D5 shakeups flip the dynamics of that wild race

There's a resurgence of progressive support for Christina Olague after the Mirkarimi vote and Davis meltdown.

[UPDATED AND CORRECTED] Wild and unsettling political dynamics have rocked the District 5 supervisorial race, with three major candidates having prominent endorsements withdrawn, the most significant being this week's mass exodus of support from the campaign of Julian Davis following his bad handling of allegations that he has mistreated women.

Those withdrawing their endorsements of Davis since Saturday include Sups. John Avalos, David Campos, and Jane Kim, Assembly member Tom Ammiano, the Bay Guardian, the Examiner, and the League of Pissed-Off Voters. The Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club has scheduled a vote for Monday on whether to withdraw its sole endorsement of Davis.

Avalos gave his endorsement to Sup. Christina Olague over the weekend, and she seems to be getting more progressive support in the wake of Davis' flame-out and her Oct. 9 vote in favor of reinstating Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi. That vote triggered a strong backlash against Olague from Mayor Ed Lee and his allies, with San Francisco Police Officers Association withdrawing its endorsement.

But former Mayor Art Agnos reached out to Olague – who he didn't know previously – after the Mirkarimi vote and is rumored to be considering offering her his endorsement and support. Agnos didn't confirm or deny the rumor, but he did tell us, “I was very impressed by her commitment to the progressive issues we share.”

Olague has a long history of progressive activism and was a consistently good vote during her tenure on the Planning Commission, but many progressives were concerned by her early support for Lee, who then appointed her to the District 5 seat vacated by Mirkarimi's election as sheriff, and by some of her votes and behaviors since then.

But now that she's been viciously attacked by Lee's staffers and allies over the Mirkarimi vote – and iced out by Lee himself, who she says won't return her calls and who bailed out on a planned campaign appearance – Olague seems to have a newfound independence. “At the end of the day, we serve constituents and the city, and that's who we should answer to,” Olague told us, agreeing that she feels freed up by recent developments, as difficult as they've been. “You don't become an indentured servant.”

She told us that her decision last year to co-chair the “Run, Ed, Run” campaign to convince Lee to break his promise and run for a full term to the office he'd been appointed to was based on her belief that “we'd see an infusion of new energy and some more diversity” of both ideology and demographics in the Mayor's Office.

“Sadly, I'm not seeing those changes happening really. I didn't sign up for another four years of Gavin Newsom and those thugs, and I've seen a lot of that same behavior,” she said. “People who played prominent roles in the Newsom administration continue to play prominent roles in this administration.”

Olague said the schism with the administration began this summer when she supported Avalos in trying to bring in new revenue as part of the business tax reform measure that became Prop. E, which Lee had insisted be revenue neutral before compromising with progressives. That was when Olague said she got her first nasty message from Tony Winnicker, the former Newsom press secretary who now works for Lee and wrote Olague a text during the Mirkarimi hearing telling her “you disgust me and I will work night and day to defeat you.”

Some prominent progressives privately worried that schism was an election ploy designed to help Olague win the race for this progressive district given that Davis had captured most of the influential progressive endorsements. But with Lee and his allies continuing to be openly livid over the Mirkarimi vote – and with solid progressive John Rizzo running a lackluster campaign that has less than $5,000 in the bank – there is growing progressive support for Olague.

The big fear among many progressives is that London Breed will win the race, a concern that has been exacerbated by the support that Breed has been receiving from real estate and development interests, both directly and in independent expenditures by the Association of Realtors, which has spent more than $225,000 in this election cycle hoping to knock out progressives in Districts 1 and 5 and tip the balance of power on the board.

Breed told us that she doesn't know the Realtors or why they're offering such strong support, pledging to be an independent vote. “I've never made any promises to anyone that I would help anyone or that I would be this way or that,” she told us. “I'm not here to do anyone's bidding, whether it's Aaron Peskin or Willie Brown or anyone else.”

