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Re: Being Outspoken

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Dear Seaint friends:
I just received this e-mail from (Dr. name withheld) a Seaint member and felt I need to stop and reply. Then I felt to share his short e-mail and my a bit longer reply with you as well. Being out there in public, specially with projects I have been involved with, I get quite a lot of supportive e-mails but this time I felt to make one public . The reason is for the first time in my carrier, last week I received my first and hope last hate e-mail which was very disturbing and had to be turned over to Campus mail. The hate mail was attacking me because of my criticism of Caltrans. So here is Dr. n.w. 's e-mail and my reply. ====================================================================================
x. y. xzzzzz wrote:
* Prof. Asteneh:

I thank you much for your outspokenness typical of your e-mail to the SEAINT list-serve at 6:07 am this morning. You may not know the extent of those who appreciate this type of professional activity..

Dr. zzzzz

Dear Dr. zzzzzz: Thank you very much for your kind words. My approach to my "Tenured" position as well as meaning of tenure is that people of California have given me, an emigrant from Iran, this great job at this greatest University in the world located at the one of the most beautiful part of the world and have guaranteed all of this for life with one expectation that I find the truth in my teaching and research and when I find it I do not worry about the consequences of telling those who pay my salary (people of California) the truth that I have found and do not worry about being fired from my job since the boss did not like it! My boss is the people of California. I have to add that I also have another obligation to Americans who have accepted myself and my family with open arms and has given us the citizenship of this great country and allowed us to make it our new home. We have really been given the American Dream. This last part only recent emigrants can understand. I have added another obligation to my contract with my "boss" (all Americans) that in pursue of the truth I will make my best effort to ensure that the infromation that I have is correct and truthful , then, give to the "boss" nothing but the truth and the whole truth without considering for even a fraction of a second what consequences such interaction would have . Since I work in the structural engineering field, anything I do has safety consequences for my "boss" (The Americans) and I should not put my own petty financial interests ahead of Americans interest.

In case of Caltrans, when in 1998 Caltrans/Metropolitan Transportation Commission selected the Self Anchored Suspension design for the Bay Bridge East Span replacement span, knowing enough about the bridge and site (I was studying the bridge by then for 10 years) I went to public hearing of the project and used my three minutes and made my statement that this system , the Self Anchored Suspension (SAS) is the most inferior bridge system and should not be approved for such a haigh seismic region. The bridge selection process was totally flawed since four of the selection panel members called Engineering and Design Advisory Panel (EDAP) had submitted their own design and those four designs ended up being the semi finalists and eventually all four entitities joined and selected one but each got a piece of the action. The design fee alone at that time was $75 million. The bridge which the public was told will cost $1.3 billion, today is estimated to cost $7.2 and be finished in 2013 ( 25 years after Loma Prieta) . As a result of that 3 minutes of truth telling as per my contract with my "boss" (American People) Caltrans cut all my research projects ($100,000/year, consulting about $20K/yr and made it clear to all bridge firms and others that if anyone wants any funding from Caltrans they should not work with me . Then , Caltrans and Metropolitan Transportation Commission started a character assasination campaign that still continues to date . But, all of this is not what I will pay attention to. My attention is focused on doing my job for my "boss" as she would want me to do. I have no other option. The only concern I have is that like the hate mail I received last months, with Caltrans and MTC continuously creating hate towards me , there could be someone who snaps and causes physical harm tome or my family. That one I leave in God's hands.

Of course in addition to America I have another beloved home and that is Iran and I feel exactly the same way about Iranians as I do about Americans, loved by both and love bothl. So, I have two bosses but think about it, with all that they have given to me and my family all they want me to do is not to lie and tell them the truth. Who could turn down this bargain

Best wishes as always.

Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl, Ph.D., P.E.
Professor ,

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