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RE: Architects Doing Engineering -Enough!

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I'm finally at the end of my rope! For the last three or four years I have
tried to see Frank's comments as having a touch on reality that most of us
overlook and which can use to identify the weakness of our system. However,
Frank Lew comments of late to suggest that the board of directors and
committee chairpersons are purposefully stonewalling the membership by using
their private fraternal clique combined with the power of the apathetic
professional community that pay their dues and allow this board to be as
ineffective as possible and still maintain the organization.
Franks appears to believe that those with strong opinions  need to join the
fraternity or forever be committed to obscurity. My opinion from his
discussion is that we need not bother wasting energy to create change since
it will accomplish nothing. We pay our dues to an organization that has no
legislative lobby power (as he suggested in his prior post where he relates
the lobby power of organizations such as BIA, NAHB, AIA etc.)and as a
combined state organization is willing to compromise - essentially
diluting - the combined professional opinion until it is much less effective
than what we started with. This is evident when we learn of the discourse
between the chapters that is occurring today by differences of opinion
between chapters that can not be resolved at a state level. The solution is
create more committees to evaluate the work at the state level (as appears
to be the notion from the latest SEAOC Review). If we haven't learned our
lesson from big government, these sub-committees to review other committees
or the effectiveness of the organization is a waste of money, energy and
time. Do you want answers, then poll this list or our members.
What SEAOC lacks and what the structural engineering community lack as a
whole is the ability to motivate it's members. If it can not create a
majority if voice, then it should be listening to the vocal minority such as
this list. It need not consider only SEAOC members, but should be listening
to the needs of the global community which it claims to want autonomy over
other engineering organizations when it comes time to create IBC
If only 300 of the 6,000 list members are active, then this becomes the
vocal minority. If this does not meet the satisfaction of the silent
majority then let them speak or forever hold their piece.
The fact is that SEAOC is not paying credence to the voice of this list. We
are a consolation to the community and a means to channel our concerns in a
mobius loop without every being considered credible by our elected officials
or chairpersons.
Let's face it, the only time I have received responses is when I threaten
the loudest or when some board member becomes surprised at the level of
professional concern discussed on this list. Above that, the board member
becomes equally apathetic over our involvement and maintains this list to
generate revenue and provide a platform to blow off steam.
Frank has given me the proof I need to seek the abolition of a state
organization. He has also provided me with the evidence that what we need is
to promote more independent SEA organizations to have greater lobby power.
If this is not sufficient, then he has convinced me that SEAOC is not an
organization worthy of my dues.
Now, I would hate to think that Frank Lew holds the combined opinions of the
current SEAOC board or committee chairs, but rather, is the opinion of an
ex-advocate who has finally thrown in the towel and is trying to convince
this list to conceded defeat as well.
I'm disappointed to learn that what I thought was reasonable arguments to
instill fresh thinking from this list is, IMHO, nothing more than attempts
to negate the efforts or concerns of the individual members of this list.
Looking back among the posts, I find very little constructive advice from
Frank, however, I treated him with the respect I believed he deserved due to
his years of activity in the profession.
I, for one, am disappointed in the direction that Frank is taking. I believe
him to be an extremely competent engineer and intelligent professional with
contacts, but am surprised at his lack of ability to seek other avenues to
promote change for what ails the profession - bad codes and incompetent
decision makers.
Yes, I'll be attacked by committee chairs who will claim that if I want
change, I should be involved. Well, I have been involved both as a committee
chair, a sub-committee chair and as an editor of SEAOC Online which no
longer exists because of political conflict and the unwillingness of any one
else to step into my shoes and provide the level of involvement and work
that I devoted to it. Therefore, I have the right to voice my concerns and
distaste with the system - I've paid more than my dues.
Now it's time, as a united 6,000 listservice membership to get off your
collective asses and start voicing an opinion. Send your opinions to
seaosc(--nospam--at), seaoc(--nospam--at) and any board member or chairman you care to
express concern with. Write NAHB (I have CC'd a letter I sent Jay Crandal
from NAHB to this list), CELSOC, ASCE, NSPE and any other organization you
think needs our help. If you have contacts in the insurance industry that
are decision makers - copy this thread and forward it to them.
If you work for an employer that will not allow you to respond to this
thread or only digest the posts - join the list on your home computer,
respond to seaoc(--nospam--at) on your own time, do it on weekends, ask your
employer to allow you access to respond to the list on your own time but,
for heavens sake - get involved.
If you are in another state or another country you still need to voice an
opinion to try and instill change. These same codes will become national
codes and are applicable wherever wind or seismic govern. Conventional
framing provisions are used in every part of the country.
If your state specifically assigns professionals through municipalities to
govern Conventional framing, voice your opinion to promote a complete
prescriptive measure.
If you fear that pressures to City Councils will force the Building Official
to compromise good professional practice over a loop-hole or inappropriately
detailed section of the code - stand before the City Council and voice your
opinion - try to get on your local building departments appeal board or
planning commission.
I don't care if you are recent graduate, or still a student - I don't care
if you don't specialize in residential construction - your professional
ethics should be sufficient to get you involved in an issue to protect the

