Deregulation

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David Kendall
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Deregulation

Postby David Kendall » Thu Feb 13, 2020 7:17 am


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mpallamary
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Re: Deregulation

Postby mpallamary » Fri Feb 14, 2020 9:27 am

It would be great if CLSA organized a lobbying effort wherein 30 surveyors from across the state went to Sacramento to introduce themselves to their legislators and tell everyone what we do and the contributions we make to society and to the economy as business owners.

We used to do that in order to establish a relationship with our legislators. After we would do that, we would then invite the elected official(s) to speak at a chapter meeting and assure a great turnout.

That is how things are done.

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DWoolley
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Re: Deregulation

Postby DWoolley » Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:41 pm

McClatchy, a 163 year old newspaper  business, has filed bankruptcy.  

According to Bloomberg, "Charlie Munger, vice chairman of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, said "technological change is destroying the daily newspapers in America. The revenue goes away and the expenses remain and they're all dying.'"

This trend is not limited to newspapers.  Most every industry is feeling the pressure. Land surveying is no different in that unlicensed folks are regularly performing, due to technology, the land surveyor's legally defined duties.

Last year, Operating Engineers, Local 3,  bargained away large swathes - giving "comfort language" to the laborer's and carpenter's unions - of the land surveyors' practice definition under Business and Professions Code section 8726.  CLSA, ACEC and CELSA were able to talk to the author's staff at the 11th hour, sparing the professional practice (this time). Has anyone ever watched the video Local 12 produced describing land surveyors? In short, according to the film, land surveyors are incapable of independent thought. They are most correctly thought of as pack mules that swing a hammer - they must be provided direction from others to perform the most rudimentary tasks. Taken at face value, who would hire one of these mindless mules? I found the film to be humiliating and offensive. However, it was convincing enough to get the professional community reclassified from professional to laborers, after 60 years of professional classification, in the federal registry. Mark my words, this laborer classification will come back to haunt the profession.

California has approximately 115 occupational licenses - including three separate tree trimmer licenses.  It appears as though there is room for improvement. It is estimated that the cost to get a license that allows an individual to cut hair costs approximately $15,000.  The cost is a barrier to entry,  especially to the underserved communities, so the argument goes.  There is a push nationally and in California to eliminate "unnecessary" licensure.  I believe the argument will be made to deregulate land surveyors by redefining the description of the practice.  This has already been attempted in several states.  In California,  I can foresee land surveyors licenses limited to boundary establishment,  subdivision mapping, legal descriptions and some geodetic work.  All trade work, as defined by others, will be unregulated. When the trades bifurcate the work...land surveying unceremoniously dies.

The land surveying community, absent land surveying work, are unlikely to find a comparable job with comparable pay - this is especially true for the unlicensed folks.  The unlicensed folks will be fortunate to get a job stocking shelves in an Amazon warehouse (another job being automated).  Frankly, the profession doesn't have room for someone to stand around a truck for 15 years, collecting a check, without being bothered to get an LSIT.  Collectively and ultimately, based on years of no minimum qualifications (besides time served), land surveyors will pay the price for their poor recruiting standards.  This might explain why good jobs for licencees have gone unfilled - like Pol Pot before us, it appears as though the private professional community purposefully angled for simple agrarian folks to fill the ranks. We all know the businesses that have hired the weird cousin that was generally unemployable anywhere else.  The prevailing logic being "we're giving him money anyway, just as well see if he can help out around the office".  Today this person is management in private practice. Public agencies contracting the work to private firms must demand more qualifications. This is also for the preservation of the agency. The agencies must be able to find and hire qualified people or face becoming obsolete themselves.

I am convinced, for the most part, the only reason the land surveyors have made it this far is due to the public agencies.  The agencies have a measurable minimum standard with Caltrans being the gold standard for maintaining minimum qualifications i.e. licensure to be a party chief.  In Southern California, all of the local agencies polled by the OC CLSA require an LSIT to be a party chief.  This minimum qualification was in place prior to my being hired by an agency in 1988.  Private business has had 35 years to establish and maintain a similar minimum qualification.  As a whole, private practice has failed spectacularly at establishing minimum standards and therefore, land surveying is primed to be deregulated.  How/why would any agency hire a contract surveyor that couldn't meet the minimum qualifications to apply for the equivalent position in the same or a similar agency, seriously? It seems like a rip-off of the agency. It is no longer 1975. The brass tacks, no agency should allow any private party chief or technician on any job unless they have, minimally, an LSIT.

