The Slick Willie-Moonbeam Jerry Bay Bridge

Bay Bridge Western SpanWhen politicians have nothing better to do, they love to rename public buildings and infrastructures. The U.S. Congress, for example, made renaming the local post offices a top legislative priority that such bills constitute 20% of their “do nothing” agenda. California state legislators are getting into the renaming frenzy by proposing to rename the western half of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge after “Slick” Willie Brown. As for the scandal-plagued eastern half that connects to Oakland, they should rename it after Governor “Moonbeam” Jerry Brown.

On the bright side, they’re not selling the naming rights to the highest bidder.

The public naming convention for the person being given the honor of having a local landmark rename after him—almost always a man who gets this honor—should have been dead for at least five years. Not anymore. At least, not in Silicon Valley.

The San Jose Convention Center got renamed in 1991 after Tom McEnery, a former mayor of San Jose who spearheaded much of the downtown redevelopment that included the convention center and the arena.

The downtown San Jose train station had many names over the years as ownership changed from Southern Pacific to Caltrain. The most recent name change in 1994 was after Ron Diridon, a former county supervisor who spearheaded the renovation of the station to become a future transportation hub for the light rail (done), high-speed rail (someday) and BART (when hell freezes over).

The San Jose International Airport was rename in 2001 after Norman Mineta, a former mayor of San Jose who went on to serve as a congressman, commerce secretary for President Bill Clinton and transportation secretary for President George W. Bush.

Notice the general trend here? If you can spend a substantial amount of taxpayer monies on facilities and transportation networks, you too can have something rename after you without being buried in the ground for five years.

If we have to rename the bay bridge after the Browns, let’s use their political nicknames to sum up the absurdity of the situation: The Slick Willie-Moonbeam Jerry Bay Bridge.