San Francisco's embattled Department of Public Works director still has his $273,400 salary and $91,000 a year pension intact, but there is a process afoot for stripping him of both.
We informed you yesterday that Supervisor Matt Haney had called for the resignation of bombshell bribery suspect Mohammed Nuru, and that Nuru had been replaced on an interim basis by Alaric Degrafinried (the Chronicle has a profile on him, should you care). But Nuru is technically still on the job; he’s been placed on fully paid administrative leave, so he’ll still get his regular bi-monthly paycheck this Tuesday, and his nearly $275,000 salary is currently unaffected by all the "corruption, bribery kickbacks and side deals" of which the FBI accuses him. The Chronicle also has the interesting nugget that Nuru even might be able to keep his pension, which is currently pegged at $91,000 per year.
Even though an SFO airport director resigned Wednesday after being publicly connected to one of Nuru's alleged schemes — citing health reasons, and eliciting eyerolls — Nuru himself has not quit his post. The optics of him being on paid leave whilst out on a $2 million bail bond are terrible, prompting Supervisor Matt Haney to declare at a Thursday press conference covered by the Examiner, “For anyone who is in a situation like this, it seems clear that they should resign.”
Haney’s office sent out a press release earlier in the day saying that the supervisor “will be calling for the immediate firing of Director Nuru.”
But Haney had to tone that down after a stern rebuke from the San Francisco Municipal Executives Association (MEA), a sort of labor union for City Hall head honchos. Through their attorneys, the MEA sent Haney a letter saying, “If you do publicly call for Mr. Nuru to be fired, you risk committing official misconduct. The Charter expressly prohibits you from interfering with any appointment, administrative, or disciplinary matter involving city employees.”
The idea is that elected officials should not be meddling in City Hall hiring and firing.
That meddling will be done by the Human Resources department, and other city agency reviews, including the City Attorney’s office according to the Chronicle. Nuru also will have an interview with city administrator Naomi Kelly wherein he gets to make his case.
Nuru is charged with lying to the FBI after his original secret arrest for a slew of illegal schemes, including attempted bribery, contract fixing, and accepting illegal gifts from a billionaire Chinese developer, whom the Chronicle has identified as R&F Properties CEO Zhang Li.
All of this is why Haney called for an independent investigation of the matter at Thursday’s press conference — in addition to investigations of all city departments. Supervisor Dean Preston seconded the idea, saying, "We absolutely cannot rely on the executive branch of government in the City and County of San Francisco to investigate itself."
Golly, it’s almost as if people are already working this as an issue for the 2023 mayoral election! And well they could, as there are likely many more scandalous shoes to drop in this affair. The Examiner reported Tuesday that the FBI also raided the offices of permit expediter Walter Wong, and quoted a source saying Nuru and Wong were “buddy-buddy. They’re very good friends.”
Image: @MrCleanSF via Twitter