Nothenberg, Rudy: Moscone's Legacy


Rudy Nothenberg: When you’ve been around as long as I have, and you’re as old as I am you tend to be a little more skeptical about legacies. It’s tempting to say that if it were not for George, then this and this and that and the other wouldn’t have happened. It’s probably true, but George rode a wave of change which was going to engulf communities in this country in any event. It had little to do with anything we either did or didn’t do in San Francisco. Change was coming. Change was near. It was unstoppable. George capitalized on that and adapted that change and made it work in this divided city fairly well, I think. And the legacy is that there will never be – leaving aside stone and buildings and stuff – as a quality of politics there will never again be a commission, a government appointed body here that is not represented [ ] the various constituencies and interests of the city. There was a flattening out of the governmental process in City Hall which George wanted to have as a matter of belief that was probably going to come in any event, but needed to be managed, and he managed it well. Both the role of the commissions and the appointments of the commissions were fundamentally changed and forever changed. It’ll never go back. The relationships, I think, George allowed us [ ] to establish a new way of dealing with managing the bureaucracy which nobody made an attempt to. Alioto’s predecessor had the luxury of dealing primarily with federal dollars. There was so much federal cash coming in so he can administer the federal part of the budget through the [development] agency primarily and others, and the rest of the city well whatever the hell was happening out there was happening, but we needed to manage that bureaucracy. We needed to manage the resources so we established that. We established [linkages] to the business community we [created]. And those things hadn’t been there before, and it is unthinkable that the city would act without ‘em today because the fact is almost everything we started in those days are still there. The way we do this, the way we do the other, [ ]. Those are legacies, perhaps they’re not so obvious, but George allowed those and made those happen, and they’ve changed. People had more or less adherence to them. Everybody used a part of it. Other mayors used less of it, and that’s the personality of the mayor. Some mayors hadn’t been as attentive.


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The Moscone oral history interviews are part of the George Moscone Collection, MSS 328.

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Holt-Atherton Special Collections and Archives, University of the Pacific Library

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