Brown helped launch Breed's political career by [CORRECTED recommending then-Mayor Gavin Newsom] appoint her to the Redevelopment Commission, where Breed supported Lennar and other big developers, but she had a falling out with him earlier this year and made impolitic comments about him to the Fog City Journal, causing US Sen. Dianne Feinstein to withdraw her endorsement of Breed.

Brown, Lee, and Chinatown power broker Rose Pak helped raise money for Olague, who has received the maximum $500 donation from such powerful inside players as venture capitalist Ron Conway (and his wife, Gayle), Michael Cohen, Victor Makras, Lawrence Nibbi, Mark Mosher, and John Whitehurst.

But that was before the Mirkarimi vote, which Lee's allies seem to see as a litmus test on Olague's loyalty to them. As Tenderloin Housing Clinic director Randy Shaw, who helped engineer the progressive split that brought Lee to power, put it on his Beyond Chron blog, “Olague’s vote was an act of profound disloyalty not only to the mayor who appointed her, but also to those who pushed the mayor to do so.”

Olague says she's disturbed by that viewpoint, and by those so blinded by their efforts to demonize Mirkarimi “and exploit and politicize issues around domestic violence” that they have failed to consider the price he has already paid for his actions or the legal standards for removing an elected official. “On something like this, it's not a question of loyalty. It's about principles,” she said.

Breed says that she has seen an increase in support since the Mirkarimi vote and the Davis meltdown, but she said that she doesn't want to talk about those cases or exploit them politically. “I don't take pleasure in the misery of someone else,” she said, adding her hope that the furor about Mirkarimi will die down. “The decision has been made and it's time for the city to come together.”

Progressive leaders have made similar calls, but Mirkarimi's critics are showing no signs of letting the issue go. San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee members Zoe Dunning and Matt Dorsey have put forward a resolution condemning the reinstatement vote and calling for Mirkarimi's ouster, which the DCCC will consider on Wednesday evening, Oct. 24.

[CORRECTED At that meeting, the DCCC will also consider a motion] to reopen the D5 endorsement process, hoping to change the DCCC's previous “no endorsement” vote, and sources tell us there is currently a strong backroom effort to give the endorsement to Breed. That vote will be a big test for progressives, which lost their majority control over the DCCC in the June elections.

Meanwhile, D5 candidate Thea Selby – who snagged one of the three endorsements by both the Guardian and the Examiner – continues to run a strong and well-funded campaign that has avoided the carnage taking place in the other campaigns. “I feel like I'm in the middle watching out for flying beams,” she told us, adding that both she and Rizzo have been “the grown-ups in the room, so there's an opportunity there and I'm hopeful.”

But unlike Rizzo, who has seems strangely absent and didn't return Guardian phone calls [see UPDATE below], Selby has plenty of money in the bank – nearly $60,000 as of the last official report two weeks ago – and could benefit from voter disgust with the ugly politics at play. “It's my experience that is driving this,” says this small-businessperson, “and not my lifelong desire to be a politician, and that may ring some bells.”

How the ranked-choice voting system will play out in this mess is anyone's guess, and even Davis seems to be hoping that he still has a shot, resisting calls by the Guardian and others to withdraw from the race. Poorly funded candidates Andrew Resignato and Hope Johnson this week announced they were joining forces for the “People's Ticket” after being excluded from a University of San Francisco candidates forum.

But most political observers seem to think this race will come down to a two-person contest between Breed and Olague – who each have more than $45,000 in the bank with which to make a strong final push – and the distinctions between them are becoming clearer as more progressives get behind Olague and the moderates and monied interests get behind Breed.

Olague said she's still “willing to work with anybody,” but that, “I'm worried that moderate forces will seize this moment to try to destroy us.”

UPDATE 4:45: Rizzo just got back to us and said he's been actively campaigning and feeling good about his chances. "We have a great team and we'll have enough resources to reach voters," Rizzo said. He said that he's had a stong fundraising push in the last couple weeks since the last campaign financing statement was released, and he noted his endorsements and active support by influential progressives including Ammiano, Campos, and Carole Migden. "We're doing a lot of retail campaigning, meeting voters and getting the message out."


