Orinda, CA – 8/26/2010
Let’s face it, gaining public office or working for a public agency-at any level-really DOES give a person license to steal, take bribes, or otherwise use public funds and facilities to serve their own needs. This article is not meant to pick on San Francisco; it just happens to be a convenient local target.
Jeff Adachi, the City Public Defender, noted that the average San Francisco employee’s annual pay is $93,000, with a third of city workers making $100,000 or more. So why do so many of those civil servants feel the need to augment their compensation? Let’s stick with people who have actually been charged with crimes.
Last year, sfgate reported on the Hetch Hetchy Power Crew, a remote reservoir that supplies the city with hydroelectric power. They evidently bilked the city out of hundreds of thousands of dollars for personal purchases, including BMW tires, lease payments on a truck, and even remodeling a luxury home. They also ran a private contracting business, collecting government paychecks while working on unauthorized jobs and billing the costs to taxpayers. They also hired prostitutes and stocked a bedroom in their office suite with liquor, condoms, Viagra and pornographic DVDs.
The Port of San Francisco, landlord to the San Francisco Giants, pays $50,000 each year for prime Giants season tickets, according to sfweekly.com, for the purpose of wining and dining “clients” of the port. However, many of the tickets were offered to port officials themselves, their friends, and favored nonprofit organizations, either cut-rate or for free. The rest are scalped, often on StubHub. The Port spent an additional $80,000 last year sending employees around the world, throwing parties and buying meals in the name of business development.
Last year, sfgate reported that 29-year veteran technician Deborah Madden had stolen and used cocaine and other drugs being held as evidence at the city’s police testing lab. Although the allegations surfaced in December of 2009, the department did not launch a full investigation until March, 2010, and Police Chief George Gascón ordered the drug lab shut down on March 9. The DA’s office eventually dropped more than 1,900 cases because prosecutors could not “ethically go forward” with the prosecutions. Moreover, an army of feral felines had been sleeping, eating rodents and going to the bathroom around evidence items and police files in the police department’s lab storage building.
Wasn’t anyone in the city paid enough to supervise either the Hetch Hetchy unit or the police crime lab?
In 2003, cbsnews.com reported that three officers had been drinking at a police banquet celebrating the promotion of Assistant Chief Alex Fagan. Afterwards, Alex Fagan, Jr., and two other officers beat up two men after demanding that the pair give them the food they were carrying. Police hurried the officers away before their victims could identify them, and allowed them to change their clothes and drink lots of water before they were tested for alcohol more than four hours later. Fagan, Jr. had a record of at least 16 violent encounters with suspects in a 13-month period, sending six of them to the hospital. But higher-ups simply counseled Junior about his conduct and ordered anger management training, which he never took. The cover ups did not end there, but the scandal eventually led to the indictments of the Chief of Police, Fagan, and five other commanders for obstructing justice by hindering a police investigation. Indicted by a grand jury, six of the city’s top police commanders stepped aside, leaving the department in shambles.
And the City of San Francisco is far from the worst public agency.