OC CLSA is working to address these professional deficiencies.   We expect to have something in place that encourages licensure and minimum hiring standards.  In my opinion, no LSIT within, say, 5 years of employment,  no job. To busy or self important to sit for an 8 hour exam to become licensed?  No job.  The alternative is to surrender the license to be a trade.  The days of hiring strong backs and weak minds must end if the community is to survive.  

In California, the median salary of an MBA is approximately $95,000 and yet, the signatory employers are paying north of $105k, not counting fringe benefits, for the unlicensed, possibly illiterate, weird cousin, why?  The professional community can do better, much better. 

Employers must demand licensure credentials (LSIT and then, PLS) or cry me a river when the profession is deregulated.  

Lastly, please spare me the canard about this one licensee that didn't know anything and this unlicensed, certifiable genius, party chief that was double super awesome.  We can readily acknowledge, collectively, land surveyors are not big problem solvers.  None of us will receive a call at 3am saying there is a plane waiting on the tarmac to wisk us off - our professional assistance is desperately needed in some exotic locale.  However, this is not to say land surveyors should surrender their professional credentials to the trades without a fight. The professional community must move to differentiate themselves from the trades through licensure, education and minimum standards. Reminder, passing a Professional Land Surveyor exam is a test for minimum competency. Shouldn't everyone drawing a check in the profession, especially in any self respecting firm, be minimally competent or on the road to minimum competency? Is it acceptable in 2020, going forward, to warehouse warm bodies for 10, 20, 30 years? I believe most of the LSITs are capable of being licensed. The professional community has failed to demand, encourage and reward them to become licensed.

It was reported to the CLSA Board of Directors, year over year, the license applications were down 50%. Failure to have licensed surveyors will also result in a push to deregulate the profession. Land surveyors can no longer tolerate folks hanging around without minimum, nationally recognized and state administered testing, credentials - anything less is begging to be deregulated.

The private practice community must set the minimum standards of an LSIT and a PLS license, pull as many over the wall as willing to commit to the standard and then, kick the balance loose. The agencies must not hire contract surveyors that do not meet these minimum of standards. That is the plan.

Sincerely, 

DWoolley

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Lee Hixson
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Re: Deregulation

Postby Lee Hixson » Sat Feb 15, 2020 6:13 am

Thanks, Dave. That was a great read.

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mpallamary
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Re: Deregulation

Postby mpallamary » Sat Feb 15, 2020 8:05 am

Well put Dave. Very sobering indeed.

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Re: Deregulation

Postby SteveSlocum » Sat Feb 15, 2020 8:50 am

Dave,

Well said, this needs to be a community effort beyond public and private, hopefully the brink of extinction will unite the profession in California. If not, I will be applying for the Amazon warehouse job or see if I can become a laborer having the unique skill of trimbling.

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Re: Deregulation

Postby mpallamary » Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:30 am

We are not doing anything to protect ourselves. We can stop this if there is the will. All it takes is leadership and a voice.
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TTaylor
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Re: Deregulation

Postby TTaylor » Sun Feb 16, 2020 6:28 am

Thanks, Dave.

Do you think BPELSG is doing a good job of enforcement when there are violations to the Practice Acts they enforce?

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Re: Deregulation

Postby DWoolley » Tue Feb 18, 2020 8:17 am

“Do you think BPELSG is doing a good job of enforcement when there are violations to the Practice Acts they enforce?”

No, I do not think BPELSG staff is doing a good job.

The numbers tell the story:

Less than 10% of the complaints submitted to BPELSG result in formal disciplinary actions (a three year-ish process). Approximately 25% of the complaints submitted result in a citation (after 500 days). The balance of the cases, approximately 65%, are quietly closed. The BPELSG staff, to their credit, now tracks unlicensed practice complaints- which makes up approximately 30% of the total complaints submitted (50% of these unlicensed practice cases result in a "warning letter, compliance obtained, resolved after notification" i.e. no disciplinary citation).

These numbers actually work strongly as a deterrent for the professional community to report bad practice, licensed or unlicensed, to BPELSG. I have plenty of first-hand experience witnessing the demoralization of the professional community. Trying to find understanding, they sometimes find me. The vast majority of these folks will never file another complaint. The lesson is learned.

