OES Director Conroy Under Attack

by Rita Mandelenis on May 18, 2006

Director Annemarie Conroy of San Francisco’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) came under blistering attack yesterday from the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee. Conroy was questioned about her salary, tuition costs, and letters of support from various city agencies. When city agencies and the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods submitted letters complimenting Conroy and her staff, Committee Chairman Chris Daly questioned why these letters were written. Conroy admitted that she, amongst others, solicited city agencies to write these letters of support.

Board of Supervisors Budget Analyst Harvey Rose spearheaded the audit of OES, which found that large amounts of money were being wasted and proposed 72 recommendations. The report suggested that there were many staffing issues because there is one management position for every 1.5 workers. Also, OES has only spent 1 percent of $22.5 million toward disaster preparedness training.

Currently Conroy makes $162,000 annually, plus her tuition costs. She is studying for her masters degree in disaster management from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey—estimated at $40,000 of government money.

Supervisor Mirkarimi asked if Conroy sought out the Mayor’s permission to attend the school, being that it is located so far away from San Francisco. She responded by saying that she was one of 30 people chosen by the Department of Homeland Security for this program that has been referred to as “on the job training.” The Committee also spoke of allotting a maximum amount of time the Director is allowed to spend outside of the city.

Mirkarimi attended a similar training program and said that, “When I was finished I wasn’t clear what I got from it. The dialogue was not what I expected and I thought things would be discussed more truthfully and openly.”

Conroy even suggested that it would be easier to speak to the Committee without the television cameras. Daly quickly retorted how much we would loose from taking this discussion outside the public arena.

The Director and OES were accused of poor communication between the city and numerous entities such as BART. Lynnette Sweet, representing BART, attested to the communication problems. She stated that in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake BART was the main source of transportation to and from the city, and still is. She advocated that much more attention needs to be given to BART in case of an emergency, especially since the lack funding.

Conroy was even asked if she thought that her position should be eliminated, per recommendation of the Budget Analyst. She responded no, and it would be a great disservice to the city and county of San Francisco.

President Peskin stated that this was an issue for the Mayor, even though Conroy may make more money than him.

(Ed note: Because the above item was heard for five hours, Beyond Chron was unable to cover the hearing on the minimum wage enforcement legislation. That measure was heard and then continued for another two weeks.)

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