A hot mic moment at Tuesday’s SF Board of Supervisors meeting seems to show board president Aaron Peskin saying “That guy’s a horse’s ass” in response to a public commenter’s critical remarks.
SFist often watches hours and hours of tedious City Hall hearings broadcast on SFGovTV, hoping that we might occasionally catch some newsworthy insight or tidbit of SF public policy sausage-making. On rare occasions, we do see something newsworthy. And on even rarer occasions, something genuinely funny actually happens at these meetings.
One of those rare funny moments was at Tuesday afternoon’s SF Board of Supervisors meeting. It was during the public comment session, when pretty much anyone can get up and comment on anything, and sometimes veers into eccentric rants. And as seen below, after one commenter’s remarks that were critical of several board members Tuesday, it seems we hear Board President Aaron Peskin remarking on a hot mic, “That guy’s a horse’s ass.”
We’ve reached out to Supervisor Peskin’s office for comment, and will update this post with any response. Official SFGovTV video of Tuesday’s meeting is available online, the "horse's ass" comment can be heard at the 1:31:06 mark.
The commenter in the suit who drew the apparent remark is JConr B. Ortega, a co-president of a community group called Iconic D3. He’s lately been a staple at public comment sessions not only at Board of Supervisors meetings, but other City Hall commissions’ public comment sessions as well. His comments are often strongly supportive of Mayor Breed, highly critical of the Board of Supervisors’ progressive flank, and he usually shows up in a dandy suit with a well-oiled mustache.
Contributing to the firestorm at the Police Commission this past Wednesday, if the police commission continue to refuse to let @SFPD do their jobs, then we the people have no choice but to remove the commissions power by vote of the people. My speech below: pic.twitter.com/VhT6KBBE0M— JConr 傑·康納 (@JConrBOrtega) October 20, 2023
“Supervisor Peskin is known for this type of behavior, verbally attacking people. But making comments such as that, especially at an active Board meeting is unbecoming of an elected official,” Ortega told SFist via text Wednesday morning. “I would like an apology for the behavior displayed at the Board of Supervisors General Meeting.”
Ortega has his own track record of provocative remarks. According to a Bay Area Reporter story in July, Ortega resigned from the San Francisco Leather & LGBTQ Cultural District board over a few controversial tweets — one criticizing affirmative action, and another that bothered some in the trans community that said “Wrong lane. This is the Pride lane [emojis] trans lane over to the right."
And technically, Ortega’s remarks that drew Peskin’s apparent rebuke were also a breach of public comment decorum (albeit a minor one that happens all the time). Comments are supposed to be directed to the full board, not to individual members.
Ortega’s comment was rich with digs at specific progressive board members: “I don’t want crime, drug dealers, tents, and more in Telegraph Hill, Supervisor Peskin, I don’t want these issues in Bernal Heights, Supervisor Ronen,” and he similarly rattled off all of the progressive supervisors' names in that fashion, concluding with “or even in the city of Vallejo, Supervisor Walton.” That’s a reference to a conspiracy theory that District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton lives in Vallejo, though an August 2022 report from Mission Local confirmed the SF City Attorney determined that Walton’s ownership of a second home in Vallejo did not violate any residency rules.
Admittedly, this is not a major news story, but “politician caught on a hot mic” is certainly a genre of news. Peskin has often knowingly used profanity in on-the-record remarks (as has Mayor Breed), so it’s not like this is going to hurt his brand. In some ways, Peskin’s confrontational loquaciousness is his brand.
Was this commenter “a horse’s ass?” You can judge for yourself, as the full video of his comment and the apparent Peskin response can be seen below.