The truth has always been in the numbers.

The situation generally plays out as follows:

A. A professional (or group of professionals) get fed up with a local egregious practice – oftentimes after having run unabated for years, sometimes decades.

B. The professional, after pacing the floors for years, steps up and files a complaint knowing she may very well be ostracized in her local professional community and/or by the unlicensed contractor(s).

C. For the first couple of years the professional is on needles and pins - unsure about her decision to file a complaint. Her moral compass dictated her actions, but she is plagued with self-doubt, isolated. Periodically, she gets a letter from BPELSG stating the investigation is ongoing. Some hope, mixed with faith in the system, however meager, remains.

D. Year three, the licensee/unlicensed person, for which the complaint was filed, is living the good life, practicing unabated and generally, unbothered by the BPELSG situation. Meanwhile, the professional has given up hope on the process. And then, a letter in the mail, the day of reckoning – alas, she believes all of the professional sacrifices will be justified. The letter states the case has been resolved (65% chance it has been washed, 25% a citation, 10% formal discipline). Best case scenario, the licensee/unlicensed subject to discipline pays approximately $1,500.00 for a citation (or $41.00 per month during the investigation) and continues on with the same practices that got him a boat and a house on the river. One marked difference, today, he tends to have a little more swagger in his step. He may even tell anyone with two ears that he knew he was right all along.

E. The professional, well, she resolves to never file another complaint again and smiles knowingly when she hears BPELSG staff, at a local professional meeting, say “we cannot do anything unless we have a complaint. The professional community needs to file complaints”. Yeah, the joke is on her, and she knows it. The salt is the BPELSG letter asking her to complete a questionnaire and pointedly, asks if she was satisfied with the outcome of the case. [Almost forgot the best part, she is encouraged to file complaints in the future because BPELSG will be doubly, doubly tough, no nonsense, next time a complaint is filed on the sample culprit [wink]). Classic Lucy and Charlie Brown football trick.

BPELSG is a catch and release program with a 65% release rate.

There is plenty more to say.

Mileage may vary.

DWoolley

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Re: Deregulation

Postby TTaylor » Tue Feb 18, 2020 3:11 pm

Dave Woolley,

The reason that I asked was to get a cogent response. Thank you.

When discussing the overall state of the profession it is a three pronged approached.

1. Recruitment and outreach,
2. Education and licensure, and
3. Professional ethics. Particularly around negligence and incompetence.

I absolutely agree that we as a profession should assure the continuation of our profession through hiring practices and the competency and future competency of those aiding and helping out licensed professional as "helpers".

The third part or our professional three legged stool (look above) should be a vigorous approach by BPELSG to sanction those that are incompetent, negligent, and practicing without a license.

That is our weakest link in the perpetuation of out profession. If they are only there to license people at the "minimally competent level" and nothing else.

Well......

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mpallamary
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Re: Deregulation

Postby mpallamary » Tue Feb 18, 2020 7:12 pm

Here is an interesting article I spotted tonight.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicksibill ... 8ceec11078

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TTaylor
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Re: Deregulation

Postby TTaylor » Tue Feb 18, 2020 7:46 pm

Well, Mike, I do like looking at customer reviews when I'm buying a gadget or a widget.

Is there some value around reviews of professional services? I would say yes. But it should be taken in the context of the reviewer's perspective and the reason for the review...

On line reviews of a gadget or a widget are different from a professional service.

(I don't know why I bother commenting at this point. Particularly after....)

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Re: Deregulation

Postby LS_8750 » Mon Feb 24, 2020 10:08 am

I don't see how anybody in this line of work would not push themselves to obtain their LSIT and PLS. I agree with Mr. Woolley.

And further to the "minimum competency" standard for PLS license issuance, the same holds true for the PE. Minimum competency implies a tiered structure within the professions. Enter continuing education. Diversified experience and continuing education is key to competency and eventually mastery.

Do we really live in a culture of apathy, where the pursuit of mastery of our chosen craft is meaningless?

In a culture of death, the vultures thrive.

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Re: Deregulation

Postby E_Page » Mon Feb 24, 2020 5:15 pm

Excellent discussion Dave. As I recently posted in another thread, the thing that will lead to deregulation is expanding incompetence within our profession, or actually, the perceived incompetence and lack of value as compared to unlicensed people supposedly providing the same service. I haven't seen the Local 12 video you mention, but as described, it would greatly contribute to that public perception of general incompetence and misperception of the simplicity of surveying.

