SAN FRANCISCO – A California group submitted a proposal Monday to rename a sewage treatment plant after President Bush, calling the initiative a fitting tribute to the outgoing chief executive and the “mess” he’ll leave behind.
The Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco wants to switch the name of the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant to the George W. Bush Sewage Plant.
Supporters hoping to put the issue on the November ballot turned in more than 10,000 signatures to San Francisco election officials, organizer Brian McConnell said. The measure needs just over 7,000 valid names to qualify and McConnell expects to find out later this month whether they made it.
Proponents of the renaming plan see it as fitting tribute to a president they contend has plumbed the depths of incompetence.
“We think that it’s important to remember our leaders in the right historical context,” said McConnell, a member of the group that was formed after friends came up with the renaming idea.
“In President Bush’s case, we think that we will be cleaning up a substantial mess for the next 10 or 20 years,” he said. “The sewage treatment facility’s job is to clean up a mess, so we think it’s a fitting tribute.”
The “mess,” as supporters of the plan see it, includes the aftermath of the Iraq war and what they see as a neglect of domestic economic issues.
“What we’re really doing is symbolizing the fact that as he leaves office, we’ll begin the process of basically repairing damage and rebuilding our country’s reputation,” he said.
But others think the plan reeks.
The chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party has promised to fight the measure if it does make the ballot.
A call by The Associated Press to White House press officials was not returned. But Patrick Dorinson, a former spokesman for the California Republican Party now running a communications firm in Sacramento, called the measure “a horrible idea” that is “childish and it’s stupid.”
“This is why San Francisco is considered wacky,” Dorinson said. “It makes me ashamed to be a San Franciscan if this is all they’ve got time to do.”
San Francisco Public Utilities Commission spokesman Tony Winnicker says officials have bigger issues to deal with than the proposed initiative. He defended Oceanside as anything but a symbol of inadequacy.
“The plant that they’re seeking to rename really offers extraordinary environmental benefits. Without it, raw sewage and storm water would flow into the bay and the oceans and the streets. That’s not our understanding of what the authors of this initiative believe the current president has delivered,” Winnicker said.
Still, he said, the commission is “trying to take it in stride and understand the humor behind it.”