S.F. supe Sandoval, JCRC meet for candid discussion

The weeks since San Francisco Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval mentioned that locals ought to picket the Tiburon homes and bar mitzvahs of CEOs fleecing the city have been, in his words, "a painful process."

The rookie supervisor has been deluged with e-mails, letters and phone calls, most of them negative. In a bit of good news for both the supervisor and the Jewish community, however, Sandoval and members of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council emerged from meeting May 10, characterizing the talk as extremely productive.

"Nobody walked in simply repeating talking points. It was a very candid and engaged kind of discussion," said JCRC President Daniel Grossman of the morning meeting in Sandoval's City Hall office. "We really tried to understand each other's positions on this. I think he now understands that his remark had an impact even if that wasn't his intent, and I think his apology was sincere."

Along with Grossman, JCRC representatives attending the meeting were Rabbi Doug Kahn, executive director; Natalie Berg, vice president; and Gia Daniller, director of legislative affairs and government relations.

Sandoval also thought the meeting went well, but he declined to say much else to the Bulletin, stating, "I think I've put this matter to rest. I think I've done enough.

"I hope to demonstrate my good will by working with the Jewish community on a number of issues," Sandoval added. "I apologized to them personally and I hope they accept my apology. I think they understand that I want to work with the Jewish community."

After his "bar mitzvah" comment was printed in the April 30 San Francisco Chronicle, Sandoval called a press conference the next day to apologize for the remark. A written apology from Sandoval also ran in the Chronicle's letters to the editor section earlier this month.

In addition to his talk with the JCRC, the supervisor was scheduled to hold a City Hall meeting yesterday with the Raoul Wallenberg Jewish Democratic Club.

Sandoval's reluctance to speak about the JCRC meeting surprised Grossman, who characterized the hour-long discussion as "positive, and I certainly accepted his words as sincere." The JCRC president still chalked up the meeting as successful and productive.

"We began by talking about how it was really painful for him to be perceived in the way he was for the remarks he made," he recalled.

"We pointed out the appearance of a conditional apology. Conditional apologies don't work. Anytime someone tries to explain something away, it calls into question the sincerity of the apology. He apologized unconditionally. For our purposes, based on his letter to the editor and our conference with him, he has largely put this to rest."

Sandoval was the sixth of the seven new supervisors to meet with the JCRC, which is still in the process of confirming a date with Supervisor Tony Hall.

While the lion's share of the meeting with the JCRC was taken up by discussion of Sandoval's remarks, the supervisor also talked about his priorities for District 11, which includes City College and Brotherhood Way.

Sandoval stressed the importance of senior services — especially paratransit for the elderly — as well as afterschool programs and vocational training. The supervisor pointed out that the Jewish Home is in his district, and said that he'd visited it about five times.

"Paratransit service is something he's familiar with, as he sits on the Transportation Committee," said Daniller. "And it's not only important to frail and elderly Jewish seniors, it affects all seniors."

Speaking specifically about the Jewish Home, Sandoval pointed out the senior facility is often beset by graffiti or even abandoned cars.

"He brought up that that was something he's mindful of and has made an effort to deal with," said Daniller. "He was cognizant of the issues of concern to the Jewish Home."

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi is the managing editor at Mission Local. He is a former editor-at-large at San Francisco magazine, former columnist at SF Weekly and a former J. staff writer.