SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – In the wake of the release of a preliminary report about the recent public corruption scandal in San Francisco, Supervisor Matt Haney announced he will introduce an anti-corruption legislative package that aims to close loopholes that were used by the involved city officials.
On Monday, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera and City Controller Ben Rosenfield released a preliminary assessment report on contracts with the city’s Department of Public Works, recommending ways the agency can improve transparency and strengthen oversight and accountability.
The assessment found procedures and polices related to the city’s contracting process could be strengthened to cut fraud and abuse.
According to Haney, his legislative package will come in a series of ordinances that addresses loopholes in the contracting process.
“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,” Haney said in a statement. “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 (Mohammed) Nuru. We have to root out the bad actors and change the laws that allow pay-to-play politics,” he said.
Haney’s package will address a self-oversight loophole that allowed the Public Works Department to oversee itself without external contract approval; insider contracting that allows the DPW director and other city department heads to hand-pick contractors with no formal process; and donation shakedowns that allowed the DPW director to pressure firms seeking contracts to donate to selected nonprofits and city departments.
The package will also address a gift exemption that allows department heads and other city officials to accept gifts from people seeking contracts; and grant miscategorization that allows contracts to be categorized as grants in order to avoid standard contract processes or approvals.
Since the allegations of corruption first broke earlier this year with the arrest of former Public Works Director Nuru and restaurateur Nick Bovis, Haney has been vocal against the lack of oversight within DPW, which he says resulted in unkempt streets in his district.
“My district right now has inadequate services, poor response times and a total lack of accountability. The brutal reality is that the corruption in these departments is directly connected to the fact that anyone walking downtown is being forced to step in feces and trash. This has to end,” he said.
The preliminary report comes as six people have now been charged in federal court in connection with misconduct and a series of alleged money laundering schemes, including Nuru, Bovis, former Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services Director Sandra Zuniga, and contractors Walter Wong, Balmore Hernandez and Florence Kong.
On Thursday, Haney and Supervisor Gordon Mar will lead a hearing on the preliminary report and its recommendations at the supervisors’ Government Audit and Oversight Committee.
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