Discover more from Gotham by Susan Dyer Reynolds
A word to San Francisco’s newly elected supervisors, and the inaugural Hypocrite Hill Awards
“‘Housing First’ isn’t dead yet, but it’ll be in an induced coma for the foreseeable future — because neither permanent supportive housing nor an unenforceable free-for-all is a real solution.”
— Newly elected District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey on Twitter
Leading up to the November 2022 election, progressive politicians were freaking out in their multimillion-dollar San Francisco homes at the prospect of two moderate candidates changing the makeup on the Board of Supervisors. In San Francisco politics, moderates are considered far right by progressives, and progressives are so far out they might as well be swimming around Point Nemo. As the results rolled in the evening of November 8, however, it became clear that voters were no longer willing to follow their long-powerful, left-leaning leaders blindly off a cliff. While the progressive left likes to blame “the right,” the numbers don’t add up — of the over 500,000 registered voters in San Francisco, just 33,759 are Republicans.
For District 6, stalwart public servant Matt Dorsey was appointed by Mayor London Breed to fill the term of newly elected assemblyman Matt Haney. Running against Haney’s handpicked replacement Honey Mahogany, a former aide claiming she spent five years as Haney’s chief of staff (Haney was only in office three years, and she was never appointed chief of staff), Dorsey won big. This said two things: San Francisco voters were ready for a change, and Haney (who accomplished little in District 6) got his promotion to Sacramento mainly because his opponent, David Campos, was so much worse.
Though he hasn’t been sworn in yet, Dorsey has been a breath of fresh air, unafraid to call out progressive policies that have driven a once-great town into the ground with unchecked homelessness, crime, and drugs. I endorsed Dorsey, my only reservation being all that experience in public service comes with decades spent around slick politicians and the infamous City Family. Having worked with Dorsey as a journalist for a long time, I feel confident that he’s genuine, competent, and independent. After U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu granted an emergency order prohibiting San Francisco from clearing homeless encampments because it “violates the city’s own policies by failing to offer alternative shelter,” Dorsey said he disagreed with the ruling, pointing to something I’ve written about often: “housing first” is not a solution to the humanitarian crisis happening on the streets, much of which occurs in the district he now represents.
In District 4, incumbent supervisor Gordon Mar knew he was in trouble and spent much of his campaign pandering further and further to the left. It was a bed he made, standing with District Attorney Chesa Boudin and three school board members — all unqualified, unpopular, and there for the wrong reasons. The school board members were recalled in February and Boudin was recalled in June, leaving Mar vulnerable to Joel Engardio, a pragmatic, respected community leader and executive director of Stop Crime SF, a grassroots organization “working to create a safe city for all.”
It was the first time an elected incumbent in San Francisco had been defeated in more than 20 years, sending both men into the history books (something those ousted school board members should have consulted rather than renaming schools by flipping through Wikipedia). I also endorsed Engardio, and I have faith even as a political newbie that he has enough experienced support (from Dorsey, District 2 Supervisor Catherine Stefani, and District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman) to make his commonsense mark on city policy.
I feel pretty good about future legislation coming from a board with Dorsey and Engardio, and in the inimitable words of RuPaul, “It’s time to work for your political life, and don’t [expletive] …” well, this is a family publication, so let’s just say, “You won, now get to work!” Otherwise, you may be nominated for the 2023 Hypocrite Hill Awards — and as you’ll see from the 2022 awards, it’s not a list you want to make.
HYPOCRITE HILL AWARDS 2022
There were many oxygen-deprived public figures on San Francisco’s ever-crowded Hypocrite Hill in 2022, but as my editor John Zipperer would say, “This a newspaper not a book,” so I narrowed it down to those at the top really gasping for political air. So without further ado, here are the nominees for the Marina Times inaugural Hypocrite Hill Awards:
Honey Mahogany, Candidate for District 6 Supervisor.
While lying on her resume was bad, it didn’t compare to the sheer hypocrisy of Mahogany saying she supported more funding for the police. Like a lot of candidates this year, she forgot that the Internet is forever. Screenshots surfaced from August 2020, in which Mahogany said she not only supported defunding the police, but also supported abolishing them altogether.
