Family act

Could Joe Alioto Jr. actually be worse than his sister, Sup. Michela Alioto-Pier?


District 3 supervisorial candidate Joe Alioto Jr., 36, has stated repeatedly on the campaign trail that he is not running on his family's name.

But his lack of policy or political experience, combined with his campaign's close ties to his sister, District 2 Sup. Michela Alioto-Pier — the most conservative and reactionary member of the Board of Supervisors — has progressives fearing he'll be even more hostile to their values than his sister if he is elected this fall.

Records show that Alioto-Pier, 40, who was appointed by Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2004, consistently votes against the interests of tenants, workers and low-income folks. She recently sponsored legislation that passes increased water and sewer rates along to tenants. In the past, she has voted against relocation money for no-fault evictions and against limits on condominium conversions. And that's just her record on tenants' rights.

"Michela makes Sup. Sean Elsbernd look like a progressive," said Board President Aaron Peskin, who is termed out as D3 supervisor and has endorsed David Chiu as his preferred candidate to represent this diverse district, which encompasses Chinatown, North Beach, Fisherman's Wharf and Telegraph Hill.

Alioto, who bought a $1.3 million Telegraph Hill condominium in 2004, has said in debates that he was proud to serve on the Telegraph Hill Dwellers Board for three years, citing his alleged involvement in stopping the Mills Corporation's development at Piers 27 and 31, improving the Broadway corridor, and working on neighborhood parks.

But a former THD Board member says Alioto's claims are wildly overstated.

"He did not achieve anything in North Beach as a board member," our source said. "His attendance was poor, he lacked leadership, and when he was asked to head a Broadway corridor subcommittee to tackle the Saturday night issue, he said no, he was too busy. He was on the opposite side of all our policies and goals. There were even questions whether he was residing in the district, when he house-sat for his parents in the East Bay."

In a March 2006 e-mail to THD members, Alioto acknowledges that he and his wife had indeed been house-sitting in the East Bay for months while his parents were in Italy. "Of course, I have never intended to stay in the East Bay, my being there for simply a temporary period," Alioto wrote, referring to the Supreme Court's definition of residency, which he said he "relied on to continue to contribute to THD activities."

THD board members aren't the only ones accusing Alioto of stretching the truth.

The Sierra Club's John Rizzo is irate over the use of the club's name in a recent Alioto campaign mailer in which Alioto claims that he helped create the San Francisco Climate Challenge "in collaboration with the Sierra Club and DF Environment."

"What he says is highly misleading," Rizzo told the Guardian. "It makes it sound like an ongoing effort he cofounded with the Sierra Club, but it was a one-time effort that, while worthwhile, only lasted a month and is over and done with."

Rizzo further noted that Alioto did not complete or return the Sierra Club's candidate questionnaire, as is requested of candidates seeking the club's political endorsement. Alioto also has ruffled feathers by claiming that he prosecuted criminal cases while working in the Alameda County District Attorney's office in 1999.

Alameda County Senior Deputy District Attorney Kevin Dunleavy told the Guardian that Alioto was, in fact, "a summer intern, a student law clerk working under supervision" in 1999.