In truth, most of the work that union survey crews are tasked to do is simplistic construction stakeout where everything is pre-calculated and if anything is found to be amiss with the data they are sent out with, rather than being expected to analyze the problem and come up with a solution which allows the crew to complete their assigned task, they are expected to simply pack up and bring it back to the office for a smart person to figure out and correct.

It was quite a bit less convenient, but it was far better for the profession, the client and other consultants & contractors on a project when the chief was handed a set of plans and expected to do all necessary calcs and to determine appropriate methods to get the work done. That necessitated that the chief be very familiar with the project, possess and continually hone calculations and problem solving skills.

My experience with union field crews is that there are a few good chiefs but most are barely adequate instrument operators that get chiefs pay only because the contract demands that someone on the crew get chief's pay, and they know which buttons to push to set a point or to store a point. Most can't problem solve, calc, determine what points to collect for a complete topo or patterns of points for accurate contours (thank goodness for scanners), or recognize what information is important for a boundary survey much less know how to properly search for difficult to find monuments.

When I started surveying in the Midwest, most chiefs at least had an LSIT certificate, many had their LS, and there were a few who hadn't yet attained their LSIT but had demonstrated particular aptitude for the skills needed to independently lead a crew of 2 to 5 field surveyors effectively. Project surveyors and department leads were always LSs. In the early 90s, I started seeing a few companies that were putting LSITs in project surveyor and even department lead positions. Sometimes it was because they couldn't find an LS with the skills to lead in both the technical and management aspects of those jobs, but increasingly, it was because most of those firms were run solely by engineers who didn't understand or respect surveying as a profession and saw putting an LSIT in place where an LS should be as a way to pay less for the position while keeping a higher level of control than if an appropriately licensed professional held the position. Now it's very common when seeing ads for such positions that the posting includes "LSIT required, LS a plus."

The profession itself, lead largely by the mid-sized and larger multi-discipline firms are dumbing the profession down from the middle and the expectations and accordingly, the competencies of those above and below follow along. Aside from any licensing violations, if a companies bread & butter is construction layout and subdivision lots, they can get by and be quite profitable with this dumbed-down operational model. But once you get into anything having to do with boundary, mapping, geodesy, etc., you can be certain that there is a good deal of malpracttice in addition to the licensing violations going on.


"I don't see how anybody in this line of work would not push themselves to obtain their LSIT and PLS."

Early in my career, anyone who aspired beyond chainman aspired to one day become licensed. It was the rare odd duck who didn't. Back then, it was seen as a progression in which you worked to become a more knowledgeable and better surveyor along the way. I don't know whether it's related to the far less stringent education and experience requirements here, if it's a generational thing, or a combination, but it seems to me that the license is now seen more as a "ticket" to the next level of pay, has little to do with improving oneself to be worthy of the authority that goes with licensure, and is seen almost as an entitlement for putting in the years (as opposed to gaining the experience).

BPELSG seems to be more concerned with the numbers of licences (more licenses = more clout) than it does with the quality of licensees. Rather than serving and protecting the public, that is a path to harming the public and eventually losing even the pretense of professional status.

With union pay for unskilled and semi-skilled field "surveyors" often surpassing that of non-union office personnel expected to employ some brain power, is it any wonder that many don't aspire to licensure. Without the training and experience to prepare one for a professional level exam, the bump in union pay for having a license being less than 3%, why would most "chiefs" choose to endure the humiliation of failing the exam and demonstrating their lack of real qualifications to lead survey efforts?

From the time I began my career surveying, the cost of getting a BS degree from an accredited college or university has increased about $3 for every $1 of increase in salaries (excepting perhaps union scale jobs which lag in growth behind education costs a bit less but still lag). Although I strongly believe that a college education gives one a significant advantage intellectually (not making one any smarter but training one to study, and providing a breadth of training experience alone typically can't provide), as a cost/benefit matter, I have serious reservations recommending someone going into surveying to go for their degree. In all likelihood, they may still be paying it off until just before they retire.