Gordon Mar, Incumbent Candidate for District 4 Supervisor.
It may seem like Mar made a mad dash to the left, but as Leighton Woodhouse reported in an Oct. 24 newsletter, he has ties to a group intimately linked “to his and his brothers’ careers for decades, which is bankrolled by billionaires, is radically anti-police and anti-meritocracy.” (Mar’s twin brother, Eric, is also a former supervisor.) The hypocrisy for which Mar makes the list is his last-minute attempt to distance himself from disgraced school board member Alison Collins, who used racial slurs against Asian Americans while advocating for “lottery-based admissions” to Lowell High School (which would lower the number of enrolled Asian students). Mar gets bonus points for campaigning against Boudin’s recall, which, like the school board recall, his constituents voted for in large numbers.
Connie Chan, Incumbent District 1 Supervisor.
Chan’s rise to the top says it all about San Francisco politics: she went from answering phones for Recreation & Parks Department general manager Phil Ginsburg to answering phones for District 3 supervisor Aaron Peskin. With support from Peskin and other progressive left politicos (including Assemblymember Phil Ting), Chan was propelled to victory by just 134 votes.
Her biggest moment to date came at a Board of Supervisors Zoom meeting in which her old boss (a clearly inebriated Peskin) screamed “You’re a liar, Phil!” at her other old boss (a clearly confused Ginsburg) regarding a Ferris wheel.
“We all agree that Ferris wheels are fun, anti-corruption and good government policies are of utmost importance,” Chan said in urging the City Controller’s office to investigate the four-year contract extension for the SkyStar Observation Wheel installed last year to honor the park’s 150th anniversary celebration. Under the deal, $1 for every $18 adult ticket sold for the ride would go to the non-profit San Francisco Parks Alliance to pay for the park’s 150th anniversary celebration.
What lands Chan on Hypocrite Hill, however, is her tone-deaf approach toward rising crime in her district. She referred to property crime as “not serious,” supported defunding the police department, and stood by Boudin in prioritizing the prosecution of police officers over violent, repeat offenders. In the same breath, Chan tried to appease the Asian American community, tweeting she was frustrated that “Asian-owned businesses continue to be targeted in burglaries and acts of vandalism” and claiming since taking office she had asked “that our law enforcement agencies do more.”
Aaron Peskin, Incumbent District 3 Supervisor.
This is Peskin’s second go-round as District 3 supervisor. In his first incarnation as Aaron 1.0 he was known for brash attacks on his foes in drunken late night phone calls and a temper with his subordinates that would rival my Sicilian grandfather’s as he pulled me out from behind the sofa by my hair. During an interview with Peskin as he campaigned to regain his seat, he told me incarnation 1.0 was no more; that he had learned his lesson and was now the newer, gentler Aaron 2.0. For the first four-year stint, that seemed mostly true. I endorsed Peskin for his current and final term, but shortly after the pandemic took hold, I noticed Aaron 1.0 had made a return. Numerous people sent along videos of Peskin clearly intoxicated during Zoom board meetings (like the tag-team attack with Chan on Ginsburg). He later apologized and said he was in rehab.
Bad behavior aside, what landed Peskin near the peak of Hypocrite Hill was his sneaky attempt to reappoint Cindy Elias to the police commission this month, despite the fact her term isn’t up until April. Clearly Peskin was trying to wrap it up with a bow prior to Engardio’s swearing in, but it would also prevent anyone else from running for Elias’s open seat. The other problem is that Elias has huge conflicts of interest, something Peskin has completely ignored.
On April 5, 2022, Jeffrey Pailet, a former lieutenant district attorney investigator with the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, filed an ethics complaint against Elias, then vice president of the San Francisco Police Commission, and her husband Lateef Gray, appointed by Boudin as managing attorney of the Independent Investigations Bureau (IIB).