Oh please. How many 8 Washingtons did Olague buy with the Ross vote? She has taken lots of big money from the kind of people who expect a return on their investment. She can always justify a future vote favoring big money by referencing her Ross vote--which didn't impact anybody's bottom line. But hope springs eternal!

I like Thea. Not beholden to any big money, a hard worker, and someone who cares about our neighborhoods. A true San Francisco progressive.

Posted by Gust on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 12:16 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 2:16 pm

Thanks for that. Thea Selby really struck me as shady when I've talked to her, but this chart really solidifies things.

Posted by Greg on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 2:57 pm

Shady? Really? And did she just con the Guardian to get their endorsement too?

This is a woman who has been out knocking on doors and talking to actual voters for months and months rather than playing the inside game. Retail politics--something strangely lacking in our small town. I think I would faint dead away if I opened my door to find Breed or Olague coming unbidden to ask me how I feel about things. You might not agree with Thea on everything, but it's pretty hard to question her honesty and integrity. Did she knock on your door, Greg? Has anybody else?

I understand internal polling by Olague and Breed shows Thea running a very strong race. Only a rumor and nothing verifiable, of course, but interesting. May explain why Breed and Olague are united in trying to spin this as a two person race.

For the record, I like John Rizzo a lot too. He's serious and thoughtful and in the game for all the right reasons. He would be a fine Supervisor.

Posted by Gust on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

She claims to be progressive when she's really not. That's the essence of it. And yes, I think the Guardian was conned. If she somehow manages to squeak through because the Guardian helped her out, that would be a real shame.

The chart posted above says it all. Hell her choice of David Chiu says it all. Out of all the candidates for mayor, her FIRST choice was a conniving machiavellian social climber with no values other than self-promotion. If David Chiu is her ideal, then count me out! Yuck.

I'm an issues voter. And I daresay we should all be issues voters, because we elect these people to make policy.

Posted by Greg on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 5:09 pm

The alternative transportation advocates are often a simple lot They are easily distracted with bright and shiny objects and when they are thrown about, will occupy themselves playing with them for hours, months, years on end.

Selby has connections within this community. A subset of the intersection of progressive and liberal will sell out a community economically for the low cost of a shiny new parklet.

That is the nature of the appeal of Selby to the Guardian.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 5:43 pm

and those putatively on the left are no exception.

In particular we have the angry self-righteous anti-car parking vandals. Don't they realize that having a place to park a car doesn't necessarily make you a big car user?

Posted by lillipublicans on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 7:14 pm

Labor, queer, ethnicity, women's issues, poverty issues, the only people who get heard are the single issue advocates who have a price point and once met will sabotage coalitions.

This is how power divides and conquers popular movements.

At this point, I'll vote for someone who is critical of existing unions, homophobic, racist, misogynist and not totally dedicated to addressing the needs of the most vulnerable exclusively but who has stellar economics, because the narrow focus is killing us faster than the hatreds are.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 8:21 pm

...isn't a narrow focus, too? Me, I'll vote for someone whose priorities I mostly share but who occasionally votes for an 8 Washington. (That doesn't mean I voted for Olague, whom I thought incompetent even before her outrageous vote on Mirkarimi.)

Posted by Hortencia on Oct. 22, 2012 @ 9:06 am

Yet you're biggest concern is with Selby's support of Chiu, not with her stances on the issues which are mostly correct.

Posted by Hortencia on Oct. 22, 2012 @ 8:46 am

Yeah, knockin on doors but doesn't know more than shallow level of the issues. Take the time.

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Posted by areeshay222 on Apr. 17, 2013 @ 2:12 am

Yeah, but when she knocked on my door she didn't have anything of substance to say. Just the reiterated statement of being a mother and a local member of the community. She gave off the distinct vibe of being an overly-ambitious PTA president with nothing better to do. The sort of busybody politics that this city needs less of.

