Overheard in Fog City: Olague Storms Off Stage During D5 Debate

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News, Politics

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Published on October 01, 2012 with 33 Comments

Appointed District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague. File photo by Luke Thomas.

By Luke Thomas

October 1, 2012

Things got a little heated during a public debate last Wednesday prompting appointed District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague to storm off stage, multiple sources have confirmed.

The incident occurred during a District 5 candidate’s forum held at Rasselas Jazz Club and sponsored by Nopa+ and Divisadero Merchants Association following a question posed by an audience member who asked the panelists to indicate how, as supervisor, they would vote on the suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi case.

Mayor Ed Lee suspended Mirkarimi without pay in March following his plea to one misdemeanor count of false imprisonment stemming from a heated argument with his wife, Eliana Lopez, on December 31 during which Mirkarimi grabbed Lopez’s arm and caused a bruise.  Mirkarimi previously served as District 5 Supervisor before being elected Sheriff in November.  He is a popular progressive in the District for his efforts to stem the tide of violent crimes in the District and across the City.

The Board of Supervisors is set to decide October 9 if Mirkarimi will keep his job or be permanently removed from office.  Nine of eleven supervisors must vote in the affirmative to remove a democratically elected official from office. Olague has previously stated she may have to recuse herself from voting on the matter due to an alleged conversation she had with Lee about the Mirkarimi case, an allegation lodged by Building Inspection Commissioner Debra Walker and backed up by a sworn declaration.

Both Lee and Olague deny they discussed the Mirkarimi case, a situation tantamount to jury tampering, Mirkarimi’s legal defense has argued.

“It’s not okay,” said former Redevelopment Commissioner London Breed. “His family has gone through some of the most horrible things I’ve seen anybody go through in this City.”

“I’m not going to comment on that and I don’t think we should be put on the spot to comment on somebody’s personal life,” Breed added.

“It is a very complicated issue because Sheriff Mirkarimi did not handle the accusation well,” added former Sunshine Ordinance Task Force Chair Hope Johnson. “But it is also equally egregious that the mayor can be taking out one of our elected officials.”

“If the voters want to recall the sheriff, they should issue a recall,” Johnson added.

San Francisco Immunization Coalition Director Andrew Resignato called Mirkarimi’s suspension without pay “patently unfair.”

But it was Community Organizer Julian Davis’s comment and question that rankled Olague.

“In the last two years in San Francisco, we have had an appointed Mayor, an appointed District Attorney, an appointed District 5 Supervisor and an appointed Sheriff,” Davis said. “Why are so many accusing you and Mayor Lee of perjury in connection with the Mirkarimi hearings?”

“Why are people accusing you of never having worked a day in your life?” Olague fired back before walking off stage and bringing the debate to an abrupt end.

The public debate was video-recorded by the debate sponsors who appear reluctant to release the video.  Audio is available here.

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the SanFranciscoSentinel.com, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched FogCityJournal.com. The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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Comments for Overheard in Fog City: Olague Storms Off Stage During D5 Debate are now closed.

  1. Thanks guest, I think I followed that sentence with “Let’s get back to the real important things in life; Go Giants; Go A’s: Go 49’ers; Bay Bridge World Series: Super Bowl Parade.
    YES ON 37
    NO ON 32
    … and oh yeah, Obama better man up next time or we could be in even deeper do-do.
    Have fun h, behave yourself…….naaah!!

  2. Annie,

       You can trace Olague’s snail like trail of slime and double-cross back to 1995.   She was a prominent supporter of Roberta Achtenberg until she got involved with Rebecca Prozan and flipped in favor of Willie Brown.   The woman’s for sale to the highest bidder and always has been.

    Family got me a ticket to the Giants game Saturday.

    Going to my first playoff game ever in any sport.

