Ex-Muni chief Nathaniel Ford is unlikely to take over as BART general manager despite speculation, but both transit agencies will be interviewing candidates this week for their respective top jobs.
BART has been without a permanent general manager since April 23, when Dorothy Dugger resigned under pressure from the board of directors. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, has been led by an interim director since July 1, when Ford stepped down.
A recent news report speculated that Ford is on the short list of candidates to replace Dugger. However, members of BART’s board dismissed that claim Monday.
"In this director’s opinion, those reports are 100 percent wrong," said BART board member Lynette Sweet. And Director Tom Radulovich called the report "not accurate."
Ford did not return a call for comment.
BART’s board has closed-session meetings related to the search today and Wednesday, and Sweet said directors will interview seven candidates Wednesday and Thursday.
Sweet said the agency could name a replacement by week’s end. Radulovich and fellow Director James Fang, however, said an announcement is likely to take several weeks. BART board Chairman Bob Franklin said it probably wouldn’t be until the end of September before Dugger’s official replacement is named.
No director would reveal applicant names due to concern that candidates could lose their existing jobs if it was known they were looking for other work.
SFMTA board Chairman Tom Nolan said his seven-person body will sit down today for the first time as a group to interview candidates for its executive director position. Unlike BART’s search, which reached out internationally, the SFMTA has focused on finding a local candidate.
Since word came that Ford would be leaving the agency, the rumored favorite to replace him has been Ed Reiskin, the current director of The City’s Department of Public Works.
Nolan would not release the names of the SFMTA’s list of candidates, but he said Reiskin "would not be the only person interviewed."
He said the agency’s list of candidates is fewer than six people.
The chairman said it’s conceivable his agency could make a decision today, although he added there isn’t any established timetable.
BART is currently being led by Sherwood Wakeman, and the SFMTA is being run by Debra Johnson. The BART board hired Wakeman on a strictly interim basis, while Johnson has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Ford.
High cost of saying goodbye
$958,000: Dorothy Dugger’s severance package from BART
$612 million: BART operating budget
$384,000: Nathaniel Ford’s severance package from SFMTA
$767 million: SFMTA operating budget
Sources: BART, SFMTA