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RE: 97 Code is a Life Safety Standard

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Mike, I agree with your points below, and understand that rarely does the
public at large initiate any change in policy by direct action, or show a
mood for action so strong as to compel government adoption outright. 

What I referred to is the "public policy" which is expressed by a
legislative arm of government in its ordinary capacity of speaking and
acting on behalf of the public that elected it.

A legislative body typically sees a member introduce a measure on behalf of
some interested person or group, and then it takes testimony from other
parties, and determines in its own wisdom what public policy is to be in the
matter at hand. In this context, structural engineers already are quite
influential at both initiating and testifying, in the interest of molding
seismic safety "public policy." (SE's however get nowhere in trying to take
Calif structural work away from civil engineers; turf grabs are quickly
exposed and weeded out. Public policy decisions remain with the legislature.) 

Typically an executive branch may veto a legislative enactment, but may not
act independently of the legislative branch, nor later in its administrative
regulations may an executive agency act in excess of what the legislature

The courts will not substitute their own judgment for public policy judgment
properly but "unwisely" exercised by a legislative body.

Occasionally, the public through initiative or referendum acts outside the
legislative body. Of course some small fraction of the public will initiate
the action. SE's conceivably could start an initiative measure.

But my point was that although committees of engineers like SEAOC Seismology
have for a long time been looked to for technical code provisions, and have
been influential in policy matters like scope of applicability, there is no
public policy-making "entitlement" actually vested in such committees.
Committee conduct that looks like its members "own" the outcome by virtue of
longtime special privilege is understandably grating on others, as we have
seen. And committee conduct that is not clearly within its members
understood area of special expertise provokes objections from those who do
have the relevant expertise and believe themselves harmed.

Charles O. Greenlaw SE  Sacramento CA
At 01:34 PM 9/24/99 -0700, you wrote:
>Your summary of "purpose" is on target and I agree when you say
>>... What the seismic purpose in the future should be is a
>> question of public policy, not a technical committee's exclusive
>> prerogative. 
>However, I would note that with very few exceptions (for instance, 
>the Field Act) no one has been willing to address "public policy."  
>The idea of "the public" setting policy is nice, but "the public" has 
>never done anything; even political revolutions are carried out by 
>groups of individuals.  We may hear a hue and cry but the clamor 
>is short-lived and lucid suggestions do not follow.  Meanwhile, 
>members of technical committees address the perceived problems 
>indirectly since directly addressing "public policy" is beyond their 
>charge.  Societally, the result is all talk, no action.
>- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
>Michael Valley                                   E-mail: mtv(--nospam--at)
>Skilling Ward Magnusson Barkshire Inc.                  Tel:(206)292-1200
>1301 Fifth Ave, #3200,  Seattle  WA 98101-2699          Fax:        -1201