    Ooooh boy,


  3. Julian Davis is a “build it high and damn the zoning!” kind of guy. Won’t negotiate. My way of nothin’ is his motto.

    • meant to type “or” not “of”

  4. Tami, the 9th will be litmus test day, in the immortal words of Patrick MonkRN “I’m at the point where I don’t give damn about 99% of our ‘politicians, of any persuasion, nothings gonna change, with few exceptions they’re all a bunch of lying, thieving bastards.”


  5. Olague will suffer the same fate as Mayor Brown’s appointee in 2000. Recall that after the mayor appointed Juanita Owens District 5 Supervisor, and Matt Gonzalez beat her easily in the runoff that year.

    But I would still like Julian Davis to keep it real by explaining exactly how he differs with Olague—or any of the other candidates—on development issues, especially the grotesque UC housing development on lower Haight Street. He was against it in 2004, but he’s been quiet about it ever since. How about a reality check? 

  6. I wish I could have been at more of the debates, I have only attended one, and really wanted to go to this last one… As I was not there last week, I can only reflect on what I have read and observed the one time I went… I do not know if Olague overreacted a bit, and left hastily… But one thing is obvious, these “debates” are actually a platform for folks with so little to say about what they bring to the table, that they take turns attacking and piling on the same candidate. Frankly, I do not think it is human nature to tolerate attack, after attack, after attack without getting worn down. Rather than distribute the venom, it is all landing on one person: Olague. As a D5 voter, all the energy they’re exerting to tarnish her, is making me do my research into her track record, and she can run on that record! A long, consistent, and progressive one. 
    And Ann makes the legal point: one cannot accuse Christina of perjury, she has not said anything under oath.
    As for the Mirkarimi question posed by the audience: she is the one person that can NOT comment on her viewpoint, but in one short week, she will get to show her constituents just where she stands. She will be taking a stand next week that none of the other candidates even have to worry about taking. Inquiring minds want to know: which one of the progressive candidates committed to reinstating the Sheriff if it was in their hands?  

  7. I was at that debate with a friend from the district. She was appalled that someone in office would behave so terribly. Sadly, I was just amused at the D5 circus show.

    Olague left the League of Women Voters’ debate early the following night, as well. Everyone was giving closing arguments, and she got up from the table and began chit chatting with someone in the audience.

  8. Annie,

        Olague not only proudly supported Ed Lee, she threw David Chiu under the bus to do it.    You don’t remember when she gave the opening statement for the BOS prez on the stairs of City Hall and then dumped him like a bad case of the craps a few weeks later?   You do recall that she was one of David’s ‘big name’ early endorsers when he entered the race for Mayor?

    I confronted Christina about her ambivalent politics at Daly’s Dive and she gave me a cussing out that would shame any seasoned sailor.    I was simply crushed.    I mean, everyone knows I’m basically a delicate fellow at the core and to her such language from a lady I’d so admired ….

    Some would call her a politically promiscuous bag lady, her staff would call her, ‘flexible’.

    All I wanna say is …

    Go Giants!

    On with Dodgers for final 3 in 4 hours.


    • I remember when she endorsed Chiu, then Lee.  I don’t remember the opening statement, wasn’t there, but I remember how prominent she was in the endorsing lineup.  If I remember right, Eric Mar, who also endorsed John Avalos, was too.  

      My only point has been that Christina has not testified under oath or signed a sworn statement, as Ed Lee has, so she should not be accused of perjury.  Anyone accusing her is muddying the waters.

  9. Methinks the lady doth protest to much.

  10. Deflect! Deflect! Another day, another hissy fit. A legitimate question responded to by an insult. If you hem and haw at something as important as being truthful regarding a very sensitive issue that someone else’s future depends upon, then…you deserve what you get. And your responses speak volumes.

    • Wait a minute, Daniele.  I don’t want to be tedious. . . posting this for the third time here. . . but, Christina Olague has neither testified under oath nor signed a sworn statement.  She could not have committed perjury.  

      I do wish Christina herself would point that out in response to any accusations that she’s perjured herself.  Mayor Lee has testified under oath; Christina has not.

