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RE: Speaking out

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I have to say.  I am honored, humbled and speechless.  To be mentioned in the same vain as the legendary Dr. Housner is truly an honor.  I never met him in person, but I had the privilege of speaking with Dr. Housner by telephone some years ago to discuss one of his publications.  He was a gentleman of the first order, a pioneer, and a gift to our profession. 
Thank-you for your kind words. 

Regards, Harold Sprague

> Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2009 06:29:43 -0800
> From: astaneh(--nospam--at)
> To: seaint(--nospam--at)
> Subject: Re: Speaking out
> Dear Bill: Thanking for your thoughtful comments and observations, I
> respectfully disagree with your assessment that in our profession "
> ..the notion of rendering public service without emolument is now
> quaint, and went away a couple of generations ago. ". In my opinion
> 99.99 percent of individuals involved in my profession are honest and
> honorable people and this percentage of us do public service without
> emolument. Just look at this site. Look at yourself. I have read your
> many posts with much interest and may be a few times I did not agreed
> with your point of view but even when I felt not agreeing with you I
> admired you for taking the time out of your very busy schedule (those
> were the days that every minute of your time could be used to make
> money!) and made your comments. Was there any emolument? Extend that to
> thousands who have done exactly that. Then, look at all these committees
> and organizing conferences that so many in our profession spend their
> family time or money-making time to just serve . This is public service.
> I will give you two example, one no longer with us and other our good
> friend who contributes to this forum quite a lot.
> When the Caltrans Seismic Advisory Board formed by Governor of
> California, the first Chair was the legendary Professor George Housner
> of Caltech. He was truly one of the founding fathers of earthquake
> engineering. Because of my involvement with investigation of Loma Prieta
> and then Northridge, I spent quite a lot of time , as he requested ,
> with him to present to him in person the many details of our findings.
> Because of that I got to observe him a in a close and personal manner.
> He was a role model for anyone in any profession how you serve public.
> And, he was just one of the people in that 99.99% category in our
> profession. It was the next Chair and the current chair of the Seismic
> Advisory Board and its members (see brochure at :
> ) who turned the Seismic Advisory Board of Caltrans to a money making
> machine for themselves and their firms at the expense of public safety
> and taxpayers money.
> The other person, is our own friend Harold S. who , even in those days
> of busy work, would not forget us on these pages and would provide input
> and answer questions based on his vast experience in and knowledge of of
> structural engineering. I have been with him in Super Shuttles a few
> times going to and coming from committee meetings, which is the most
> unappreciated public work with no compensation what so ever, and have
> seen how he sacrifices his family time, to make sure the information
> that he has gets into the system and we end up with structures that
> serve the public in a safe and economical manner. And , he is just one
> of the 99.99% of our profession.
> What I think has happened in our profession is that , as the
> compensation for structural engineering services were not keeping up
> with our expectations for what we were doing, we started to be
> complacent and when we saw someone is corrupt ( and I use the word
> intentionally) we tended to turn the other way and think that well, one
> day I might be in that situation and I might do the same. But I can
> assure you that that 99.99% in our profession , given the chance, will
> not do that. Many of them had the chance and did not take advantage of
> that opportunity to fill their pocket.
> I am personally not interested to go after those in our profession who
> through unethical conduct gain financial advantage. But, I am very
> concern about those who unethically gain financially at the expense of
> public safety. Then , people get killed.
> Best regards
> "Hassan"
> Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl,
> >
> > --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > 5 Message:0005 5
> > --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > From: Bill Polhemus <bill(--nospam--at)>
> > To: "<seaint(--nospam--at)>" <seaint(--nospam--at)>
> > Subject: Re: Speaking out
> >
> > This has become the rule rather than the exception on consulting for
> > public work.
> >
> > I should add that I do not know any of these gentlem, nor am I privy
> > to any details of this situation, but the notion of rendering public
> > service without emolument is now quaint, and went away a couple of
> > generations ago.
> >
> > Everything is a business opportunity now - including elective office.
> >
> > William L. Polhemus, Jr. P.E.
> > Via iPhone 3G
> >
> > On Nov 17, 2009, at 11:13 AM, Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl <astaneh(--nospam--at)
> > > wrote:
> >
> >
> >> ...have used their position of power over Caltrans as Seismic
> >> Advisory Board members to obtain millions of dollars of taxpayers
> >> money in consulting and research contracts , on a non-competitive
> >> basis.
> >>
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