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San Francisco NAACP calls on City Attorney Dennis Herrera to resign

August 17, 2011

The African American faith and civil rights leadership believe candidate Herrera shows clear conflict in slandering hard working city department head he is obligated to represent

by the San Francisco NAACP

On Aug. 5, Mohammed Nuru was promoted from deputy director to director of the San Francisco Department of Public Works when former director, Ed Reiskin, was named to head Muni. As the city’s only Black currently heading a major department, he is now in charge of the 1,200 employees and the $129 million budget at DPW, where he has worked for 11 years. Nuru is remembered in the Black community for developing a small nonprofit, the San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners (SLUG), into a powerful and positive force creating and maintaining organic gardens that gave hundreds of youngsters their first jobs and provided nourishing fresh food for the community.
San Francisco – Dennis Herrera should apologize to the African American community, to Mohammed Nuru and to Mayor Lee and he should immediately resign. He cannot be a candidate for mayor and the city attorney, who is supposed to represent Mohammed Nuru.

Rev. Amos Brown, president of the San Francisco branch of the NAACP, held a news conference Tuesday on the steps of City Hall to denounce Herrera’s comments. According to the San Francisco Examiner, “Brown said Herrera is playing ‘racial politics.’”

“’If [Nuru] was guilty of what they accused him of, they would have locked his butt up and thrown the key away,’ Brown said, adding that Herrera owes Nuru an apology,” the Examiner reported. Herrera accused Nuru of directing workers at the San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners (SLUG), which he formerly headed, to campaign for Gavin Newsom for mayor and Kamala Harris for district attorney in the 2004 election.

Rev. Dr. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP, surrounded by NAACP members at a press conference Tuesday, defended newly appointed DPW Director Mohammed Nuru and called on City Attorney and mayoral candidate Dennis Herrera to resign for slandering Nuru. – Photo: Paul Chinn, San Francisco Chronicle
By attacking Mohammed Nuru and Mayor Lee’s support of his appointment, Dennis Herrera has shown he is willing to put his political agenda and campaign ahead of the city’s interests and his own responsibilities as city attorney.

He has slandered Mr. Nuru, a qualified, long-serving public servant who neighborhood leaders and Supervisors across this city know as a responsive and effective public works leader who has earned this opportunity to lead the department, which City Administrator Amy Brown and Mayor Lee have recognized.

If Mr. Nuru committed any wrongdoing seven years ago, why didn’t Dennis Herrerra, who was city attorney at the time, charge Mr. Nuru with anything?

Dennis Herrera knows that Mr. Nuru is among San Francisco’s most dedicated African American public servants. He is available 24/7 to this city and to the community, whether it is cleaning our streets, removing graffiti and working with small business leaders to keep our city clean and green. He has earned this opportunity to be director of Public Works.

Dennis Herrera is the city’s lawyer, and now he has undermined his effectiveness by attacking Mohammed Nuru. Countless litigators will cite Herrera’s statements against the city now, undermining the city’s legal defense and potentially costing taxpayers millions of dollars in litigation.

There could be no greater conflict of interest. And all this from a man who is subject now to an open ethics commission investigation into illegal lobbying by his campaign consultants. This should be an outrage to every San Franciscan.

Mohammed Nuru’s accomplishments shine light on his ability to lead the organization and manage complex issues. Following is a list of some of his accomplishments.

  • Developed and implemented programs that raise awareness around street cleanliness, focusing on providing key services to communities that need them most:
    • Community Corridors Partnership Program
    • Eco Blitzes and Night Walks
    • Spruce Up by Sun Up
  • Transformed underutilized public spaces into green space called street parks and providing the means to reinvigorate the public realm in order to maximize limited space through parklets under the Pavement to Parks Program. Also led efforts to beautify and green many of our street medians. Created Arbor Day, which is celebrated annually to raise awareness around the benefits of street trees. Led efforts to plant thousands of street trees in San Francisco.
  • Led the Community Clean Team, now in its 11th year providing residents the opportunity to volunteer in various greening and cleaning activities. This initiative has contributed to countless hours of work that DPW would otherwise have to complete with city resources. DPW has hosted and recruited thousands of volunteers.
  • Hosted special neighborhood clean ups throughout the city and empowered residents to take care of their streets.
  • Increased membership and participation in community programs such as Adopt a Street and Graffiti Watch.
  • Spearheaded the 7501 Apprenticeship Program, which provides job training and the experience for underserved individuals to qualify and apply for jobs in various construction trades.
  • Increased efficiencies through performance management to help balance the citywide budget and identified cost savings while preserving front line resources which are critical to the day to day operations of the city.
  • Improved cleanliness scores on city streets and sidewalks, outlined the Controller’s Street and Sidewalk Maintenance Report and improved service request response times.
Alemany Farm, a thriving urban farm next to the Alemany public housing development, was developed on a 4.5 acre former dump by the San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners (SLUG) under the direction of Mohammed Nuru.
Mohammed Nuru has been honored and recognized with numerous awards:

  • Most Empowering City Employee of the Year Award from Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, NEN Awards Ceremony – November 2010
  • Certificates of Recognition from Congresswoman Jackie Spier, Sen. Mark Leno and Speaker Pro Tempore Fiona Ma – November 2010
  • Mission Neighborhood Center’s “Unsung Hero Award” – April 2010
  • Municipal Fiscal Advisory Committee’s Certificates of Merit in recognition of managerial excellence and achievement – February 2009 and February 2010
  • Certificate of Appreciation from Police Chief Heather Fong for outstanding contributions in improving the quality of life for those who live in, work in or visit San Francisco – May 2009
  • Community Leadership Academy and Emergency Response Project (CLAER) Award in recognition of outstanding and sustained support for residents of public housing and at risk youth – 2008
  • Certificate of Merit in Recognition of Managerial Excellence and Achievement from San Francisco Municipal Advisory Committee – February 2008
  • Certificates of Honor from San Francisco Board of Supervisors for dedication in responding to Cosco Busan oil spill – January 2008 and rejuvenation of Broadway Tunnel in an efficient, timely manner – February 2003
  • Certificate of Appreciation and Honorary Title as San Francisco “Chinatown Gatekeeper”
  • Customer Service Award for Outstanding Customer Service performed as an employee of City and County of San Francisco – April 7, 2003

For more information, contact Amos Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP, at (415) 922-0650 or via Bay View staff contributed to this story.


2 thoughts on “San Francisco NAACP calls on City Attorney Dennis Herrera to resign

  1. Ellen

    I don't know what the politics of this whole thing are, but I know that for the Portola neighborhood in the neglected SE sector, Mohammed Neru has been very responsive.


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