Judge says there was ‘no evidence of corruption’ in San Francisco Stow Lake deal 

There was nothing shady about how the new managers of Stow Lake Boathouse got their contract, a preliminary court ruling suggested Monday, but the lawsuit did vividly expose the inner workings of City Hall.

All bidders proposing to operate the boathouse in Golden Gate Park were treated fairly, and there is no evidence of fraud or corruption, the tentative Superior Court ruling states. Stow Lake Corp., which has run the business for more than 60 years, accused San Francisco of organizing a bunk deal with Ortega Family Enterprises, the company replacing them.

The lawsuit revealed that staff at the Recreation and Park Department, which owns the facility, advised Ortega to hire city-insider Alex Tourk to help with lobbying and gain support.

The cozy relationship between Tourk’s company, Ortega and Rec and Park did raise some eyebrows, but an independent panel had picked Ortega.

Tourk’s lobbying practices were scrutinized by news reports and he has since resigned from both City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s and District Attorney George Gascón’s political campaigns.

However, the preliminary ruling states there was no evidence of favoritism during the Stow Lake bidding process.

It points to the fact that Stow Lake Corp. has also hired a lobbyist to help win over City Hall. It also discounts several other allegations Stow Lake Corp. made in the same vein. The hearing and official ruling is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Rec and Park officials have said the controversial conversion of the boathouse repair shop into a café will start after the summer season.


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Kamala Kelkar

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