On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors will vote on a contract
that would send tens of millions of dollars in Central Subway project funds to a firm employing the former director of the Municipal Transportation Agency. If approved, the contract will push the total amount of funds sent to companies with ties to top-level ex-Muni brass to nearly $200 million.
In political science, cycling executives from top government posts to private companies doing business with their former agencies is known as "revolving door politics,"
and is viewed as a source of potential conflicts of interest. Among San Francisco's tight-knit political elite, it's apparently known as business development,
and is considered the most expeditious way to get things done.
Tomorrow, the Board of Supervisors will consider awarding a Central
Subway contract worth $40 million for engineering and architectural
design of the system's stations, to Central Subway Design Group. That
firm is actually a joint venture including the company Parsons Brinckerhoff -- a civil engineering firm that features a staffer
with the title Principal Consultant/Local Business Executive by the
name of Stuart Sunshine.
Sunshine most recently made news as Gavin Newsom's $260,000-per-year
transportation czar, a position he assumed after serving as executive
director of the city's Municipal Transportation Agency.
Two years ago, Sunshine took a job at Parsons Brinckerhoff, following a 16-year career working as a favor broker under three San Francisco mayors. Helpfully, at the time of his exit he explained to Fog City Journal editor Luke Thomas how this sort of thing works:
"I get recruited
all the time, throughout my years of running Muni or Parking and
Traffic, or working for the three mayors that I've worked for...
you get called all the time and this was an opportunity I just
didn't want to pass up."
Sunshine was unavailable for comment this morning, but said he'd address SF Weekly
's queries this afternoon.
Tuesday's contract vote comes just a few months after the MTA awarded a $6.5 million Central Subway contract for architecture and engineering services to PB Telamon, a joint venture between infrastructure management firm Telamon Corporation and Sunshine's roost, Parsons Brinckerhoff.
Last year the Board of Supervisors approved a $147 million contract to manage the Central Subway project to the Central Subway Partnership, a joint venture between AECOM USA Inc. and EPC Consultants -- a company that employs a vice president for business development named Emilio Cruz, who served as Willie Brown's Muni chief.