S.F. payouts under fire

San Francisco, which pays out millions of dollars annually to settle claims against The City, has questionable risk-management practices, according to a new civil grand jury report obtained by The Examiner.

The 19-member panel found that although The City has an Office of Risk Management, the department is understaffed, with fewer than five employees who have limited duties that do not include consulting with city departments regarding risks and ways in which risks might be reduced.

The report, titled “Risk Management: Are the Managers Managing the Risks of The City?” notes that some departments, including the port and the airport, have insurance coverage.

Others, including high-risk departments such as Muni, the Police Department and the Department of Public Works, are self-insured, meaning The City pays out funds needed for claim settlements and unfavorable judgments through the general fund.

“The civil grand jury is unaware of any studies or analysis that supports the economic benefit of The City’s policy of self-insurance,” notes the report.

City Controller Ed Harrington said that “it’s always worth taking another look” to see if self-insurance is the best practice for The City, but added that when he worked within the offices of Muni, he did compare the costs of obtaining insurance to paying directly for claims — “and at that time it was not cost-beneficial to do it.”

Harrington said that most affordable insurance policies available to municipalities had high deductibles and liability caps.

Matt Dorsey, spokesman for the city attorney, said that because the civil grand jury report had not been officially released, he could not offer a detailed response on Thursday. The report is pre-dated for release Monday.

The report also references a 2001 report prepared by the Board of Supervisors budget analyst, reviewing claims, settlements and litigation data for The City.

The report focuses on the four city departments with the most frequent claims, litigation cases and settlement costs: Muni, the Department of Parking and Traffic, the Department of Public Works and the Police Department.

Muni, which had the highest costs, paid out more than $24 million during a period of three years, from 1996 to 1999, for claims and litigation cases.

Muni spokeswoman Maggie Lynch said that officials for The City’s public transportation agency were still reviewing the civil grand jury report and thus would not be able to respond to its findings or recommendations.

beslinger@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocalneighborhoods

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

District Attorney Chesa Boudin announces charges against former SFPD Officer Christopher Samoyoa in the 2017 fatal shooting of Keita O’Neill at a press conference outside the Hall of Justice on Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
DA Boudin charges fired SFPD officer with manslaughter over fatal shooting

Ex-Officer Christopher Samayoa to face criminal charges in killing of Keita O’Neil

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, during a news conference on March 10, 2020. (Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
LA County suspends outdoor dining at restaurants as coronavirus surges

By Alex Wigglesworth Los Angeles Times Los Angeles County public health officials… Continue reading

Renderings of the main entrance to upcoming Mission Bay elementary school on Owens Street. (Courtesy photo)
SFUSD offers first look at planned Mission Bay elementary school

San Francisco school officials this month unveiled the design of a planned… Continue reading

James Coleman (Courtesy Morgan McCarthy)
Young progressive set to shake up South City

The 21-year-old is the newest Councilmember for District 4

Arturo Mendez, co-curator of the Mission Arts Performance Project, invites artists of all types to participate in the free-wheeling community program. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Mission Arts Performance Project could be poised for a comeback

Before the pandemic, the Mission Arts Performance Project, the roving multimedia art… Continue reading

Most Read