Tag Archives: San Francisco Board of Supervisors

The Art of Governance and the Economy – by Tony Hall

It seems that all we have read about these past few weeks relates to employment. One politician talks incessantly about how many jobs he has created. Another politician talks about how many jobs he has saved. A third politician talks about nothing but lies associated with the first two. There seem to be only two job categories that get any positive attention. One is the non-private sector positions supported by taxation. The other, and flourishing, is those employed by the various media spin machines out there doing their best to convince the weary and wary taxpayer of a particular point of view. Once again you, the taxpaying voter, are left trying to figure out the truth and what should be done.
As a father, I can attest to how difficult it is for those who are interested in remaining in our City to actually find employment in their chosen field of study, let alone in a meaningful or contributory fashion. This is the sad reality that underlies the flight of our local talent, discourages families, and takes an eventual toll on our quality of life. When we address these problems and offer realistic solutions, we are immediately classified as prophets of doom, or uninformed disgruntled individuals by the ever so politically correct, pseudo-intellectual elitists that are now running the City. The fact is that no one really needs to say anything but only has to look around. Notice the recent proliferation of vacant storefronts, the lack of buyers in the open shops that beg for customers with almost unbelievable sale promotions, the restaurants and diners less than 20% full, or the drop off in attendance of the various galas, social and charitable events for which San Francisco is so well known. No one knows this better than the small businesses trying to survive here in the City…[Full Article on the Westside Observer]


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HARDING PARK: Neglected, Re-built — now Raided!

Rebuilding Harding Park into one of the finest Municipal golf courses in the country is a major achievement San Franciscans should be truly proud of, but unfortunately where opportunities to defraud the public are possible, in this fine City, they are inevitable. The financial shell game afoot at Harding will require more than the usual public scrutiny.

One of my campaign promises in 2000 was to rebuild and restore Harding to the splendor that it deserves. My goals at the outset were:

a) To ensure that residents and visitors in San Francisco have an exceptional recreational experience on a unique golf course at reasonable rates.

b) To rebuild a treasured facility that would return enough profit to the City to maintain all of the City run courses, and provide extra cash for our park needs.

c) To give our small businesses and community at large the opportunity to reap the estimated $50 to $80 million in benefits that the Tours and Tournaments would provide.

You might recall that in 1999, Mayor Willie Brown was pushing to privatize the course and that the Arnold Palmer group was set to takeover and run Harding for whatever profits could be extracted from a wonderful but dilapidated and run-down 1925 golf course. My vision and work regarding Harding was based on the belief that, because of the physical uniqueness of the golf course, it could become a recreational treasure to San Franciscans once again; a profit yielding goldmine for the City coffers and businesses, and another example of civic pride; all possible if handled properly. Mayor Brown enthusiastically signed the ensuing my legislation and it passed by unanimous vote at the Board of Supervisors on April 25th, 2002. The legislation contained the following guidelines:

• The need for Harding to be completely renovated in an environmentally sensitive fashion.

• Green fees were to be kept at a minimum thereby allowing golf to remain affordable and accessible to residents.

• The course was not to be privatized so that City coffers and local businesses would reap the benefits.

• A special “Golf fund” was to be established to capture golf course revenues that would be used to maintain all other City-run courses, with the excesses to be applied to neighborhood parks.

• A comprehensive youth golf program was to be established.

Tournaments such as the PGA TOURS and Presidents Cup should be a means and not an end, and as such should net the City at least one million dollars per tournament after all the City’s expenses and inconveniences to the local residents.

I enlisted the help of the private sector in order to add “insurance” to the revenue stream by getting the PGA to agree to make Harding Park the West Coast home of the PGA TOUR Championship. The agreement provided for course closure for a short period of time during each championship, and required payment to the City of a minimum of $1 million (including 50% of the net revenues) for each Tour Championship, which would be held every three years. The initial term of the agreement ran from Jan.1, 2006 through Jan.1, 2015 with options to renew for three additional nine-year terms. (A potential profit to the City of some $31 million, or double the cost to rebuild Harding.)

