County OKs Pact With Fluor Despite S. Africa Tie
On a split vote, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday awarded a $304,345 consulting contract to a Fluor Corp. subsidiary despite protests that the firm conducts business in racially divided South Africa.
Voting 3 to 2 without comment, the board’s conservative majority approved the agreement in which Fluor will conduct engineering studies for the expansion of jail facilities at Peter J. Pitchess Honor Rancho in Saugus.
The board’s vote followed by nearly a month the Los Angeles Convention Center Authority’s rejection of another Fluor subsidiary’s $2.5-million contract bid to manage the $310-million Convention Center expansion. The authority’s Aug. 21 action was urged by Mayor Tom Bradley and a unanimous City Council that contended that Fluor’s business ties with South Africa violated a recently passed anti-apartheid ordinance.
Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, a staunch foe of apartheid, had tried to draw at least one conservative into the anti-Fluor vote by reminding his fellow board members of recent actions of Gov. George Deukmejian. The Republican governor, who has close political ties to the board conservatives, recently was a major influence in state-level moves to sell up to $11.4-billion worth of public investments in firms doing business in South Africa.
‘By taking this action, the board will be joining the City of Los Angeles, the California state Legislature and Gov. Deukmejian in taking strong and united action against apartheid,” Hahn said in his motion to reject the contract.
But only fellow liberal Ed Edelman joined Hahn in opposing the Fluor contract.
In the same action, the board rejected a Hahn call to urge the independent county Board of Investments to begin immediate divestiture from U.S. companies doing business in South Africa. The panel oversees investments from the county pension fund.
Under the contract awarded, Fluor Technology Inc., an Irvine-based Fluor Corp. subsidiary, will conduct various studies of such things as topography, drainage and water supply for the Saugus site.
Eventually, 11 new projects will be constructed at a cost of $150 million to $200 million, according to county facilities chief George Tice. Included in the projects are expansion of existing maximum- and medium-security jail facilities, he added.
Fluor has been struggling to rebuild after the collapse of oil prices worldwide and the cancellation of major construction projects in petroleum-producing nations. The company posted a small $1.1-million profit for its third quarter ending July 31, largely the result of a $27-million profit from the sale of its Irvine headquarters building.