(Part II of II) The Grand Rotunda of City Hall, with its stately staircase, is the parlor of San Francisco. Here, as Senator Dianne Feinstein said last night, the workaday world of city hall – the fixing of potholes, the feuding over assessments, the recording of vital statistics, the morbid doings of politics – is relieved. Munificence subsumes municipalness. The rotunda is a temple, mid corridors of power and mischief, to the spirit of San Francisco. Here the United Nations was founded; here slain mayors and magistrates have lain in state; here governments have been inaugurated, weddings celebrated, communities honored.
So it was fitting, meet and just that this was the space in which San Francisco chose to honor the woman who has kept that spirit glowing and who has extended it to potentates and to the powerless. Stanlee Gatti, who gives opulence a good name, decorated the rotunda with starbursts of red and yellow roses. Choirs of children, ensembles of string and brass players, entertained with fancies, fanfares and bouquets of holiday voices. The ceremonies moved quickly and entertainingly, but with spirit and diligence. This evening in honor of Charlotte Mailliard Shultz was no mere reading of a municipal proclamation.
Of course, you had the two greatest micro-managers of events and impresarios of municipal splendor, running the show: Willie Brown and Dianne Feinstein. They had rehearsed the show all afternoon. A remarkable effort, especially given the news of the day from Iraq, which required Sen. Feinstein, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to do a lot of TV. While she was leading the ceremony at City Hall, she was simultaneously talking sense on Larry King.
Dianne Feinstein walked us through the Shultz years, from her start assisting that previous great ambassador of San Francisco, Cyril Magnin, to her triumphs at state visits, trade missions, funerals, parades, and parties. The Swiss Consul General offered the thanks of San Francisco’s 79 consulates. … Boz Scaggs sang “My Funny Valentine,” a tribute from the City’s artists and musicians. … The Boys’ Choir of San Francisco sang, “Consider Yourself One of Us,” and from “Beach Blanket Babylon,” doing special, on-the-money, funny lyrics to “My Way,” Renee Lubin and Stirland Martin saluted the happy synergy of the Protocol Chief and Da Mayor. … The evening seemed to draw to a happy close when Val Diamond, in her city-size chapeau, belted out the anthem, the true song of San Francisco, “San Francisco.”
But there was more. A delegation from that cranky, and usually most uncollegial, body came forward. … The Board of Supervisors! … Well, if anything can end a party it’s a visit from that quarrelsome, quibbling quorum. Aaron Peskin, Bevan Dufty, Tony Hall stepped forward. If ever Downstairs was to meet Upstairs it was then. And indeed the supes had official business about stairs to announce they had taken steps on. … But it was a nice surprise, the second of the evening.
Aaron Peskin announced that the Board rather graciously had decided to name the monumental ceremonial staircase, centerpiece of the rotunda and the Hall, in honor of Charlotte Shultz. She hastily took possession. And all applauded not only the honor, but the comity and courtesy of the Board of Supervisors. Who knew they could do anything unanimously? But they did. Of course, it takes someone like Charlotte Shultz to bring the board together…
There was one more surprise. … But first a couple of impressions. Hard not to note the feeling of celebration and delight as the newest office holders in California and San Francisco were brought forth. A new generation. And a glamorous one…
Maria Shriver is an astonishingly beautiful woman, far more pretty than on TV or in the press. And despite the press of people upon her, a laughing and lovely woman. … Arnold, as noted, won the crowd. He’s a little shorter than he seems in pix, but is deft and personable. … Roars greeted Kamala Harris as she was introduced -- not only as the District Attorney of San Francisco, but also as the first African-American and the first woman elected as a DA in California. She’s a hit … And if you had any doubt about the popularity of San Francisco’s new mayor and first lady, the hurrahs that greeted Gavin Newsom and Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom erased them. …The new governor and his wife and the new mayor and his wife posed on the Shultz Staircase to wish the lady and her stairwell well.
Arnold joked that now that Willie was leaving, he would offer Charlotte a job as a protocol boss for the state. But Gavin one-upped him. “ I have news for you governor,” said Mayor Newsom, “This evening was the best job interview I’ve ever seen. So Charlotte the job in San Francisco is still yours.”
But the moment was as much a salute to the elegant and vigorous couples assuming power in our politics. Willie, Charlotte, Diane, Nancy Pelosi, Gina Moscone – led the toast. As Ed Moose said, “this is super!”
After the captains and the kings departed, Charlotte stood still greeting every guest who had come to wish her well. I asked her if she would stay on in the Newsom administration. She said, “To be honest, I hadn’t thought of it, but if he …” And before she could finish, one of her hard working aides came to tell her the governor was leaving. She excused herself to make sure he got the proper send-off.
I think she’s still on the job. …