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Monday, January 30, 2012

Will Embattled Park Patrol Get New Chief?

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 3:10 PM

The Rec and Park Department finds a creative way of "dealing" with Marcus Santiago - JOSEPH SCHELL
  • Joseph Schell
  • The Rec and Park Department finds a creative way of "dealing" with Marcus Santiago

Last year, SF Weekly alum Matt Smith revealed that the San Francisco Park Patrol has been twisted into an overtime machine by -- and for -- Marcus Santiago. The head patrol officer earned upward of $85,000 on top of his $67,000 yearly salary, a feat accomplished by billing the city for 70-hour weeks, every week of the year.

Santiago's favored officers also received plum overtime assignments, often doubling their salaries -- even when they reportedly didn't show up for work, or worked second jobs. Santiago's supervisor, Dennis Kern, has long shielded the head patrol officer, as Santiago has turned his corner of the Recreation and Park Department into a revenue generator for the city.

Rec and Park has found a novel way to "solve" this "problem." Faced with a middle manager who has created a lucrative overtime golden goose and an upper manager unwilling to stop him, the department is proposing the creation of a layer of insulation between the two. Tucked into Rec and Park's proposed budget under the amorphous heading of "Park Safety Enhancement," the department proposes hiring a chief park patrol officer who'll stand one rung above Santiago and one below Kern.

This non-fix figures to cost the city $150,000.

When asked just what sort of enhancements will be coming via "Park Safety Enhancements," Rec and Park Administration and Finance Director Katie Petrucione states that "among other things," there will be "change in the management structure of the park patrol division."

She's unsure how much of that money will go to a future chief's salary -- though a good rule of thumb is that salary and benefits are split 60/40 (meaning the chief would likely earn around $90,000). When asked what other enhancements are in store, she notes that hiring a new chief is "primarily what we're looking at."

So, "Park Safety Enhancement" is essentially "Hire New Chief."

The park patrol has a budgeted total of 21 officers, 18 slots of which have been filled. Petrucione notes that a new class of seven officers has just recently been hired. As for the fate of Santiago -- who was purportedly on his way out late last year -- Petrucione replied that she has no reason to believe Santiago is going anywhere.

Of course, whether the department hires on a chief is still very much up in the air -- and, even if it happens, it's not happening anytime soon. The proposed budget must survive the Recreation and Park Commission, the mayor's budget office, and, finally, the Board of Supervisors. Assuming this line item isn't cut, no hires could even be made until July -- at the very earliest.

When it comes to the park patrol, change and additional oversight are the only elements not working overtime, it would seem. 

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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