Editorial: McGoldrick Betrays Tenants

by on July 16, 2004

Supervisor and former Rent Board Commissioner Jake McGoldrick alienated tenants on Tuesday by voting against a charter amendment to restructure the Rent Board appointment process. McGoldrick went back on his promise to support Rent Board restructuring, leaving tenant advocates feeling betrayed.

Last year, tenants pushed for an elected rent board. McGoldrick voted against the proposal, telling tenant advocates that he feared that having an elected Rent Board could end up hurting tenants. He assured tenant leaders that he would support future efforts to change the Rent Board appointment process, so long as the proposal did not call for an elected Rent Board.

So Supervisor Chris Daly sponsored a charter amendment to increase the number of tenant seats on the Rent Board and to divide the appointments between the mayor and supervisors. (Currently, the Mayor appoints all members of the Rent Board.) Daly’s charter amendment did not call for an elected Rent Board, so tenant advocates expected that it would meet with McGoldrick’s approval.

On Tuesday, Daly’s proposed charter amendment was defeated. Supervisors McGoldrick and Peskin, who owe their election in large part to tenants, voted against the charter amendment. These supervisors sided with anti-tenant supervisors such as Tony Hall to defeat a measure identified by a broad coalition of tenants as a key tenant priority. Only Supervisors Ammiano, Gonzalez and Daly voted in favor of the charter amendment.

Daly immediately introduced a weaker version of the charter amendment. Daly’s compromise proposal would have split Rent Board appointments between the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor, but not required that there be a majority of tenant seats. Again, McGoldrick and Peskin voted against this watered-down version of the charter amendment. The charter amendment was defeated 7-4, with Supervisor Sandoval supporting the amended proposal.

The only explanation for McGoldrick’s about-face on this issue is his current bid for re-election as District 1 supervisor. Rather than stand up for tenants, McGoldrick has chosen to move to the right to head off his more conservative challenger, Lillian Sing. McGoldrick apparently assumes that progressive voters will stick with him, no matter what he does. This is a risky strategy that could cost him the endorsement of important tenant groups, including the San Francisco Tenants Union.

Supervisor McGoldrick, as a former Rent Board commissioner, clearly had a leading role in killing this charter amendment. But the worst part is not his vote. It is the fact that he went back on his word to tenants. This will not soon be forgotten.

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