Hidden motives?

16 August 2010
Last week the Californian senate approved a bill that will require bidders for contracts relating to a new high-speed rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles to disclose their involvement in the holocaust. Specifically it seeks disclosure on involvement in deportations to concentration camps during World War II and to provide a description of any remedial action or restitution they have made to survivors or families of victims. The bill was approved 31 votes to one. Assembly member Bob Blumenfield, who proposed the legislation, says: “In awarding contracts for the largest public works project in California history, we should look at the entire history and experience of companies vying for our tax dollars. Any company that has failed to take responsibility for its participation in mass genocide should be made to disclose this fact before being considered for these lucrative contracts.” He went on to say that the purpose of the proposed legislation is to “ensure tax dollars are spent by companies that can meet the most minimum threshold of corporate responsibility”. Nobody could argue with that. There are no EU regs to abide by and US citizens should decide how – and with whom – they spend their money. But this legislation appears to be targeted at a single company. Blumenfield refers to the French national rail firm SNCF’s alleged involvement in transporting prisoners to Nazi concentration camps, although the extent of the company’s role remains disputed. It would be interesting to see how much weighting this disclosure is afforded as part of the award criteria for any contract, to see how important it is compared to the technical, cost and quality aspects of any potential bid.
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