Need a book? Engineering books recommendations...

Return to index: [Subject] [Thread] [Date] [Author]

Re: California State Employees' Initiative To: <seaoc(--nospam--at)> Subject: Re: Ca

[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
My comments appear below yours...
Bill Allen
-----Original Message-----
From: FredT5 <FredT5(--nospam--at)>
To: seaoc(--nospam--at) <seaoc(--nospam--at)>
Date: Thursday, April 09, 1998 7:31 PM
Subject: Re: California State Employees' Initiative To: <seaoc(--nospam--at)> Subject: Re: Ca

>"Bill Allen, S.E." said: With all due respect, I am hard pressed to find many
>examples where a government agency did a job better than the private sector.
>Maybe one exception is putting a man on the moon or WWII.
>Well, Bill, you got my gander. Two exceptions come immediately to mind:
>Exception Two: The enforcement of California's Field Act by the State
>Architect's office (which incidently is staffed almost exclusively with
>Structural Engineers (90% public and 10% private +/-), the reason why is a
>long story for another day...) For the benefit of John Nichols Down Under, the
>Field Act is a 1933 state law that actually requires public schools to be
>thoroughly plan-checked, inspected, and built properly. Predictably, these
>schools perform distinctly better than neighboring buildings during
>earthquakes. Many of the principles of modern structural engineering practice
>in California have roots in this program. I believe this is where we learned
>the value of the basic principle of tying buildings together with complete
>load paths. I dare say that if we didn't have the Field Act, you wouldn't be
>an SE today Bill.
This one has two parts:
With regards to the Fields Act, I couldn't agree with you more. I have advocated since Northridge and Jack Bruce made a presentation at a SEAOSC dinner meeting illustrating the relatively few schools that collapsed dispite their age that all structures beyond a single family residence should be designed, reviewed, inspected, etc. like a school project in high seismic risk areas. No need to arbitrarily bump up the design loads. Just add some quality control.
With regards to being being "an SE today", I seriously doubt if my life would be that much different if I wasn't. I don't want to get into that tired debate again, but if you're curious, see my positions on CE vs. SE, Borpels, etc.

>Exception Three: The enforcement of California's Dam Safety Act by the Div. of
>Dam Safety in the Department of Water Resources. For the benefit of JN Down
>Under, this act was created after the unfortunate failure of a dam that was
>designed (and constructed?) by an unscrupulous local government water
>department, the Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power in the 1920's. The
>Division of Dam Safety sets an unmatched worldwide standard despite an
>overworked, underpaid, thinly spread staff and an aging stock of dams. I
>honestly don't see how Vern Persson, its Chief, gets any sleep at night.
>There are other exceptions that we should be thankful for, most of which go
>unnoticed not unlike much superior private sector work that also goes
I don't know a damn thing about dams. I'm happy not too many fail, but I am certain it would be possible to achieve a similar track record within the private sector. I get frustrated when people turn to govt for a solution when, in general, the government has had a poor track record in spending my money. Maybe a gov't agency would be O.K. for administration purposes. DSA is a good example. When I submit a design to a DSA plan check engineer, it has ALWAYS been a positive experience. I don't get crap like "if I would have designed it, I would have done it this way" (which I have gotten from City plan check engineers. The relationship has always been courteous and professional. Maybe this is something CalTrans can do. However, it would be very hard to convince me that, if CalTrans hired 1,100 or 11,000 or 110,000 engineers to do design work as well, my taxes would go down and bridges would be safer.
>For those obsessed with needing to know the bias of statements,  I work for
>the state and am represented by PECG (by necessity since we have no choice)
>and I'm voting against Prop 224.
>Am I putting any money towards the campaign? No, because it has little chance
>of winning.
>A good rule of thumb is to NEVER vote for initiatives such Prop 224 that have
>not passed muster through the legislature first. Flawed as it is, the
>Legislature does serve some good in allowing independent reviews, open
>dialogues and refinements of proposed laws before they are voted upon.
>Fred Turner
>Staff Structural Engineer
>Ca. Seismic Safety Commission
>1900 K St. #100 Sacramento, CA 95814
>916-327-1606 916-322-9476 Fax