Public Corruption Scandal

Problem Garbage Bins: Product of SF Scandal?

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San Francisco bought $5 million’s worth of garbage bins from a vendor with ties to ousted Public Works director Mohammed Nuru, according to documents obtained by NBC Bay Area.

The distinctive green containers line many of the city’s major streets, emblazoned with the city logo in gold. They are supposed to allow for both garbage and recycling, but San Francisco city Supervisor Aaron Peskin pointed to one outside City Hall this week and said bins are part of the problem, not the solution.

“The garbage can right there is a terrible garbage can -- it’s a joke,  everyone in the town of San Francisco knows it.”

The problem, he says, is that recyclables end up falling into the garbage. And the garbage spills out onto the street surrounding the bin. The doors break open and the bins are easily knocked over onto the street.

“Our streets are littered with trash cans that are helping litter our streets,” Peskin said.

Peskin said he could never understand why Nuru so zealously defended the cans – steadfastly refusing to buy alternatives as too costly -- until now.  

Records obtained by NBC Bay Area’s investigative unit show the vendor for the $1,200 “Renaissance” cans, Alternate Choice LLC, as part of an agreement that ran from January 2018 until January of this year.

State business records show Alternate Choice is jointly run by Walter Wong’s son, Washington Wong and his daughter-in-law, Kaiting Wong, out of Wong’s offices in a building at 13th and Mission streets. Kaiting Wong signed the city contract.

Federal investigators searched Wong’s businesses – including Alternate Choice -- as part of the corruption probe. The City Attorney has since subpoenaed Alternate Choice and other Wong companies in its probe.

While Wong has not been charged,  Nuru as well as a local restaurateur, Nick Bovis, face federal wire fraud charges. Documents in the case refer to a “Contractor 2” – believed to be Walter Wong – as having arranged to provide Nuru to get expensive gifts, including trips to China, in exchange for Nuru helping to get an unnamed development project permitted. The City Attorney issued subpoenas this week for that development, at 555 Fulton Street, as well as firms tied to the Chinese billionaire who allegedly enlisted Wong to help get the project permitted.

No one at Wong’s offices would comment for this story. On Thusrday, the City Attorney revealed that the city did not extend the Alternate Choice contract to supply more garbage cans.

Peskin says when the scandal came to light, he finally understood why Nuru fought so hard, given his evident ties to Wong as revealed by the investigation.

“It finally explained the entire situation,” Peskin said, adding that he hopes to hold hearings starting next week to find out more about the corruption scandal.

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