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Re: SEAOC $10.00 dues increases objection

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I for one would like to thank you Rawn for your response for two reasons.
First, it is encouraging to see the increase in participation by SEAOC
leadership on this listserv. Second, I was unaware of several
accomplishments by SEAOC you have described. I read my monthly newsletter
and try to get as current as possible, but I believe a lot of SEAOC's
efforts go unappreciated due to the fact that they could be the
organization's best kept secrets. Before I wrote this response, I went to
the SEAOC website and reviewed the "Committee Reports" section. If you
would do the same, you would find that this information is not kept up to
date or some links are out of date. I do not want to criticize the website
because I am aware that this site has been constructed using voluntary
efforts. To me, devoting some resources to the website maintenance makes
more sense than having a state office.

With regards to the majority of the points you have made in defense of the
state office, I have to ask who is the beneficiary of these efforts and
achievements? Certainly the public because, IMHO, the Blue Book is the
"Bible" for the basis of seismic design and should be on any engineer's
shelf who designs in high seismic regions. Certainly organizations who
publish building codes (ICBO, IBC, et. al) who rely on the technical
committee work for valuable input. However, in all of the points you have
enumerated below, I do not see how the SEAOC membership has benefited from
having a state office and I believe the beneficiaries should pay for the
efforts. I have added specific responses following each of your paragraphs
in order to respond to specific points. Depending on your e-mail software,
my responses may or may not be difficult to find so I have preceded each
response with a:


I sincerely appreciate your attention in this matter,
Bill Allen

> From: Rawn Nelson <rawn1(--nospam--at)>
> To: seaoc(--nospam--at)
> Subject: Re: SEAOC $10.00 dues increases objection
> Date: Tuesday, February 24, 1998 7:10 PM
> Dennis, Bill, etal.,
> Where to start?  I would have liked to organize the following thoughts in
> more presentable format.  Maybe at some future date I will, but for the
> present time please try to follow what most likely will be a trail of
> rambling discussions on SEAOC (the state organization), the four member
> organizations of SEAOC,  the national picture, etc.
> For more than sixty years the four member organizations of SEAOC have
> collectively done more than any organization in the country, or perhaps
> even the world, to advance the practice of structural engineering.  The
> state committees have produced the "Blue Book" and many other technical
> non-technical publications that are used world wide.  The discussions
> went into the preparation of these documents would have been almost
> impossible if they were not conducted face to face.

Most of those sixty years occurred without a state office. While I agree
the Blue Book is a very important (THE most important) SEAOC document, this
document has evolved very well without a state office. While I agree that
face to face meetings cannot/should not be eliminated, these efforts can be
augmented by e-mail and ftp. If you are proposing that the cost of the
state office is due to the publication of the Blue Book, I must ask again
who is the beneficiary? The membership or the public? Who should pay for
this effort?

> The differences in approaches to various problems over the years has 
> varied from one area of the state to another.  Gaining consensus among
> a variety of opinions has been and will continue to be a monumental task.

> The difficulties of this task will only be compounded as we move towards
> the 21st century and one national code, the IBC.  If SEAOC and its member
> organizations and individual members want to continue to have an
> it has to be with a unified voice.

Please stop using the "21st century" sales pitch. Will life be that much
different two years from now? To date, this "unified voice" has been
achieved because a small majority of the membership is able to participate.
If there is an increased cost associated with interacting with the IBC, we
should discuss what those costs are. This is certainly understandable since
the interaction process between seismology committee and code
implementation will no longer be as "local".

> SEAOC currently acts as the chair of the newly formed NCSEA Code Advisory
> Committees.  The desire of these committees is to have a relationship
> similar to that which SEAOC had with the UBC through the ICBO.  If anyone
> would like more information on these committees please contact me.

I believe this information should be at the SEAOC website. Does this chair
position require a state office? Who is the beneficiary of this effort?

> Starting in the early 1980's, when BORPELS made an effort to rewrite the
> registration act, SEAOC has made an effort to influence there actions. 
> enforcement issue is just one area where we have been concentrating our
> efforts.  Changing registration laws to allow only qualified engineers
> practice in the field of structural engineering is another.  The job of
> tracking both the state legislature and BORPELS is one that falls in the
> job description of the SEAOC state office.

Ah, one of my favorite topics. To date, I have not seen any documents where
SEAOC is actively working towards changing registration laws to allow only
qualified engineers to practice in the field of structural engineering.
Again, I went to the SEAOC website and, under BORPELS Laison, there are no
documents whatsoever. If SEAOC has produced some activity in this area,
this information should be available. This is one area where the membership
would be the beneficiary of such an effort.

> Coordinating the expenses of all the state committees is also a state
> office task.  These state committee expenses constitute the largest
> of the state budget.

Do you really need a state office to coordinate the expenses of the state
committees? Even if so, who are the beneficiaries of these state

> SEAOC over the years has earned the worlds respect.  To maintain or
> that position takes a coordinated effort.  The individual member
> organizations have more than enough to do dealing with their own local
> issues.

So I have to pay for this "world's respect" status? This doesn't sound
right. This isn't a country club.

> SEAOC would not be participating in the management and earned funds from
> the SAC program if it had not done so as a state organization.  SEAOC, as
> state organization, is also responsible for participating in helping
> converge the "Blue Book" lateral load procedures with the NEHRP
> in the soon to be published IBC.

So, we had to have a state office to get the SAC funds and now that the SAC
funds are ending, the funds should come from the membership? I think not.
With regards to converging the Blue Book with the NEHRP procedures, again,
who is the beneficiary of these efforts? The membership? IBC? The general

> SEAOC has participated in the formation of the Structural Engineering
> Institute (SEI) of ASCE.  SEAOC's leadership and inspiration was pivotal
> adding a "Business and Professional Activities Division" to SEI.  This
> divisions focus is directed toward the non-technical aspects of
> engineering.

You can probably guess that I'm not a member of ASCE, so I really don't
care what happens there. Should I as a member of SEAOC pay for some
activity going on within ASCE? Who is the beneficiary of SEI?

> There are many more benefits that could be listed that have been the
> results of having a state SEAOC office, but I have probably rambled to
> as it is.  Maybe the thing that SEAOC hasn't done enough of is tooting
> own horn for its members to hear.

I certainly think that making public the accomplishments of SEAOC is not in
the "horn tooting" category but more in the accountability category. I
think where a lot of folks (including myself) are offended that this $10
increase was almost automatic and was not even going to be an issue to be
voted on. If there are issues that SEAOC does not want to be debated in a
public forum, maybe an intranet for SEAOC members only can be set up.

But please Rawn, don't stop rambling. This is good stuff.

> Thank you for your time and patience,
> Rawn Nelson