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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mayor Ed Lee Takes Public Dig at Former Muni Chief Nat Ford

Posted By on Thu, Jul 14, 2011 at 4:30 PM

UPDATE: Upon review, SF Weekly learned that the original story from Huffington Post San Francisco erroneously reported comments Mayor Lee made at the Board of Supervisors meeting. The comments had been lifted from a parody written by the Examiner's Melissa Griffin. We referenced the comments coming from the Huffington Post. We regret the error.

Mayor Lee goes off script
  • Mayor Lee goes off script
Unlike his predecessor Gavin Newsom, Mayor Ed Lee hasn't run in the other direction when asked to participate in a public Q&A with the Board of Supervisors once a month -- although, he kinda has no choice.

This public inquisition by his peers could be chock-full of print-worthy moments if not for its contrived nature. You see, Lee gets to read the supes' questions long before the actual Q&A session starts, giving him plenty of time to script the perfect response. Needless to say, it's a sterile show. 

Scripted or not, however, Lee did give us something to chew on this past Tuesday. When the "conversation" focused on Muni, Lee was asked to talk about what he expects in the next Muni chief who will be replacing Nat Ford.

Let's just say political correctness was left by the wayside.

Supervisor Carmen Chu asked:

The Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) Board will soon have the task of appointing a new director for the MTA. How will you help ensure that the new director will steer our city's transit agency in a direction that leads to service improvements and increased reliability for riders? How will you help ensure that the new director will have a broad vision for transportation in our city?

To which Lee replied: "We will require each applicant to have more than a Transportation Merit Badge from the last Boy Scout jamboree."

Then came the zinger. The soft-spoken and polite Mayor Lee took an unexpected dig at how Ford, while still serving as Muni chief, had no qualms about jumping a plane to interview for another job to head the  Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. That was considered the "jump the shark" moment that essentially gave the MTA a reason to show Ford the door two years before his contract expired.

"We will have a new rule mandating that the executive director must take Muni to all job interviews while in office," Lee told the Board of Supervisors.

Such a candid response coming from a nonpolitical mayor only gave him more campaign cred.

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Taylor Friedman


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