She'll Be Back

It's time once again to play Whac-A-Mole with politically connected, mayorally appointed ex-Supervisor, mayorally appointed ex-Treasure Island director, mayorally appointed ex-director of the Office of Emergency Services, and mayoral goddaughter Annemarie Conroy. Every time she pops up in a newly appointed, highly paid position for which her qualifications seem to be her pedigree and her friendships, she gets bitch-slapped by the Board of Supervisors or shuffled by whoever is mayor to a better-paid position. And we thought this kind of entitlement to the public payroll was reserved for Willie Brown's girlfriends.

Conroy's most recent position as Chair of the Super Urban Area Security Initiative under S.F.'s new Department of Emergency Management — better described as a quarter-of-a-million-dollar-a-year meeting attendee — was axed on Dec. 5 by a unanimous vote of the Board of Supervisors as redundant and unnecessary. (It didn't help that her salary ate up a sizeable chunk of the discretionary Homeland Security funds the city is due to receive this year.)

Goddaughter of former Mayor Frank Jordan, Conroy had already been demoted from executive director of the OES, after a widely reported audit of the department found many areas lacking under her leadership. The study's conclusions ranged from the alarming (missing emergency plans, lack of coordination with other agencies, ineffective tracking of emergency equipment) to the absurd (too many managers: one for every 1.5 staffers).

Conroy's supporters — none bigger than Gavin Newsom — have pointed out that she has attended the vaunted Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, where she studied part time for her master's degree in disaster management (taxpayers paid for her $40,000 tuition, plus meals, hotel, and travel). But one would hope that the head of OES would be beyond the "I'm going to school part time to get my master's" stage. (Conroy and her former boss, Laura Phillips, did not return calls or e-mails for this article.)

Her OES job made many people nervous. According to a comprehensive study presented at the Seismological Society of America's 2006 meeting in San Francisco, a 1906-style quake today would be catastrophic for the region, with tens of thousands of buildings destroyed, hundreds of thousands of people left homeless, and thousands killed and injured. And, the study warns, "San Francisco would sustain the most damage." But hey, some things are just more important, and this bloodline is too blue to be unemployed. It won't be long before she pops up from another bureaucratic hole.

 
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