To make up for the lack of adequate training through useful experience, mentoring by more experienced surveyors, and the ever-increasing cost barriers to education (all the traditional avenues of gaining advanced skill & knowledge), BPELSG, and I assume other states' licensing boards have decreased the difficulty of the exams. Although BPELSG staff and Board members would adamantly deny it, they also used to adjust the cutoff score both by the raw cutoff score and by monkeying with the points assigned to various questions in order to achieve a pass rate within a target range that appears reasonable. That keeps the heat off them for facing questions that they are administering an exam which is unreasonably difficult and keeps those ever critical licensing numbers up. That was a major reason they went to the all multiple guess format - it's inherently easier and significantly cheaper to administer.

BPELSG is leading the profession from the regulating end to decrease actual competency among licensees by surreptitiously lowering the bar set by the exam.

This is getting pretty long, but since I'm in a ranting mood, part 2 coming up...
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Re: Deregulation

Postby E_Page » Mon Feb 24, 2020 6:30 pm

"Do you think BPELSG is doing a good job of enforcement when there are violations to the Practice Acts they enforce?"

No. For the reasons Dave stated and others. The biggest problems I see all fall under the umbrella of an opaque system.

They would prefer that if a CLSA chapter has a PPC, that they limit their activities to a few educational activities and if they venture into opining on whether or not particular practices comport with the PLSA or standards of care/practice, that they limit those opinions to whether a RS was required to be filed under 8762(b). They want the exclusive authority to opine, or short of the actual exclusive authority, to effectively convince all of their licensees that they already have that exclusive authority as to whether various practices comport with the "standard of practice" or are violations of the PLSA, Board Rules, or other laws relevant to survey practice.

Here's the truth of it. All licensees have the authority to opine on these matters. BPELSG has the exclusive authority to enforce these matters.

Ric will tell you that BPELSG enforces the "standard of practice" and not the "standard of care". If that's so, they are operating outside of their legislative mandate and using inappropriate and unauthorized criteria in their enforcement determinations.

B&P §8780 authorizes BPELSG to pursue charges for among a couple other things, negligence or incompetence. The Board Rules define “incompetence” as used in Sections 6775 and 8780 of the Code is defined as the lack of knowledge or ability in discharging professional obligations as a professional engineer or land surveyor. (§404(u))

“[N]egligence” as used in Sections 6775 and 8780 of the Code is defined as the failure of a licensee, in the practice of professional engineering or land surveying, to use the care ordinarily exercised in like cases by duly licensed professional engineers and land surveyors in good standing. (§404(dd))

A "standard of practice" connotes a particular way of approaching a task, a specific decision making model, or a technical procedure which must be adhered to in like circumstances.

As most of us know, there may be many valid approaches to accomplish most survey tasks and many supportable lines of reasoning given a particular fact set which lead to the same, similar, and often different yet supportable conclusions. The requirement for sound professional practice is that an appropriate level of care and consideration be used in accomplishing tasks and arriving at conclusions. Except for a few items expressly described in statute and very few other instances is a particular practice required to the exclusion of any differing approach. This is a hallmark of a profession.

When BPELSG asserts a particular practice to be the only acceptable approach, they seek to reduce Land Surveying from a profession to a mere technical vocation with no clearly defined set of practices.

In the October 2013 Board Meeting, Ric was questioned about how or if "experts" retained by Board Enforcement staff were vetted to ensure they possessed the expertise claimed on the "Technical Expert" form available on the Board's website. He was specifically asked if 5 years of licensed experience was truly adequate without further vetting and if a higher level of expertise might be more appropriate. His response contained a few points of varying validity, including an assertion that they were experts by virtue of being licensed.

IMO, that point has absolutely no validity whatsoever. Licensed as a professional among the entire population of Californians is a vastly different thing than having the knowledge to be considered an expert among licensees in good standing in particular areas of practice.

The exam is and has always been an indicator (not a guarantee) of having the minimum competence required to practice without the supervision and direction of another licensed person of the same profession. It is not and has never been considered to be an indicator of an expert level of competence.

