April 9, 2003
Arts and Entertainment
Not exactly Vietnam
Critics of the war on Iraq would be well advised not to make wholesale comparisons to Vietnam ["An Unwinnable War," 4/2/03]. In particular, calls for immediate unilateral withdrawal are not going to be effective this time, and the sooner dissenters realize this, the better off all of us will be.
U.S. involvement in Vietnam was both pointless and botched. By contrast, the stated objectives of our new overseas militarism disarmament and ending tyranny are praiseworthy, but it is the government's unilateral and preemptive pursuit of those aims which is not only badly botched but unnecessarily likely to backfire.
If your doctor shoots you in the foot, you try to take away his gun. If he has treated a skin cancer on your arm by amputation, it is better not to stop him from binding the stump, but instead do your utmost to make sure he stays away from your other limbs.
Thanks for alerting us all to the unrepresentative voting behavior of our "representative" in Washington, Nancy Pelosi ["Pelosi Supports the War," 4/2/03]. It's nice to know that someone is paying attention and is willing to publicize such unacceptable behavior. You've prompted me to put her on notice that this constituent, at least, won't stand by while she approves murder in my name.
Ron Tutor responds
The opinion piece by Sup. Aaron Peskin is a transparent, self-serving, politically motivated statement which is a disservice to the people of San Francisco, the San Francisco Airport Commission, its staff and construction manager, and last, but not least, Mayor Willie Brown ["Fund the Airport Lawsuit," 3/12/03].
Tutor-Saliba was the "lowest responsible bidder" on each of the six contracts in question. Tutor-Saliba utilized subcontractors and suppliers approved by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission in advance of each bid. In fact, in most cases, Tutor-Saliba did not meet the minority contracting goals established in the contract documents. Rather, Tutor-Saliba was approved and awarded contracts based on its "good faith efforts" to reach out to minority firms and support them. Tutor-Saliba did meet all of our stated commitments with respect to minority-owned companies utilized on our contracts. Not only was Tutor-Saliba's minority participation audited by the Airport Commission staff and its outside construction managers, but the San Francisco Human Rights Commission was also required to and did approve Tutor-Saliba's minority contracting performance before final payment was made to Tutor-Saliba for its work on the projects.
Peskin also supports Dennis Herrera's allegation of "change-order fraud," adopting the city attorney's theme of underbidding and then overbilling on changes to try to blame Tutor-Saliba for the tens of millions of dollars of what he refers to as "cost overruns." These change orders were issued by the airport in response to owner-caused extra work, the work was performed in accordance with the Airport Commission's directives, and the work was usually paid for six months to a year after it was completed and the costs incurred by the contractor.
The city's lawsuit should be dismissed not because of the statements of a few, but the documented truth of many. Tutor-Saliba is only one of several contractors being sued by the city attorney with similar allegations of "false claims" and minority contracting violations. To support the allegations of the city attorney is to believe that literally hundreds of engineers and construction management staff, airport auditors, and the Airport Commission itself were not competent or sincere in their management of the work. This is simply unconscionable given the efforts of these men and women and the enormous amount of documentation supporting that effort.
Tutor-Saliba has done everything asked of us by the Airport Commission and no dispute stands between the parties. Obviously, Herrera believes that his office is more knowledgeable of the work effort put forth at the San Francisco International Airport than all of the airport staff of engineers, construction managers, and auditors. Remarkably, Herrera has been less forthcoming with support for his position. It has been publicly reported that Herrera has even refused to share with the Airport Commission the evidence he claims he has to support his allegations against us. Herrera's cynical approach and lack of regard for the opinions and professional contributions of the Airport Commission, its staff, and consultants is the greatest shame of all.
Ronald N. Tutor