“Without even taking into consideration profits from the Tours and other ancillary charges, something is not adding up here, or someone in this administration is guilty of
“Enron style accounting”. I highly suspect the latter…”

I might add here that the first vote at the Board regarding the Harding Plan was a 10 to 1 against my legislation until I was able to convince all of my colleagues that their neighborhood parks would reap benefits from the profits of such a plan in perpetuity because of the way it was funded. Some months prior to the vote I discovered that there existed a grant to the City under the Per Capita Grant Program provided by the Safe Neighborhood Parks, Clean Air, and Costal Protection Bond Act in the amount of $8.1 million and under the Roberti-Z’berg-Harris Block Grant Program in the amount of $5 million for a total of $13.1 million. These were State funds intended for the use of local neighborhood parks. My colleagues soon realized that when those funds were divided among the 11 supervisorial districts, a one-time infusion of approximately $1.1 million per district paled in comparison to sharing in perpetuity the profits that a well-run Harding Park and properly administered golf fund could provide. We all assumed that there would be honest and transparent administration of the Park and the resultant golf fund, and thus the $13.1 million was applied to the re-build of Harding.

Once I left office, the fun and games began. The current administration has exploited the plan to the detriment of the residents and taxpayers of San Francisco. Because of the large amounts of money involved, and the chance to use that money for purposes other than intended, nor are the guidelines of my approved legislation being adhered to.

In 2002, the annual projected revenue that a new Harding would produce was based on calculations that green fees for San Francisco residents would be set at $28 maximum, and for non-residents, $88 maximum. Using the historic yearly average of 77,650 rounds of golf played at Harding (not even taking into account the increase to be played on a newly renovated course) it would have to yield at least $2.4 million to $3 million per year in 2002 Dollars! After maintenance costs, and assuming that we would continue to employ professional golf-greens keepers, which we haven’t done, the City golf fund should have netted at least the $6.5 million over six years as predicted by Economic Research Associates in 2002, if not much more than that amount! Without even taking into consideration profits from the Tours and other ancillary charges, something is not adding up here, or someone in this administration is guilty of “Enron style accounting”. I highly suspect the latter as, in violation of the original agreement, green fees for residents have now been jacked up to $46 – $59 and for non-residents are forced to pay $135 – $155. Even simple math will show that there is just no way the course could be running at a loss!

I won’t bore you with more details to prove my point, but will comment on a few realities that San Franciscans should be aware of lest their City be sold out from underneath them.

1. Harding Park is not running at a loss as is being depicted by this administration in the local media. The Golf fund revenues are not being properly accounted for, and are being diverted into other uses that have nothing to do with course or park maintenance.

2. Cost overruns for the renovation of Harding ran the bill up to $16 million, not the $23.6 million being quoted. The overruns were due to Dept. of Rec and Park inefficiency and inclement weather conditions during the re-build. I would love to know where the other $7.6 million was supposedly spent, as it certainly wasn’t on Harding. The figure of $23.6 was never revealed during my tenure on the Board of Supervisors, it was not revealed until 2005.

3. As $13.1 million of the funding was in the form of State Grants, there is no need to make payments in the form of a loan for that amount, and the extra $2.9 million required for the overruns was to come out of the Rec and Park budget in 2002-3. There is no 25 year loan due date approaching soon unless the books have been cooked. Why?

4. Harding is being portrayed as an operating loss to the people of this City by this Mayor and the District 7 Supervisor (his rubber stamp on the Board). By so doing, they attempt to justify their efforts to “privatize” its operation. Privatization is not always bad as there are cases where a private concern can utilize efficiency that a municipality cannot in order to provide for the common good. In this case, “privatization” means turning the operation of Harding over to the Mayors special interest political donors so that they can realize the profits that the City is now making—profits that are not being honestly and truthfully disclosed.