Further, detailed results of performance on the licensing exam are not provided to the successful examinee nor a record of that performance kept by BPELSG. So a person may have failed to earn a single point in non-PLSS boundary areas of the exam, exhibited a not quite competent level of knowledge in the PLSS boundary portion, but performed well enough on other areas to drag them over the typically 50% or so cut score to be rewarded with a license. But since nobody told him that he failed miserably in the boundary portions, he thinks he did just fine and having a very high level of self esteem nurtured throughout life by participation trophies and points for effort regardless of incorrect outcomes, he thinks he aced the exam. And boundary is easy, right? Just read the deed and place the geometric figure on the ground, just like staking curb according to site plans. So five years goes by and he's managed to not get nailed for incompetence (possibly because he didn't recognize when he was required to file a map) and among the 5 or 6 areas of expertise, he puts a check mark by Boundary. After all, he owns a copy of BCLP and even read some of it once, so knows that all the rules are in italics at the head of each section.

A few weeks after submitting the form and his latest resume, he gets a call from an enforcement analyst who asks if he's interested and available to review a negligence case involving a boundary survey. In the end, the decision is made, based on his "expert" opinion whether to drop the case, issue a citation, or file formal charges by which the respondent licensee's authority to survey may be at stake and it will cost several thousand, or more likely tens of thousands of dollars to defend against. And at no point has anyone at the Board taken any steps whatsoever to ensure that their "expert" employed appropriate expertise in arriving at his opinions.

I'm not describing a "could happen" or "might happen" situation, but an actual "did happen". The Board's "expert", who had about 34 years of surveying or "survey related" experience, when lead to break that experience down on the stand, turned out to have about a year and a half of relevant boundary experience. Between the subject surveyor and his retained experts, there was over a century of combined relevant boundary experience.

Unfortunately, the attorney for the respondent surveyor disregarded the advice of her experts to challenge the adequacy of the experience of the Board "expert" and there is a mistaken perception by the Admin Law Judges that the Board would not send unvetted or inadequate experts to testify where people's reputations and livelihood are at stake. Despite the many incorrect assertions and unfounded opinions by the Board's "expert" and perjury by a former BPELSG employee as to what information the respondent surveyor had previously provided to the Board, he prevailed in all aspects except for one minor charge upheld by a minor feat of judicial gymnastics so that the Board didn't suffer total defeat, and assigned the least fine allowed under law.

BPELSG staff did not like the outcome of that unbiased proceeding and so with great dishonesty, presented "facts" which were proven false or which they declined to argue in hearing, while omitting other relevant and proven facts favorable to the respondent surveyor. With this highly disingenuous set of "facts" and the urging of a former Board member who had previously expressed animosity toward the respondent, yet failed to recuse himself from the discussion and decision regarding this case, the Board utterly ignored the outcomes of the civil court system which had fully considered the case and the respondent had prevailed, and utterly ignored the proposed decision of the unbiased ALJ and essentially reinstituted the charges of the citation.

IMO, the licensed Board staff and the Board member who failed to recuse himself despite previously expressed animosity over an unrelated matter toward the respondent constitutes several violations of the Code of Conduct contained at the end of the Board Rules and at least teeters on the edge of outright fraud in order to advance a malicious prosecution.

Part 3 later...
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Re: Deregulation

Postby mpallamary » Tue Feb 25, 2020 6:39 am

Evan, see the attached article.
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Re: Deregulation

Postby E_Page » Tue Feb 25, 2020 7:04 am

I read that article when it came out. Well said.
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Re: Deregulation

Postby mpallamary » Tue Feb 25, 2020 6:20 pm

I have testified in more that 120 lawsuits and as best I can tell, few, if any of the so called "experts" could survive a voir-dire challenge.

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Re: Deregulation

Postby LS_8750 » Wed Feb 26, 2020 8:52 am

A while back I read about Wells Harbor and John Smeaton's theory and testimony. I recall thinking he was full of shit. It came from a book by Tal Golan entitled "Laws of Man and Laws of Nature." I was reminded of the Delta Meadows case, which sounded like a load of junk theory as well.

The above book is a good read for a voir dire prep.

The Wells Harbor case seems to have given birth to opposing expert opinions and how does one believe the testimony of so called experts.

And I liked your Article Mr. Pallamary. It came at a good time.

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Re: Deregulation

Postby DWoolley » Wed Feb 26, 2020 1:49 pm

I am loathe to hijack a bonafide conversation about deregulation, but I offer a couple of casual observations about experts. 

To qualify my forgoing statements, I have testified in many depositions, hearings and trials and sat through an equal amount of "expert" testimony.  

