Hazy recall

Group launches effort to oust Sup. Jake McGoldrick


They gathered May 30 in the Richmond District's Lee Hou Restaurant to voice their anger and outrage at Sup. Jake McGoldrick, calling him incompetent, unaccountable, hostile to the will of the voters, and a "born liar." They blamed him for everything from potholes to the state of the economy.

Yet a closer examination of why the Citizens for the Recall of Supervisor Jake McGoldrick say they are trying to get rid of the elected official reveals that this campaign is based on just a few controversial issues that animate these two dozen fairly conservative people.

Primarily, they're mad at McGoldrick for sponsoring Healthy Saturdays, which sought a second day of closing some Golden Gate Park roads to cars, and for his support for studying a Bus Rapid Transit system on Geary Boulevard, which some merchants fear will disrupt their business.

"The problem with Jake McGoldrick is he does not allow us to have our issues," said David Heller, a Geary Street merchant who has led the charge against BRT and who ran against McGoldrick three years ago but has since moved from the district.

"Jake McGoldrick has not been responsive to our needs. He's not there when we need him," said Paul Kozakiewicz, the Richmond Review publisher whose inflammatory and misleading front-page commentaries "The Case for Recalling McGoldrick" over the past two months have been the main rallying point for the recall effort.

As he spoke at the press conference kicking off the recall drive, Kozakiewicz was flanked by Heller and Howard Epstein, a member of the San Francisco Republican County Central Committee, the only political group to endorse the recall drive so far. Democratic Party clubs have all opposed the effort, as did the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee on a rare unanimous vote.

McGoldrick and his supporters say this isn't about accountability but about his policy disagreements with a handful of particularly vocal constituents. "What you have here is some folks who just have to have it their way," McGoldrick told us. "The bottom line is we have a situation where some folks disagree on some issues. But to use this to threaten a politician into backing off these issues is an abuse of the recall."

There's also an ironic note to all of this: if Kozakiewicz had been more truthful in his high-profile attacks, his readers might know that McGoldrick actually watered down the BRT study to appease the Geary merchants and that he resolved the long-simmering park road closure issue in a way that maintains full auto access to the museums and prevents alternative-transportation advocates from reviving the fight for at least five years, much to the chagrin of many walkers, skaters, and bicyclists.

Recalling McGoldrick would require the valid signatures of 3,573 registered voters from District 1, or 10 percent of the total, according to the city's campaign services manager, Rachel Gosiengfiao. The campaign has until Sept. 14 to gather signatures, although Gosiengfiao said that if recall supporters want to make the November ballot, they need to submit the signatures for verification by June 22.

If the signature drive is successful and a majority of voters then decide to remove McGoldrick, Mayor Gavin Newsom will appoint a replacement who will stand for reelection at the end of next year, when McGoldrick's term expires.

"We're not getting involved with replacing the supervisor," Kozakiewicz said. "We're going to leave that up to the mayor."

Kozakiewicz's "The Case for Recalling McGoldrick" started with this description of how the effort began: "In March, a dozen community leaders from a broad cross-section of the community gathered for breakfast at the Video Cafe on Geary Boulevard.