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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ex-Treasure Island Czar: Clinton's Newsom Endorsement a Favor for Billionaire Ron Burkle

Posted By on Tue, Sep 15, 2009 at 3:40 PM

Tony Hall
  • Tony Hall
At first glance, Bill Clinton's endorsement of no-hoper California governor candidate Gavin Newsom was a case of one slick-haired-womanizer reaching out to a kindred spirit.

But for former Treasure Island Czar Tony Hall, the endorsement had the appearance of old political favors coming due.
Newsom fired former Supervisor Hall in 2005 after the mayor's hand-picked Treasure Island manager raised the specter of a sweetheart deal between Newsom and a development team backed by Los Angeles billionaire Ron Burkle, who until earlier this year counted Bill Clinton as a top business partner and adviser.

"Obviously, Newsom is going to go to the people he's done business with. Bill Clinton is connected to Burkle, and Burkle is connected to Newsom. The whole thing is corrupt," Hall said during an interview Tuesday.

Four years ago SF Weekly's Ron Russel linked Hall's firing with a covert real estate mega-deal. Hall in 2004 was hired away from his post as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to run Treasure Island, an old Navy base with serious development potential. He soon learned that key decisions about the island were actually run directly out of the mayor's office, to the benefit of a partnership involving Burkle.

"I said, 'This contract has to go out for competitive bid,'" Hall said of development rights the city had offered the Burkle group. "I demanded transparency. I was just trying to make it legit. Newsom wanted me to sign the contract. I said no. Burkle was the big moneybags guy behind the whole thing."

Burkle made one of his periodic entrances into the national conversation last year when Clinton denounced a Vanity Fair article that suggested the ex-president was a frequent passenger on a converted 747 jet Clinton supposedly dubbed "Ron Air" and that Burkle's own circle of young aides privately refer to as "Air Fuck One," Vanity Fair contributor Todd Purdum wrote.


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