The Right Name, The Right Time

Today, County Supervisors will name the County Government Center’s courtyard after Jim McEntee. (link)  It’s an appropriate tribute to a great person. 

Jim died last September.  I knew him when I was a County employee many moons ago.  Jim was the County’s human relations director and a good friend of the late Bob Gonzales, Sr., father of then-Supervisor Ron Gonzales.  They knew each other from years of working side by side as community and political activists.

Jim and Bob were three decades older than me, but they would regularly take me to lunch.  I ate; they talked.  I sincerely enjoyed their company.  They were two of the most generous and selfless individuals I’ve known.

When I read the proposal to honor Jim, I was thrilled.  But I also wish that he could be alive to enjoy the moment. 

I use to think that the best policy was to dedicate a place to someone only after they passed away.  Now, I believe it appropriate to honor someone who is still alive.  But a reasonable amount of time should elapse after an individual retires from his or her chosen profession. 

I like Major League Baseball’s rule for induction to the Hall of Fame. (link) Players must be retired from the game for at least five years.  This gives the electors an opportunity to evaluate a player’s achievements with the aide of time and perspective.

This may be trickier in politics and business because individuals can more easily restart careers.  Nonetheless, I think some rule makes sense.

For those of you keeping score at home, yes, I believe that the Convention Center was prematurely named after Tom McEnery – only a year after he left office.  Although, I would certainly agree that the building deserves his name.  As do the places recently named after Rod Diridon, Susan Hammer, and Norm Mineta.

But for the person’s and history’s sake, a reasonable wait would be a good thing.



  1. I’d recommend the Convention Ctr tent for Mayor Ron.  It’s the only orginal idea that’s come out of his administration even if it blows.

    All the other downtown projects including the new city hall were started before he got there.  Can anyone suggest a project he started and finished?

    McEnery and Hammer deserve to have their names on a buildings.  As for Mayor Ron, he’ll leave no impression on downtown.  Five years after he’s gone, we will wonder what he did for eight years.

  2. For a major city suffering from a severe case of national attention deficit disorder, naming the airport after Norm Mineta was idiotic—no matter how much federal money was being dangled. Norm Mineta is a politician who, despite a national stage, has managed to make a name for himself only with the folks back home, along with the usual suspects on the Beltway. To the majority of Americans his name is synonymous with nothing and nowhere.

    Up until the time that this city produces a person of significant achievement and national renown, someone whose name is indelibly linked to San Jose, our airport deserves to bear the name of this city.

  3. Couldn’t agree with Finfan more.  And who came up with the idea of naming anything after Susan Hammer?  I missed out on that one, but seems to me that since she’s responsible for Quetzalcoatl, the porta-potty deserves her name on it.  With this kind of recent track record of naming things after mayors who have just left office, I suspect we’ll see some kind of proposal to name something after Gonzo before too long.  Maybe the main strip-mall drag in Coyote Valley?

  4. finfan,

    I am not a big fan of Mineta either but can you tell me what significant national achievements do the names Logan, O’Hare, LaGuardia, Hartsfield, etc. are synonimous with?  People fly to places and if you need to go to Atlanta, it is immaterial if their airport was named after the Unabomber or Jack the Ripper.

  5. Isn’t today the D7 election?  Why are there no posts regarding this?  Where is our electoral spirit?  Why aren’t people showing up and voting?!

  6. I say we name the green port-o-potty at Saint James Park after Gonzalez the mayor.  Every time it flushes it could remind us of what he has done to downtown.

    His quote could be ” too keep the good people down, you need to flush em down”.

  7. Regarding the names of the airports…

    That Chicago named its facility after a war hero unknown outside of its borders matters not—it is a world famous city that can afford to be colorful and generous. The same goes for Boston (another war hero) and New York, although Fiorella LaGuardia was as beloved and successful a mayor as any city has ever enjoyed.

    Naming its airport after a mayor might not have been the best idea in Atlanta but, unlike SJ, it is a city with a rich history and does not suffer from being constantly overshadowed by a world renowned city a mere hour away.

  8. “…a person of…national renown, someone whose name is indelibly linked to San Jose…”

    The Anna Ayala International Airport?

  9. “Can anyone suggest a project he started and finished?”

    he paid 22 million to drag a historic building down the street.  And 25 more million to rebuild it as fake old hotel.

    Imagine what we could do with the 45 million today.  High rise housng?

    As for what he did for eight years? 

    His intern!

  10. It’s a sad state of affairs when you have people naming things after someone who has done nothing.  Tom McEnery re-built San Jose and it’s direction taking away power of the lobbists was of tremendous importance or Coyote Valley would be built out today.  That power was given back by Susan Hammer and then 10 fold by Consalez.  Give us more like Tom please for whatever problems people may think he had, he was completely honest and ethical and wouldn’t consider doing something that would cast a shadow on him or his family.  Why don’t other people think like that?

  11. I only met Mr. McEntee a couple of times, but in those few instances he struck me as an unusually kind and generous person, typical of the best of San Jose’s citizenry.  It is a fine thing to have the courtyard named after him.

    P.S. Mr. McEntee would probably encourage me to speak my mind here:  To be “SJ Inside,” must one be male and/or have attended BCP?  I hope not!