Monthly Archives: November 2013

Board of Supervisors Applaud Buck Delventhal

Supervisors Wiener and Campos pose with Buck Delventhal whom they honored for over 40 years of service and leadership.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors honored the man who advised city leaders through Harvey Milk’s succession to marriage equality this Tuesday by declaring October 23, 2013 as “Buck Delventhal Day.”

District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced Government Team Chief Attorney Burk E. “Buck” Delventhal, 70, who has been advising members of the City Attorney’s office since 1970, during the usual Recognition of Commendations. However, Delventhal’s recognition brought numerous board members to the mic to thank him for his outstanding duty.

President David Chiu thanked Delventhal on behalf of the entire staff and wanted to recognize Delventhal for his recent receipt of two honorable legal awards.

“You’ve helped us deal with legal matters and trained entire generations of public advocates in the country,” said Chiu. “You’re truly a lawyer’s lawyer.”

Delventhal, who has served the city since George Moscone was in office, has received two prestigious legal awards. The International Municipal Lawyer’s Association honored him with the Charles S. Rhyne Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest award given to attorneys by the IMLA, and the Ronald M. George Public Lawyer of the Year Award, which recognizes a public law practitioner with an honorable reputation and high ethical standards.

“He’s seen it all,” said Wiener. “He remains calm and gives great advice.”

While Wiener introduced Delventhal’s extensive history with the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, he also reminisced about how Delventhal contributed to his career.

“He has a complete encyclopedia knowledge of municipal code,” said Wiener. “When I didn’t want to do research and be lazy, I’d call Buck. I stopped double-checking the facts because he was right 100 percent of the time.”

Supervisors John Avalos and David Campos also moved forward to speak and thank Delventhal for his contribution to the City’s municipal law.

“It’s really hard to imagine the city attorney’s office without Buck,” said Supervisor Campos.

President David Chiu even joked, “I was thinking of amending Supervisor Wiener’s resolution to request that the city attorney’s office photocopy your brain.”

According to Wiener, Delventhal has provided counsel for numerous lawyers and has argued before the California Supreme Court, California Courts of Appeal, and the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, making him the most sought after counsel throughout the state.

“Buck, you’re such a treasure, not only for the city attorney’s office, but for the city of San Francisco,” said Wiener.

Delventhal stood at the podium throughout the recognition glowing and couldn’t help but smile proudly.

“I’d like to thank you all for allowing me to sponsor this community and all this board for the challenging work you’ve sent my way,” said Delventhal.

Delventhal mentioned the joys of his early days like bringing Dianne Feinstein into office and fighting for marriage equality for all California residents.

“Every minute that I’ve been in this building, we all know that if one person is going to know the answers, it will be you,” said Chiu. “You have answered so many of your questions and you have helped us deal with many legal conundrums.”

Though Delventhal was being recognized, he went on to thank the Board of Supervisors and the City for their support.

“I’ve loved this city since a child,” said Delventhal. “My grandparents and great, great grandparents were here. I was so excited about getting the job, I didn’t ask about the salary. And 43 years later, I’m happy to come to work.”



Gary Kamiya on San Francisco and Writing Well


Gary Kamiya, a taxi-driver turned writer and romantic, visited class last week to discuss his celebrated book, Cold Gray City of Love. His love-letter to San Francisco takes form in 49 chapters, each exploring a different and often forgotten street corner, neighborhood and nook of the city.

Kamiya discussed  the choices he made in piecing his stories together while keeping the reader engaged throughout the chapters. He also advised us on how to strengthen our writing to highlight our neighborhood and how to enjoy the process.

The Berkeley native finds fulfillment in San Francisco’s history, achievements and faults. His book became the medium through which he expressed his fascinations.

“This was home. This was a passion. This was something I know about and wanted to know more about,” said Kamiya.

The majority of stories included among the 49 delve deep past the surface of San Francisco as most of us know it. Kamiya uncovers entire histories, including archaeology and anthropology.

Kamiya admits that book could have easily reached 600 pages. However he needed to remember to strike a balance between quality and quantity. He also had to keep the reader engaged.

I was greatly interested in how he decided to put his stories together in an interesting way that kept the reader motivated. I wanted to know how he decided the order and what he wanted the reader to feel with the shift, for example the first two chapters which are complete opposites.


The author wondered what would be “the most striking, interesting sides of the city.”

“I wanted to open with the Farallons because this book is so much about the city’s terrain. Because that represented the essence or nature of San Francisco as a wild place. I opened with the unexpected,” said Kamiya. “The second chapter is the Tenderloin. I wanted to have an extreme juxtaposition.”

During the editing process of Kamiya’s manuscript, he said he started to write an eccentric history and needed to return to the original writing plan.

“I intuitively shielded away from bringing myself into the book,” said Kamiya. When that didn’t work, Kamiya decided to write himself into the book and it was revealed how writing more personally made the stories successful.

Concerning our final pieces, Kamiya gave us advice on how to engage the reader and what to include or leave out.

“Write more personally,” said Kamiya. “Take the reporter’s hat off a little.”

After listening to Kamiya’s story and advice, I have a stronger sense of where I’d like my final piece to go. I was inspired by his use of chapters, which I think will translate well to the story of the Noe Valley Town Square project since it has happened over a longer period of time. His use of organization also makes me think that organizing topics will make it much easier for readers to digest contrasting topics.

As for descriptive writing, Kamiya is a master of showing, not telling. This is something I’ll also be working on. Since it will be a news story, writing in a very personal way isn’t acceptable. However I’m going to try to use more of my experiences and observations to paint a better picture of scenes or people for my readers.