Mixed reactions on Muni CEO's 'golden parachute'

June 21, 2011 7:36:51 PM PDT
The top man at Muni is on his way out. And when he leaves at the end of the month, Muni Executive Director and CEO Nat Ford will walk away with hundreds of thousands of dollars in severance money. Some are fine with it, but others believe it is a bit much.

Ford's departure from Muni marks the end of an era.

"I've gotten, over the last five and a half years, a great deal done, everything from the central subway to the transit effectiveness project, SF Park," Ford said.

But Ford is leaving under a cloud after it became known that he was considering other job offers.

Mayor Ed Lee denied being behind a move to push him out of the position.

"All I've said is I want a director and management to be 150 percent committed, because it takes that," Lee said.

There are 700,000 passengers who take Muni every day. Dan Murphy is with a riders group called Rescue Muni and is a member of the agency's citizens advisory council.

"I think he does leave a positive legacy, he leaves the system better off than he found it," Murphy said.

Ford leaves with a golden parachute of $384,000 in severance pay.

Muni riders have mixed reactions.

"It is, it's fine with me," one rider said.

"Nice work if you can get it; it's a lot," said another.

"It was something mutually agreed upon between me and my board and I'm not asking for anything more than I'm entitled to," Ford said of his severance package.

Ford's buyout is significantly lower than the nearly $1 million severance package BART's former director Dorothy Dugger received. Still St. Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, who is running for mayor, collected more than 1,200 signatures from city residents who feel Ford's package goes too far.

"Reality is, Muni has a deficit, the city has a deficit, there are so many challenges, for us to waste $400,000 is unconscionable," Yee said.

Yee had hoped the MTA board would reconsider the buyout, but that did not happen. Ford leaves the agency at the end of the month.


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