The complaint states that the couple obtained information about Pailet and an underlying investigation in which Gray had a financial interest. Prior to Gray’s position with the D.A.’s office, he worked as a civil rights attorney in the Law Offices of John Burris, where many of the cases involve police misconduct and officer-involved shootings that are also investigated by the IIB. While Gray was employed by Burris, he represented the family of Sean Moore, who brought a civil wrongful death action against the San Francisco Police Department, responding officers Kenneth Cha and Colin Patino, and the City and County of San Francisco. The city agreed to a $3.25 million settlement after Moore died in January 2020 while serving time in prison for an unrelated crime.
Pailet’s job was ensuring investigations and prosecutions were done in compliance with state and federal law. Pailet claimed D.A. investigators withheld key details when writing search warrants for personal cell phone records for Cha and several other officers during the investigation. Paleit attempted to “halt this improper and potentially illegal activity” as a whistleblower, upon which he was threatened by two Assistant District Attorneys that if he continued to object to their actions there would be “repercussions that would negatively impact his employment.” On November 6, 2020, Paleit was notified he had been terminated. He later filed a wrongful termination lawsuit naming Boudin, his then chief of staff David Campos, and the two assistant district attorneys, Dana Drusinsky and Stephanie Lacambra.
In the ethics complaint, Pailet points to a February 9, 2022, public meeting where Cindy Elias, “in her capacity as Vice President of the Police Commission” said that he was merely a “disgruntled employee” rather than a protected whistleblower in relation to his termination. “It is my opinion that Cindy Elias is intentionally and maliciously making these false statements about my status as a ‘disgruntled employee’ to malign my character and reputation,” Paleit said in the complaint. “Cindy Elias is married to Lateef Gray … It is my belief that she must have been told of this matter by her husband…”
Elias serving as the vice president of the Police Commission while Gray and the Burris firm stood to benefit from the Moore family’s civil suit only adds to the conflicts of interest. Burris said Gray “would not work on San Francisco cases period, nor will he be consulted on San Francisco cases” — yet documents show Gray was still representing the Moore family after Burris made those comments. Further, Elias lists spousal income “over $100,000” from the Burris firm in her 2021 financial disclosures.
Though Peskin is fine with Elias’s conflicts, he wasn’t fine with Andrea Shorter’s bid for reappointment to the city’s juvenile probation commission, on which she had served since May 2021. Mayor London Breed reappointed her to a new four-year term that would have ended January 15, 2026, but the Board of Supervisors had the power to reject Shorter’s appointment to a new term. At the rules committee meeting in February of 2022, Peskin said he believed Shorter’s role serving on a commission that interacts with law enforcement and her job on the campaign to recall then-DA Chesa Boudin presented “an inherent operative conflict.” Shorter later withdrew her name from consideration for the post.
Third Runner Up: Hillary Ronen, Incumbent District 9 Supervisor.
Shockingly, Ronen ran unopposed for her last term as District 9 supervisor. Hypocrite Hill is practically named for her, and she came close to wearing the crown. Penning legislation to stop owner buyouts of tenants despite buying into a building where a wealthy tech bro house flipper bought out the previous tenants is bad, but not nearly as bad as telling San Francisco Standard reporter Josh Koehn that she “did not want the Mission to become another Tenderloin.” What she failed to mention is her passionate belief that “children don’t belong in cages,” a far-left euphemism for keeping anyone “youngish” out of jail — evidently in Ronen’s world view, that includes gang members and murderers.
In an Aug. 2, 2019, email, Ronen’s chief of staff, Carolyn Goossen, wrote to her boss that efforts to help 21-year-old Fernando “Nando” Madrigal move after he was stabbed in his apartment building were hindered by the justice system. “He was arrested for another case after the stabbing,” Goossen said. “They were treating him as a perpetrator, not a victim, because he was gang involved.” Goossen also mentioned there were no vacancies anyway, and federal financing laws “don’t allow people to jump waitlists.”
Four days prior at a July 30, 2019, rally against gun violence, Madrigal stood alongside Sha’ray Johnson, mother of 15-year-old Day’von Hann, who on July 8 was tragically gunned down at 24thand Capp Streets. On Aug. 14, federal authorities arrested Madrigal as Hann’s killer. Madrigal, a member of the Mission Norteños street gang, killed Hann with an assault rifle he owned and showed off on Instagram not long before the shooting.