Finally, Harding Park took a lot of work to put together, work by a lot of smart people who had the City’s interest at heart and knew how a world class City should operate. It was a wonderful gift to all the residents of San Francisco, be they golfers or non-golfers (like me). It was the first step in the plan to revitalize the entire Lake Merced area to the benefit of all City residents. As it stands now, Harding is just another one of our misused assets.

My intention is to shed a little light on what Harding Park and its re-build was for, and what it should be all about. If it were handled properly, Harding would yield untold resources and distinguish San Francisco as the City that still knows how.

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Brown, Hall, Pritikin Bedazzle Guests During Mural Unveiling

Thanks to Luke Thomas for the nice write up of this momentous event in San Francisco 🙂

Article here in the Fog City Journal

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In the May issue of The Westside Observer newspaper, I discussed the parking meter increases and escalating issuance of parking citations that our city policy makers have forced on San Franciscans who choose to use their own auto as a means of transportation. Well, needless to say, it has now become such an abuse of power that many people are reacting and searching for ways to fight back against this new form of “taxation without representation.” Once again we are being “conned” by our electeds as we have repeatedly been told that parking enforcement is all about the turnover of available parking spaces for customers of small businesses, and the encouragement of public transportation usage. Nothing could be further from the truth! Parking enforcement in San Francisco is first, foremost and last, only about the accumulation of revenue, revenue that is then poured into more useless and politically motivated programs that require more and more money to fund with no apparent end in sight or common benefit to be achieved.

Rather than repeat many of the examples and facts that I stated in my May column, I will comment on just a few of the ramifications that the more recent idiotic measures implemented by the Municipal Transportation Agency have resulted in.

Life in the western ring of the City, and especially here in District 7 is becoming increasingly more difficult because of parking control that has gotten out of control. As many of you know, the city is now issuing parking tickets for meter violations on most of our holidays. An unlucky few even received several tickets on this past Labor Day much to the embarrassment of the MTA. A disproportionate number of tickets are issued to Westside residents both as meter violations and on-street time limit violations simply because the Dept of parking and Traffic knows that generally, homeowners are a much easier target to both police and collect from. Homeowners are much more responsive to any type of fee or fine because they live here, and unlike tourists, visitors and renters, they are easy to locate should they not pay within the allotted 30 days. They are usually too busy with regular day jobs to take time from work to go downtown to protest a ticket. By and large they prefer to have as little to do with the punitive and harassment aspects of a dysfunctional local government as possible, so they pay the “tax” and put it behind them as quickly as possible.

Any retail business owner in any San Francisco neighborhood will tell you that one of the biggest impediments to the success of their business is the lack of available and adequate parking for their daytime customers. With $3.50 per hour meters and one hour time limits, (in many places just 20 minutes!) the MTA has done a masterful job in destroying small business and more and more shoppers flee to the suburbs to avoid the harassment. Now that our elected geniuses want to extend parking meter hours to 8 or 10 p.m. in a desperate effort to make up for their excessive spending that has caused the City to be a half a billion dollars in debt, they can embark on their mission to destroy movie theaters, restaurants, and all remaining forms of nighttime entertainment that our lifeblood—tourism—enjoys.

Time limits for residential street parking permits are being reduced from 4 hours to 2 hours in many neighborhoods under the guise of discouraging outsiders from parking there. The DPT is more than anxious to impose these permits because of the easy revenue generated. In many cases, residents were not even informed, surveyed or aware that their street was to be permitted, it just “happens” because “somebody” supposedly complains. Many people have come to me in the past six months to inquire as to how they can rid their streets of permit parking because they now realize that it’s not about keeping unwanted day parkers out, but an enormous source of revenue to the City. Rates are currently about $78.00 per year per car for street parking stickers but I can assure you that they will skyrocket under this administration. In Boston and Seattle, rates for permit parking on the street where you live can go as high as $5000 to $10,000 per year per car so I am sure our mayor will be looking to them to cite his beloved “best practices.”

