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Can Nat Ford Keep His Job as Transit Chief?

Ford's move to DC seems unlikely, and there's growing concern he's lost his credibility

Nat FordNow that it appears unlikely that San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Executive Director Nat Ford is headed to D.C., the focus turns to whether the veteran transit professional can keep his job in San Francisco. While no one we spoke to at City Hall was willing to publicly talk about whether Ford should stay or go, there is a growing concern that he has lost credibility.

“You can’t help asking yourself, ‘Does Nat want to be in San Francisco?’ And because of his actions of wanting to move on to somewhere else, does San Francisco want Nat?” Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi remarked.

The decision will ultimately be up to the SFMTA Board of Directors, which has the power to hire and fire the agency's executive director. Chairman Tom Nolan told the Chronicle that buying out Ford’s contract, at a cost of $390,000, was “in the range of logical possibilities,” but so was “maintaining the status quo.”

However, Mirkarimi, the chairman of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority Board, said “they can’t pretend that everything is OK just because Nat didn’t get the job in Washington.”

“The bell has already been rung. The question is what do you do about that, and is there an honest relationship that can be brokered either temporarily or for a structured period of time that makes it very clear what we want within that time frame, or that framework,” Mirkarimi said.

Supervisor Scott Wiener said it was an especially critical time for the SFMTA, considering the agency is currently in the midst of collective bargaining and reforming work rules for Muni operators.

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