Due to snow, tomorrow 7 pm is the time for the monthly meeting for our County Legislature...
(note a bit below-- new info from Tom Olsen re: electrician licensing issue]
[see full agenda: http://www.co.dutchess.ny.us/CountyGov/Departments/Legislature/CLagenda.htm]
There are a number of things on the agenda (click on link just above to download all of 'em)...
Feel free to join us tomorrow and speak up and speak out-- on 6th floor of 22 Market St. in Poughkeepsie...
[...can't make it?...send your thoughts on these to all of us-- at firstname.lastname@example.org!...]
2010025 Local Law No. 1 of 2010, a Local Law repealing Local Law No. 4 of 2008, requiring the licensing of Master Electricians to do business as electrical contractors within Dutchess County, as amended by Local Law. No. 1 of 2009 Repeal of local law licensing electricians who do business in Dutchess County
On that note-- this just in from La Grange's Tom Olsen (email@example.com)-- "Dutchess is getting surrounded by licensed communities-- Orange is newest. This means fewer places where contractors without licenses can work. Bad guys kept out of other places are welcome here, one of few places left for them. Fact is that now bad guys don't get inspections or permits-- but licensed guys always do; Consumer Affairs Dept. does referrals, not enforcement, because no protection laws to enforce"...
Fact: Even Clinton's Richard Morse (who had been quoted repeatedly in Journal and Freeman as an opponent of this legislation) stood up and publicly stated at a Red Hook Town Hall forum August 6, 2008 that with my amendments incorporated into the law that it was much clearer to him that contractors who can prove they've been doing quality electrical work are grandfathered into this fundamental consumer protection law.
Fact: Though almost completely ignored by the vast majority of local media (for all intents and purposes), the fact is this law would not hurt local contractors; I got amendments like these included:
"Two years after the implementation of this law, the Government Services and Administration Committee, or its equivalent, shall evaluate the effectiveness of this law, including its impact upon the consumers of Dutchess County.
Any person who can show proof that he or she has been in business as an electrical contractor continuously and competently doing the work of a Master Electrician in Dutchess County for at least eleven (11) consecutive years prior to the date of the adoption of this local law and this work is a substantial source of livelihood for that person, and who completes an application to the Board as required by the Board no later than two (2) years from the date of the adoption of this local law shall be entitled to a restricted Master Electrician's License without examination, which will not apply in the cities of Beacon and Poughkeepsie, where an examination has been a requirement. Exceptions may be made by appeal to the Board on a case by case basis.
In the event that a person has been in business continuously and competently doing the work of a Master Electrician in Dutchess County for less than eleven (11) consecutive years prior to the date of the adoption of this local law, but is otherwise qualified to receive a grandfathered Master Electrician's License, and this work is the substantial source of livelihood for that person, the board will consider an application for a Temporary Master Electrician's License, which can be renewed as a Master Electrician's License after the applicant has completed 11 consecutive years successfully and competently doing the work of a Master Electrician in business as an electrical contractor."
Fact: Without licensing Dutchess is a magnet for dangerously unlicensed and unqualified electricians-- as Putnam, Orange, Rockland, Greene, and Westchester counties all license electricians locally, along with Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey (and three-fourths of states across the U.S.).
Fact: In every single one of those counties revenue from the law has exceeded cost-- bringing in $.
Fact: 3.9% of all fires in New York are due to electrical wiring (besides another 8% due to overloading cords/outlets, and another 8% from electrical appliances) according to the NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control-- and "nearly half (47%) of the residential building electrical fires where equipment was involved were caused by the building's wiring" according to the National Fire Data Center.
[see: http://www.dos.state.ny.us/fire/firewww.html ; https://www.usfa.dhs.gov/downloads/pdf/tfrs/v8i2.pdf ]
Fact: Unfortunately, there are far too many out there still doing electrical work leading to dangerously open splices, wires scotch-taped together; too many who don't understand current, amp interruptions, grounding, low-impedance fault current path, and the difference between bonding and wiring on swimming pools (too many still try to bring current back to panel board: wrong).