I certainly won't vote for Breed and Olague seems to feel that a split from her masters is good enough to get her elected (and sadly might), but Selby has nothing of value to say and based on that poll I also find myself disagreeing with her on a number of issues.

I'm still voting for Davis.

Posted by Belgand on Oct. 27, 2012 @ 4:36 pm

What is dispositive about this chart? How does it show she's shady?

I know next to nothing about Thea Selby.

Posted by The Commish on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 4:54 pm

I don't agree with Greg that she is "shady." I always appreciate a local candidate who pounds to pavement and works hard. Thea seems like the type of candidate we had in mind when we created district elections. She's local, and outside the establishment. The problem is she is running in D5 and as she knows it is our City's most progressive district she is talking a lot more progressive than her past record indicates she actually is and most likely how she would vote if elected.

That chart lists just a few issues, but in this town being anti-affordable housing, anti-foot patrols (in D5!!), and anti-noncitizen school board voting among other things is NOT progressive. You may agree with her positions on those issues but most progressives do not and if they knew where she stood on those issues they would not vote for her.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 20, 2012 @ 12:33 am

Well, I don't know about this chart. I've seen Selby talk about public safety, the need for community policing, and her own experience with beat cops. I can't imagine she'd be against foot patrols. Similarly, I've seen her talk many times about the need for more affordable housing. Charts can be helpful, but I wonder how accurate this one is.

Posted by Gust on Oct. 20, 2012 @ 9:36 am

Guest, I agree with you. Let me explain what I mean. I don't mean she's shady in the corruption sense or anything like that. I have no knowledge of that. She's shady in the sense that she represents herself as progressive, when in reality, on the issues she's clearly not. I think she's a wolf in sheep's clothing.

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Posted by cforchotaapl on Feb. 02, 2013 @ 7:32 am

This woman who works for the Mayor has come forward with this new story about Davis which is likely fabricated.

Yet, the Guardian buys it.

What about Rizzo????

He's the second best candidate after Julian!

Posted by Richard on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

She doesn't work in the Mayor's Office and we did our own reporting to corroborate her story. It was a difficult decision to pull our support from Davis, a longtime friend and ally. As for Rizzo, I agree that his politics are good, but he doesn't seem to be running much of a campaign, which we find disappointing.

Posted by steven on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

Steven, how many progressives do you know who got hired into nice city jobs over the past 15 years without political connections to grease the skids?

Posted by marcos on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

What corroboration? Asked her? WHat evidence is there? If you have it show it. The woman who made the allegation is the endorsement chair of the SFWPAC who made Breed the sole endorsement. That conflict of interest is enough to call into question her account. If you have evidence, and you know you don't, show it.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 20, 2012 @ 5:53 pm

We corroborated that Julian hasn't been honest about what happened or how he dealt with it. There were no witnesses to the incident itself, but she told this story to others at the time, so this isn't a new allegation. And Kay has always been a progressive activist, so I see no reason to think that she's motivated by hurting the progressive movement. Unfortunately, given the sensitive nature of this, all our sources were unwilling to go on-the-record, so we can't be more transparent in our reporting, sorry. But Julian is a friend of mine, and someone whose politics and worldview I share, so this isn't a decision we arrived at lightly. I still hope and believe that he can learn the right lessons from this, do the personal work he needs to do, and still have a future of public service.

Posted by steven on Oct. 22, 2012 @ 9:07 am

I'm afraid that all the progressives are going to start lining up behind Christina Olague now. I agree with the first person who posted that if she wins, she will owe her donors many 8 Washingtons and Warriors stadiums, etc. She also has her own unpleasant side.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 1:06 pm

Back in August, I asked London Breed to address a few sunshine questions posted to my blog: http://mpetrelis.blogspot.com/2012/08/d5-sup.html , and she has ignored the questions. Has she stood up in anyway to the fire dept's brass and brought more transparency to the fire commission? From my August post:

I'd like to follow up on this statement of yours from June, saying you are interested in exploring potentially moving SF Fire Department Commission meetings to City Hall, where they would be broadcast on SFGov TV. If you can answer these questions, that would be appreciated.

