Cothran

I'm not sure how the Examiner story originated. It would not shock me to the bones to learn that Intelitran had something to do with it. Whether Intelitran was or was not involved in the piece's origins, however, I am quite sure it would gall the Examiner -- a paper that has covered apparent corruption of the city contracting system better than anyone -- to know that its story helped a campaign aimed at steering public money in the direction of a Brown ally and campaign fund-raiser.

It's come time to introduce Jacqueline Besser and explain her role in the para-transit contracting mess. I make this introduction not so much for the benefit of the Monarch of the Dailies, though I hope the Ex does get something out of it, but for the people of San Francisco, who are nearing the day when they will cast votes, and decide whether they want Willie Brown and his gaggle of intimates to continue as a kind of joint-mayor.

You probably don't know Ms. Besser. She is, after all, new to the city, having arrived from Los Angeles in mid-1996, mere months after Willie Brown was inaugurated.

Jackie, as she is called, was one of many Willie pals who decamped to San Francisco after the election. Brown had appointed her to a post on the California Commission on Aging in his last days as Assembly speaker, but the Willie Party Train carried her on to San Francisco. The train also bore Besser's husband, Stephen, an L.A. lawyer who wound up striking what is perhaps one of the smellier deals our mayor has taken part in. Which is saying something.

Monsieur Besser used to work at Christensen, Miller, Fink, Jacobs, Glaser, et. al. In the waning years of his time in the Assembly, Willie also served Christensen, Miller in an "of counsel" capacity. When Willie became mayor in January 1996, the city charter required him to give up the private law practice he had been allowed to engage in while speaker of the Assembly. At about that time, Christensen, Miller "bought" Brown's law firm. Stephen Besser registered as a lobbyist in our fair city and started representing clients with business before the city.

As public money flowed to Besser's clients, and Besser was paid handsomely for successfully representing clients before Willie Brown's government, the law firm he worked for was turning around, each year, and paying money to Willie for "buying" his law firm on some strange kind of installment plan.

But this paper has already discussed Steph-o; this time, we're talking about his wife, Jackie, who is, to be respectful, a player in her own right.

Shortly after arriving in the city, Jackie formed a company called Daja Inc., which does a number of things, including employment services, public relations, lobbying, and airport traffic control, depending on whom you talk to and what city contract is involved. (Besser did not return repeated phone calls last week.)

Jackie is obviously tight with the mayor.
He made her the spokeswoman for his Women's Summit in April 1998.
Willie also made sure Jackie Besser was certified as an officially recognized minority and woman-owned business by the mayorally appointed Human Rights Commission. That designation makes her very attractive to bidders on city contracts. If they toss her a piece of the action, they get points for having a "disadvantaged" subcontractor. Points that give them -- pardon the expression -- advantages, in the competition for city contracts.

So it seems only too natural for Jackie Besser to join the Intelitran contract proposal for the para-transit brokerage. Besser had, after all, already struck up a relationship with a sister firm, Shuttleport, which was vying for a much larger contract managing the shuttle vans, limos, and cabs that serve San Francisco International Airport. (Interesting Note No. 1: Intelitran and Shuttleport are both subsidiaries of ATC/Van-Com. Interesting Note No. 2: Officials told me last week that Jackie Besser and her co-bidders received the highest score in regard to managing vans, limos, and cabs at the airport, and will now enter exclusive negotiating sessions with the airport.)

With Besser riding shotgun, Intelitran could earn points with Muni for having a minority on board its contracting team. Never mind that she would play a small role. And never mind also that Virginia Cerenio is a minority, a Filipina. Besser brought more to Intelitran than her race and gender. She brought oh-so-much more. She brought Willie Brown points.

Jackie Besser is a close friend of the mayor, according to the mayor's campaign spokesman, P.J. Johnston, as well as the wife of a former law partner. That's Brown influence points, squared. She and her husband are also likely to raise scads of money for the mayor's re-election effort. (Jackie, by one report I believe, has already started.) That's Brownie points cubed.

And oh what magic Brownie points work, when it comes to the spending of taxpayer dollars in San Francisco.

If Intelitran comes out the winner in the disabled transit contract war, Besser will apparently benefit. And if Intelitran wins, the city will have definitely set a disturbing precedent in its contracting procedures.

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