While there have been calls in the last two weeks for Mayor London Breed to fire embattled Department of Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, she said that she had to follow proper procedure — and now Nuru has resigned of his own accord.
In a statement to the press Monday, Breed said, "While I understand the desire for [Nuru] to be fired immediately, it's important that we follow all the laws required to terminate a public employee, no matter the circumstances. Before this process had been completed, he submitted his resignation."
As Bay City News reports, the 57-year-old city employee submitted his resignation to City Administrator Naomi Kelly — but there's so far no mention about whether he will still be eligible for a city pension, which was a question that was raised by several supervisors as the scandal first made headlines two weeks ago.
Under city law, employees remain eligible for their pensions unless they are convicted of a crime, as the Chronicle notes. Nuru has only just been charged by federal prosecutors and he is awaiting trial — meaning that his $91,000-per-year pension remains on the table. As of today, though, Nuru is forfeiting his $273,000-per-year salary, and per the Chronicle, he asked via email for paperwork to apply to begin receiving his pension.
Ten days ago, Breed appointed City Purchaser Alaric Degrafinried to be interim director of Public Works. Now that Nuru has resigned, a search will likely commence for his permanent replacement.
Breed continued in her statement to say, "Our goal is to continue to support the hard-working employees of [DPW] and to continue its mission of cleaning our streets, performing critical infrastructure work, and taking care of our City. I will continue to support the full independent investigation underway to uncover any improper actions that were taken and recommend reforms to ensure they never happen again."
The investigation Breed is referring to is likely the one being conducted by City Attorney Dennis Herrera in conjunction with the city Controller's office — while both technically employed by the city, Herrera made the point that his investigation would be independent of any oversight or influence, because he's an elected official who answers to the people. Nonetheless, progressive Supervisors Matt Haney, Gordon Mar, and Dean Preston have all gotten behind an effort to hire another, outside investigator to probe all City Hall contracts across multiple departments.
Nuru has worked at City Hall for two decades, having first come on as deputy director of DPW under then director Ed Lee and Mayor Willie Brown in 2000. Lee appointed him director of the department when he became mayor in 2011 — a move that Herrera, who was running against Lee in an election, referred to as "cronyism" and "bad judgement." He was arrested on January 28 in an FBI probe that implicated him and local restaurateur Nick Bovis in several "schemes," some involving bribes that were allegedly never made.
Where this federal case will lead remains unclear. As we learned last week, the FBI's extensive investigation likely had a bigger target in mind than Nuru, and he appears to have been approached to make some sort of cooperative deal with investigators — something that he quickly negated by allegedly alerting the City Administrator's office of his arrest. As the Chronicle reports Monday, "Many inside City Hall are wondering what’s yet to be uncovered." And you can bet things are pretty tense over there!