The billionaire's mayor - Page 5

Mayor Ed Lee calls himself a progressive — but rich, powerful conservatives are funding his campaign

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Among them was Zula Jones, who worked at the city's Human Rights Commission (HRC) and was indicted by a grand jury in April 2000 on charges that she allowed a construction company, Scott Co. of San Leandro, to game the city's minority business certification by creating a false minority-owned contracting company with a Brown donor. The phony front, Scott-Normal Mechanical, Inc., received $64 million in city contracts. According to a 2002 San Francisco Chronicle story, federal investigators found documents they'd subpoenaed next to a paper shredder in Jones' office — but a judge ruled the evidence was inadmissible, and charges against her were dropped.

In March of 2010, Lee presented Jones with a Community Advocate of the Year award at a banquet hosted by Global Arts and Education to celebrate International Women's Day. Former Mayor Brown hosted the event.

Another person who turned up at the Run, Ed, Run kickoff was Frank Chiu, who headed up the Department of Building Inspection under Brown's administration. In 2000, the FBI investigated that department for possible kickbacks and allegedly pressuring permit seekers to use specific contractors. In 2003, the San Francisco Civil Grand Jury issued a report concluding that the department gave "breaks to politically connected developers," by accelerating approval for their projects.

Also in attendance was Walter Wong, who worked as a consultant to companies seeking project approval from DBI. He came under scrutiny for his cozy relationships with DBI officials, and a 2001 Chronicle article noted that Wong "is often spotted behind the counter before business hours at [DBI], which passes judgment on almost all construction in the city." The article noted his close ties to Brown and Pak.

In the late 1990s, when Lee served as City Purchaser under Mayor Brown, a company called GSCI was approved as a contractor for DBI even though it was repeatedly rejected by city staff. The company won millions in city contracts, but came under federal investigation for setting up a kickback scheme to defraud the city.

According to the transcript of a deposition carried out by the law firm Gonzalez & Leigh, Deborah Vincent-James — who oversaw contracting for technology companies and has since passed away — testified that GCSI didn't meet the minimum qualifications (See "Dirty Business," Feb. 8, 2011). "From day one, I knew that they were not qualified," Vincent-James' deposition transcript reads. She went on to say that the official city process for evaluating contractors was "totally bypassed." Nonetheless, "We had to admit them." Asked who told her they had to be admitted, she responded, "The director of purchasing. Ed Lee." She went on to testify that Lee had been acting under the direction of Mayor Brown, who had ties to GCSI principals. When the Guardian contacted Lee for a response to that story, his office did not respond.

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