Friday, February 04, 2011

When Disagreeing With a Bureaucrat Is a Crime

From the Raleigh News Observer

David Cox and his neighbors want a traffic signal at a North Raleigh intersection. The city traffic engineer says it's not needed. So Cox and his neighbors put in the time and effort to do a detailed study of traffic at that intersection to support their case and sent it to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

That is American citizenship at its finest. People taking the time and effort to diligently research an issue and then calmly and responsibly petitioning their government for redress. Except Cox was too diligent and the North Carolina DOT is charging Cox with practicing engineering without a license.

Cox never represented himself as an engineer. But DOT bureaucrat Kevin Lacy says Cox's report "appears to be engineering-level work" and Lacy demanded the engineers licensing board investigate Cox.

You see, Cox is a layman who took the time and effort to read engineering studies and (gasp!) make recommendations. These are things which DOT's Lacy claims is  technical work only a licensed engineer may do.

Lacy says he is not trying to "hush" Cox up. (*Note: Whenever a bureaucrat says he is not trying to hush someone up he is totally trying to do that.*)

Many years ago the City of San Diego paid an engineering firm a shitload of money to make sewage treatment recommendations. The firm simply repackaged an old report and claimed it was new. I was with the Sierra Club and wrote an unflattering synopsis and analysis of that report.

I had senior members of that engineering firm approach me asking where I got my engineering degree. I'm not an engineer but I do know how to translate bullshit jargon into standard English. In North Carolina, I would have probably found myself in the dock for understanding engineerese without a license.

No comments: