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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Leadership at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission - Ed Harrington is retiring.

The Enterprise Agencies in our City and County of San Francisco - are those agencies that generate their own money.

These Enterprise Agencies have a better say as to how to spend that money. This process must be fine tuned and the best accountable practices - fostered and monitored - quarterly by the City and County of San Francisco.

Be it that these Enterprise Agencies come before the San Francisco, Board of Supervisors and have them review in a general way how they spend their money.

A lot of behind the scenes - and wheeling and dealing with the billions expanded at least with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the SF Airport Authority goes on.

In San Francisco the SF Port Authority, the SF Public Utilities Commission, and the SF Airport Authority fall in that category - because both these Agencies deal with BILLIONS of dollars. 

Those Departments that tap into the General Fund have a tougher role to play - constantly parlaying before the SF Board of Supervisors. The behind the scenes deals - it is murky but that is how these politicians play the game.

Back to Ed Harrington - who is the General Manager of the SFPUC and soon will be retiring.

He has held several important jobs with the City and County of San Francisco. The most important being - the Controller of the City and County of San Francisco.

Ed is as astute as they come and not afraid to hold his own ground and rightly so - because the man does his homework and rarely does he speak nonsense.

I have known the man for a long time - and I cannot remember ever finding him speak or discuss on any topic, any important project - in a nonchalant - manner.

The brand new SFPUC building at 525 Golden Gate is nearly complete.

I hope Ed Harrington is there for the ribbon cutting - and I hope they name the building if not some area in that building - a very sustainable building - with a wind generating machine and other very state of art technology that should awe most folks - after him.

Ed Harrington is forward thinking.

It took me a long time to meet him face to face recently - on something that I want to test his brains. He was accompanied by another great employee who sat with Ed while I explained how best we could serve the youth and our City - the great City of San Francisco.

I think Ed Harrington towards the end agreed with my concept. Time will tell.

The SFPUC has evolved a lot - and there is still a lot of work to be done. Many areas within the SFPUC practice blatant discrimination.

Ed Harrington knows this and I am sure he is doing something about it. Others know this and I am sure they better do something about it.

The central treasure chest of the SFPUC is the Hetch Hetchy system - the Hetch Hetchy dam and the relation with a great river - the Tuolumne River.

Few San Franciscans today know the true history of the Hetch Hetchy and the deep scars of yester years. Those that delved into the lives of the First People of the area and a decent White Man - John Muir should fathom what I speak about. 

The SFPU Commissioners and Ed Harrington the General Manager and his Assistant Managers are part of many pertinent decisions.

With the Water System Improvement Project some $4.4 billion dollars have been expanded.

Of this amount some $2.4 from the City and County of San Francisco. The rest from the other regions that SFPUC supplies water to.

This water we are talking about is as pristine as it can be at the Hetch Hetchy dam - the granite walls perform the best containment. The water is pure as they come - especially when such a large volume is contained.

The First People respect this water and each and every time I visit them.

I am respectfully given some water as a precious gift.

I in turn have learned over the many years - to respect this area, the people who preserved this land and water for thousands of years - and have taken a stand before many SFPU Commissioners - and explained my position and the position of the First People.

Ed Harrington knows this and I doubt he will refute my intentions. The First People of the area have been shafted and some way, some how - restitution is in order. Who will dare to do this and do it in a respectful manner?

I worked for the National Park Service with whom the SFPUC works closely in the Yosemite area.

The NPS has not been kind to the First People. This sore point always comes up - why is the White Man so greedy, why does he want it all?

Water is more precious than gold - and the early corrupt politicians from San Francisco understood that perfectly in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The Raker Act of 1913 was used to steal land, dam the water, and bring the precious water from Yosemite National Park all the way to San Francisco.

Most people have not read the Raker Act of 1913 - and that is the problem.

We have shallow, inept, uneducated folks on important issues - that want to debate and I have seen them all.

We have some today within the SFPUC spineless and yet wanting to debate you on a topic they are totally - ignorant about.

The SFPUC continues to manage the assets generated from the selling of hydro-electricity linked to the hydro-electric power and makes a lot money.

We in San Francisco could use the electricity but we dare sell it to Tulare District for less.

SFPUC sells its premium water to over 2.4 million customers. Among them huge corporations - some of them that manufacture stuff, use millions of gallons for cooling purposes and waste a lot of precious water.

The SFPUC generates money from its huge Quarries by Sunol.

Few know about this but this is a fact. What is very disturbing it that - the dust generated from these Quarries - pollute the adjacent area - and the rivers and in the rivers - the fish and other life.

Where is the Precautionary Principle in all of these ploys and machinations?

The SFPUC also has jurisdiction over some areas of transportation. Few know about this - but this is a fact.

Its two waste water plants - the old one on Phelps Street  in the Bayview in the middle of Residential Area -and the new one at Ocean - the ZOO sits on top of it - address the City's run off and sewage. We have a dual system.

Millions of gallons of secondary effluents are dumped per day in the Bay by the Phelps Raw Sewage Plant some eighty percent of the City's Sewage and run off for sure.

At the Ocean plant similarly - some twenty percent goes into the Pacific Ocean.

The SFPUC has not kept up with maintenance of its infrasturcture.

The over 900 miles of sewage pipes in the City and the over 1100 miles of clean water pipes - need emergency - attention. Many are as old as eighty years and more.

