It may not come as a surprise, but several of the 2023 nominees for my second annual Hypocrite Hill Awards made the list in 2022. This year’s runner-up, however, isn’t an individual, but rather the nominee for Best Performance by an Ensemble Award, based on a promise I made last year.
Here are the 2023 nominees for Hypocrite Hill:
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LOBBYIST GROUP: SAN FRANCISCO BICYCLE COALITION
After years of calling out the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition for being political activists, the San Francisco Ethics Commission has finally reached the same conclusion, fining the group, former Bicycle Coalition Advocacy Director Janice Li (now president of BART’s board of directors), and former Executive Director Brian Wiedenmeier for being unregistered lobbyists. Yet, the group continues to receive financial support from taxpayers via the SFMTA. In 2020, they were awarded $846,649 in noncompetitive, “sole source” contracts from the transportation agency. According to the San Francisco Controller’s Office, the Bike Coalition also received nearly $500,000 from the SFMTA in 2019. Their entire budget that year was $968,354, which means in 2019 they received more than 50 percent of their funding from the SFMTA. To further complicate their claim of public advocacy, in 2020 Mayor London Breed nominated Jane Natoli, a member of the Bike Coalition’s board of directors, to the SFMTA board of directors.
It was the Bike Coalition’s strong ties to City Hall — and in particular, to SFMTA director Jeffrey Tumlin — that helped them push through a center bike lane experiment nowhere near ready for primetime on Valencia Street despite just a 13 percent approval rating from residents. Now even the Bike Coalition doesn’t like their Frankenlane, complaining that the SFMTA “needs to immediately make conditions on Valencia safer for people biking . . .”
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A MAYORAL CANDIDATE: DISTRICT 11 SUPERVISOR AHSHA SAFAÍ
At an Oct. 30 hearing of the Board of Supervisors’ Rules Committee regarding bringing the San Francisco Police Department to full staffing, Safaí, along with Shamann Walton and labor organizers, whined about $300 million over five years, suggesting “a tax” should pay for it. Safai’s amendments would make the staffing mandate contingent on that “future tax.”
District 6 supervisor Matt Dorsey reminded his colleagues that a fully staffed police force “is part of the baseline obligation of what a well-functioning city government should do.” Critics accuse Safaí of pandering to labor unions to gain their support for his 2024 mayoral bid. I always find it amusing when a supervisor who has accomplished nothing believes the next rung on the career ladder is mayor (then again, it’s worked out for Gov. Gavin Newsom).
BEST PERFORMANCE IN A HIGH SCHOOL PLAY: DISTRICT 9 SUPERVISOR HILLARY RONEN
At a March 16, 2023, Budget and Appropriations Committee meeting about increasing police presence, Ronen gave one of her most histrionic performances to date, worthy of Blanche’s soliloquy in a high school version of A Streetcar Named Desire.
“I’ve been begging this department to give the Mission what it deserves in terms of police presence all year long,” Ronen lamented. “And I have been told time and time and time and time again there are no officers that we can send to the Mission … In the Mission people are getting shot and killed! … In the Mission people are dying!”
The speech contradicts her stance on policing in 2020, when Ronen tweeted, “I want to make it clear that I believe strongly in defunding the police and reducing the number of officers on our force.”
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A DUO: MAYOR LONDON BREED AND DISTRICT 10 SUPERVISOR SHAMANN WALTON
During that same meeting, Walton said, “We never defunded the police department” — but that’s a lie. In a Feb. 25, 2021, press release, Mayor London Breed and Walton announced the creation of The Dream Keeper Initiative, a citywide plan for “reinvesting” $120 million in San Francisco’s African American community over the next two years. And where is that $120 million coming from? The press release addresses that, too: “In June 2020, following the killing of George Floyd, Mayor Breed and Supervisor Walton announced a plan to prioritize the redirection of resources from law enforcement to support the African American community . . . As part of the budget process, Mayor Breed redirected $120 million from law enforcement for investments in the African American community for Fiscal Years 2020–21 and 2021–22.”
In other words, Breed and Walton set up a sort of prereparations fund from which their nonprofit cronies are already getting huge payouts. According to the website, between 2021 and 2023 DKI spent $107.24 million of the “redirected” law enforcement dollars on 165 awards, including more than 30 new city and county hires (despite Breed asking departments to cut back as she desperately tries to stretch her nearly $15 billion budget). A quick glance at the beneficiaries brings up numerous “nonprofits” with ties to Breed and Walton, including organizations involved in the SFPUC Community Benefits pay-to-play scheme.
FIRST RUNNER-UP: THE SAN FRANCISCO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
Remember when the memo surfaced about Supervisor Walton saying, “It is [N-words] like you that looks like me that is always the problem” to 43-year-old sheriff cadet Emare Butler because he didn’t want to take his belt off while going through the metal detector at City Hall? He also admitted to using the N-word “several times,” but said he believed that the way he had used it “could be defended.” In an effort to set the record straight, Butler came forward. “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 never apologized.
In last year’s inaugural Hypocrite Hill Awards, I pointed out that only Mayor London Breed asked for an apology from Walton, and I said, “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.” Well, they failed to ask for that apology, so I nominated them for the 2023 Hypocrite Hill Best Performance by an Ensemble Award. When added to the poor individual performances by this year’s crop of supervisor nominees, the Board takes first runner-up to Dean Preston. Hopefully that rarified air brings them back to their senses (at least the few who had any sense to begin with).
AND THE WINNER IS: DISTRICT 5 SUPERVISOR DEAN PRESTON
The reigning King of Hypocrite Hill keeps his crown. “Tenant activist” Dean Preston’s in-laws prevailed in a lawsuit brought by a woman who was severely injured at their 18-unit Marina apartment building by blaming the victim.
The woman, Sara Mast, filed a personal injury lawsuit against Goosby Family Trust, LLC, after she fell off the roof of the building during a Blue Angels watch party (no wonder Preston wants to ban the flashy flight demonstration squadron).
On Aug. 14, 2023, the case was dismissed “with prejudice.” Essentially the Goosbys argued that the building was old, and they don’t need to make the roof safe because they haven’t done any improvements that would trigger bringing it up to code. Then they blamed the victim for being drunk. Mind you, Dean’s in-laws make around $50,000 a month in rental income from that four-story complex (one of a number of properties in the Goosby family trust), yet they haven’t done improvements or bothered to bring it up to code. You would think “tenant activist” Preston would be pressuring his in-laws to do something about that.
Among the attacks on Mast’s inebriated state and the excuses for Preston’s in-laws made by the Goosby family’s legal counsel: “She would more likely than not show high risk-taking activity and a lack of impulse control” and they “owed no duty to protect Plaintiff from the consequences of her unforeseeable, voluntary risk-taking.” Sounds an awful lot like the behavior exhibited by the fentanyl-impaired drug tourists in the Tenderloin, which, thanks to redistricting, Preston (begrudgingly) represents, yet Preston considers them innocent victims devoid of any self-accountability. “Rather than follow the plan backed by health experts that would bring everyone together except the fringe but well-funded we-only-want-police-abstinence-and-nothing-else crowd, the Mayor regressed to Giuliani-esque talk of ‘tough love’ & arresting addicts,” Preston posted to X in May 2023. It appears Preston only believes in tough love for drunk women who fall off the roof of his in-laws’ rental property.
For an extended version of this column and more exclusive content, sign up for Susan’s free newsletter https://susanreynolds.substack.com.
Follow Susan and the Marina Times on X: @SusanDReynolds and @TheMarinaTimes.