The latest gimmick to raise dollars at the expense of drivers is the blatantly obvious speed traps that have sprung up around the Westside. Overstaffed with cops who obviously aren’t directed to do something better with their time, these strategic “entrapments” seem to be designed to snag unaware and in most cases, local or older drivers who may be outright “dangerous criminals” because they dared exceed the newly posted limits by a mile or two per hour, or failed to stop abruptly because a decoy has put a foot in a cross walk. Give us a break guys, there’s bigger fish to fry out there!

You might have read in the daily where the Oakland City Council is expected to roll back extended meter hours, increased rates and “ravenous ticketers” to avoid a revolt and recall of council members. (Chron: 9/21/09). They recently extended meter operation until 8 p.m. Their average meter cost per hour is less than $2.00 or about half the cost in S.F. Apparently the elected there are a bit more responsive to the cries of the people, who themselves seem to be a bit more concerned about how they are being ripped off. Perhaps they have discovered what the old-timers in the S.F’s municipal court knew long ago—if you raise rates too high, you reach a point of diminishing returns. The revenue collected no longer matches the effort to penalize and collect. Rather than hold the line or cut back, administration novices here tend to keep raising rates so that they can spend more, because that is all they really know how to do. Folks, Its time to make your feelings known.


1. It just came out in the news that the Obama administration does not favor turning Treasure Island over to the City for little or no cost. It is obvious that there are certain costs involved to the Navy for toxic clean up and they would like their costs to be covered. What is not revealed is that after the very embarrassing ACORN scandal, the administration does not want to be linked to giving such a valuable real estate gift to a group that controls the island’s development that is rife with corruption and the financial interests of very high ranking public figures.

2. As many of the residents of District 7 are now noticing, the potholes are starting to reappear on recently repaved streets. This was predicted as far back as the 1980’s in a report produced by then Chief Administrative Officer Roger Boas. He correctly predicted that unless the aging under surface infrastructure is dealt with properly, such street problems would reoccur at an ever-increasing rate. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been wasted by this administration in an effort in to make things “look good” but not really fix the problem.

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An Island View

I am writing this column from Bere Island, a small island of two hundred people situated off the coast of Ireland, which of course is an island itself, off the coast of another island nation, off the coast of Europe! There might be some who say I am detached from reality here, but I can assure you, the bird’s eye view is indeed as astonishing as it is revealing!

I have spent several isolated long days and nights observing the local and national political scene over here and it is really something to witness. Their political dialog is a combination of sophisticated and aggressive mass confusion, the likes of which would never be fully understood or tolerated in the States, although they are becoming much more “Americanized” in their campaign tactics than they would like to admit. For the first time in more than forty years of visiting Ireland, I now see political posters being placed on public poles, glossy, truth-stretching pamphlets being distributed, and well-financed and organized campaigns being conducted by absolute novices with very little public service experience. Like home, they set out to have their particular “save the world views” imposed on a weary and somewhat distrustful public. The Irish are much more direct in expressing their displeasure, their doubts, and yes, their support along with prayers and even a few rosaries if there is just something about you that they like or can relate to. They are a wonderful trusting people and yet one gets the immediate sense that there is really nothing new in the way of political shenanigans that they haven’t seen. Their penchant for wanting to talk, preferably all at the same time, rather than listen, makes them unique and I suspect rather difficult to engage in a campaign. They do however seem to relish the sport of the political game, just like any good football match, thoroughbred horse race or greyhound dog contest. The latest versions and concepts of state-run capitalism vs. free market enterprise, or big brother socialism vs. individualism, or conservative vs. liberal, are all taken for granted, never mentioned, but yet all creatively commented on to anybody that will lend an ear. Maybe one of the big differences between Europeans and Americans is that we tend to take ourselves seriously, and care about such concepts and how they directly affect our lives.

