San Francisco should be justly proud of the independent and visionary leadership of outgoing Presidio Trust President Nancy Hellman Bechtle and board members William Hambrecht and Charlene Harvey. Their hard work, independence and dedication to serving the public deserves praise from every San Franciscan and California resident.
During their tenure, and because of their leadership–along with the guiding hand of recently retired Presidio Trust Executive Director Craig Middleton–the Presidio is financially self-sufficient and a thriving example of public-private partnerships that exemplify the very best in public parks, recreation and conservation in the World today.
In the face of overwhelming political pressure, these individuals and other Trust board members Paula Robinson Collins and Alex Mehran created new opportunities for San Franciscans, Californians and visitors to access one of the great treasures of American parks—The Presidio. Our Presidio.
And, just recently, the leadership of these individuals was demonstrated for everyone to see: they unanimously stood up to megalomaniac billionaire Star Wars director George Lucas, whose proposed vanity museum would have been a disgrace to San Francisco and the Presidio Trust. Through open hearings, transparency and fairness their process concluded that not only should Lucas’s horrific design be rejected, but that two other competing proposal should turned down as well.
They took this action against the political and social pressure of Mayor Ed Lee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. That, in itself, is no small feat. They also stood strong against venture capitalist Ron Conway, who became a one man sycophant for Lucas and his museum. Even now, in defeat, Ron Conway continues to embarrass himself by claiming a conspiracy against George Lucas.
We believe and hope that new members Lynne Benioff, Nicola Miner, Janet Reilly, and John Keker will continue to keep the independent leadership exhibited by Bechtle, Hambrecht and Harvey alive. The legacy left by Bechtle, Hambrecht and Harvey is an important milestone in San Francisco and Presidio history. And, it is something that would have made Congressman Philip Burton, who championed the Presidio’s preservation, very proud.