Culture of casual corruption faces political reckoning

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

Major DPW reform measures headed for board, and maybe ballot, vote — who is going to line up on the side of the status quo?

The city controller and city attorney released a report this week showing how a lack of oversight and loopholes in ethics laws allowed the culture of corruption to bloom at City Hall.

The report says, in essence, that DPW Director Mohammed Nuru – with the consent of former Mayor Ed Lee and Mayor London Breed – has the ability to issue lucrative contracts to his friends and allies with virtually no public oversight.

Unlike most major city departments, DPA has no commission to provide regular public scrutiny. The director, operating as an appointee of the mayor, can pretty much do whatever they want with public money…

Haney is introducing a series of reforms that would change the way business is done at DPW. From his press statement:

“The Controller’s analysis makes it clear that we need sweeping structural reform in City Hall. We’ve let years of corruption waste taxpayer dollars,” said Haney. “City bureaucrats have awarded millions of dollars in contracts to their friends with no oversight. And in too many cases they’ve gotten kickbacks for themselves under the table. The casual, blatant corruption in our city government goes far beyond Director Nuru. We have to root out the bad actors and change the laws that allow pay-to-play politics,” said Haney…

The “culture of casual corruption” is about to face some political reckoning…(more)

Culture of casual corruption faces political reckoning

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

Major DPW reform measures headed for board, and maybe ballot, vote — who is going to line up on the side of the status quo?

The city controller and city attorney released a report this week showing how a lack of oversight and loopholes in ethics laws allowed the culture of corruption to bloom at City Hall.

The report says, in essence, that DPW Director Mohammed Nuru – with the consent of former Mayor Ed Lee and Mayor London Breed – has the ability to issue lucrative contracts to his friends and allies with virtually no public oversight.

Unlike most major city departments, DPA has no commission to provide regular public scrutiny. The director, operating as an appointee of the mayor, can pretty much do whatever they want with public money…

Nuru gave out $10.5 million in contracts with no solicitation or bid process at all; $3.5 million worth of contracts have no paperwork at all, so it’s impossible to figure out why the money was spent or how the vendors were chosen…

Haney is introducing a series of reforms that would change the way business is done at DPW. From his press statement:

“The Controller’s analysis makes it clear that we need sweeping structural reform in City Hall. We’ve let years of corruption waste taxpayer dollars,” said Haney. “City bureaucrats have awarded millions of dollars in contracts to their friends with no oversight. And in too many cases they’ve gotten kickbacks for themselves under the table. The casual, blatant corruption in our city government goes far beyond Director Nuru. We have to root out the bad actors and change the laws that allow pay-to-play politics,” said Haney…

The “culture of casual corruption” is about to face some political reckoning…(more)

Unbelievable that a city can be run with so much slack in the budget that this amount of graft and corruption can go unnoticed for decades. Blaming the homeless for the mess on the streets is about the lowest these people can go.

Berkeley proposal calls for eliminating police from traffic and parking enforcement

By Brett Simpson : sfchronicle – excerpt

A Berkeley City Council member proposed shifting traffic and parking enforcement from the Police Department to unarmed civil servants in a first-of-its-kind measure put forth Monday, the same day the mayor proposed slashing the city’s police budget by $9.2 million.

The legislation, introduced by Councilmember Rigel Robinson, comes on the heels of weeks of nationwide protests denouncing police violence against Black people after the Memorial Day police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. It will be one of several reforms included in the mayor’s proposed “Reimagining Public Safety” plan to redirect $9.2 million of the police budget to community projects and social services… (more)

Golden Gate Bridge Tolls, Ferry And Bus Fares Going Up Wednesday

sfgate – excerpt

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District announced Monday that bridge tolls and Golden Gate ferry and bus fares will increase Wednesday to fund bridge maintenance and maintain transit service.

The bridge’s FasTrak toll will increase from $7.35 to $7.70 and one-time tolls will increase from $8.20 to $8.40. Carpool rates will increase from $5.35 to $5.70.