Either Ronen doesn’t read federal indictments that occur in her district, or she wasn’t dissuaded by this development, because two weeks after Madrigal’s arrest, on Aug. 28, Ronen sent a letter to a judge on Madrigal’s behalf. “Specifically, I am requesting that you allow Fernando to be terminated early from probation so he can focus on his rehabilitation,” Ronen wrote on her official stationery. “Fernando has experienced repeated gun violence and physical and mental traumas and needs to relocate as soon as possible. He has been making strides to change his life and better his community and has worked with my office on legislative efforts related to improving our juvenile justice system.” She ended her plea to the judge with, “Please help Fernando receive the services and support he needs . . .” In other words, remove that pesky probation so her gang-involved protégé could jump the line for a new apartment.
In a superseding indictment unsealed December 11, 2020, a federal grand jury charged Madrigal and two others with firearm violence and engaging in a racketeering conspiracy that involved committing multiple violent acts to support the Mission District Norteños, including “hunting” to find and kill members of rival gangs, armed robberies, shootings, and other violence, all of which “enhances the gang’s reputation as being strong, powerful, and dominant.”
The superseding indictment also charged the trio with additional gang-related murders, including the killing of man lured to Candlestick Park by Madrigal for a supposed marijuana deal. Two years later, tree trimmers located the victim’s remains in a wooded area of Oakland (his skull was missing but was located a month later).
Second Runner Up: Shamann Walton, Board President and Incumbent District 10 Supervisor.
With a host of troubling issues in 2022, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see Walton near the top of this list. For example, he has rented a 900-square-foot unit on Hollister Avenue in the Bayview since 2015, but public records show he and his wife, Talmesha, own a home together on Del Sur Street in Vallejo, and they signed a loan agreement stating that was their primary residence. The July 2019 timeframe coincides with Walton’s term as District 10 supervisor, which began in January 2019. That means Walton was on the board with a residency requirement for San Francisco at the same time he applied and signed for a loan with a residency requirement in Vallejo. Has Walton lived in the district he represents for the entirety of his term? Because the lending agreement required Walton and his wife to make the Vallejo home their principal residence within 60 days of ratification, and to continue occupying the property as their principal residence for at least one year, Walton either wasn’t living full time in San Francisco or he committed bank fraud.
The incident that landed him near the top of this list, however, occurred June 24, 2022, at City Hall’s main security checkpoint, where he refused to comply with a request to remove his belt going through the metal detector.
Walton likes to call people out for their misdeeds, particularly when it comes to race. In 2020, the second most powerful person at City Hall (and the first Black man elected to be board president) introduced the Caren Act, which stands for Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies (a nod to the term “Karen,” which refers to white women complaining) making it illegal to dial 911 to make a racially biased or fabricated report.
He also demanded the resignation of Ann Hsu, one of three mayoral appointees who replaced the three recalled board members, for comments she made on a parent group endorsement questionnaire. “I want people to understand that when you feel certain ways about certain types of communities, certain cultures, you should not be in a position to make decisions,” Walton said. As for the above-mentioned Collins and her racist tweets, double standards be damned — Walton defended her and stood by all three of the ultimately recalled school board members.
Just one week after Walton demanded Hsu’s resignation, a report of his own bad behavior surfaced. According to a memo by San Francisco Undersheriff Joseph Engler, Walton said, “It is N-words like you that looks like me that is always the problem” referring to the security protocols as some “N-word s**t.” In a second memo, Walton admits using the N-word “several times,” but told Engler he believed that the way he had used it “could be defended.” Walton’s aide Natalie Gee was less subtle, tweeting, “The alleged ‘slur’ is only a slur if someone who isn’t Black says it … In this context it wasn’t a ‘slur,’ it was normal communication. Even a sign of solidarity.”
In an effort to set the record straight, the cadet, 43-year-old Emare Butler, came forward to multiple media organizations. “I don’t agree that just because it’s two Black males it’s OK to use that word,” Butler explained. “Someone said it was a sign of solidarity. I don’t know what kind of solidarity that would be.” Despite Butler saying he didn’t accept being called the N-word, Walton has yet to apologize.
