They can’t leave Maria Ayerdi Kaplan alone.
On Tuesday of this week, a lawsuit was filed against the San Francisco Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) by its General Contractor, Webcor – Obayashi, seeking $150 million in damages. That was reported in two news accounts on Wednesday of this week.
According to the news posts, “The lawsuit alleges the authority mismanaged the project, noting its board of directors fired the executive director, Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan, over concerns about major cost overruns and repeated delays. San Francisco’s Department of Public Works then took over the project and provided better management.”
Zennie62Media, a growing network of blogs and social media channels including Zennie62 on YouTube (Oakland’s first YouTube Partner Channel) and “Oakland Focus” (Oakland’s first true blog in 2004) has a series on Oakland News Now on how Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan worked to, first, create the Transbay Joint Powers Authority itself, and then obtain the funding to develop what is now called Salesforce Transit Center.
The fake news accounts don’t at all match the real story we have on Ms. Kaplan. Zennie62Media is not the official spokesperson for Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan, however it would be a mistake not to address what was written in other news posts, because they do not reflect her story as presented in our blog, Oakland News Now and social media accounts.
First, it’s important to note that at no time did Maria Ayerdi ever make an insulting comment about Webcor – Obayashi: after all, the TJPA hired them and expected them to do their job, with oversight from Turner Construction. From Zennie62Media’s view, it would seem that any claim of “incompetence” would fall on those hired by the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, as they essentially represented the TJPA.
Second, it is interesting how, on the heels of the discovery of the cracked steel beams in the Salesforce Center, Webcor – Obayashi files the lawsuit against the TJPA and makes false allegations against Ms. Kaplan.
It appears Webcor may be looking to head off lawsuits against itself for their possible alleged contribution to the cracked steel beams of the Salesforce Transit Center and the sinking and tilting of Millennium Tower when they worked for the Millennium Tower Developers as General Contractor.
Moreover, regarding facts, it must be noted, first, that San Francisco’s Department of Public Works didn’t “take over” the project – that’s completely wrong.
Mark Zabaneh was hired to replace Kaplan by the Transbay Joint Powers Authority after she retired from public work; at no point was the San Francisco’s Department of Public Works (SFDPPDW) assigned to “take over” the project.
The only thing the SFDPPDW did was to bring on board an employee in December of 2015 to help “oversee” construction of Salesforce Transit Center when all of the heavy construction work was already completed.
The TJPA Hired Mark Zabaneh To Take Over For The Retiring Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan
I have the original press release from Friday, April 22, 2016, 5:16 PM. Starting with this title, It reads: “Transbay Joint Powers Authority Appoints Mark Zabaneh as Interim Executive Director,” and the entire press release can be read at this link, here, but it’s important to note the following entry:
1. The Press Release reads: “San Francisco (April 22, 2016) – The Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) is pleased to announce that earlier today the TJPA Board of Directors appointed Mark Zabaneh to the role of interim executive director effective May 1, 2016… “Since starting at TJPA in 2013, Zabaneh has led the agency’s program management team…”
So, if Mark Zabaneh has played such a large role, and since 2013, and worked for Maria, and then was hired as “interim executive director,“ why is Maria being singled out? As I will explain later in the article below, this seems to be as much about sexism and how misogyny rules more than anything else, in my view.
I’m not saying that’s definitely the case, but in this era of a new level of awareness of both female empowerment and female discrimination, our World view should be changed so that there’s more sensitivity applied toward whether its a good idea to make a woman in charge look bad just for monetary gain. I would think the answer Webcor should come to is “no”.
Then there’s this matter of when Webcor started the Transbay Transit Center Project.
I noticed this quote: “While we are still reviewing the details of the complaint, at first glance, many of the accusations that deal with delays to the project pre-date Webcor’s repeated commitments to deliver the transit center on time,” and that was by Mohammed Nuru, who is Chairman of TJPA Board of Directors.
Really? Let’s see…
According to the TJPA’s own contract award list, which anyone can see online, it shows that Webcor – Obayashi was signed as a “Construction Manager / General Contractor” on March 12th of 2009.
Obviously, Mr. Nuru made a mistake there; the “accusations that deal with delays to the project” do not at all pre-date Webcor’s repeated commitments to deliver the transit center on time. Why Mr. Nuru would say that as the Chairman of TJPA Board of Directors is a mystery.
And while I am revealing holes in news accounts, how about the idea that Maria was “fired” – the TJPA unanimously passed a resolution applauding her work for 18 years on the Project. Where is it written or stated by any TJPA Board member that she was “fired”? There is also a severance agreement that has been reported on by the mainstream press that confirmed she retired from the Project. But since that report, others in the mainstream changed the news to report that she was “ousted”, which is like being fired – there’s no official record of that.
Overall, it seems that there has been a concerted effort to pin all of the ills of the Transbay Transit Center Project on Ms. Ayerdi, even though the truth is there’s a lot of blame to go around.
And how about the comments about her work from the late San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee…
There are more questions than answers and the mainstream media’s got it wrong and is putting out fake news.
When discovery is finally completed with all the lawsuits flying around and the courts of law (whether a judge or jury) hears the cases, hopefully we will have all the answers.
The main problem here is twofold:
First, all of these false allegations and lawsuits is about money and greed. When there is so much money at stake you have fake news, defamatory allegations and every modern day hit man crawls out of the rocks to protect their financial interest, no matter what the cost to the taxpayers.
Second and sadly, this is as much about insulting, harassing, and attempting to disparage a Latina woman who was one of a handful of powerful Executive Directors in the transportation, construction, and real estate development business.
Fact: sexism and misogyny continues to be rampant against women, and in particular women of color, in these and in other industries.
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media