More than 8,500 signatures have already been gathered in support of the plan — 1,300 more than the minimum required to get the proposal on the November ballot. The scheme was devised by an official-sounding group called the Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco.
“On matters ranging from foreign relations to fiscal and environmental stewardship, no other president in American history has accomplished so much in such a short time,” says the group on its website. “We believe this is an appropriate honour for a truly unique president. If you think so too, join this grassroots movement to rename this important and iconic landmark in his honour.”
The official renaming ceremony — the sewage facility is currently named the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant — would take place in January, when the next President is sworn in. Part of it would include a “synchronised flush”, described as a way to send a gift to the renamed plant.
“It’s a very simple yes or no question and there’s no real fiscal impact - just the cost of relettering the sign in front of the plant,” Brian McConnell, one of the organisers, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
“This is the way the democratic process is supposed to work, even though it’s a silly idea in some people’s eyes.” Howard Epstein, chair of the San Francisco Republican Party, has called the measure an abuse of the system and the work of “typical San Francisco crazies”.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which owns the plant, says it gets the joke but is nevertheless dismayed. It points to the awards it has won for keeping the streets and the ocean clean.
“If you are looking for a place to make a negative statement about the Bush administration’s impact on the environment, this would be the last place to do it,” said spokesman Tony Winnicker.
Undeterred, the Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco will continue gathering signatures from disaffected voters on the streets of San Francisco this weekend.
Campaigners will wear Uncle Sam top hats and suits and carry boom-boxes playing patriotic American music.