SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – New developments in San Francisco’s Public Works corruption case involving the city’s former public works director, Mohammad Nuru, and other city officials.
On Monday, the city controller released its initial Public Integrity Review of the corruption and his recommendations to improve transparency while also reducing the risk of fraud.
Following the release of those recommendations, City Supervisor Matt Haney is taking it a step further.
He’s now translating those recommendations into a proposal for anti-corruption legislation.
He says this is just the first step of many that the city needs to take to protect public dollars and restore public trust.
Through its first in a series of reviews, the San Francisco City Controller’s Office found several shortfalls in city policy and oversight that allowed for unethical behavior by former public works director Mohammed Nuru and several other city officials.
Some of the issues include:
- The power and authority are given to the director of public works
- Gaps in purchasing oversight
- Gaps in city and state restrictions on gift-giving
- Weaknesses in contracting methods and procedures used by the city
“It’s going to take more than just prosecuting Mr. Nuru, it’s going to take changing these bad laws and ensuring there are structures to protect public dollars and prevent this sort of awful behavior,” Supervisor Haney said.
On Monday, City Supervisor Matt Haney announced his proposal of an anti-corruption legislative package.
He says it aligns with recommendations from the controller’s office and focuses on the elimination of these loopholes in city policy:
“There’s an exemption for gifts even from contractors if you can say they’re your BFF and that you’ve known them for a long time. Even contractors can give gifts to officials. There’s a provision that allows department directors and bureaucrats to solicit donations to nonprofits, some of which then turn around and give that money back to the office of any amount without having to disclose that at all. There were tens of millions of dollars in contracts that were given out without absolute any process,” Supervisor Haney said.
In addition, in 2011 former Mayor Edwin Lee designated Nuru as the Director of Public works to act on the mayor’s behalf in approval of various aspects of the contracting process.
This meant the department oversaw itself, allowing Nuru to award contracts to hand-picked contractors.
For example, public works established 114 contracts, worth $151-million, through the use of pre-qualified pools from July 2017 to March 2020.
In another example, the controller’s review found that public works awarded seven contracts, worth $10-million, through “no discernable selection process” to expedite homeless services purchases.
“I represent a district where we got filthy streets. We have sidewalks covered in feces and trash and during that time we had a director of the department of public works who was self-dealing, who was giving contracts to friends, who was shaking people down for donations to fake nonprofits,” Supervisor Haney said.
On Monday, Mayor London Breed said in a statement, that the city will immediately begin implementing the reforms recommended by the city attorney and controller.
She also said she’s rescinding the delegation of authority that was granted to the director of public works in 2011.
Mayor Breed also says if the city needs to pass laws, they will work with the board of supervisors to do so.
Haney says he’ll announce this new legislation tomorrow and then it will be formally introduced over the next few weeks.
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