Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown is also known, in another past political life, as the “Ayatollah of the Assembly” for his absolute rule over California’s lower legislative chamber during the 1980′s and first half of the ’90′s.
But most folks probably don’t know how he earned the nickname.
The year was 1982 and Brown was looking to solidify his position as Speaker. In particular, he wanted to find a way to gracefully rid himself of some rival Assembly Democrats from Southern California.
It turned out: Brown’s rivals wanted out of Sacramento almost as much as Willie wanted them gone – especially if it meant getting their tickets punched to Congress.
Enter: political redistricting and the gerrymander.