1. What steps can you take before the election to explore the option of holding the fire commission meetings at City Hall?

2. It's my understanding that the meeting room at SFFD headquarters on Second Street is not equipped with TV cameras, and that is why the commission meetings are not currently broadcast on SFGov TV. Is that correct?

3. A few members of the public feel the current location of the commission meetings is isolated and not easily accessible via public transit or as centrally located as city hall where the police commission meets. Do you agree?

4. What arguments would you make for putting the fire commission meetings on an equal footing as the police commission meeting, held at City Hall, full of public comment and aired on SFGov TV?

5. Minutes from fire commission meetings rarely show any member of the general public in attendance and using public comment time. Many minutes show public comments occasionally from the fire union or folks connected to the department, like former fighters. Can you point to any minutes where one or two members of the general public spoke?

6. In terms of city wide sunshine, are you aware that the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force is not meeting this month because they are not in compliance with the requirement to have a disabled member?

7. How would you make sunshine/open government principles a key part of your D5 campaign?

8. Sunshine advocates believe the Ethics Commission and City Attorney are very lax in enforcing rulings from the SOTF against city agencies and employees. How would you, as the D5 supervisor, bring about enforcement of all SOTF rulings?

9. In general, what your views on how best to expand sunshine at City Hall and educate San Francisco residents about sunshine principles and the SOTF?

Posted by MPetrelis on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

Why should anyone give these questions the time of day? Who cares about this stuff?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 22, 2012 @ 4:29 am
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Posted by Mario on Feb. 19, 2013 @ 3:26 am

those who are committed to destroying what's left of San Francisco.

Thanks, Steven, for your apt coupling of the term with the phrase "monied interests" rather than just using as a euphemism for such as it usually is.

Posted by lillipublicans on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 1:32 pm

I think Olague may have just saved herself with her vote on Mirkarimi. But don't mistake an smart move (finally) aligning herself with her constituents on an issue, for a newfound independent streak. I hope she's telling the truth about her independence. I hope it's not an election season ploy. But considering her record, can progressives really trust her?

OTOH, what choice do we have at this point?

Thea Selby will tell anyone what they want to hear. I still have no idea what she stands for, and I really don't care to find out. Progressives don't have any more room for errors at this point.

London Breed's statement is just laughable for its disingenuousness. Realtors? What realtors? Gee... I don't know why they're supporting me so strongly. Why I simply have no idea. Wink wink.
If I had any notion of supporting her, I would drop it quick just for that. Because I don't appreciate people insulting my intelligence. And that's exactly what she did with that statement. She must think voters are INCREDIBLY stupid.

Frankly I think Rizzo should always have been first on the endorsement list. He's progressive, he's ethical, and he's an adult. And none of those qualities are in question.

With the rest, there are just too many variables. Is Kay a heroine for coming forth and trying to stop a serial groper from being elected, or is this a nasty hit to prevent a true progressive from being elected? You know what, I really don't know at this point. Bottom line: vote your conscience, but remember why you're voting for someone. We vote for people to make laws and policy. And that, above all else should be the guide on who to vote for. What kind of policy will they support?

And the backup vote... well if comes down to Olague and Selby, or Olague and Breed, based on the (limited and equivocal) information I have now, I'd have to go with Olague hands down over either of those two.

Posted by Greg on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

supposition that it's a nakedly cynical political hit is the simplest answer. Does it not fit perfectly with all the other shenanigans that the Right is so adept at playing?

Remember, if Breed gets elected with a bare plurality due to progressives refusing to fall into the trap of choosing between her and Olague after this October suprise, we will still have the recall to address the issue; something that might not have the same wings if a slightly less unpalative, yet still wholly undesireable outcome prevails.

Posted by lillipublicans on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 1:57 pm

The mayor still appoints the replacement. We really don't want to go there.

Rizzo is clearly the safest choice. After that it gets dicey.