      • I do understand that, Ann. But the things she’s said about Walker are pretty crummy…and she’s said she may have to recuse herself, only to hide in her office and not say why. Why? Well, I guess if the “truth” came out, it could cost Mayor Lee his job. Irony of ironies. Someone is not telling the truth, and my money is on the Lee/Olague nexus. So I do hope some light will shine on this matter during the BOS hearing. It’s pretty obvious someone is hiding something. And I’m not buying that Peskin or Walker would just willingly insert themselves into this case just for the fun of it. C’mon.
        But I do see your point about the fact that Olague has not perjured herself. But she’s been asked point blank about the truth and evaded telling it. That is not perjury, but what is that? You tell me.

        • You and I and the rest of Ross’s supporters have all made an effort to understand Ross and Eliana’s quarrel and some of their initial panic reactions, before they recovered to mount such an impressive and unified defense and comeback.  

          I’m willing to interpret Christina’s first response – “Debra, we didn’t have that conversation” – assuming she said that – as the panic response of someone who suddenly felt cornered.  It was not a violation of the law.  

          And Christina has every reason to recuse.  The possibility of further investigation of allegations against Mayor Lee, and the possibility of the case proceeding to San Francisco Superior Court give her good reason to recuse herself, and I’ll understand if she does.  The impact on the outcome will be the same.

          Of course I’d rather see her vote to reinstate Ross, and it wouldn’t surprise me if she did, but it’s unreasonable not to expect her to protect herself, which is what I imagine legal counsel would advise her to do.

          • And this week the Guardia reported that a majority of the Board will have to vote to allow anyone to recuse.  Yuck.  

  11. This is just one of the many unfortunate fallouts from the conflict of Ross versus the Mayor. This case has raised many emotionally divisive issues. These include victim rights, definitions of domestic violence and also the democratic process being undone by the actions of a mayor.

  12. Julian Davis nailed it with this:  

    “In the last two years in San Francisco, we have had an appointed Mayor, an appointed District Attorney, an appointed District 5 Supervisor and an appointed Sheriff,” Davis said.

    However, Supervisor Olague could NOT have committed perjury, because she has not testified under oath or signed a sworn statement regarding any conversation she had or did not have with Mayor Lee, so no one has any business accusing her of perjury. If anyone is, no one else should be making an issue of the accusations.

    • It should be noted that should Phil Ting win, as expected, then Ed Lee will appoint a new assessor able to do what Ting did not — forgive taxes for Ron Conway’s Airbnb and others – and likely that will be Carmen Chu and so then Ed Lee will appoint another supervisor, possibly a former Rose Pak ally now working in his office. So the tally will add further.

      • Very good point.  I think some amendments to the City Charter regarding mayoral appointments are in order.

  13. Why wont Kip Fuller release the video? Kip its to late to protect Christina as what went down at the end of the debate with her leaping out of her chair and in a mad rush storming out towards the exit door at the back of the hall, through the 100s of sitting attendees then  stopping at the the exit door realizing what she was doing. she then turns around walks back through the crowd to the debate table and sits down in her appointed chair meanwhile a some of the people in the audience were booing at her antics, and another yelled out saying that she had lost her vote,
    Olauge’s inability to control her self has spread like wildfire through out San Francisco,

    • I’ve been imagining that Christina Olague will vote her conscience on October 9th, or recuse herself.  Sheriff Mirkarimi’s lawyers, and the Richmond Democratic Club, have given her every reason to recuse.  

      She may have said, “Debra, we didn’t have that conversation,” in some shock and sense of betrayal at being suddenly dragged into the center of this, but she hasn’t made a sworn statement

      I wish she hadn’t left the Green Party or agreed to manage the Run Ed Run campaign, but I also wish people would stop badgering her about this.

      • “I’ve been imagining that Christina Olague will vote her conscience on October 9th…”

        What signs have there been that she has a conscience?

