During Tuesday's MTA Board meeting, Steve Heminger, left, described any agency funds going to departed transit chief John Haley as "outrageous." Current MTA boss Jeffrey Tumlin, upper right, agreed.

Members of the Municipal Transportation Association board were gobsmacked last night to learn that John Haley is listed as a highly paid contractor within a pair of pending contracts valued at $5 million.

Haley is tucked away on page 54 of a 151-page document, along with a small army of other contractors and subcontractors. Haley is now employed by SYSTRA consulting, a subcontractor for contract-winner Auriga Corporation.

This is problematic, because Haley resigned under duress in 2018 as transit director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, following complaints and lawsuits alleging rampant sexual harassment and discrimination. Earlier this year, the city reached settlements in two cases against Haley. But a former SFMTA employee saw fit to file another suit vs. Haley, alleging he was retaliated against for cooperating in an HR investigation of Haley’s alleged sexual harassment and forced into early retirement.

Within his capacity of transit director, Haley was an architect of Muni’s self-induced 2018 summer meltdown, during which buses were clandestinely shunted away from the agency’s core lines to backfill missed tram runs during repair work on Twin Peaks Tunnel.

These massive service cuts to Muni’s most-used bus lines came with no public warning to riders or even the mayor’s office. Cynically, Muni’s transit officials seem to have used the public’s hyperbolically low opinion of Muni as cover.

Both members of the public and city officials reacted with surprise and horror at the notion of throwing work Haley’s way.

“I will say that if it’s true that John Haley is part of either of these teams, it’s outrageous,” said MTA board member Steve Heminger during the meeting. “I certainly hope our director will ensure that no work finds its way to him.”

Put on the spot, MTA director Jeffrey Tumlin agreed.

John Haley. SFMTA photo.

“That was news to me as well,” he said. “I have been frantically texting with our IT and transit directors, both to confirm that and to make a commitment that, no, we will not be working with John Haley, for whom many people at the agency have deep feelings about.”

Haley’s name was spotted in the 151-page document by longtime transit watchdog David Pilpel — who, evidently, reads these contracts more tightly than many agency officials. He mentioned Haley during public comment session.

Mission Local today got a hold of Lisa Walton, the MTA’s Chief Technology Officer. She confirmed that John Haley will not be getting any work from his former place of employment. “I don’t need him,” she said. “I never have to use him. Never.”

So, what happened? Walton explained that, as a matter of transparency, it was disclosed that Haley is in the employ of SYSTRA, which is a subcontractor for Auriga, the prime contractor.

But, she went on, this is an IT contract, and deals with matters outside of Haley’s area of expertise, operations and management. And, she said, the many contractors listed are essentially a roster of workers she could choose to throw work to. Or not not throw work to.

“I wanted it to be understood he works there. I didn’t want anyone thinking we weren’t being transparent,” she said. “But I’m looking for technical expertise: system engineering, system integration, server configuration, network configuration, cyber security. I can’t even imagine how I would engage [Haley]. I don’t need him. I need technical people.”

Walton said that, via SYSTRA, Haley is presently working for BART. BART officials confirmed that SYSTRA is presently contracted to upgrade the computer-based train control system (CBTC). An email to SYSTRA inquiring what projects Haley is working on has not yet been returned.

Internal Muni employees who’d long been critical of Haley — and of the former MTA boss Ed Reiskin, who never saw fit to dismiss him — said they were still uneasy.

But they also said that any past, present or future payments to Haley would generate records and come out. “Hopefully,” one said, “this isn’t a thing.”

Update, Nov. 19: SYSTRA USA’s West Coast chief strategy and growth officer Frédéric Bana returned our query. He writes, “Mr. Haley is an as-needed employee of Systra Consulting Inc., he is not performing and will not perform any work on SFMTA projects. This being an HR issue we will not provide further information regarding Mr. Haley.”

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Managing Editor/Columnist. Joe was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left.

“Your humble narrator” was a writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015, and a senior editor at San Francisco Magazine from 2015 to 2017. You may also have read his work in the Guardian (U.S. and U.K.); San Francisco Public Press; San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Examiner; Dallas Morning News; and elsewhere.

He resides in the Excelsior with his wife and three (!) kids, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

The Northern California branch of the Society of Professional Journalists named Eskenazi the 2019 Journalist of the Year.

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