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.