Fact: People here in our region have actually smelled their electrical wiring smoldering inside their walls just in time-- before their houses caught fire and burned down. The problem with electricity is that it's behind the walls-- it's hidden, like sheetrock; one loose connection can cause havoc, and problems can crop up in a week or in ten years; it's not like painting or siding, where mistakes can be readily seen. [see http://www.PetitionOnline.com/SafeWire -- and join 39 others on board; comments there too]
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This also just in from Tom Olsen (firstname.lastname@example.org)...
DUTCHESS COUNTY ELECTRICAL LICENSING BOARD
Report No. 4, January 2010. Prepared by Dutchess County Electrical Contractors Association:
Board does nothing. License law set up for kill.
January 14, 2010. Let's get something done. These words have not been heard so far in any meetings of the Dutchess County Electrical Licensing Board, and eight meetings have been held since May of last year. There has been a lot of talk, but the board isn't doing its job, which is to implement the licensing law passed in October, 2008 over County Executive William Steinhaus' veto.
What the board has done (not done).
Following is a year-end report on the licensing board, including a summary of the board's October, November and December meetings.
So far, the board has taken no real action to implement the license law because the board chairman, Allan Page, has found ways to keep the board from doing any actual work, and the board has gone along with his time-wasting leadership.
He has prevented the board from raising any money although money could have been collected through issuing licenses for 2010 if the board had made this an objective.
He has delayed hiring of an administrative person by turning hiring over to the county, and has expanded the job requirements, and salary, beyond what is necessary, or even reasonable, compared to operations of other licensing boards.
He has encouraged the board members to fear their possible liability if someone should sue the board, which has led to much time wasted in discussion. He could have found out, with one phone call, that the board is protected by the county's liability insurance.
His lack of experience with the electrical trade has caused many time-wasting misunderstandings and discussions, and has frustrated more-experienced members of the board.
He has led the board through a line-by-line review of the license law, not yet complete, causing much discussion and preventing the board from taking any action to implement the law. Reading the law, line-by-line at every meeting, the board reached line 592 in December. The law is 705 lines long.
He developed a so-called budget for the board using classified pages of telephone books as a basis for estimating the number of licenses the board would issue in 2010. He ignored the lists of licensed electricians in Beacon,
Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, Kingston and Putnam County, which made his estimate low by about fifty percent compared to estimates based on lists of licensed electricians doing business in Dutchess County. His underestimate of licenses for 2010 gave him a budget that calls for continuing financial support from the county.
The county executive then used this bogus budget as proof that licensing would not be self-supporting, as it is specified to be in the law, and accused legislators sponsoring the law of lying about licensing being self-supporting. He gave this spurious claim as his reason for vetoing start-up funds for the board, provided by a vote of the legislature in September. The board would have reimbursed the county after beginning to collect license fees.
How did the board get the chairman who has led it nowhere?
At the board's first meeting, board-member Joseph Beahan, a county employee, hurriedly nominated Allan Page for chairman; twice, once before the board members were seated and again after self-introductions. The board duly elected Page chairman, and elected two vice chairmen, electrical-contractors Wilbur Whitman and Robert Kaehler. This is the only actual business the board has ever conducted.
Page is a consultant and licensed engineer and is said to be a long-time close friend of the county executive. At the time he was appointed to the license board by county-executive Steinhaus, Page was finishing out a three-year consulting contract with the county that paid him about $70 thousand. In December 2009, the county gave him a new, two-year contract that will pay him $50 thousand.
September, October, November and December meetings. Nothing new.