On a sidenote, only Mayor London Breed asked for an apology from Walton. If the Board of Supervisors doesn’t do so when they reconvene after the holiday break, every one of them will make this list in 2023.
King of Hypocrite Hill 2022: Dean Preston, Incumbent District 5 Supervisor.
Preston is so disliked by San Franciscans these days that the moderate political group GrowSF plans to focus its efforts on ousting the self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist when he comes up for reelection in 2024. Their website, dumpdean.org (sponsored by the GrowSF Victory Fund) doesn’t mince words: “GrowSF supports a more livable, sustainable, and affordable city. Dean Preston does not. Dean Preston votes against building more housing, votes against businesses, and he doesn’t care about crime that’s affecting our residents and our small business community.” I agree with that statement, but I’ll take it a step further: There’s no bigger hypocrite in San Francisco politics today than Dean Preston.
Crime: Preston was an outspoken defender of Boudin, sticking by him to the bitter end. Despite deadly synthetic opioids, particularly fentanyl, killing more than 1,500 people over the past three years (nearly one quarter of them in the Tenderloin, a district Preston now represents thanks to redistricting, which he fought tooth and nail), Boudin didn’t achieve a single conviction for fentanyl sales during his tenure. While Preston didn’t make a peep about that, he took to the national airwaves with an appearance on MSNBC to speak against the San Francisco Police Department’s potential use of “killer robots” in extreme situations. The tactic has been used once in the history of American law enforcement, when Dallas police deployed a robot with an attached explosive device to kill a suspect in the coordinated sniper attack that killed five officers in 2016.
Housing: After Preston invited a group of housing advocates to take a look at his record, they took him up on it and compiled the data. In a report titled “Dean Preston’s Housing Graveyard,” they found that since his election in December 2019, the “tenants’ rights attorney and activist” opposed plans at the city and state level that could have housed more than 30,000 people. Click here for details on why the report’s authors believe Preston has the worst housing record even on a predominantly anti-housing Board of Supervisors.
Home Ownership: In a Dec. 17, 2022, tweet, Preston said, “For the 1000th time I don’t own rental property. I’m not a landlord and never have been one . . .” That’s not only hypocritical, it’s also untrue — his wife, Jenckyn Goosby, owns dozens of rental units through family trusts, including a building in the Marina near desirable Chestnut Street. Perhaps the reason Dean Preston wants to ban the Blue Angels is because a woman filed a lawsuit against the trust after she fell off the roof of that building during a Blue Angels watch party. (Goosby’s attorneys have filed a remarkable 27 defenses.)
The Goosby family’s LLC owns 18 residential units at their Marina building and pay less than $20,000 a year in property taxes. (Preston frequently calls out “greedy landlords” who don’t pay their fair share of taxes to support city services.) They also own an apartment complex in Sutro Heights and a Monterey Heights house worth $3.5 million. So, while Preston may not technically be a landlord, he’s married to one who collects a lot of rent on her multimillion-dollar buildings and pays very little in taxes.
Lest you think these are the only real estate assets of Preston and Goosby, think again — I found nine current and previously owned properties. Eight are in California, including their 2,246-square-foot primary home in San Francisco’s posh Alamo Square neighborhood, valued at $2,772,800.
The couple also recently unloaded two Mendocino properties totaling 764 acres for over $1.8 million, including a 567-acre nature preserve purchased by Juergen Fehr, co-founder of Fehr & Peers — a firm with millions of dollars in city contracts. The others are located in San Francisco, Mendocino County (Boonesville and Philo), and Long Island, New York (a single-family home with an estimated value of $1,526,350).
Preston isn’t a man of the people, he’s a Champagne socialist — railing against wealthy homeowners and evil landlords from his $3 million home while voting against new housing, selling hundreds of acres in Mendocino nature preserves, collecting rental income with his landlord wife, all while paying the bare minimum in property taxes. And with that, I crown Dean Preston this year’s King of Hypocrite Hill.