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A Summary of the February 17, 2005 DCA Meeting
By SCal Vice-Chair Charles Nestle

On February 17, 2005, Governor Schwarzenegger retracted his proposed “Governor’s Reorganization Plan 1’ stating that he has “concluded that this proposal will benefit from further review.” Three days prior to that announcement, on February 14, CCGO and AEG representatives met with Department of Consumer Affairs Director, Charlene Zettel, two Deputy Directors, Nancy Hall and Kirsten Tripke, and Assistant Deputy Director Laura Zuniga at the DCA offices in Sacramento. Participating representatives included: CCGO President, Jason Preece (AEG Sacramento), CCGO Vice President, Charles Nestle (AEG SoCal), CCGO Treasurer, Anne Cavazos (AWG), Bob Tepel (AEG San Francisco), Tim Parker (GRA of California), Eric Chase (AEG Sacramento), Judy Wolen (AEG Lobbyist), and via teleconference, Joe Cota (AEG SoCal), and Jane Gill-Shaler (CCGO Executive Director).

We had anticipated a presentation by the DCA on the Sunset Review Committee’s recommendations for the BGG, but instead Charlene Zettel opened the meeting by asking what questions the participants had. After a brief pause, Jason opened with a discussion of the concerns CCGO had regarding the CPR, GRP1, and the JLSRC recommendations (not available until April). Jason hit on all of the main points we had, and Joe commented on one item and raised questions of his own. Participation continued sequentially around the table, and all managed to have input into the discussion. Eric Chase commented from his perspective as an SME (subject matter expert) on the geology registration exams.

Charlene discussed the Anaheim Hills landslide, La Conchita, etc. and stated that she understands absolutely the need for geology registration, thorough examinations, tough enforcement, etc. I feel confident that she is sincere in her determination to ensure the continuation of licensure and the functions of the Board. However, she is adamant about having direct control over the executive officer positions of all boards under the jurisdiction of the DCA (this must be the “increased accountability” the GRP1 speaks of – increased accountability to the executive branch). She stated that one or two boards have executive directors that are “weak” and ineffective. She wants the ability to deal with that type of situation immediately, rather than wait the few years for the sunset review process to take hold. So in effect, all the boards are suffering as a result of a few rogues. That being said, Charlene had nothing but compliments for Paul Sweeney, referring to him as our “wonderful” executive director. She stated that she plans to retain him on the Board.

Which leads to the crux of the problem: no written details have been provided. Indeed, she stated that the details have not yet even been “fleshed out.’ Until the details are preliminarily codified we won’t know what the effect of the reorganization would be, and many details remain problematic. If the board’s executive director (and the DCA Director for that matter) serves at the pleasure of the Governor, what happens following a change of administration? When asked if the Bagley-Keene Act required the functions of the GRP1 to be held in an open manner, or in the “sunshine” as Bob Tepel puts it. The response was that advisory committee meetings, and the meetings held around the State would be open. When I pursued that line by asking about the decision-making meetings, where issues are decided and voting occurs, the response was dodgy.

In fact the same occurred upon questioning about the authority of the “advisory committees” (are decisions they make binding?) and who would be appointed to them (and by what process?). Are the advisory committees technical in nature? When asked about the possibility of our license fees being appropriated at some time in the future, Charlene stated that all board’s license fees would be placed in discrete “special funds” for each individual board as they are today (not in a collective pot), and that they can never be appropriated. Upon further questioning from Anne Cavazos and myself, Deputy Director Kirsten Tripke said that an act of legislation is required to appropriate those funds. I stated that the voters have approved several bond issues over the years earmarking funds for road construction and maintenance and that these monies have recently been appropriated for other uses. So how valid are these guarantees?

Charlene Zettel appears to respect our board, our profession, and the need for strict examination and enforcement requirements, but she still wants direct control of the executive officer. The other issues discussed remain inadequately explained and unresolved, however Charlene and her staff acknowledge this fact and state that they will include us in further discussions as codification language is developed. This is important, because the rescission of the GRP1 does not mean the threat is gone, but merely postponed.