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Entire Engineering Community Freaking Out?

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This was a quote from Martha Cox-Nitikman of BOMA in last week's LA Times
article by Jill Leovy about existing buildings and their seismic
vulnerability. Knowing Martha I could easily hear here say these words and now
probably regret that they were printed. Likewise I was quoted as calling
nonductile concrete frame buildings "killers" and then suggesting that the
window of opportunity policitally was now closed. Jill Leovy is skilled at
getting people to open up on the telephone, then piecing quotes together to
make it sound like they all hang together. 

To set the record straight among my colleagues, I was trying to steer Jill
away from focusing on steel buildings when I said the "k" word. And I was
speaking about the political situation in Sacramento - not Los Angeles -
regarding the closed window. Taken out of context, both quotes were used in
ways I would not approve of. 

Reportedly, the articles seem to be generating healthy dialogue, despite their
hard-hitting approach. What have you all heard? 

The LA Times editorial today suggested that the City Council needs to
demonstrate leadership and resolve and take preemptive action for buildings
with the greatest risk and the concentration of people highest. To me, the LA
Times has done a good job informing the public in spite of its sensationalism
and quote-stringing.

If I offended anyone by responding to Jill Leovy's inquiries, I'd like to hear
your comments and criticisms. I would like to know how others would have dealt
with this matter with reporters.

This reminds me of the time years ago I befriended a reporter from Pasadena -
we talked for about an hour on the phone. At some point in our discussion I
must have said something to the effect that Pasadena's Unreinforced Masonry
Retrofit program "Stuck Out Like a Sore Thumb" because it was so far behind
adjacent cities. They've since improved greatly, but can you guess what showed
up as a headline the next day? If you try to be too careful, you are accused
of withholding information. Its a double-edged sword dealing with reporters.

Any thoughts?

Fred Turner
Staff Structural Engineer
Ca. Seismic Safety Commission
1900 K St. #100 Sacramento, CA 95814
916-327-1606 916-322-9476 Fax