Under the big gold dome of San Francisco's City Hall there were sighs and reminiscent laughter. In the press room and in the ornate, blue and gilt Chamber where the City's Board of Supervisors meets, they knew that something wonderful was gone. Ruddy, jut-jawed James B. McSheehy, master of the mangled metaphor, was dead.

In his 24 years as a city official, Supervisor McSheehy took pride in his oratorical blockbusters. He boasted that one reporter was permanently assigned to collect each day's most glaring and improbable McSheehyisms. A belligerent, charming, oldfashioned, long-winded...

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