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PE Stamps on Drawings

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Jake, you are pretty astute in your offerings on this topic, as in the past.

I have had in mind a report-back to the list, but other needs have pressed.
Here's how I see it:

The PE Board's proposal has been available to the profession for about a
year. Their meeting agenda packages have contained it that long. I subscribe
privately to the agenda package mailings, and to the free list for receiving
official notices of rulemaking proposals, which one must take the initiative
to request being on. The SEAOC executive office also subscribes to the
agenda pagkages, but little attention seems to have been paid to their
contents over the 6 years or so since there has been a SEAOC executive
secretary. I don't rely on SEAOC to watch out for my interests any more.

The several-issue rulemaking proposal was written, as most are, by a certain
staffer on the PE Board's Enforcement Unit, who has a degree in linguistics
from UCLA, but is not an engineer, land surveyor, or attorney, and it shows
glaringly, as does the typically inarticulate wordsmithing. (I don't name
these staffers because the buck doesn't stop with them. Faulty management
allows staffer mis-assignments and inadequacies to persist.) This staffer I
presume to have an interest in enhancing the ease and scope of pursuing
disciplinary actions through worming sneaky little extra items into rule
changes that come along, like this one. In clear violation of state laws
concerning rulemaking, no reasons or evidence of need for this added-in
multiple stamping provision were revealed. What was offered, as to citing
existing PE Board laws and regulations, was patently false in several
significant ways, which I explained in detail in written and oral testimony
to the full PE Board Thursday. Mind you, this staffer's daily job is
enforcing those same laws, and "misrepresentation" is among the named
offenses WE can be disciplined for.  

The year-ago release of the stamp rule amendment proposal caught my notice,
but I failed to see the new two-sentence, multiple signing provision way at
the end. Other new provisions in the rule were hashed out in response to
written testimony by large firms and agencies last spring and summer,
primarily about allowing use of electronically generated seal images that
would avoid the need for hand-applying a rubber stamp and inkpad impression
on computer- generated drawings, and whether an electronic signature might
be used instead of manually with a pen. No interest in the new multiple
stamping provision seemed to have been taken by anyone. 

Because of substantive changes made in July in the electronic stamp
portions, the entirety had to be re-noticed for public comment all over
again. This time I saw the multiple stamp provision, and in seconds realized
the mischief it held. That was in mid-October. I spread the word in November
in phone calls and a 13-page fax to my two fellow Professional Practice
Committee members here at Central Section of SEAOC. (SEAOC is made up of
four autonomous local associations, which are increasingly starved of
relevance in recent years.) I told my local assn president by phone. And I
filed a request for a hearing with the PE Board. The process is very
familiar, from more than a dozen previous appearances or offerings of
written testimony on rulemaking, and from studying the Administrative
Procedure Act that governs it.

        Just as SEAOC President Ron Hamburger said on the list Thursday
morning, the new SEAOC executive secretary, Lee Adler, did show up, and did
purport to speak for all of SEAOC. He spoke briefly, without discussing the
issues with any real depth of familiarity, and as his "bottom line" said
that SEAOC recommended deleting the second sentence of the two-sentence
proposed new Rule 411(f), which would then make the rule acceptable. (To me
the second sentence was by far the better of the two, and the first was

But he was not the only one to speak. I was the other. I claimed only to be
speaking for myself and one other engineer, and that I was submitting five
separate pieces of written testimony: my own and that of four other
structural engineers, whom I identified as the president of SEAOCC [ie,
Central Section], the legislative chair of SEAOSC (David Weiss) another
Southern Calif structural firm principal, George Richards, and private
practice SE Mark Gilligan of San Francisco. (None of them purported to be
representing anyone else.)

I spoke at least six times as long as did the SEAOC rep, and in detail,
citing sections from the PE Act, the LS Act, and the Board Rules in support
of my several points. I recommended dropping all of 411(f) for now, for
hardship, lack of merit, and lack of there being any necessity shown.
Without wanting to embarass or undercut Mr Adler, I argued that the first
sentence (that one SEAOC would not disturb) placed an impossible burden on
those who have to stamp the plans and "clearly" indicate, to an unknown
person's satisfaction (say, that linguist staffer's) what engineering input
on plans is whose.

To be fair to Ron Hamburger, my Tuesday notice to the list was not timely at
all. It wasn't intended to be notice, because I didn't think anyone cared,
especially at the SEAOC level. It appears I was mistaken, and I put in much
of Wednesday to make the most of the opportunity and to oblige with faxed
copies of documents the five other interested persons, who got word from my
Tues e-mail, then contacted me by e-mail or phone, and indeed came through
very well. Their opinions were all as well founded as the "official" one,
and are duly entered into the rulemaking file, into which the Board has to
file answers to each point made, and which the Office of Administrative Law
reviews in the manner of a plan check and has disapproval powers over.

The SEAOC executive office before this fall was under fire for reasons not
openly revealed yet, and this rulemaking apparently slipped by. Mr Adler is
brand new on the job; the SEAOC executive office is now under totally new

But one particular California SE has been in a perfect position to influence
the offending regulation proposal, and to notify the SEAOC leadership when
at their meetings or otherwise, ALL YEAR LONG. That person is Gregg Brandow,
the structural engineer member of the PE Board, and principal of the large
SE firm that's several generations old in his family. 

Charles O. Greenlaw SE    Sacramento CA