Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who over the last year has been called out on social media a couple of times for sounding drunk during Zoom meetings of the SF Board of Supervisors, announced Thursday that he is entering a treatment program for alcohol abuse.
Peskin, who has served on the Board of Supervisors for more combined years than anyone in decades — or possibly ever — posted a brief note to Twitter apologizing for the “tenor” of his public relationships, and saying, “I have decided to enter alcohol treatment under the guidance of professionals.” He also thanked his family, staff, and colleagues for their understanding of “the difficult issues that I’m finally confronting.”
I’m making the following announcement and formal apology today – and sincerely appreciate the support I have received thus far and will depend on in the coming days. pic.twitter.com/9ARAN92NJn
— Aaron Peskin (@AaronPeskin) June 10, 2021
It’s unclear if there was a particular inciting public or private incident for Peskin’s decision. But the Chronicle’s Heather Knight, who has been at odds with Peskin and several of his colleagues in the pages of the newspaper in recent months, suggests that Peskin’s announcement comes after “inquires from The Chronicle over the past two days regarding complaints from City Hall staff and elected officials about his behavior.”
During Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors, Peskin was notably aggressive with Rec & Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg over questions about his relationship with the nonprofit Parks Alliance. As 48 Hills described in a Wednesday piece, Peskin interjected during a debate about “a normally routine item about spending from a bond act,” to confront Ginsburg over a somewhat threatening letter the Parks Alliance wrote to Supervisor Connie Chan back in March. This all went back to the arguments over the Ferris Wheel again, which Chan was also bringing up during Tuesday’s meeting, but Peskin’s tone sounded especially ornery.
He asserted that Ginsburg was “deeply involved and inextricably linked to this nonprofit” and the behavior of the organization in sending that letter (which threatened to pull funding for a park renovation in Chan’s district) was “conduct unbecoming. … it is outrageous” and he added “the answer is to take responsibility.”
On Wednesday, per the Chronicle, Mayor London Breed reportedly told city department heads “that inappropriate behavior from supervisors would not be tolerated and that she would work with the City Attorney’s office and Department of Human Resources about how they could hold supervisors accountable.” Knight reports that she had on-the-record comments from Peskin on Wednesday in which he admitted to excessively drinking “a time or two but not too often,” and saying, “Elected officials have been known to have a drink. I believe Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, major world leaders, have had a drink on the job.”
Peskin sounded pretty obviously intoxicated during a live-streamed meeting of the board in March 2020, in the early days of the pandemic — something that spawned chatter on Reddit and a parody Twitter account called @drunkaaronpeskin.
During the meeting, Peskin interjected during regular business to say, like a cliche drunk person does, “I just want to tell all of my colleagues… and all of my staff that I love you guys, so much, and hang in.”
The Twitter account also called out this August 2020 interview that Peskin appears to have done from home, speaking to the San Francisco Young Democrats in support of his reelection campaign to the board, and he sounds pretty drunk and slurry there too. No judgement! It was a rough year.
One of Peskin’s colleagues during his first terms on the board, David Campos, responded on Twitter saying, “It’s been years for me but I know from my own personal experience that it’s never easy to admit you have a problem and I’m proud that my friend @AaronPeskin did just that. Wishing him and his family well.”
Peskin served on the Board of Supervisors from 2001 to 2009, in two consecutive terms. He then took a few years off before running for election again in 2015, as permitted by the City Charter, and he’s served ever since. He was elected to finish the term of David Chiu beginning in December 2015, was reelected in 2016, and was elected to his final term last November, which he will finish in 2024. That’s 13 years and counting representing District 3.
Peskin is a longtime champion of progressive legislation, and the elder statesmen of SF progressives.