Bank bail-outs, corporate greed, rising taxes and a growing sense that the people running our governments really don’t know what they are doing seem to be the common belief that binds most people today in countries all over the free world. If there is an international consensus, it is firstly, that nobody knows how to get us out of the dire predicament we find ourselves in, and secondly, that despite senior management fall out, the banks still seem to be driving the agenda. Indeed everything that has been done so far by the government leaders in both nations has been to prop up the banks to the virtual exclusion of everything else including the retention of jobs. At this point it doesn’t seem like the billions, or should I say trillions of dollars that the banks have been guaranteed by today’s and future generations of taxpayers are being translated into eased credit that is so vital to the business sector. The purpose of the toxic loan rescue plan by way of government money was not to deposit money in the banks; it was to ensure that the banks were in a position to continue lending to keep the economy moving. The banks, among the biggest contributors worldwide to this recession, have simply taken the money and locked it up in their vaults. Under no circumstances should they now be allowed to dictate the pace in the ongoing rescue of our economies.

Like in the States, the economy here in Ireland is at a virtual stand still because of the banking situation. This is where good government is supposed to step in. The government leaders who were supposed to be monitoring and regulating that industry are ever so quick to pass blame to anyone but him or herself. Doesn’t this sound familiar? It’s the same the world over; government leaders have encouraged us to blame anything and everyone else lest we focus too hard on their own contribution to the disaster. Some of the more misguided elected and pundits even go so far as to try to foolishly assert that greed is only synonymous with the free enterprise capitalist system and therefore the system must be changed. They apparently haven’t been made aware of how past societies that operated under a state controlled or socialist system have fallen apart because of the inherent greed of its leaders. Greed exists in all forms of governance. How the people who run the government treat greed is the telling and deciding factor. No doubt in the boom years of the past, many people benefited as well as the banks. The developers, the brokers, the home sellers and buyers, the lobbyists etc., etc., but the Government also got a huge boost in the resultant property tax revenues. Indeed it was the government itself that was encouraging the issuance of sub-prime loans and irresponsible banking policies that caused the problem. The boom years suited those in power and with largesse in hand, the so-called regulators and party hacks weren’t about to call a halt to their own acquisition of power and “political greed.” It is now glaringly clear that these so called leaders have neither ability nor conscience and it is time for the average person to invest some real thought and scrutiny before they cast their vote. I am sure that there are critics of any writer that attempts to divulge certain realities, and therefore I will attempt to offer a simple solution that even they would find it hard to disagree with. In my opinion, we have had enough of the “celebrity politician” who has no bona fide background in public service or public policy administration other than what the glossy pamphlets tell you. This type of “politician” is usually backed by self-serving donors, and has no notion or concept of serving the common good, only his ego-driven career. They are guilty of the most heinous of crimes by repeatedly deceiving the very people they are suppose to represent. Since we are now being forced to foot the bill for their incompetence and falsities, I think it is high time we start seeking out and electing people who have demonstrated in their respective fields that they possess the honesty, integrity and courage to stand up against the forces of corruption, greed and self-promotion at others expense. Now, more than ever, we need people who at least will try to do the right thing for the people they represent. Only when we start to witness our leaders serve the common good will future leaders arise that might be able to affect positive change

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My Good friend George Lum, a longtime City employee and Fiscal Officer for the Courts, recently paid me a visit and expressed his views about how difficult and expensive it is to try and drive and park in San Francisco. I suspect his views reflect the thoughts of many residents who live in our City. He brought up some very interesting facts that I thought were worth repeating. Like myself and many other civil servants who believe in public accountability, George is astounded at the ignorance, arrogance and audacity of today’s generation of policy makers who seem to have their heads screwed on backwards and thus subject a trusting public to the expenses of their circular reasoning.

Consider for example the following facts: In 1970, the average fine for a parking meter violation was $3. Today the fine averages $50 to $70 depending upon what part of the City you received the ticket. In 1970, the City wide meter fee was 10 cents per-hour, today it ranges from $2.50 to $3.50 per-hour. You do the math. Has our City’s population increased? Have our curbs, streets and signage been maintained, as was the original purpose for the fees? Are the most recently proposed increases remotely related to the welfare of our struggling storeowners or residents who must use their autos? Do we even really know where the proceeds of these gigantic revenues are spent? I think it is high time for the public to weigh in and stop accepting all the lame reasons that the robber barons put forth in order to increase the amount of your money that they spend while building their political empires.

