Subpoenas issued Wednesday by the City Attorney's Office for records and emails from eight private companies and non-profits appear to relate in part to a kids' baseball charity run by indicted local restaurateur Nick Bovis — and how the charity may have been used to "funnel" money to the Department of Public Works' apparently lavish holiday parties.
The connections between Bovis and indicted co-conspirator Mohammed Nuru — who resigned from his post as director of Public Works on Monday — may be many. But one appears to be that for several years, Bovis's restaurant Lefty O'Doul's provided catering for DPW's holiday fetes. As the Examiner reported earlier this week, one such party at the War Memorial building in December 2017 was allegedly improperly funded by $30,000 in "donations" from private companies, including $15,000 from waste management company Recology. A paper trail obtained by the Examiner shows how Bovis even corrected an employee.
"Wow! that’s great 15k for the foundation," the employee purportedly emailed, referring to the Lefty O'Doul's Foundation For Kids, to which Recology's check was made out. But Bovis reportedly corrected them, saying, "That is for the party we have to do for Dpw holiday party."
An official invoice for the event showed only a cost of $5,200 to the city.
Bovis's foundation is one of the entities whose documents were subpoena'd in the City Attorney's Office investigation, along with the nonprofit Parks Alliance, Also subpoena'd were PG&E, Recology, and city contractors Webcor Builders, Pankow Builders, and Clark Construction Group.
Mission Local obtained an invoice for DPW's 2019 holiday party, which just happened two months ago. This document explicitly lays out the costs of the event, which total over $42,000, and shows the city only invoiced for $9,213 after $33,000 in donations listed from Recology, Webcor, and others.
Spokesman for Webcor, Sam Singer, insists that the company believed its $3,000 donation was "100 percent to help kids."
Bovis's foundation, founded in 2010 according to its Facebook page, donates baseball equipment to Little Leaguers. An undated press release reports on a $1,500 donation that the foundation made to the Richmond Little League after some of their equipment was stolen in a break-in.
But now City Attorney Dennis Herrera says his office believes that the foundation and these private companies with city contracts were "involved in funneling donations to fund City programs and events, including funding Public Works holiday parties."
As the Examiner discusses, regarding the new subpoenas, the "funneling" was happening between companies that stood to benefit directly from Nuru's largesse, "to wit, he sets garbage rates, and the various construction firms have or had contracts with Public Works." And by law, they would not have been able to directly give money to the department or pay for such a party themselves.
This is just the latest turn of the page in what will likely be a months-long, if not years-long unfolding scandal in what federal prosecutors alleged half a decade ago (if not before) was a "pay-to-play culture" at San Francisco City Hall.
And while we don't know the ultimate goal of the U.S. Attorney's investigation, it's likely we will continue to learn details of how Bovis and Nuru allegedly worked together, linking the private, public, and nonprofit. As the Chronicle's Phil Matier surmised last week, one the pair's bigger goals may have been to land a big casino deal with Chinese investors on land somewhere in Northern California that has yet to be identified.