After eight months, the board still has no plan for action to implement the license law. At the September meeting, subjects discussed were; legal protection for the board members in case of a lawsuit; a budget, Chairman Page stuck to his erroneous estimate but in response to a request from the county legislature promised to do a timeline plan; the proposed administrative person, Page reported that a job description was being written by the county; doubts about granting licenses to electricians licensed in Poughkeepsie and Beacon without further checking their qualifications; reading the license law and arguing about the meaning of legal terminology in the law's language.
In October, the board again discussed a budget, resolved that the county was not going to provide funding any time soon, but made no decisions. The job description for an administrative person was discussed; the job is now upgraded from a clerical position to an executive administrator who would actually do all the license board's work. More doubts were raised about granting licenses under the law's grandfather clause. The county's liability-insurance coverage of the board was discussed, and the board decided to invite a county administrative person to the November meeting to explain the county's insurance. And, once again, the board reviewed and commented on the license law, line-by-line.
November. About the same discussions as October's meeting. Chairman Page told the board he did not answer a request to appear before the legislature's Government Services and Administration Committee because he had not been called and told the date and time of the committee meeting. He said he would speak to the committee on November 23.
December. A representative from the county's insurance provider explained that the board members are covered by the same liability insurance covering the elected members of the county government and county employees. Chairman Page reported speaking to the county legislature - he told the legislature there had been “no delay” in the board's activities. Still working with his telephone-book-classifieds-based budget, he asked the legislature for $153 thousand to fund the board in 2010. At the board meeting, board-member Kaehler asked chairman Page if he thought the board would need continued funding from the county. Page said yes.
January. A new legislature may kill the license law.
Several newly-elected county legislators have said they will seek to get rid of the license law. The first meeting of the new Government Services and Administration Committee will be held January 21. This committee could introduce a resolution to kill the law and then move the resolution out for a vote by the full legislature at its meeting the week of January 25.
This situation has been engineered by the county executive. He appointed the board, as required by the law. One person appointed, Joseph Beahan, is a county employee. If he acted contrary to the executive's wishes or instructions, he'd probably be fired. Beahan nominated Allan Page for board chairman. Page is a licensed engineer, and accordingly meets requirements for a seat on the license board. Page is a friend of the county executive, and, as a consultant under contract to the county, helps the county control its energy costs. Page has blocked or deflected every attempt the license-board members have made to actually do something to implement the license law. And, in late December, he was awarded a new consulting contract by the county.
Stalling implementation of the law must please the county executive because he has vetoed laws for licensing electricians every time the legislature has passed a license law. He vetoed the law in effect now but his veto was over-ridden, causing him considerable embarrassment. He vetoed start-up funding for the license board. He called the law's sponsors liars. His ego is at work here. He's determined to stop this law - a consumer-protection law similar to laws in many other counties -- using any and all means in his power. He's driven to win. If he does, he makes losers of all the 300,000 people in Dutchess County.
Dutchess County Electrical Licensing Board members.
Members of the board - who according to the law must be a union and a non-union contractor, a public-utility representative, an electrical inspector, a building inspector, a licensed professional engineer and a county citizen representing the public -- were appointed by the Dutchess County Executive as directed in the Dutchess license law, which passed over the Executive's veto in October.
Board members are:
Robert Kaehler, Perreca Electric. Appointed as electrical contractor employing union electricians.
Wilbur Whitman, Rondout Electric. Electrical contractor employing non-union electricians.
Frank Pace. Central Hudson standards department, utility representative.
Tom LeJeune. Electrical inspector, New York Electrical Inspections.
Joseph Beahan, Building inspector, Dutchess County Department of Public Works.
Allan Page, licensed professional engineer, principal at consulting firm A. Page & Associates LLC.
Don (Sandy) S. Williams, acting for the residents of Dutchess County, owner Williams Lumber & Home Centers.
How to get a copy of the license law:
To get a copy of the license law for reference about powers and duties of the licensing board, visit the Dutchess County government website, go to the legislature home page and click on recent and pending legislation. A copy of the law is available for downloading and printing.