Last week, City Attorney Dennis Herrera took what seems to be the first real potshot at a fellow mayoral candidate when he publicly said that he has better things to do than fight with Rush Limbaugh and ban shark fin soup. Anyone who has even barely scanned the headlines in the last few months should know he was talking about his strongest opponent for the mayor's race, Sen. Leland Yee.
Perhaps that's why Yee, who is deemed a front runner, decided to take on a more local issue for now: Muni. Specifically, Yee is going after Muni's soon-to-be ex chief, Nat Ford, who announced he would be stepping down on June 30, and he'll likely be taking a sweet $384,000 severance package to boot.
Yee expressed his utter disgust over the exorbitant package Ford was getting, despite the fact that members of the SFMTA governing board said it was much cheaper than buying out the remainder of his contract at $700,000.
Yee has continued to pressure the SFMTA to scrap this deal, and to show he isn't alone on this, Yee plans to present petitions with more than 1,000 signatures opposing this "golden parachute" package.
"This backroom deal is completely unacceptable," Yee said. "With $384,000, the entire city of San Francisco could park free of charge for three days, or Muni could be entirely free for a whole day."
Tom Nolan, chair of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, defended Ford's departing package. He told SF Weekly last week that even if people give the governing board some heat for it, he thinks Ford -- who by the way is the highest-paid man in San Francisco -- deserves it.
If approved at tomorrow's board meeting, Ford will get one year's base salary -- that's $308,000 -- plus extended health benefits for his family, and of course his deferred sick and vacation time. Nolan told us there would be some other perks that he couldn't reveal at the time.
To put that into context, his severance is roughly one-third of what the city shells out on toilet paper. In other words, flushing Ford away is costing us quite a bit.
And at time when the agency is barely scrapping by, Yee is asking the board to rescind the deal, which was announced the day after an arbitrator decided Muni drivers would take a three-year pay freeze to help the agency save $21 million.
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