Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown was the talk of the town during Monday morning’s 1906 earthquake memorial, but current Mayor Ed Lee was nowhere to be seen. (Tony Avelar/AP)

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown was the talk of the town during Monday morning’s 1906 earthquake memorial, but current Mayor Ed Lee was nowhere to be seen. (Tony Avelar/AP)

Willie Brown steals show as Mayor Lee ducks 1906 earthquake remembrance

A walloping 110 years after San Francisco burned in the infamous 1906 earthquake, a hundred or so souls arrived at 4:30 a.m. to honor the long-ago fallen.

I groggily ambled to the annual commemoration, engineered by local press agent extraordinaire Lee Houskeeper, at Lotta’s Fountain on Market and Kearny. This was the first year the commemoration was held without any living survivors.

Perhaps that’s why no members of the Board of Supervisors were present, and Mayor Ed Lee was a no-show (though some suggested he was jet-lagged from his recent trip to Jerusalem).

The speaker of honor was Da Mayor, hizzoner Willie Brown, who delivered a stirring speech on the horrors of the earthquake. Police Chief Greg Suhr spoke next.

“You heard Willie Brown give what sounded like a first-hand account” of the 1906 quake, Suhr jabbed, to cheers from the crowd. The cracks kept comin’, too.

Later at a Union Square celebration of the San Francisco Fire Department’s 150th year, local socialite Charlotte Shultz told the crowd, “They say there’s no survivors left” of the quake, “but I understand there was one this morning … Willie Brown!”

Despite his advanced age, Brown is like the energizer bunny of too-slick politicians. When I asked him how he kept on truckin’, he said, sagely, “Vodka! Vodka!”

* * *

Last Wednesday, an effort by moderates in the local Democratic party failed to tamp down on office-holding politicians (big names) running for seats on the tiny party board.

The measure, crafted by Democratic County Central Committee (say it three times fast!) member Alix Rosenthal, would’ve booted supervisors and other officials to “ex-officio” positions, making room for actual boots-on-the-ground Dems to register voters.

Even if it succeeded, it still would’ve left a Grand Canyon-sized loophole.

Campaign contributions for supervisor races are limited to $500 per person. A squirrelly supervisor, however, can also run for DCCC at the same darn time — avoiding those limits altogether.

DCCC candidates can raise unlimited funds and send out postcards emblazoned with their names and faces. Sure, they’d say, “DCCC candidate” not “supervisor candidate,” but name recognition is key.

Much hay has been made over District 9 Supervisor candidate Joshua Arce’s $70,000, given by union buddies for his DCCC candidacy. None of Arce’s opponents are using the DCCC loophole.

Since March, Board of Supervisors President London Breed has swooped a grand total of $41,000 in contributions running for DCCC — helpful in her supervisor race against Dean Preston.

As a supervisor candidate, Breed would’ve needed to raise that from 82 donors. For DCCC, she raised it from nine.

Ten thousand dollars came from a single contributor: Eco Bay Services. Breed also netted $5,000 each from the San Francisco Fire Fighters PAC; John Konstin, owner of John’s Grill; the Grass Roots Non Profit Collective; and the U.A. Local 38 COPE fund.

In response, Preston said, “It makes it more difficult when money pours in for one candidate than the other. But it raises a fundamental question not just about my opponent, but City Hall and who it’s serving.”

Breed said the owner of Eco Bay Services is family. She also pointed out progressives have used the DCCC loophole plenty.

“This is not an uncommon practice,” Breed said.

Or in common parlance: Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

* * *

Frisco Day, last Friday, 4/15, at 4:15 p.m., at Dolores Park, was a hella fine day.

At least a hundred Ess Eff cats turned out to celebrate our native (and long time local) heritage. Seas of folks in stylized Giants and 49ers gear stood together, commiserating.

The sun beat down hot, but not all shone. Remember Hugo Vargas, one of the S.F. native kids in the Mission Playground soccer debacle?

Vargas defended his turf from those gentrifying Dropbox nozzles, who tried to throw Vargas and other kids off their neighborhood soccer field.

I spoke to Vargas at Frisco Day. The 16-year-old said he might soon be an ex-San Franciscan.

His family lives in two Mission district single room occupancy hotel rooms.

“We got lucky,” he said about remaining in The City. But the SRO’s small size is straining his family.

Vargas said they applied for affordable housing, but noted, “If we don’t get it, we have to start looking in Oakland, Richmond, Concord. It’s on the table.”

Just like that, the warmth of Frisco Day met the cold reality of Frisco.

On Guard prints the news and raises hell each Tuesday. Email him at

Online only bonus: Below, Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez and Willie Brown “photo bomb” a reporter’s video, shortly before he tells Fitzgerald Rodriguez, “Vodka! Vodka!”

1906 earthquakeDropboxFrisco DayMayor Willie Brown

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