Posted by Greg on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

Like a lot of people, I really like Rizzo and I trust his politics. But I don't understand what the hell he's doing right now. He's not even returning phone calls from me or Tim and he has almost no resources to run a real campaign at this point. If there's someone out there he's close to, slap him for us and see whether you can bring him back to life.

Posted by steven on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 2:19 pm

Seems to be an epidemic. Weren't you saying the same thing about Olague just a few short months ago?

Posted by Troll II on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

Returning Guardian calls at this point is like seeking an endorsement from Yugo dealers.

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Posted by Sue on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 5:47 pm

Does bring up something else to consider by way of charter reform to reduce the mayor's power though.

Perhaps we could have a system on the city level which mirrors the state except that there wouldn't be a way for someone to get elected with the support of fewer voters than voted against the recall, such as happened Arnold Schwarzennegger deposed Gray Davis.

Not sure how to integrate that with RCV, but I'm nothing if not ambitious for the furtherance and enhancement of democracy.

Seems RCV breaks down just like the old system if there are too many people running who you don't want in office and too few who you can tolerate, but we can't expect it to provide a solution for that, can we?

Posted by lillipublicans on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

you're unhappy with is laughable. Recalls always fail in this city even when there's good reason for them to succeed. They're also not supposed to be used as a tool to rectify the results of an election with which you disagree.

Posted by Troll II on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 4:33 pm

you say surprises me -- or moves me in any way.

In other news, according to Mike Malloy -- http://www.mikemalloy.com/stations/ -- Dinesh Desouza, Republican "family values" man and neo-Ayn-Randian bozo, just got caught boinking a married woman who wasn't his wife.

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Posted by Troll II on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 7:03 pm

San Francisco
The City That Sleeps With Its Staff

Don't forget not too long ago we had a cokefiend/alcoholic/sexual predator in Room 200 who swept another alcoholic/spouse beater under the rug who is the highest paid employee in the city charged with protecting your property from fire.

Posted by GuestAgain on Oct. 22, 2012 @ 4:18 am

...one hopes. Of course, recalling him isn't about overturning an election whose results many of us liked but about conduct that occurred after that election.

Posted by Hortencia on Oct. 22, 2012 @ 9:11 am

Throwing Julian Davis under the bus is backfiring in D5. I'm seeing his window signs everywhere. Political insiders are writing him off, but the people that actually vote don't seem to be phased by the smear campaign, and many appear to be emboldened by it.

Posted by Political Realist on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 1:43 pm

any more than they are voting for a wife-beater.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

I agree with the other comment about the Ross vote being a politically calculated move.

That vote had no $$ benefit for Rose so she let it slide.

Progressives are like lemmings -- just follow all the other idiots off the cliff.

Wake up! Olague is a tool for Pak and Lee. It's the perfect storm.

Ross vote then the Julian story. It's too much of a coincidence, don't you think?

The only true progressives are either Thea or Rizzo.

What a mess!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 1:48 pm

If they knew about Kim's vote then letting Olague vote for Mirkarimi was a freebie. Assuming that Kim would have voted the same way if she was the deciding vote. Note that Olague had to read her heartfelt speech. I still think that the Progressives got played again.

But you're right, nobody cares if Mirkarimi runs the jails for 3 years, assuming that he makes it that long.

Posted by Troll on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 2:05 pm

Maybe you're right about the perfect storm part.

The problem with your reasoning is that Selby isn't a progressive. She tells the hoi polloi what they want to hear, but the right-wingers who endorsed her probably know what they're doing. They're not dumb. So what do you do?

Posted by Greg on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 2:07 pm

Olague mistreated me as a man, very seriously. Totally true. Screamed at me in the Women's Building that I was forbidden to speak a word in that building because of my gender, even though I had simply been asked to introduce someone to a group. Then she followed up with more verbal abuse along those lines. It's had a chilling effect on me ever since. Seeing her ranting and cursing in public while a Planning Commissioner, now as an appointed Supervisor storming out of public debates, has terrified me. You folks must be insane.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

Funny how women rarely, if ever, get called out for sexual misbehavior.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 2:34 pm