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Director of Policy and Public Affiars
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City & County of San Francisco
Sarah Ballard, spokeswoman for the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, previously said the permit was rejected because of water shortage and forest safety issues.
That followed an April 20 e-mail to the Commonwealth Club's Executive Assistant, Ross Lawley, sent by Sarah Ballard, RPD's director of policy and public affairs, which read:
"The Sunshine Ordinance Task Force ("Task Force") hereby provides notification of willful failure and official misconduct findings against Phil Ginsburg and Sarah Ballard of the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department for failure to comply with the Order of Determination ("Order") issued on August 8, 2011 in sunshine complaint No. 11049, George Wooding v. Recreation and Parks Department." Mark Buell, Phil Ginsberg, Sarah Ballard, and secretary Olive Gong were all found guilty of San Francisco Administrative Code §67.21 (not assisting the requestor of documents), §67.25 (failure to respond to immediate document disclosure requests), §67.26 (withholding documents), or §67.27 (failure to justify the withholding of public records). A highly embarrassed Sarah Ballard produced testimony that was so incredulous, that even the Ethics Commission's then-president, Benjamin Hur, had trouble believing her. HUR: I have some questions, particularly for Miss Ballard. Miss Ballard, I'm looking at Figure 1, which is the email that you sent to Ross Lawley on April 20. BALLARD: I don't retain sent emails. BALLARD: If I had a copy of a contract that was sent as an attachment, I would assume that would … I would save that either on our server or on my desktop. BALLARD: I don't retain sent documents. BALLARD: I don't believe it is. HUR: At all? BALLARD: Correct. Had this involved a criminal case against Ballard, the City would have searched high and low on the redundant back-up servers to locate the e-mails Ballard claims she doesn't personally retain, and you can bet the City would have located them. But Ballard, sporting a straight face, managed to hoodwink Hur. "She [Ballard] has not been forthcoming to this body or to any of us.
"One of our goals is to enhance the visitor experience," said Sarah Ballard, a spokeswoman for the Recreation and Park Department.
The question of food will be "part of the continuing conversation" about the agreement, Ballard said, with any final decision coming after the facility reopens. The $1.7 million renovation of the 80-year-old tower began last year with replacement of the roof, according to San Francisco Rec and Parks spokeswoman Sarah Ballard. This year's closure will allow for the second phase of renovations, which include the repair of cracks on exterior walls, door and window replacements, lead paint abatement, upgrades to mechanical, plumbing and building systems and exterior lighting and accessibility improvements, officials said. In addition, the building's iconic interior murals, which were painted in 1934 by a group of artists under the Public Works of Art Project, will undergo restoration under the supervision of the San Francisco Arts Commission, Ballard said. Ballard said the renovations were phased to avoid a closure during peak tourist season. "We've been moving toward this for the past year and a half," said Sarah Ballard, a spokeswoman for the Recreation and Park Department, which is responsible for Coit Tower. Last year's city budget put aside $1.5 million for the rehabilitation work, Ballard said. Since the art restoration will have to be coordinated with the work on the inside of the tower, it could cause some delays, said Ballard. "There's a possibility the restoration work will continue even after the tower is reopened," she said. "Anytime you open up a building that's as old as this, that's always a risk," Ballard said. The parks department will schedule a neighborhood meeting about the proposed closure, most likely near the end of the month, Ballard said.
Rec and Park spokeswoman Sarah Ballard said the department hopes to have a new vendor in place later this year, by 2013, and the future of private events at the tower has not been determined.
But wet weather put off work for much of the winter, and worse-than-expected conditions on the roof meant that work took longer than expected, said Sarah Ballard, a spokeswoman for the Recreation and Park Department, which manages the property. The roof fix is now expected to be finished later this month. More extensive, long-term fixes - sealing cracks in the exterior, replacing tiles and surfaces, fixing the bathrooms and electrical systems, and improving access for disabled people, all of which must be completed before the murals can be restored - were originally scheduled to begin in January and finish by May 1, according to documents presented to city officials in October. That work will now begin in October, after the high tourist season ends, Ballard said.
The building is expected to reopen in mid-April. "We've been moving toward this for the past year and a half," said Sarah Ballard, a spokeswoman for the Recreation and Park Department, which is responsible for Coit Tower.
A recent roofing project on the second floor of the tower, for example, was expected to take two months but actually took six months to complete, as more problems wereÂ discovered. "Anytime you open up a building that's as old as this, that's always a risk," Ballard said. "We hope everything goes smoothly, but we have money put aside in case something unforeseen comesÂ up." A shutdown was the last thing visitors were thinking about Wednesday in the bright morning sunshine on Telegraph Hill. The observation deck provided a stunning, 360-degree view of the city and the bay, from North Beach and the Embarcadero to the Golden Gate Bridge and the BerkeleyÂ hills. "I've been to San Francisco before, but this is my first time at Coit Tower," said Jane London, who was visiting with her family from Portland, Ore. "There's just nothing likeÂ it." The parks department will schedule a neighborhood meeting about the proposed closure, most likely near the end of the month, Ballard said.
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