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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: San Francisco | Government & Elections
Union Buster & Crooked BART Director Fang From San Francisco Voted For Contractor After Po
A union buster and crooked director of BART now has been exposed as voting contracts from contractors who made political contributions to him
Union Buster & Crooked BART Director Fang From San Francisco Voted For Contractor After Political Contribution
BART Director James Fang acknowledged Thursday that he unwittingly violated an agency limit on campaign contributions, and said he has returned the offending donation and called on the transit district's attorney to suggest ways to simplify the contribution regulations.
"I may have mistakenly taken a campaign contribution that I should not have," Fang said at a BART board meeting. "Maybe we should look at how the board restricts its contributions."
According to a California Watch report, published in The Chronicle, Fang accepted a $7,000 campaign contribution from Kal Krishnan Consulting Services, a company that had a pending bid before the board. The board's policy restricts donations from businesses with pending bids to $1,000.
The BART board changed its policy in 2007, eliminating an outright ban on campaign contributions from firms with pending bids. Some directors said Thursday that the change was needed because some contractors nearly always have bids pending and would be effectively prohibited from making contributions.
- Michael Cabanatuan
E-mail the City Insider team at cityinsider [at] sfchronicle.com.
BART Board Member Fang And Other Directors Wants Cronies To Get Deals In Real Estate Showdown at BART
THE BAY CITIZEN
A Real Estate Showdown at BART
By ZUSHA ELINSON
Published: April 7, 2011
A two-year effort by BART to transform a key transit hub by selling development rights has stalled as rival board members champion their favored developers.
A nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization providing local coverage of the San Francisco Bay Area for The New York Times. To join the conversation about this article, go to baycitizen.org.
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James Fang, a member of the Bay Area Rapid Transit board, has been pushing BART staff and other board members to give the exclusive rights to develop land around the Millbrae BART station to a friend and political supporter, Lawrence Lui. Mr. Lui, who runs San Francisco’s Justin Development, is vying with two others for the Millbrae deal.
TMG, a Bay Area developer, is also in the running, but doesn’t appear to have a cheerleader on the BART board.
A third bidder, Republic Urban of Washington D.C., has won the support of another board member, Joel Keller. Talks have been conducted in closed sessions, and the value of the development rights and of the proposed projects has not been disclosed.
At a recent closed session of the nine-member BART board, a showdown ensued between Mr. Keller and Mr. Fang. According to the two members, Mr. Keller argued for Republic Urban’s proposal to build an office complex; Mr. Fang stood up for Mr. Lui’s plans for a hotel. It ended with the board no closer to a decision.
In an interview, Mr. Fang, the son of Florence Fang, the matriarch of the influential Fang family, acknowledged that Mr. Lui was a friend. But he said that Republic Urban’s “onslaught” of lobbying had tilted the field. “It is so unfair that Republic is putting all this pressure on the BART board,” Mr. Fang said. “The only people that have lobbied on Lawrence’s behalf are me.”
Mr. Keller said in an interview that he preferred Republic Urban because the office complex project would attract more riders. “Did the lobbying influence my decision making?” he said. “I think I would’ve made the same decision from the information presented by the staff.”
The bidding to develop unused parking lots at the station began about two years ago. But talks stalled, to the chagrin of other BART officials.
“It’s a very politically charged environment with these two development teams,” said Tom Radulovich, a BART board member. “They have strong partisans on our board and they’ve terrified the staff, so they’re just throwing information in front of us, hoping we’ll make a decision.”
BART has less stringent rules about political contributions than some local cities. Companies seeking contracts with BART are not barred from making campaign donations, although contributions can’t exceed $1,000.
Mr. Lui donated $1,000 to Mr. Fang’s campaign in September and helped pay for a $10,000 trip to China for local officials organized by Mr. Fang last summer. On the other side, Michael Bernick, a former BART board member who has been lobbying for Republic Urban, donated $450 to Mr. Keller’s campaign.
Both camps say they may negotiate a joint development deal. But whatever happens, Mr. Fang may get some benefit. His mother owns an office building in view of the station. Mr. Fang said that the property did not influence his decision and that the new development would not raise its value.
Video-BART Board Director Fang Calls For "Screwing" The BART Workers & BART Flack Calls For Attacking Bart Workers On The Job
BART Board Director Fang Calls For "Screwing" The BART Workers