Cleanup wizard in a messy scandal / DPW aide has faced string of complaints

By Lance Williams, Mark Fainaru-Wada, Chronicle Staff Writers : sfgate – excerpt

He transformed a tiny San Francisco gardening co-op into a national model for urban job-training programs. Then he emerged as City Hall’s point man in a high-profile war on grime and graffiti.

But almost from the day in 2000 when he became an executive in the city Department of Public Works, there were complaints about how Mohammed Nuru, the dynamic protégé of then-Mayor Willie Brown, conducted the public’s business.

Nuru has emerged as a central figure in a City Hall scandal involving alleged voting improprieties in the December runoff election won by Mayor Gavin Newsom. But according to public records and interviews, Nuru has been the subject of repeated complaints about alleged mishandling of taxpayers’ funds.

Some staffers complained that Nuru, paid $150,867 a year, bent civil service rules to replace city workers with trainees from the San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners, or SLUG, the nonprofit he formerly ran...(more)