The Municipal Transportation Agency, in its latest round of incompetent lunacy, has proposed a 50 cent per-hour increase in Parking meters, and the extension of the hours of operation and enforcement of those meters every day and night until 10 PM and—get this—Sundays included! I mean really, who are these people working for? They also want to limit each meter user to one hour during the day and up to four hours during the evening and increase garage rates at least $2 more per-hour. All of this money grabbing is at the expense of those who out of necessity must drive a car as opposed to those who actually use municipal transportation. (Look out residents of District 7!) One genius who works at the chamber of commerce said “these proposals are great from a business perspective because it will encourage turnover!” (I believe this was the same character who proposed building-up our movie industry revenues by empowering 3rd rate local extras as opposed to enticing top-flight movie producers from Hollywood.) Well, to be honest with you and yes, realistic, these proposals will do absolutely nothing but further erode the attractiveness of downtown and neighborhood shops and penalize the auto driver. Any amateur student of public policy can tell you that someone suffers when fines and fees are increased. I don’t know of anyone who can get anything accomplished in one hour downtown and the four-hour limit in neighborhoods will only pit residents against merchants without any new parking being made available.

Back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, I had the pleasure of serving with Mr. Lum. As Court administrators, we had the opportunity to analyze the impact that an increase in parking fines and fees would have on the public, as it was then under the auspices of the Municipal Court. The surprising results invariably demonstrated that any such increases resulted in more scofflaws (people who don’t pay their fines), more expensive enforcement in relation to revenue netted and certainly less “customer satisfaction”. At least, back then, we tried to justify any increase with input from all concerned parties, and then provide the public with something in return for their inconvenience.

It was during that period of time that I originated the location for the new Civic Center Courthouse on McAllister and Van Ness, paid for by an extra $1.00 being added on to each fine collected. Today such analysis and constructive projects are totally ignored as the whole issue of public parking is seen only as it relates to the bottom line.

Another observation: back then a parking meter enforcement officer was hired at approximately $68,000 including benefits and was expected to generate about 150% of his or her cost to the City per-year. Today they are hired at a much, much more expensive rate when benefits are included, and expected to produce 300% percent revenue in relation to their cost. Parking and the fees and fines associated with it have become a massive money source and local politicians have discovered they can engage in “taxation without representation” without even having to explain where the money is going.

We are told that the newly proposed increases will generate an additional $9.5 million for a municipal transportation agency that is running a deficit of $129 million per year. What we are not being told is the additional personnel costs associated with the enforcement and collection for the extended hours and the effect upon our quality of life here in San Francisco.

I know there are many people who believe in the “transit first” policy that has been in effect for the past 30 years and there is merit to that. I would be much happier if the policy had produced a mass transit system that—after so much invested time, material and money—actually works, is efficient, and pays for itself without discriminating against people who use autos. The solution is to concentrate on improving the transit system by making it self-sufficient, streamlining the routes, reviewing the hiring and work practices of personnel, and imposing modern stringent guidelines.

Now back to the automobile and how to handle its parking. The answer is certainly not to penalize or discourage its user as this only hurts the local economy. Other cities—and yes, even our sister city down south, Los Angeles—has embarked upon a policy of accommodating the auto-user with reasonable parking and rates that encourage the revitalization of the downtown sector. The conversion of property to provide safe, reasonable and convenient parking for Americans’ unique and undeniable fascination with the auto is something that we should no longer deny but embrace. As much as we like to think that we here in San Francisco always know better, there are still some things that we must face up to. Our desire to demonstrate that almost all human activity can be regulated or legislated is beginning to make us look foolish and stifle our image as a world class City. We can do better than this!

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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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