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Well said, Bill!  Thank you

Rick Ranous

Bill Cain, S.E. wrote:

> As a member of SEAONC and SEAOC I have followed this thread with interest.
> At the SEAONC annual meeting last tuesday evening, several of the SEAONC
> officers, the SEAOC President and the SEAOC Executive Director made
> comments about the reorganization study.  The party line repeatedly
> presented was that a study is happening but no decisions have been made.
> However, from the remarks made a very different picture emerged.  Each of
> those that spoke emphasized basically that there needed to be a single,
> statewide organization with all power concentrated in that body.  The words
> used were remarkably similar.  It appears that a consensus has already been
> reached with little, if any, dialog with the membership.
> Ron Hamburger's remarks on this list serve leave no doubt where he stands
> on the issue.  He feels change is vital.  While I do not disagree that we
> need to be continually mindful of how best to advance the structural
> engineering profession's impact on issues vital to all of us, I strongly
> feel that we need to "remember our roots."  As an alliance of four (4)
> strong regional organizations operating together with Statewide
> coordination, SEAOC can and will effectively represent our concerns.
> Remember that each of the four regional organizations is as large as many
> of the statewide organizations in other states.
> Ron points out that the airplane and telephone have made practice on a
> state (and I would point out in the case of Ron's firm, national and
> international level as well) level practical.  While this is true for some
> firms, many structural engineers practice on a local or regional level in
> small firms.  Should SEAOC represent only those who practice on the wider
> level.  I think not.
> I believe we need to COORDINATE on a Statewide basis, but GOVERN on a
> regional basis.  One of the hazards of a single state organization is that
> it makes contact with the average SEAOC member even more remote.  Many of
> us just don't have the travel budget to fly all over the State to
> participate.  We can and do participate locally and , thanks to this
> listserver, globally.
> SEAOSC has taken the lead in establishing and maintaining this list server.
>  This list shows how we can utilize current technology to effectively
> foster dialog. It also shows that a close regional connection helps to make
> important advancements happen.  SEAOSC has some significant Board
> participation in these discussions.  With the exception of Ron (who
> particpates frequently with thoughtful discussions on a variety of
> subjects), however, it is distrubing that SEAONC Boardmembers appear
> content to basically ignore the list or at least visibly so.
> If we go to a statewide governance model, I fear the contact will be even
> more remote.  Concentrating the organization at the State level will mean
> fewer people making all the decisions.  The feeling of the members I've
> talked with is that they expect it will be much more difficult for them to
> realistically participate in the directions SEAOC takes. Shafat's concerns
> about a "strong state office" with little to offer is an important comment.
> The most effective way we can be heard as a profession is to encourage the
> widest possible participation by structural engineers in issues that are
> important to us.  Most politicians look at the volume of contacts they
> receive on an issue and many do not pay particular attention to who it came
> from (unless, of course, there is a big check attached  :<))   ).  Thus if
> they get a letter or phone call or a fax from SEAOC, it may count about as
> much as a letter, phone call or fax from Joe Citizen.  Because of this,
> four STRONG regional organizations, each voicing concerns and cooperating
> (where there is consensus) through the coordination of a state office, can
> be more effective.  And where we all do agree on an issue, that means four
> strong voices, not just one.  Where we don't have a general consensus, we
> should not be taking a stand anyway since the organization is then only
> representing those currently "in power."
> This gets to the issue of speaking with one voice versus many.  Having held
> two elective offices (City Council and Board of Education), I have found
> that a single voice tends to freeze the dialog too early.  Most of the
> better governmental decisions I've been involved with have resulted from
> many people arguing their respective positions with the resulting
> discussions evolving into a decision that is far better than any one of the
> original positions.  We should be offering up our ideas and working toward
> a synergistic solution. I will agree that this process is neither
> comfortable or rapid.  But the fact is that it produces better decisions.
> We only need to look at some of the hair-brained State Propositions (e.g.,
> Proposition 224, remember that one?) that we recently voted on.  These
> initatives are drafted by one group (many well-intentioned) and lack the
> critical review by those of opposite views with the subsequent
> modifications that might make their idea truly serve the public as a whole.
> Advancing our interests can not be just limited to SEAOC participation.  We
> have far too few engineers involved on governing boards, city councils,
> county boards of supervisors, the legislatures and, in fact, all elective
> offices.  On the other hand, we have far too many lawyers!!!
> Fred Turner's comments on "isolationist rumblings" do a disservice to the
> SoCal folks.  This listserver ties us together on a statewide basis and
> would not have happened without the SoCal lead.  It is unfortunate that we
> don't have current minutes, reports, etc. on the webpage.  It would be an
> excellent way to improve communication between the Board and the membership.
> At the tuesday night SEAONC meeting, I was distrubed when the SEAOC
> Executive Director commented that he didn't feel putting the minutes of
> Board meetings on the webpage was particularly timely or helpful to the
> membership as that couldn't be done until they are official and that would
> take THIRTY DAYS until the next meeting.   What would be wrong with HIM
> putting a short report on what was discussed and some of the thoughts
> offererd both for and against the proposals considered?  It would not be
> the "corporate records" but it would certainly give the membership a better
> feel for what is being discussed. It would be more and better information
> than the sanitized versions we now get long after the fact.  And what is so
> slow about THIRTY days?  Most of the most recent committee meeting minutes
> are over a year old and many committees don't even post.
> I see communication and coordination as a role of the State office that is
> as important as serving the Board and national advocacy.  If the Board made
> it an important part of the role of the SEAOC Executive Director to
> communicate with the membership and emphasized the importance of the use of
> electronic means, like the webpage and the listserver, to accomplish that
> communication, we could more quickly build strong consensus on issues and
> have a much better informed and active membership.  In each of the
> non-profit organization boards I serve on, the Executive Director's role is
> to coordinate the utilization of as many volunteers as possible to further
> the organization's puproses, not do it all themselves.  One of these
> organizations effectively mobilizes over 2,000 volunteers each year to
> perform over 30,000 hours of service to the local community. That is far
> more effective than the just using the hours our two paid staff members
> have available plus it builds community.   What I'm trying to say is that I
> think we can use State staff more effectively by refocusing their roles in
> the areas of communication and coordination.  We have outstanding staff
> members that, with Board direction, can be far more effective coordinating
> the membership to action than just trying to do it on our behalf.
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