When former Mayor Willie Brown threw a Ferry Building breakfast fundraiser Friday morning for Supervisor Christina Olague, he was confronted by a handful of area residents who objected to her support for the 8 Washington St. luxury condominium development.
The rally highlighted the extent to which the District 5 supervisorial race involves criticism of the people seen as calling The City’s political shots. The two District 5 candidates leading in fundraising have gone out of their way to distance themselves from both Brown and Chinatown political powerhouse Rose Pak — even as they turn to the pair or their allies for support.
For Jon Golinger and his “No Wall on the Waterfront” campaign, which backs the November 2013 referendum on the proposed condo project, it’s all about beating “the powers that be that have been pushing the project through.” Golinger believes those powers are Brown and Pak, allies of developer Simon Snellgrove.
The platonic power couple has emerged as a full-fledged campaign issue in November’s supervisorial election in District 5, the most progressive of The City’s 11 districts.
Olague is facing criticism from her opponents about ties to Brown and Pak, including a June campaign fundraiser hosted by the latter at which she raised $46,000. But despite their support, Olague calls herself an independent and progressive leader. During Wednesday’s candidate debate, a post on Olague’s Twitter feed read: “Christina speaks of her progressive past & her votes are independent & she can’t be bought.”
Golinger, chairman of the Telegraph Hill Dwellers group, clearly thinks otherwise.
“We’re doing a little bit of accountability,” he said at Friday’s protest.
Meanwhile, candidate London Breed, a former Brown ally who is one of Olague’s challengers, has gone out of her way to convince voters that she is no longer chummy with the former mayor. On Thursday, Breed sent out a political message related to recent fliers that quoted her using vulgar language to proclaim her independence from Brown and Pak’s political influence.
“I hope they post more!” Breed’s message said. “This attack reaffirms that I will be a supervisor who is independent and will stand up for the needs of District 5, not the needs of developers and the political machine.”
However, one day before Breed’s political message, the San Francisco Association of Realtors reported $14,279 in independent expenditures in support of Breed. As of the most recent campaign contribution reporting deadline, Breed had the lead in overall District 5 fundraising.
Opposition to the condo development — which Olague’s Board of Supervisors colleagues approved in an 8-3 vote — includes nearby residents who do not want to change the character of the area, and members of the Golden Gateway Tennis and Swim Club, who say their community will be ruined by the project because it would eliminate the fitness center’s existing tennis courts.
Among those rallying Friday morning against the condo project was Judy Irving, director of the acclaimed documentary “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.”
“They often claim that they are not bought and paid for by outside forces,” Irving said. “But it kind of looks that way to me.”