We are at the tail end of the Water System Improvement Project - worth some $4.2 billion plus.

Recently, we had a episode where the pipe burst - the pipe was new but the fault was one that should not have triggered and it did.

Folks have come before the SFPU Commissioners and testified that the Hetch Hetchy pipes from the Dam leading to San Francisco - huge pipes have had serious welding programs.

We do not know this for sure - but, woe to us if these welding and the joints fail. We are talking of hundreds of millions of gallons of water that will be wasted.

The Sewer System Improvement Project is about to begin - some $6 billion plus - right in our back yard - and more in the Southeast Sector of San Francisco where the adverse impacts of the Sewage Treatment Plant and other nefarious projects linked to the SFPUC - adverse impact the environment and health of all - life.

The huge disgestors that store and treat the raw sewage will be built from its new foundations.

New pumps here, there and everywhere - costing millions.

New pipes, and new technology complete with contemporary facilities - that will serve San Francisco well.

That is the vision and that is the dream. It all sounds and looks good as a conceptual plan. A conceptual plan is like a dream - you wake up and it can be your worst - nightmare.

All this has been done under the watchful eye of Ed Harrington and my good friend Harlan Kelly - whose forte is infrastructure.

These two men can do their best - having been let down in past years by Pat Martel and Susan Leal who had no idea about sound leadership, less about technical projects, even less about transparency and accountability.

Both festered life style promotions and employed some folks that today continue to cause very serious problems.

There are among the many - decent employees who suffer and do their work at SFPUC. Too many to name and I do not want to despair anyone - the list as I said is long - and if you have played a part and read this article - kudos to you.

The SFPUC has wasted money on consultants - millions of dollars. Few know this but this is a sore fact.

In the past - audits have been done - and I have attended the meetings - and heard the testimony - and the failure of the SFPUC to fine-tune its leadership has been slow and the corruption - very deep.

In some areas at SFPUC that is a culture - much like a honey comb and the Queen bee.

Recently, I came to know about one in the IT Department. Blatant discrimination against a hard working employee who did training for the SFPUC.

He is now working for University of California San Francisco - doing training for them - making more money and ready to sue SFPUC for discrimination and other adverse impacts.

Do not get me wrong the Chief Financial Officer Todd at SFPUC is a good man - so is Harlan Kelly - so is Ed Harrington - so  is Tommy Moala - so is Karen Kubick - that is not the point and despair - there are others too - it is those that adversely impact hundreds.

There are few bad apples - bad managers and these must be weeded out.

Good leaders know the way, show the way, and go the way.

I am calling on Ed Harrington - having spent over 30 years on the out side studying every facet of the SFPUC - to put in place a plan that works - where department heads do not treat those under them like - slaves.

Interfacing on various projects, dealing with various SFPUC personnel - more when I worked with Maintenance Technical Support and the Infrastructure Group at the Presidio of San Francisco with Chuck Swanson - to bring about a holistic change.

It is wrong when say two women from the IT Department gang up against a good, hard working man - that you know Ed Harrington and Todd.

The hard working, decent man - was reduced to tears - each and every day. Then one day - he was told he could not work. Granted that the job was temporary - but the way he was let go - was totally - wrong.

These so called Managers that make six figure salaries are crude and rude and told this man: " We will make life difficult for you - it is better you leave". This is what disgusts me. SFPUC should be NO slave plantation - however, in some areas it is.

It the past we have had nooses placed to intimidate Black Workers - we know this but few have stood to say something - and when some did - they were taunted and fired.

I can point to three or four other examples but it does not do anyone good.

This one example, linked to the Black man who was a good trainer - I dared to vett before some of your Managers - to some extent and learned a lot.

There is no doubt that the Enterprise Departments especially the SF Airport Authority and the SF Public Utilities Commission have been used as stations - to employ some folks as political favors. This nonsense must STOP.

In proportion to the money SFPUC has raked in all these many years from the Southeast Sector it has invested little into the community.

Those doing outreach and pretending to serve the community in the Southeast Sector must be removed.

New folks appointed.

Corruption exists in these area and I am fully aware of it.

Also, at the Southeast Commission Facility and those that must administer the facility - there. Away with the rot and open the window, clean the cobwebs and let fresh air come in.

It does not help to employ folks that know little about the history, less about real environmental issues - creating an anamorphosis and defying those that have dealt wih the real issues.

Folks that love their pay check but have little to offer in terms of values and support for the community at large.
Work with mostly Black sell outs in the community.

I know some about organizations, hard work, and dealing with people.

I served well and won the high distinctions from each of the three General at Sixth U.S Army and Presidio of San Francisco. Some know about this and value my judgement - others think they know better and they can keep on guessing.

Bottom line a new leader will be chosen at SFPUC and it  behoves those to choose an Engineer someone that understands the system.

Some one that has operational experience and has handled many of our projects in this great City.

Please - in this leadership change we do not want some former politician, some puppet that is controlled by consultants and the hawk like politicians that hover above the huge projects costing billions - to fill campaign coffers and fill their own pockets.

The tax payer is the one forking out the billions and will have to pay for it.

If some of you make six figure salaries - have nothing to show to the tax payer - do not one a second thing - we are not watching you.

We want sound leadership at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission - but what is more if want decency, hard work, standards, an amiable disposition and a friendly, just and fair working condition.

Good leaders know the way, show the way, and go the way.