Monthly Archives: April 2009

TREASURE ISLAND or FANTASY ISLAND?

Today, I just returned from Treasure Island where I was able to witness the only positive excitement to take place on that fantasyland since I left as Director there. An exciting game of Rugby followed by expert practitioners of the ancient sport of Gaelic football thrilled my heart, not only because of the athleticism involved, or the fact that the idea for the fields for such venues was spawned during my administration of the Island, but more by the fact that something real was actually happening there!

For many of you who have followed the history of Treasure Island, your head must be spinning as fast as the Newsom administration manufactures another fantasy plan to keep the public in a revolving state of hope while he and his biggest political donors milk another unknowing potential investor. With the upcoming Governor’s race getting underway, I suspect that once again “Campaign Newsom” will come up with yet the latest plan to attract attention, dutifully detailed in their “campaign rag” the Chronicle, and affectionately affirmed by the “campaign lackeys” that he has placed on the City payroll, on various commissions, and the Board of Supervisors. (Remember Care not Cash? Well that little spin is now costing you—the taxpayer—about 2 billion annually compared to the 2 million when Newsom took office!) Perhaps his latest plan for Treasure Island might involve a politically correct, ecologically advanced, astrologically aligned, and magnetically balanced center for the study of political exploitation!

You might recall that Darius Anderson, the politically connected Democratic lobbyist and fundraiser, who as the principal of the Treasure Island Development Corporation (TIDC), acquired the exclusive rights to negotiate for the development of Treasure Island by delivering multi-millions to the campaigns of Willie Brown and Newsom. Anderson, who has never built a doghouse, must now dangle his carrot to other builders who might fancy the elusive dream to build on the Island now that the Lennar Corporation seems to have fallen on tough times, and doesn’t seem willing to buy out Anderson’s position in the development scheme. At a recent sighting, the ultimate broker, Aaron Peskin, was seen holding hands with Anderson and none other than what is left of the Residential Builders Association (formerly headed by Joe O’Donahue) at the Washington Square Bar and Grill a few weeks ago at a mysterious fundraiser. See link http://www.fogcityjournal.com/wordpress/2009/03/16/the-crackberry-chronicles-luck-o-the-irish-edition/#comments

A bit of advice to my Irish brethren: C’mon now lads, haven’t ye been fleeced enough? Don’t let the likes of these scoundrels dip into your pockets!

For those readers who might want to refresh their memories about the corruption at Treasure Island, try reading some of the many articles written by Chuck Finnie 1998-1999 for the Hearst Examiner and later with the Chronicle. They really were quite accurate and well researched and can be found on the net.

Interestingly though, Finnie’s passion for exposing the truth seemed to evaporate at Newsom’s Coronation, and he was most silent during the time when I exposed the “sweetheart deal” that Newsom was trying to get me to go along with as Director of the Island in 2004-5. It is no wonder that the Chronicle is going out of business as a newspaper that reports the facts.

I accepted the job at Treasure Island with the sincere belief that this mayor really wanted to do something with Treasure Island that was beneficial to the City. After a 30 year career of City Service involving many building projects in seven different City Departments, I believed I could initiate a development project that would, after significant seismic stabilization and a true open competitive bidding process as mandated by the City charter, result in a project that would return millions to our general fund every year thereafter. Boy, was I fooled! This mayor, as has his predecessor, only used this dream in the middle of our Bay to raise political capital and exploit those willing to donate.

In short, you might recall that I was released as Director of Treasure Island when I refused to go along with the latest round of corruption involving the Island in 2005. The Mayors Office insisted upon renewal of the contract for TICD (the Anderson group) for exclusive negotiation and developmental rights, despite the fact that that group had not met the terms of its contract, including substantial payment shortfalls for specific developmental milestones, as well as a series of discarded timetable extensions that continue till this day. Needless to say, the mayor engineered my ouster when I refused to sign the contract that would again allow his largest political donors to continue their scam by having the Island administration pick up their expenses while they publicized ever changing plans in their search for deep pockets. I refused to compromise my ideals in favor of an effort to recover integrity for the future of any true development of the Island, but to no avail. His hand-picked, seven-member board of political hacks voted to terminate my services in the midst of considering a raise for me and my staff for a very successful year and a half of management that resulted in businesses and spirit returning to the Island. To justify their actions at that time, they alleged the altering of books at Treasure Island. This false allegation came after the Controller, Mr. Ed “never let the truth get in the way” Harrington, sent an anonymous letter to the Chronicle. The only problem with their play was, that since the Treasure Island Development Authority was under the auspices of the Mayors Office, it was the Controller himself who was handling our books! Harrington is the same cat who is now in charge of the SFPUC and is most responsible for your water rates skyrocketing.

The vindictiveness of this mayor and the “lackeys” that surround him is unprecedented in San Francisco. Anyone who has ever opposed him or his programs has been the subject of a subsequent media smear, investigation by the so-called Ethics Commission, or direct mail hit campaign. Indeed, since my tenure on the Board of Supervisors, they have launched one attack and defamatory allegation after another, all because I dared question the status quo. Much to their embarrassment, their final attempt to besmirch my reputation, a phony Ethics Commission investigation cost that department almost a million dollars to conduct. Because I chose to fight rather than accept their cowardly abuse, their tactics involving perjury and falsification of evidence were exposed. Truth won out and I was exonerated.

The reality and the facts are as follows: 1. Treasure Island today sits as a rotting, decaying toxic parcel of 500 acres of man-made terrain in the middle of the bay. 2. It is still owned by the Navy, who has refused to turn it over to the City, which acts as a caretaker. 3. The Navy has a financial investment and responsibility in the future development of the Island and knows what so many of us now know. They have become skeptical with respect to the sincerity of the City and the ability of the Anderson group to put forth a concrete redevelopment plan after more than twelve years. Take for example, Newsom’s latest fantasy plan that calls for a space- age green development with several 40 to 60 story residential, retail and hotel towers, new low-income neighborhoods, no on-island driving, a ferry terminal (that the State has already nixed) to accommodate the low-income resident boaters(!), and the best of all, a 40 acre organic garden! All of this is going on top of 8 ft. of toxic bay land fill that floods year after year and sits on top of the most active earthquake fault in the bay area! I certainly don’t know what this guy is smoking but this latest fantasy surely isn’t the result of the red wine that he claimed he was addicted to.

My efforts and opinions at this time are being directed to San Franciscans who really care about our City. I am not deliberately trying to deride anyone or prevent him or her from attaining their dream of higher office, but I do draw a line at the cost to the public. In fact, with most of them, the sooner they move on to their great ‘white house in the sky’ the better for those of us who remain. My hope today is that future public servants can be encouraged to emerge who are dedicated to ensuring that San Francisco will rise above the pitfalls of corruptive influences while retaining a growth towards the world class status that our outstanding attractions deserve. My wish for all San Franciscans, is that we can re-establish standards of integrity based upon transparent political accountability that will diminish the dubious empirical exploitations of corruption that have befallen our wonderful City.

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