The fare and toll increases are part of a five-year program the district approved last year to improve transportation infrastructure. The increased revenue will also help the district close an $87 million revenue gap that has opened since the beginning of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic…(more)

RELATED:

Measure raising Bay Area bridge tolls was legal, appeals court rules
Covid-19 Fears Spur More Cars on Roads, Threatening Air Quality

Public toilets—and public corruption

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

The deepening public works scandal, which now involves political connected permit expediter Walter Wong, appears to have links to a big corporation that has been doing business in SF for years.

The Board of Supes Government Audit and Oversight Committee will consider July 2 a resolution calling on the Department of Public Works to immediately end its contract with JCDecaux, the French company that has the contract for “street furniture” in San Francisco – the public toilets, kiosks, and for a while newsracks that have lucrative ad spaces on them...(more)

Down and out in the Bay Area

By Kelly Dessaint : sfexaminer – excerpt

I’m about to become homeless. Barring a miracle, in less than a week, I will no longer have a place to live.

While the past three months of sheltering in place seemed to drag on forever, since giving our landlady notice at the first of June, when it became abundantly clear that we could no longer stay in this apartment, time has been moving at breakneck speed.

Looking for a place in the Bay Area, where affordable housing is nonexistent, is already a terrifying prospect, but these days, in the midst of a pandemic and social unrest, with a 3-year-old in tow, it can make you want to just curl up into a fetal position and admit defeat.

So two weeks ago, my wife and kid went down to stay with her parents in L.A. We put all our stuff, except a bed and a desk, in storage, and crossed our fingers and toes that something would work out.

There was no turning back. But also nowhere to turn… (more)

Buckle up: California’s gas tax is on the rise

By Daniel Gligich : capoliticalreview – excerpt

California’s gas tax is scheduled to break the 50 cent mark in a couple weeks. 

On July 1, the gas tax will increase by 3.2 cents to total 50.5 cents per gallon. 

Given the economic downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic, a group of California Republican lawmakers are calling for the state to freeze the tax and prevent the increase. 

“Unemployment continues to rise, and all the ways California was unaffordable prior to the pandemic still exist – suspending the gas tax increase is the least that could be done,” Assemblymember Marie Waldron (R-Escondido) told the Los Angeles Times. 

The increase is the third in four years and is due to the automatic inflation-adjustment that was added in the 2017 law… (more)

Get ready to pay more for food and everything you have delivered. When taxes are based on inflation, gas taxes are self-perpetuating because they drive the inflation for alll sales and all deliveries higher. Only politicans don’t care to notice that. The gas taxes get passed on to consumers.

Proposed California law would fast-track environmentally sustainable transit

By Carolyn Said :sfexaminer – excerpt

SB288, the Sustainable Transportation COVID-19 Recovery Act…

Transportation projects focused on public transit, bikes and pedestrians — but not cars — would get fast-tracked for construction under a bill Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, plans to announce on Monday.

His goal is two-fold: ramp up sustainable transportation and stimulate the economy.

“If we’re going to claw our way out of this economic collapse, public investment in infrastructure is a crucial strategy, and we need to get that investment out and implemented fast,” Wiener said. “We can’t afford delays.”…(more)

The last thing California needs is more “investments” in non-essential infrastructure while we are failing to maintain what we have. Where is this investment money coming from? If you have any cash to offer use it to feed people and expand the health care system. if you want to jump start the economy, invest in education because the future depends on an educated public.

When will our civil servants get their heads out of the sand? Senator Wiener should know that his constituents’ number one issue is the condition of homeless people living in tents on the sidewalk. People want to return to clear, clean, safe streets. Cities are scrambling to keep up with high unemployment rates, reduced income and higher costs for social programs.

Politicians are really out of touch with reality when they suggest spending money on non-essential street and sidewalk projects when the streets are full of protestors, food lines and homeless tents. Unpaid rents are piling up debt that is going to push more people out or onto the streets and there is a growing exodus out of the state, as many believe that density and crowded living conditions are responsible for the spread of the virus. A private vehicle is the safest way to travel now.

Ask the Experts Virtual Town Hall: The Future of Cities Post-COVID-19 Pandemic

photo of 280 shot by zrants

Panelists:
Thomas Piechota
Tom Turk
Marshall Toplansky
Joel Kotkin
Richard Florida
Jennifer Hernanadez
Luis Torres
Daniel Young
Steve Pontell
Alex Hayden