        Realistically speaking, the words “conscience” and “politician” are an oxymoron.  It’s quite naive to think that a politician will vote his/her conscience.  Politicians do what is in their best financial and career interests.  Politicians these days vote/”govern” per their owners’ instructions (see the septic cesspool called the U.S. congress and White House as blatant examples).

        I agree with Patrick who wrote:
        “I’m at the point where I don’t give damn about 99% of our ‘politicians,
        of any persuasion, nothings gonna change, with few exceptions they’re
        all a bunch of lying, thieving bastards.”

        Absolutely correct.  And some delusional, wishful-thinking people actually think we are going to vote our way out of this cesspool on easily-hackable electronic voting machines.  Yeah, that will happen.

  14. Giants fans,

         Did y’all catch the item in Willie’s Chron column yesterday?    Where he says that  when Jane Kim got out of line (she was asking for 3 BOS appointees on a 5 member oversight committee)  …  Mayor Lee sent Rose Pak over to make Kim an offer she couldn’t refuse.

    Kim withdrew her legislation.

    Kim’s a Pak puppet.

    As Olague will continue to be.

    Like puppet shows?

    Vote for Olague then.

    Go Giants!


    • Yeah, I saw that news.  Discouraging that Kim felt the need to comply when she won’t even be up for election again till next year.

      •  Hardly surprising that Jane knuckled under as many progs would see it.  I would guess that she doesn’t plan to spend her entire political career in D6 and, as the saying goes, “you gotta go along to get along.” 

        As far as Olague storming out over an uncomfortable question, she’s an amateur like most of our local pols. 

    •  What a Sunday. 49’ers shutout, and 2 homers in the 9th.
      Frankly m’dear I’m at the point where I don’t give damn about 99% of our ‘politicians, of any persuasion, nothings gonna change, with few exceptions they’re all a bunch of lying, thieving bastards.
      GO NINERS.
      GO GIANTS.

      •  Remember that there are other candidates in D5. For example we already know that Hope Johnson is an ethical person, not a politician.

        • Agreed Mike, I love Hope, she’s a keeper and a true believer; but I’m also a pragmatist, so – for what it’s worth – my 2c is on Julian. ( and Rafi)
          GO GIANTS – SWEEP LA.

          • I agree too.  If I’d had time to attend the SF Greens endorsement meeting, I’d have argued for giving Hope one of the party’s three endorsements. She manifests as both ethical and smart, very, as evidenced by her comments here in FCJ.  The only thing I would still like to hear her explain is why she worked on the 2003 Gruesome Campaign, against Matt Gonzalez.

            • @Ann: Thank you for your kind comments.  One correction to your post. I did not work on the Newsom campaign against Matt Gonzalez in 2003 and was not involved in local politics back then other than my animal rights work.  In 2005, I volunteered with Project Homeless Connect for about one year then worked on the beginnings of the Newsom campaign in 2006 for about three months because I enjoyed working with the very talented Alex Tourk.  The only thing I really knew about Newsom back then was his willingness to allow and stand up for gay marriages.  I quickly realized his values were not at all mine and left the campaign, and that faction of local politics completely.

              •  To clarify – I agree with and still respect Newsom’s stance and actions on gay marriages.  It’s the rest of the “downtown” developer-based politics that I don’t agree with and have actively opposed since then.

              • @770020672be46a8568f0b6a1d0216540:disqus   Thank you for that clarification, which I missed when you first offered it.  I stand corrected.  Someone had told me that you did some work on the 2003 Newsom campaign but that you ultimately called it “the Gruesome campaign,” and I thought that person as talking about the 2003 rather than 2006 Newsom campaign.  I certainly meant no disrespect and was simply curious about your political evolution.  

                I just responded at length to what appeared to be an angry comment from you, which said that I had told an “outright lie” about you here.  Then I started searching FCJ to find what that statement might be and found this clarification I missed a month ago.  You seemed to be responding to something I said i response to h. brown – which was simply an unfortunate miswording of what I had intended to say – that I consider you an ethical and admirable player in San Francisco’s political life and hope you’ll continue to speak out now that the D5 race has ended.