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Mark My Word
(click for bio & past articles)

From Sacramento and Your Neighborhood

by Mark Leno
Assemblyman, 13th District

Greetings Neighbors!

One hundred years ago this spring, San Francisco was changed forever by a force of nature beyond anyone’s imagination.  As we recognize the centennial of that April 18th morning and all that followed, we have much to remember and from which to learn.

The words of Jack London in his “Story of an Eyewitness” provide a vivid account of the destruction San Franciscans experienced a century ago. He said, “On Wednesday morning at a quarter past five came the earthquake. A minute later the flames were leaping upward.  In a dozen different quarters south of Market Street, in the working-class ghetto, and in the factories, fires started. There was no opposing the flames. There was no organization, no communication. All the cunning adjustments of a twentieth century city had been smashed by the earthquake. The streets were humped into ridges and depressions, and piled with the debris of fallen walls. The steel rails were twisted into perpendicular and horizontal angles. The telephone and telegraph systems were disrupted. And the great water-mains had burst. All the shrewd contrivances and safeguards of man had been thrown out of gear by thirty seconds' twitching of the earth-crust.”

San Francisco will play host to a number of events over the next few months in honor of this moment in history.  Currently, two amazing and humbling photo exhibitions are on display in our public museums.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is hosting 1906 Earthquake: A Disaster in Pictures” that will be running through May 30th with approximately 100 photographs taken 100 years ago.  For more information, go to their website,, or call (415) 357-4000.  The Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park has on display “After the Ruins, 1906 and 2006: Rephotographing the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire.”  Photographer Mark Klett has recreated and paired photographs depicting scenes from then and today.  For more information on this exhibit, go to their website,, or call (415) 863-3330.  Additionally, a combination of academic, business, media, and other organizations entitled the 1906 Earthquake Centennial Alliance have put together a website with information on a variety of Northern California events at

While we reflect on this historic time in our City’s history, it is important to remember that we continue to live with the potential for another natural disaster.  It is critical that we all be ready to respond to a wide array of emergency situations. I would like to provide you with some important information that can help keep you and your family safe in the event of an unanticipated disaster.

It’s important to keep in mind that you may have to go without running water, electricity, gas and telephones for at least three days, if not longer.  The stores and businesses you depend on may be closed and emergency services may not be able to help.  Those first three days are critically important, and that is why the City of San Francisco has a new online resource at, which offers simple steps that can increase our safety and can help reduce anxiety about emergencies.  It can help you determine a plan of action in case of a disaster or attack and offers a detailed description of what items you should keep on hand in your emergency kit.  For more information, visit the website or contact the San Francisco Office of Emergency Services and Homeland Security by phone at (415) 558-2700.

We have much to learn from our City’s history as well as from more recent disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast last year.  Being prepared means taking responsibility, and we all share in the task of keeping our community and families safe from harm.

To contact Assemblyman Mark Leno’s San Francisco District Office call (415) 557-3013 or e-mail him directly at


Bio & Past Articles

Past Articles

Betty's List 'Mark My Word'
Columnist Assemblyman Mark Leno

Assemblyman Mark Leno made history in November 2002 when he was elected as one of the first openly gay men to the California State Assembly, representing District 13, the eastern portion of San Francisco. He currently serves as Chair of the Public Safety Committee, one of only four freshman legislators appointed to Chair a policy committee in their first year. He also serves on the Appropriations, Local Government, and Revenue & Taxation Committees and is the Chair of Select Committees on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LBGT) Families and Childhood Obesity & Related Diabetes.

A native of Wisconsin, Leno attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, then went on to become valedictorian of his graduating class at the American College of Jerusalem, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree. Leno also spent two years in Rabbinical Studies at Hebrew Union College in New York.

Prior to his election to the State Assembly, Assemblyman Leno served as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from April 1998 to December 2002. He authored landmark legislation in the areas of affordable housing, universal health care for children, solar energy, late night entertainment, bond oversight, small business services, City CarShare, medical cannabis, equal access to services, and LGBT civil rights.

Leno is the owner of Budget Signs, Inc., a small business he founded in 1978 and operated with his life partner, Douglas Jackson. Together the two entrepreneurs steadily grew their sign business until Jackson passed away from complications relating to AIDS/HIV in 1990. This deep loss would not deter Leno. Instead, he redoubled his efforts in community service.

He has served on the boards of many local and national organizations including the LGBT Community Center Project, Haight Ashbury Community Services, the American Jewish Congress, Mobilization Against AIDS, and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. He is the recipient of the 1995 Small Business Owner of the Year Award from the Small Business Network, the 1995 Hormel Community Service Award from the Human Rights Campaign and the James R. Sylla Award from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

Outside of his capacity as an elected official, Leno has been a tireless supporter of nonprofit organizations in San Francisco, frequently appearing to show support at events and lending a hand wherever possible. He was a statewide spokesman for the No on Prop 22 Campaign (the Knight Initiative) and was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles in August 2000.