The Nat Ford Rumor Mill Keeps on Churning

nat_ford.jpgNat Ford testifying before the Board of Supervisors recently. Photo by Bryan Goebel.

First he was rumored to have been considered for a job in the Obama administration. Then, it was the executive director opening at the LA MTA, a position insiders say he was interviewed for but didn't get. And even now, despite a pledge he made in an interview with Streetsblog that his "career goal" is "to focus on the San Francisco MTA," rumors persist within the MTA and at City Hall that MTA Chief Nat Ford continues to look elsewhere.

In response this afternoon, Ford said through MTA spokesperson Kristen Holland that "he is not looking" and remains "committed to the SFMTA."

He is, though, reportedly on the shortlist of candidates to be director at the New York MTA, where he began his transit career as a train conductor nearly 30 years ago.

Ford has been out of town a lot lately, and that may be what's fueling the rumors. Yesterday, Director of Parking and Traffic Bond Yee sat in for him at the MTA Board meeting. He had been attending the American Public Transportation Association's rail conference in Chicago but is now back in San Francisco.

He's also been campaigning for the secretary/treasurer position at APTA and set up a Facebook page around that effort. He hit all the right notes in his candidacy statement:

I want to share with all of my supporters that I am seeking the position of Secretary/Treasurer of the American Public Transportation Association.

As Executive Director/CEO of one of the oldest transit systems in the country, I am keenly aware of the infrastructure demands facing our members. Even with the recent disbursement of $8 billion nationally through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, our systems continue to suffer from age and deferred maintenance because of long-standing, significant capital funding shortfalls. Clearly, only an ongoing, predictable and coordinated state and federal commitment can address and reverse this situation.

Nathan Ballard, the Mayor's communication director, leaving City Hall yesterday, said rumors of Ford's departure resurface a lot. He hadn't heard the latest rumor but has "asked him to tell me first" and said Ford hasn't given any notice.

Updated: 2:11 p.m.