Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

Process to name a Harvey Milk SFO airport terminal begins Thursday

The international terminal at SFO, seen here lighted in the rainbow colors, could be named after gay icon Harvey Milk.

The international terminal at SFO, seen here lighted in the rainbow colors, could be named after gay icon Harvey Milk.

The long-delayed process to name a terminal at San Francisco’s airport after gay icon Harvey Milk is set to finally take off this week.

The Airport Facilities Naming Advisory Committee will hold its inaugural meeting this Thursday, April 20, at City Hall, the Bay Area Reporter has learned. It is tasked with recommending which of the four terminal’s at San Francisco International Airport should bear the name of Milk.

In 1977 he became the first gay person elected to office in San Francisco when he won a supervisor seat. A year later, Milk was assassinated inside City Hall, along with then-mayor George Moscone, by disgruntled former supervisor Dan White.

The naming committee has been stalled since it was first proposed in 2013 due to Mayor Ed Lee’s snail’s pace in naming his five appointees to the nine-member panel. As of Monday afternoon (April 17), the mayor’s office had yet to publicly disclose whom Lee had appointed to the body.

In response an emailed request for the names that the B.A.R. sent to Lee’s appointments secretary, Deputy Chief of Staff Francis Tsang, and San Francisco Airport Commission secretary Jean Caramatti, who is staffing the naming advisory panel, the five people include two gay appointees: Joe Goldman, who is the public affairs and civic engagement manager at the Jewish Community Relations Council, and Alfredo Pedroza, who is a senior vice president at Wells Fargo and the bank’s West Region director of local government relations.

The other three mayoral appointees are Jim Lazarus, the senior vice president for public policy at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce; Theresa Lee, formerly the deputy airport director for administration; and Renel Brooks Moon, the public address announcer for the San Francisco Giants.

According to an email the B.A.R. obtained that Caramatti sent to the panel members, who were blind copied on the email so their names were not known by the other members, Thursday’s meeting will begin with electing officers to chair the panel, discuss its role, and go over the airport’s existing naming policy.

The agenda also indicates the panel could have its discussion and make a “possible recommendation” to the Board of Supervisors, or it could set out the dates for holding subsequent meetings in order to complete its work.

In a phone interview this morning, retired airport director John L. Martin, who was confirmed by the supervisors at their April 4 meeting to be one of their appointees on the panel, told the B.A.R. that he doesn’t expect it will take more than three or four meetings for the committee to come up with its decision.

“I expect it won’t take long,” said Martin, a gay man who stepped down as SFO’s director last year after 35 years in the job.

In January of 2013 gay former District 9 Supervisor David Campos floated the idea to rename all of SFO after Milk. But the proposal was met with fierce resistance, even within the LGBT community, and did not have the required support at City Hall to move forward.

Months later Campos and Lee, as the B.A.R. was first to report, brokered a deal to merely name a terminal in honor of Milk and have the naming advisory committee help to select which one. The panel could choose to also put forward names to affix to the airport’s other three terminals.

It wasn’t until early 2014, however, that the supervisors had named all four of their appointees to the committee. They include Jon Ballesteros, a gay Latino who is vice president of public policy at San Francisco Travel, the city’s tourism bureau, and Maggie Weiland, deputy director of the Entertainment Commission and a volunteer with the Harvey Milk Foundation, co-founded by her mother, Anne Kronenberg, who was a campaign consultant and legislative aide for Milk.

Alex Walker, a gay man who now works for state Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), and Nick Smith, a gay man who formerly worked for KGO-TV ABC San Francisco as a reporter, were also named by the supervisors to the committee.

Because Smith now works in the Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul Area, according to his LinkedIn profile, he had to step down from the panel as only residents of San Francisco are allowed to be on it. Martin is his replacement.

“Clearly, the charge to name something for Harvey Milk is there, and if there will be other recommendations I couldn’t say,” said Martin. “I wouldn’t want to be ahead of the other committee members.”

The committee is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. Thursday in Room 421 at City Hall.

— Matthew S. Bajko, April 17, 2017 @ 2:21 pm PST
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