Did A Bay Bridge Contractor Pay Off Kamala Harris To Avoid A Lawsuit?

Leigh Wolf
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Posted: Nov 18, 2015 1:00 PM
Did A Bay Bridge Contractor Pay Off Kamala Harris To Avoid A Lawsuit?

Ah yes, the Bay Bridge debacle. Just when you thought things couldn’t possibly get any worse, we find out that the very company that caused the problems is also a donor to California Attorney General Kamala Harris…the person who should be suing them for the faulty design elements.

T.Y. Lin is a San Francisco based design firm that drafted the plans for the second most expensive public works project in US history, the new eastern span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge.

T.Y. Lin chose to use galvanizedsteel for many areas connecting metal parts to concrete. A poor decision, according to experts, as such this kind of steel is susceptible to damage in the misty salt air of the San Francisco Bay.

Russ Kane, a Texas-based corrosion expert, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the entire project “shows kind of a wanton disregard for good engineering design and practice.”

The San Francisco Chronicle also interviewed UC Berkeley civil Engineering professor Bob Bea, who said “We don’t know if the bridge is safe — that is the part that I’ll call concerning.”

California taxpayers are footing the bill for tens of millions of dollars in additional costs to monitor and repair the faulty design of the bridge. But why isn’t T.Y. Lin picking up at least part of the check?

T.Y. Lin has a rich history of screwing up projects and getting sued, including a bridge collapse in North Carolina, faulty seismic repairs on the Golden Gate Bridge and a massive fire at Miami International Airport. Shouldn’t the state of California be suing T.Y. Lin?

Enter California Attorney General Kamala Harris. As the Attorney General, she could easily file a complaint against the company and attempt to recoup the cost of fixing their mistakes.

According to campaign finance records obtained from the California Secretary of State, T.Y. Lin made four different contributions, totaling $8,500, to both of Harris’s campaigns for Attorney General. These are just the contributions made under the company’s name and do not include any individual contributions that may have been made by spouses or relatives of T.Y. Lin employees.

Eighty-five hundred dollars seems like a cheap price to avoid a multi-million dollar lawsuit for designing an unsafe bridge that is a main artery between two of the largest cities in California. I suppose suing campaign donors is bad for business.

It remains unclear if a three member oversight committee will file an $8 million claim against T.Y. Lin. Even if T.Y. Lin is made to pay the full amount listed in the complaint, it pales in comparison to the true cost of fixing the bridge.

These allegations could haunt Kamala Harris as she runs to replace retiring California Senator Barbara Boxer.

The real kicker? California awarded T.Y. Lin a contract for the much-maligned High-Speed Rail project.