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RE: Is ASCE Competing Against Us?

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-----Original Message-----
From: Sherman, William [mailto:ShermanWC(--nospam--at)] 
Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2006 1:36 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE: Is ASCE Competing Against Us?

I too would be interested in how the panel is selected.  As far as I
know, ASCE does not have engineers on staff that do this type of review,
so I assume that qualified individuals that are ASCE members are
selected to be on the panel - but how are they selected?  I hope that
ASCE would not select them by competitive bid!
-----/Original Message/-----

My guess is that this isn't a case of "bidding work," as most states
don't allow this for public projects. But I simply don't understand why
ASCE is the agency for doing work of this kind.

It just seems to me that ASCE might well be a "front" for the businesses
represented by the selected individuals, and that doesn't seem right to

Interestingly, a couple or three generations back things like this were
"no big deal." There was a time when "public service" meant just that:
eminent individuals would give of their time and talents for the public
good. This was considered a sort of "noblesse oblige". The term
"dollar-a-year man" was in current use.

That was then, this is now. Everything now is "big business," and
stuffing your coffers from the public treasury is de rigeur. In fact, my
opinion of ASCE is that it exists mainly to make sure that engineering
firms get their "fair share" of pork coming from Washington and the
various state and local governments.

I say this with all due respect to folks like Stan Caldwell, who I know
act out of a certain sense of altruism. And I don't mean to say that
business interests are anathema. And further, if I'm misunderstanding
this--if the individuals or ASCE itself isn't getting any significant
compensation for this and they're doing it out of public spiritedness--I
profoundly apologize.

But I do think that generally ASCE goes too far with their encouraging
ever more public works spending. The profligate spending of the public
dollar that we've seen over the years--and never more than now, under
"fiscally responsible" Republican leadership--has gotten to the point
where it is ALARMING. Yet so many of the "usual suspects" just ride
along, happy to take the public dime at a time when we can no longer
afford it.

As civil engineers, I would wish they would be more involved with
figuring out how to help public dollars stretch as far as possible.
Instead, their typical call is for Congress to "spend more" without
regard to the overall impact of the spiraling budget.

So obviously my concern about ASCE goes beyond just this one episode. I
can't help but wonder when something's gonna give.

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