It is time once again to bring out the words “baseless,” “inappropriate,” “distracting,” “vengeful,” “wrongheaded” and “bad precedent.” We used every one of these terms almost exactly a month ago to describe the recall drive against Richmond district Supervisor Jake McGoldrick.
That same vocabulary now applies just as fittingly to an even more questionable recall drive against North Beach/Chinatown Supervisor Aaron Peskin. Recalling elected officials before they must face re-election is an extremely serious step best reserved for major abuses such as corruption, malfeasance and the like.
At very least, there must be a convincing case made that the actions of the recalled politician are so problematic that continuation would only do major, lasting public harm. Although many would argue that Peskin’s — and many of his colleagues’ — consistent stands at the outer limits of rent control have interfered with much-needed expansion of San Francisco’s housing supply, whatever harm done could be reversed when his term expires in January 2009.
Most recall drives serve mainly as a distraction from real city problems that need timely attention. If recall was attempted every time an interest group disliked some official’s policies, our city government could become so paralyzed that little else would get done. Close inspection of typical recall campaigns often reveals that the work and money comes from special interest groups with undisclosed personal or financial agendas.
The Committee to Recall Peskin is being represented by Rex Reginald, who moved from Los Angeles into the Sunset district about 18 months ago. He is not even a registered voter in District 3, and so he cannot legally circulate or sign a petition calling for Peskin’s recall.
Reginald apparently vowed vengeance on the supervisor earlier this year after Peskin led the defeat of a controversial bill allowing landlords to charge extra rent for pets.
Another recall committee leader is immigration attorney Eugene Wong, who ran unsuccessfully against Peskin in 2004.
The committee’s petition filing gives reasons for recalling Peskin that are mostly unpersuasive. Their notice alleges that Peskin abused his supervisor position to advance “personal ambitions,” which are largely left unspecified.
Actual issues cited are Peskin’s resisting construction of a high-rise City College campus in Chinatown and attempting to end the Chinatown Night Market. But these are matters for legitimate debate and certainly do not rise to the level of injustice and corruption justifying a recall.
The City Charter guarantees the right of the Committee to Recall Peskin to attempt their petition, and we fully support that right. However, it is also our right to urge you not to sign this unwarranted and suspect petition.