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A Backward Glance at Eighty
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written by "Murdock, Charles A. (Charles Albert), 1841-1928"
... so easy to accomplish things as one who has not tried is apt to imagine. Reforming is not an easy process. Inertia is something really to be overcome, and one is often surprised to find how obstinate majorities can be. Initiative is a rare faculty and an average legislator must be content to follow. One can render good service sometimes by what he prevents. Again, he may finally fail in some good purpose through no fault of his own, and yet win something even in losing. Early in my term I was convinced that one thing that ought to be changed was our absurd liquor license. We had by far the lowest tax of any city in the Union, and naturally had the largest number of saloons. I tried to have the license raised from eighty-four dollars to one thousand dollars, hoping to reduce our twenty-four hundred saloons. I almost succeeded. When I failed the liquor interest was so frightened at its narrow escape that it led the people to adopt a five-hundred-dollar substitute. I was led to undertake the correction of grave abuses and confusion in the naming of the city streets. The post-office authorities were greatly hampered in the mail delivery by the duplicate use of names. The dignified word "avenue" had been conferred on many alleys. A commission worked diligently and efficiently. One set of numbered streets was eliminated. The names of men who had figured in the history of the city were given to streets bearing their initials. Anza, Balboa, and Cabrillo gave meaning to A, B, and C. We gave Columbus an avenue, Lincoln a "way," and substituted for East Street the original name of the waterfront, "The Embarcadero." In all we made more than four hundred changes and corrections. There were occasional humorous incidents connected with this task. There were opposition and prejudice against names offered. Some one proposed a "St. Franc...

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