I didn’t attend the April 12 hearing of the Board’s city operations and neighborhood services committee about Lennar’s decision to send an armed ex-SFPD officer to a Feb. 18 community meeting at the Nation of Islam’s mosque on Third Street.
But video footage shows that it was a packed house, during which plenty of folks stated loud and clear that they thought it was a really bad and potentially dangerous idea to send an armed ex-officer into a community meeting in the Bayview.
“What next? Concealed weapons at City Hall?” a member of the public asked.
At meeting’s end, Sups. John Avalos, Carmen Chu, Sean Elsbernd voted to refer a resolution urging Lennar Corporation to issue a formal, written apology to members of the Stop Lennar Action Movement (SLAM.) to the full Board without recommendation, after Elsbernd voiced concern that the ex-officer may have been threatened and had racial epithets hurled his way.
“If the gentleman was threatened, if racial language was used, in that case it should not be one- sided,” Elsbernd said. “There should be apologies on the other side as well.”
Meanwhile, it’s worth shining light on another question: Who was the ex-officer actually working for?
During the meeting, much was made of the fact that the ex-officer, who told police his name was Bob Tarantino though apparently that is not his real name, gave as his work contact an address in Miami, Florida, where PR agency Sitrick and Company, has an office.
(Lennar once sent a Sitrick employee to talk to me and my editors at the Guardian, after we published the first in a series of reports that showed that the company failed to adequately enforce promised asbestos dust mitigation plans at its Shipyard site.)
But Sitrick managing director Glenn Bunting, who oversees the company’s San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Miami offices, told the Guardian that the ex-officer in question has never worked for or been an employee of Sitrick.
“We know who is on our pay roll and we don’t provide security services,” Bunting said.
He confirmed that Sitrick recently opened an office in Miami and sublets space from another firm in the same building. “We have a very small presence in Miami,” Bunting said.
So, who could Tarantino work for who also has the same address in Miami, Florida, where Lennar Corporation is headquartered?
The building in question looks pretty big, lies across the street from the court house and is home to Andrews International, which is headquartered in Los Angeles, and bills itself as “a full service provider of security and risk mitigation services” and the “largest private, American-owned full-service security provider in the United States.”
In October 2009, Andrews International acquired Verasys LLC, a Miami-based consulting firm focused on global risk mitigation, investigations and security services.
“The acquisition added new offices in Miami, Tampa, Dallas, Atlanta and Bogotá, expanding service capabilities in all 50 states and Latin America” an Andrews International press release states.“ This followed the June 2009 acquisition of the U.S. and Mexico guarding operations of Garda World Security Corporation (TSX: GW), encompassing 14 offices across the U.S. and abroad. Most recently in January 2010, Andrews International acquired A&S Security, a California-based full service security company, expanding operations in its Western U.S. Region.”
So, it’s possible Bob Tarantino, or whatever his name is, works for these folks?
Lennar Urban's Kofi Bonner has not replied to this question, as of this blog posting. But in a March 15 letter to Board President David Chiu and D. 10 supervisor Sophie Maxwell, Bonner said he was "working with our vendors to prevent such an episode from happening again."
Bonner's letter wasn't entirely apologetic.
"Lennar has become increasingly concerned that some community meetings have devolved into hostility accompanied by intimidation of our supporters," Bonner stated. "For that reason, I decided against sending any employees or consultants to the meeting in question."
"I am truly disturbed by the ensuing physical and verbal abuse directed at the security firm employee," Bonner continued. "Not surprisingly, he is independently considering his legal options."