Millennium Tower condo, although he’s suing its developers, Millennium Partners, for allegedly hiding its problems.

As to how Willie got the good deal?

Since it’s apparently none of my business, one can only speculate. But our former mayor wears many hats (all of them stylish): a behind-the-scenes lobbyist, and a Democratic power player.

In that last role, Willie wrote in late 2017 about Ayesha Curry’s Millennium Tower restaurant “International Smoke.”

“It was a real treat. It certainly gives the building a new tilt,” he said. “I hear the place is already booked solid until the first of the year. I guess that’s what happens when you have Michael Mina as a partner.”

That’s some great advertising.

I wasn’t the only one to find the whole thing funny. Supervisor Aaron Peskin responded, “hilarious,” when I told him of Willie’s new digs. And Willie’s influence may actually help Millennium Tower, he speculated.

“I would like to think now that he’s a part owner they’ll finally fix the building,” Peskin said.

* * *

Citizen — Uncle San Francisco wants you!

The City doesn’t make decisions in a vacuum. From multi-billion dollar rail projects to replacing your neighborhood park’s grass with AstroTurf, citizen commissions weigh in regularly.

The new year brings new opportunities for citizens to join The City’s myriad commissions: There are roughly 83 vacancies across more than 64 commissions, according to the newest annual listing from the Office of the Clerk of the Board.

(That listing doesn’t even include the 20-or-so San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency citizen committees, and a smattering of San Francisco Public Utilities Commission committees.)

“If there weren’t citizen commissions, most of the decisions made by (political) commissions today would be made by bureaucratic executives and the politicians!” former mayor Art Agnos told me enthusiastically Wednesday.

Instead, San Francisco has a system of robust citizen engagement, which Agnos said he’s touted in seminars across the world.

“It is always a tremendous revelation to any community, from China to Africa to the Middle East or Europe, when I’ve spoken on citizen involvement from the commission structure,” he said. “People are amazed.”

From the San Francisco Youth Commission to the Treasure Island Development Authority Citizens Advisory Board, to the Sugary Drinks Distributor Tax Advisory Committee, the vacancies for citizen oversight encompass a broad range of interests.

Not every one of the vacancies I counted in the clerk’s report were open to any citizen — some are high profile commissions usually awarded to political up-and-comers, whereas others require a specific academic or professional expertise.

For instance, the vacancy on the Urban Forestry Council must be filled by someone certified in “professional tree management.” All the tree nuts will no doubt go acorns over the gig.

For the rest of us, however, there are plenty of opportunities. The Public Utilities Citizens Advisory Committee has a vacancy open to appointment by the President of the Board of Supervisors.

Wendy Aragon, a member of that committee, and also a member of the Park, Recreation and Open Space Advisory Committee, said its a fun job for people who want to be engaged in their neighborhood — and to complain directly to Rec and Park’s staffers.

“I’m not afraid to speak my mind,” she said. “That’s why I’m there.”

It also gives Aragon direct access to her neighborhood supervisor, Sandra Fewer, to work hand-in-hand on neighborhood issues.

And as a Latina, Aragon feels its a great way for people from marginalized communities to speak out.

So if you’re fed up with Muni, want to improve your neighborhood parks, are focused on health or homelessness, or any one of the hundreds of functions The City serves — there’s probably a commission for you.

“There’s a lot of privilege in being able to complain and stomp your feet about an issue,” Aragon said. “It’s really for someone who wants to use that privilege for good.”

To see the list of vacancies and apply for yourself, check out the list here: https://sfbos.org/sites/default/files/Maddy_Act_Report.pdf.

On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email Fitz at joe@sfexaminer.com, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @FitztheReporter, and Facebook at facebook.com/FitztheReporter.

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