A state Senate report released Wednesday revealed what was apparently a deliberate cover-up of construction lapses on the eastern span of the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge. The project was plagued by structural problems, including snapped steel rods, before it opened last September, years behind schedule and billions over budget. Tests and repairs continue.
Among the report's key revelations is the allegation that quality control managers found thousands of cracks in welds produced by a Chinese contractor. Rather than ordering the needed fixes, top managers from the California Department of Transportation replaced those who discovered the problems.
The report sets the stage for an informational hearing of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing at 10 a.m. in Room 4203 of the Capitol building. Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, who chairs the committee, told The Bee that he was "shocked" by the claims of a cover-up and blamed Caltrans' "insular culture."
Among those scheduled to testify at the hearing are Caltrans director Malcolm Dougherty and several other engineers and officials from the agency. It will be Caltrans' first public response to the accusations in the report.
VIDEO: More people are leaving California for other states these days than moving here, Dan Walters says.
FUNDING FLAP: In a campaign finance case watched around the country, California's Fair Political Practices Commission demanded last October that two political action committees repay the state $15 million in contributions they had improperly reported. FPPC Enforcement Chief Gary Winuk will announce new action on the case at 10 a.m. at the FPPC building on J Street.
DEMOCRACY IN ACTION: State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, will be in Millbrae at 10 a.m. to announce the winner of his "Oughta Be A Law...Or Not" contest. The bill provides recourse for students whose scores for Advanced Placement exams or other standardized tests are cancelled because of "testing irregularities." Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, will also be on hand to introduce companion legislation requiring test providers to release invalidated scores if there is no evidence of student misconduct.
SWEARING IN STYLE: This is a grand welcome to the state Legislature: Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, a freshman assemblyman from Los Angeles who won a special election in December, will be sworn in by California Attorney General Kamala Harris at a special community ceremony. Harris did the same earlier this month for state Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, who previously held Ridley-Thomas' seat. The ceremony takes place Sunday at 2 p.m. at West LA College in Culver City.
TRACK BILLS ON MOBILE: What bills bear watching? Get automatic updates with the new Capitol Alert Insider Edition bill-tracking feature. You can download the app for iPad or iPhone here.
CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to state Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, who turns 56 today.
PHOTO: The new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on December 4, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Manny Crisostomo