Picture in your mind the family living in a poorly designed home yet in
compliance with conventional framing standards. The home is torn away from
it's foundations due to the savings of a few holddowns or anchor bolts or
possibly an additional shear wall.
Now picture the financial hardship of the family trying to take on a second
to cover their insurance deductible. Envision a family who can not make the
repairs which may have been avoided if only the prescriptive code where
equivalent to the minimum engineered standard. Picture the family in a
public shelter or living for months with relatives or forced on the street.
Envision the psychological pain and hardship these families must endure.
Think about the battle with the insurance companies that they must endure
(and I'm sure any of you who surveyed damage or were hired to repair homes
can understand).
Imagine the stress to the children, the parents who argue over if and when
the inconvenience will end. Imagine the financial burden left - even with
low income loans.
Now picture the members of this family are your sons and/or daughters.

Get off your butt and act on this!

Dennis Wish PE

Dennis Wish PE

-----Original Message-----
From: FLew98 [mailto:FLew98(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Saturday, May 23, 1998 8:59 PM
To: seaoc(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Architects Doing Engineering -Enough!

In a message dated 98-05-23 19:18:17 EDT, you write:

>  Well, I developed a reasonable plan.

How reasonable is debatable, but the goals and objectives were certainly
unrealistic.  You wrote the equivalent of a letter to the editor in your
paper.   Most such writers have strong opinions on a subject, and need to
them.  Among readers who see the letter, some will nod and say, "Yep, that
makes sense to me".  Then it gets tossed with the rest of the paper into the
recycle bin.  Such missives have no impact because the writers have invested
only some keyboard time, and no other resources or energy to further their
positions.  Typically, they want the govenment, leaders or policy makers to
'do something' about one issue or another.

>  Now you want me to
>  execute the plan myself? As you know by now, I have too strong opinions
>  hold a political office nor do I have the time since I am running a one
>  shop (more or less).

I've isolated these rationalizations so they will register distinctly with
listserv readers, who can form their own opinions.  No further comment.

>  I do know that, while paying dues for eighteen years, I have
>  seen very little evidence where the organization has done anything to
>  protect the professional (as opposed to the profession).

There have been continuing debates over the issue of serving the needs of
consulting offices vs. serving the more technical needs of engineers.  I
recall at least two debates on this subject when I was on the SEAONC board .
The reality is that the majority of SEAOC members are employees, not
principals and partners who have a focus on the business side of the
profession.  Such employee members are more interested in activities and
services that focus on the nuts and bolts, and not, for example, mounting an
assault on BORPELS or the AIA.  These folks pay the same dues and deserve
as much value as you do.

>  Why assume others will do my "heavy lifting"? Frank, that's why I elected
>  and pay dues. Just like the members of AIA do.   Just like the members of
>  representative form of government do.

This analogy goes only so far.  Your officers aren't compensated like
representatives to government, nor have that level of authority and
The only 'compensation' they receive is a meal at the monthly board
Most of them likely are as time-constrained as you are, and perhaps no more
able to allocate time to the good of the profession than you.  Yes, there's
slight bit of glory attached to holding office, so perhaps we should expect
bit more effort from them than members in genral.    But not a lot more,
except perhaps from the presidents, who have more glory.

>  Please, Frank, if you can't offer something constructive, please
>  go back to your knitting and leave this thread alone.

Perhaps I didn't make it clear in previous postings.  My constructive
suggestion is to save our energies and resources by not tilting at *these
particular* windmills.  Conventional construction still will be allowed in
your grandchildren's time.  So will architects and civil-civils who do an
occasional structural building job in California.  Take it from a long-time
observer of the Sacramento scene.

Frank Lew, SE
Orinda, CA