Alaric Degrafinried, the acting director of San Francisco's troubled Department of Public Works, had once said he planned to vie for the permanent title of head of the department. But in the 18 months since he took over, he changed his mind, and he's leaving city government for a job at BART.
Degrafinried, as you may recall, took the acting director job at DPW right after the resignation of Mohammed Nuru in early 2020. Nuru remains accused of a host of corruption schemes by federal prosecutors, and the list of cooperating witnesses who likely have incriminating things to say continues to grow as guilty pleas mount.
Degrafinried previously served as City Purchaser and Director of the Office of Contract Administration, and he was appointed by former City Administrator Naomi Kelly — who, herself, resigned in January amid the Nuru scandal.
Mission Local broke the news Wednesday that Degrafinried has landed a role as assistant general manager of administration at BART, and that sounds like a less fraught and perhaps less stressful position than the head of SF's most embattled city department.
Supervisor Matt Haney tells Mission Local that Degrafinried has "done a good job in a challenging role at a challenging time," and he brought "a steady, ethical hand to a reeling department that is still deeply broken structurally."
But no one really wants to run a department so deeply broken, and it perhaps took Degrafinried a little while to figure that out.
Also, as of last November when voters approved the local ballot measure creating it, there's a new department that's being broken off from Public Works, the Department of Sanitation and Streets. The splitting of the existing department will, in itself, likely create huge headaches.
Mission Local notes that another likely reason Degrafinried jumped ship is that he may not have been being seriously considered for the DPW job — the same ballot measure that created the new sanitation department also added a new requirement for the DPW director job: a degree or background in architecture or engineering. Degrafinried would have had to get a special waiver in order to hold the position.
Anyway, we can now expect a national search for two new department heads, if not more — several other key roles at City Hall are also currently held by interim or acting placeholders. Stay tuned.
Photo via SF Public Works