Farewell Favorites: Louise Renne

Louise Renne
In April 2001 Louise Renne announced she would retire from her post as City Attorney rather than seek reelection in the fall, ending one of the brightest careers in San Francisco politics. Renne, named one of the state's most powerful attorneys by California Law Business Magazine in 2000, was appointed to the City Attorney's office in 1986 by then mayor Dianne Feinstein and was later elected to the office for subsequent terms. During her tenure Renne took on tobacco companies, gun manufacturers, big banks, slum lords, hate crimes, utilities, and more. Because of Renne's work, California is the only state in the U.S. where local governments directly received funds from the 1998 master settlement agreement with tobacco companies. 

Renne is known as a free thinking maverick unafraid to buck the conventional power structure. In 1987 she defied Feinstein by running for mayor then dubbed her short-lived campaign against Art Agnos and John Molinari, "Not One of the Boys." In the early '90s Renne again stepped on political establishment toes by suing the Olympic Club over it's men-only membership rules. When settlement talks with the club broke down, Renne told Mister SF, then a reporter for a community newspaper, "I don't know what happened. The whole thing went kaplooey!" Such is the unselfconscious style of Louise Renne that she would be so familiar with a young reporter. Renne, who brought women and people of color to the city attorney's office as no other city attorney had, is also a breast cancer survivor. She worked for the Federal Communications Commission and in private practice in the '60s before serving 11 years as a California deputy attorney general. Renne left that post in 1978 when she was appointed to the Board of Supervisors by mentor Feinstein. Renne's successor is maritime attorney and progressive Dennis Herrera, whom Renne supported over challenger Jim Lazarus.

After some time off, Renne ran the transition team when Mayor Gavin Newsom took office in 2004. The former City Attorney was sworn in as a member of the San Francisco Police Commission by Newsom in April of that year.


Copyright 2001-2004 Hank Donat
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