It would take a November ballot proposal and a City Charter amendment to pass Supervisor Matt Haney’s newly proposed street cleaning department, but critics charge it would just litter the process with more red tape.
Monday’s resignation of Department of Public Works director Mohammed Nuru is unlikely to stop the drip-drip of juicy revelations in the still-unfolding public corruption and bribery scandal. And with Public Works now under the chill of a City Attorney investigation, as well as an FBI sting operation that already has god-knows-what other information, the department may not be kicking on all gears at the moment. Which could affect DPW’s everyday logistical operations, namely, the relative cleanliness (or lack thereof) of San Francisco’s streets.
As the supervisor for the District 6 neighborhoods of the Tenderloin, Civic Center, and SoMa, Matt Haney presumably gets an earful about the condition of his district’s streets whenever he makes eye contact with anyone. In order to improve the condition of streets and sidewalks citywide, the Examiner reports that Haney has proposed a Department of Street Cleaning and Sanitation, a new city department that would clean streets — and do nothing but clean streets.
“We have a huge issue with filthy streets,” Haney told the Examiner. “We should have a department that’s singularly focused on solving that problem.”
Public Works has a lot on its plate, as evidenced by the above video “The A-Z of Public Works” which mentions 26 separate domains for which DPW is responsible. (Sure, some of them, like "D for ‘dancing’" are whimsical, unofficial capacities). But Haney’s point is that the department may be too stretched with additional responsibilities like bridge maintenance, urban forestry, and maintenance of homeless navigation centers.
This largesse in jurisdictional responsibilities may have something to do with, ummm, a previous director’s ambition for personal control of potentially monetizable maintenance contracts? Haney tells the Examiner his proposed Department of Street Cleaning would represent a “restructuring of DPW and how we respond to street cleaning,” a move for which he could certainly take credit if the streets improve, or simply could add more bureaucracy, budget, and potential for executive-level malfeasance.
...I am baffled by why @MattHaneySF, who has been 100% on point with this Nuru scandal, thinks the answer to a corrupt, complex, and convoluted process is to...add another layer of process https://t.co/yzIg941r3V— Armand Domalewski (@ArmandDoma) February 11, 2020
Haney is currently drafting the ballot measure which the Examiner says will be called the Clean City Act, and hopes to introduce it to the Board of Supervisors for approval and placement on the November 2020 ballot. Breaking up the DPW could quell suspicions that the previous director’s self-propelled PR machine was to blame for San Francisco's filth, though creating another new city department might just create different opportunity for a plucky bureaucrat to unleash another self-propelled PR machine.
Image: Ciphers via Wikimedia Commons