Last week I blogged about rust prevention on the new $6.4 billion San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge. I wrote how crews are using giant humidifiers and diligently galvanizing the mile-long main cable and coating it in zinc-based paint. This is a daunting task, but it seems there is something else attacking the structure: the possible misuse of public funds.

It seems that state officials in charge of the project secretly agreed to pay a San Francisco PR firm an incredible sum of money to create a book and produce videos about the project, as well as conduct tours of the bridge. The information comes in the wake of the new tax increases to Californians that were passed in November. I wonder if tax payers will care?

Thanks to a document request investigation last week by the Sacramento Bee (The Bee), the public has learned of the $10 million payout. The newspaper says the contract was signed by Caltrans in August and was approved by the state Department of General Services on Sept. 4.

And if the amount of the payment isn’t hard enough to believe, how about this whopper: Governor Jerry Brown and his administration say they knew nothing about the agreement. The administration says once it did find out about the deal, it canceled it immediately.

A spokesman for the state Business, Transportation & Housing Agency, which oversees Caltrans, says his agency canceled the deal after Caltrans provided records of the contract to the newspaper. The spokesperson told the publication the contract was “not a wise use of toll-payer resources.”

The public relations firm is San Francisco-based Words Pictures Ideas LLC. They have produced a few videos that are currently on the by bridge’s website at: The videos are pretty good, and the host Bart Ney does a nice job, but I don’t know if they are worth $10 million, unless of course the accompanying book is another Moby Dick.