Land surveying experts are most often a weakness of the case - to the attorneys, there is an unpredictable wild card aspect to any experts. In my experience, the best of the best attorneys do not rely on experts, but rely on the unpredictable nature of the opposing counsel's expert. Land surveying experts do not win cases, but they certainly can play a big part in losing a case. 

Generally speaking, a good case only requires educational information from any expert.  The expert information usually benefits all parties. The challenge usually involves undoing the commitment to the previous poorly performed work. The quack land surveyor usually does not cede quickly because of the perceived liability.  Casual observation,  the worst of the "experts" usually sit on the defense side.  Plaintiff's counsel usually wants accurate information, good or bad, to proceed.  

In the many land surveyor "expert" depositions/testimony I have found the level of incompetence as consistent as a postman walking a route. It is the wild west. 

Although counterintuitive to conventional wisdom, the self proclaimed experts are usually much worse than a run of the mill land surveyor off the street.  I believe the marketplace has relegated many of them to this nearly single income source.  Essentially, they are hawking land surveying snake oil.  Frankly, they can get away with it far more often than not.  I have witnessed duelling fake experts where each was completely out of their respective tree and willing to fight about it.  

Over a four day hearing, I personally witnessed the case Evan Page referred to in an earlier post.  The "expert" passed his exam in the early 1980s and stated he had never attended a class, seminar, read a book or any other educational opportunity in 34 years.  In fact, his last education was union apprenticeship several years prior to licensure.  He went on to confidently testify about a record of survey procedure and particulars in a county he had never worked in or had any familiarity with the history of the land records (private records were at issue).  In fact, he had performed no similar projects in his 34 year history in his home county.  In contrast, in that particular county, I had reviewed hundreds of records of survey,  over the course of many years prior to this case, and spoken to many of the long practicing locals about intricacies of the area.  

In the same case, I personally witnessed a (former) BPELSG staffer  stretch way out in an effort cover the BPELSG "expert" and to "win" the case,  truth be damned.  The testimony was so uncrediable the ALJ stopped him mid-testimony and asked him to explain himself and a wacky analogy he had offered.  FWIW, according to his testimony,  this was the second time he had testified.  This testimony was a discredit to the profession and after the dust settled, I took it personally.  I had prepared questions for the attorney to ask - assuring her this guy was competent and more importantly,  honest.  He was competent.  As a personal friend of many years, I didn't consider, even for a second, that he would lie.  The lesson being, competency has no import when someone is willing to compromise their integrity.  

I believe there are likely to be many good land surveyors, but I suspect experts are few and far between.  The best way to become an expert is to have an expert mentor (an attorney), spend an inordinate amount of time understanding the process and subject matter and to resist the urge, if any, to advocate for an outcome - let the attorney do her job utilizing the sliver of technical education provided by the expert.  Restated, stay in your lane - you're not the lay version of Gerry Spence.  Frankly, mistakes are inevitable in building an expert resume.  For example, nothing completely prepares an expert for the process i.e. developing a speaking cadence with proper pauses or answering completely without answering questions that have not been asked, or being patient as the deposing attorney develops the foundation, etc.  When an expert is live, there is nobody there to bail the expert out and it can get real ugly - especially, for a poser.   

Ultimately,  this expert discussion furthers the argument that all people working in the profession should be licensed or on a path to licensure.  I believe there is no longer room for goldbrickers.  If a private practitioner has someone picking up a payroll check and you cannot see them being a licensed professional, well, if you're signing that payroll check, you are part of the problem.  If you are a contracting agency and you are willing to contract to companies that use unlicensed staff i.e. no LSIT minimum, well, you are part of the problem. A 20 year LSIT, no PLS, no commitment to a test date, ah, "here's your gold watch, now beat it goldbricker!". This is a profession, not the WPA.

Folks in the public agencies, why would you invest a plug nickel of taxpayer money into a private firm that has not invested or demanded their staff's license credentials? What has the firm been doing the last 10, 20 or 30 years? (Hint, ripping off public agencies if the staff provided couldn't meet the MQs to apply for the same job inhouse). Especially under an honest QBS system. Is pawning off unlicensed people on an agency, under the faux "supervision" of a licensee, the best use of taxpayer's dollars? Raise the bar, it's taxpayer money. No state issued testing credentials i.e. LSIT or PLS, demonstrating minimum competence, no work. Demand licensure.

Build for the future, your future, her/his future or surrender to being an unregulated trade laborer.  

DWoolley


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