Senator Yee Alleges Central Subway
Waste, Fraud and Abuse

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News, Politics

Published on September 27, 2011 with 10 Comments

Senator and mayoral candidate Leland Yee held a press conference yesterday on the steps of City Hall to draw attention to allegations of Central Subway project financial improprieties. Photo by Luke Thomas.

By Luke Thomas

September 27, 2011

Alleging waste, fraud and abuse, State Senator and mayoral candidate Leland Yee called on interim Mayor Ed Lee yesterday “to come clean” and release documents related to the Central Subway project.

“We have in recent days and weeks seen revelations of extraordinary waste and abuse in the Central Subway project,” Yee, who supports the Central Subway project, said to a bevy of reporters on the steps of City Hall. “The problem is, it was revealed last week that CCDC (Chinatown Community Development Corporation) received fees of $750 per hour simply to attend a meeting, $25 thousand to hold a community meeting, and $578 for one individual to come to CCDC to just get information about the Central Subway.”

Allegations of Central Subway financial improprieties were first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.

With Lee’s poll numbers hovering around 30 percent, politicizing the Central Subway project has become a central issue in this year’s race for mayor.  City Attorney and fellow mayoral candidate Dennis Herrera has also criticized the project, calling the design “deeply flawed.”

A Civil Grand Jury report entitled “Central Subway: Too Much Money for Too Little Benefit” concluded the Central Subway project “should be redesigned.”

The public has a “right to know what has been happening” with the funding of the project and “how the dollars are being allocated and spent,” Yee added. “We just need to understand what is the relationship, what are the arrangements between the mayor’s office and CCDC on this particular project.”

Calling the fees paid to CCDC “exorbitant,” Yee submitted a public records request seeking all contract details and correspondences between the Mayor’s office, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority, the City Administrator’s office, CCDC and Chinatown powerbroker Rose Pak.

Pak was a central figure behind the Run, Ed, Run campaign and works as a consultant for the Chinese Chamber of Commerce.  She is also loosely affiliated with CCDC.

Holding up a golden chair to symbolize waste and abuse, Yee said, “We have heard about golden parachutes.  We have heard about golden hammers.  This is a golden chair. These golden chairs that are being charged to the tax payers of San Francisco is absolutely reprehensible.”

Yee said the alleged waste and abuses of public funding for the Central Subway is “undermining the project,” referring to threats of federal funding cuts from Congress.

Lee campaign spokesperson Tony Winnicker, who also attended Yee’s press conference, responded saying, “This is clearly a stunt for a desperate and floundering campaign.  I think Senator Yee has spent too much time in Sacramento and doesn’t really understand how San Francisco government works anymore.”

“Most people when they want to submit a public records request send an email or a letter,” Winnicker added. “They don’t have to hold a press conference. He’s just trying to make something out of nothing.”

Asked what he thinks about the high fees paid to CCDC, Winnicker said, “My understanding is that the math on that is a bit fuzzy and when you break it down it doesn’t really come to that.”

Winnicker said all the documentation Yee is requesting, “Will be, I believe, handed over within hours.”

“Elections are about pushing issues in front of voters and letting them make the decision” Yee campaign consultant Jim Stearns said responding to FCJ inquiry.  “If the voters think there’s something rotten going on in City Hall and the MTA, they know what to do.”

“We fully expect the mayor’s office and the MTA to give us the documents, and when they do then I think we’re going to find a lot of things there that are going to surprise people,” Stearns added.

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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Comments for Senator Yee Alleges Central Subway
Waste, Fraud and Abuse
are now closed.

  1. Apropos of FA.
    Just taking a trip down Memory Lane. Hope the young’uns hang in there and occupy the Whole Damn World.

  2. @Annie.

  3. I hadn’t had time to take in this Central Subway issue till last night’s SF Green Party General Membership meeting, where Terry Baum’s campaign manager finally explained that it not only doesn’t connect to BART or MUNI lines, only CalTrans. I’m all for mass transpo, but noooooooo . . . .bad idea for the City to make such a costly investment in the gentrification of Chinatown.

  4. its really funny the way Leland Yee simply HATES everyone !!!
    Super HILARIOUS ” Greedy Man of San Francisco”

    Mayor Lee “Don’t Let The Devil Win”

  5. Totally off subject, but let’s pause for a moment and remember another one our true Sheroes.

  6. “The Ramp To Nowhere”
    I know it’s kinda like picking on a loser, but have to repost this, for M A-P in particular, but all of them in general.
    Did you get her most recent mailer !! Either a ton of pancake or serious airbrushing.

  7. Disenfranchised, or disinterested? Can you blame them for being disinterested? Willie Brown was the most popular politician in the history of the Bayview.
    Adachi is the only candidate taking on the elephant in the room (pensions) –
    Ed Lee lied to the Board about running for Mayor – his ability to work with the Board is forever damaged.
    Leland Yee lied about where he lived to get his kid in a particular school, preventing someone else who deserved entrance admissions, and saving himself tens of thousands of dollars.
    Avalos is Daly lite. He throws out small bites to the 500 or so progressives that support him (SF Bike Coalition and those that want to close Sharp Park), and offers nothing else to the residents of SF.

  8. Also,

    It keeps people too busy to think about sun tan lotion and 33,000 disenfranchised voters in the Bay View.

    All of the candidates are deeply flawed except for Baum and Adachi and Avalos.

    When’s a common washing machine worth $15,000? When the City of SF is paying for it.

    That’s Item #7 before today’s Full Board.

    Go Giants!


  9. Yee and Herrera’s video linking of Ed Lee to Rose Pak and Willie Brown has caused them to respond. Finally, someone in San Francisco politics is challenging this corruption head on. If Yee and Herrera were not on target, the Lee campaign would not have responded.

    This needs to continue relentlessly until election day. The more that Ed Lee can be put on the defensive, the better a chance there is of finally ousting Willie Brown’s corrupt regime from City Hall.

    This is truth slinging, not mud slinging. And it is the only way to expose Ed Lee as the front man for very real political corruption, illegitimate claims on the public purse, the magnitude of which dwarfs any potential unfunded public employee pension liabilities.