“In 1991, I was looking for a candidate to run against Art Agnos,” says Jack Davis, the man who elected Frank Jordan that year and wants to unelect him in 1995. “I became convinced that the mayor's office, the mayor himself, were involved in a process that ultimately ended up in me being indicted. I set off to level the playing field.”
Davis was not off the mark. I was one of Agnos' staffers who provided information to the district attorney's office about two illegal hit pieces — direct mail sent to voters with undisclosed financing — aimed at defeating Agnos' proposal for a China Basin ballpark. Davis and four others — “The Ballpark Five” — were indicted but won a dismissal of the charges.
“Two years ago, I was critically ill and almost died,” says Davis. “During that time, I got to watch my life pass in front of my eyes, and decided to let go of a lot of hatred and let go of a lot of anger.
“That led me to shake hands with [District Attorney] Arlo Smith, to rid myself of my long dislike and hatred of Art Agnos,” Davis says. “At lunch, Art and I had a two-and-a-half-hour conversation. At the end of the lunch, I basically said I would like to put it to bed, I'd like to end it. Art put his hand out, we shook hands, and he said, basically, 'I wish we had had this conversation eight years ago,' and I said the same thing.
“I went to Willie Brown in October, and said, 'Willie, this is how I felt,' and 'Father, I have sinned,' and 'I would like you to run,' ” says Davis of the first step in his repentance.
Why his fervor to unseat the mayor?
Davis says Jordan can't grasp that his job is to get something done. “Nothing basically happens,” he says. “I wouldn't characterize Frank as dumb. He's a man of moderate intelligence. Frank works hard for what he has, with what he has.” But, “sometimes you'd talk to Frank and he gets this kind of Bambi gaze or glaze on his eyes, and I wonder if he kind of is overloading and whether he really knows what you're talking about or whether you should really go back and say it again in another way to make sure that you haven't lost him on the conceptual level.”
Davis is also contemptuous of Jordan's rise to a Pacific Heights lifestyle. “Citizen mayor goes lace Irish,” says Davis.
He's equally contemptuous of what he calls Jordan's holier-than-thou attitude, and the influence he says he sees exerted on Jordan by his wife, Wendy Paskin. [Both Jordan and Paskin declined repeated requests to be interviewed for this article.]
The third and last time that Jordan and Paskin asked Davis to run the mayor's re-election campaign this year, Davis says, “I told Wendy that she should manage the campaign. Because nobody else could manage it but her, and that was that.
“She's a control freak who rewrites anything that's given to him, countermands any collective decisions that get made,” says Davis. “She can't help herself. She's a chronic meddler, you know? When the story finally gets written about the rise and fall of Citizen Mayor Frank Jordan,” concludes Davis, “I think these four years will not be remembered as the Jordan Years, but the Paskin Years.”