American Engineering Alliance Letters

  1. A Letter From by Louis R. Comunelli, P.E. September 11, 1998
  2. A letter to State of Idaho Board of Registration of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors.  December 17, 1998
  3. A Letter to Governor, State of Idaho May 15, 1998
  4. A Letter to Idaho State Bar Association, September 28, 1998
  5. Engineering Voice, Progress Report.  Fall 1998
  6. AEA Editorial, May 1999
  7. Letter to the Idaho Office of Attorney General June 2, 1999
  8. American Engineering Alliance Letter, Dated July 22, 1999
  9. An Open Letter To All Engineers, June 15 1999


A Letter From Louis R. Comunelli, P.E.

September 11, 1998

Martin S. Gottlieb, P.E.
President, American Institute of Engineers
4666 San Pablo Dam Road
El Sobrante, CA 94803-3142

Dear Colleague:

I am writing you to solicit your support in behalf of a Professional Engineer who is under attack for sticking to his principles. As described in the enclosed material, Ed Turner, P.E. is the former City Engineer for Idaho Falls, Idaho. He was demoted to make room for a non-licensed individual. Nevertheless he was directed to sign and seal plans of projects over which he did not have "responsible charge". Since such an action would be a violation of Idahoís Engineering Licensure Law he refused. Eventually Ed Turner was forced to resign. He subsequently sued the city, and is presently engaged in a protracted and costly legal battle with the City of Idaho Falls, and it seems the local politicians are hanging together.

This case represents a clear and lethal attack on the Engineering Profession. Unfortunately it is not an isolated incident, but rather a common trend that is rapidly undermining the Engineering Profession and diminishing its critical role in our Society.

As head of the American Engineering Alliance (AEA), I am asking you to join us and other organizations in assisting Mr. Turner at this crucial time. He has put himself at risk. Now it is time for us to tangibly support him before we are all at risk.

At the very least, I ask that you relate this case in your official Society publication and invite your members to show their support for our colleague by writing letters (a suggested list of addressees is attached) and sending contributions to his (our) legal defense fund at the following address:

Turner Engineering Litigations Assistance
P.O. Box 1341
Idaho Falls, ID 83403-1341
 ------------

If you have any questions please feel free to call me at:
Daytime: (212) 869-7800
Evenings: (718) 636-9237

Sincerely,

Louis R. Comunelli, P.E.

Chairperson

 

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A Letter to State of Idaho Board of Registration of Professional Engineers and Professional Land surveyors.

December 17, 1998

State Of Idaho 
Board of Registration of Professional Engineers
 and Professional Land Surveyors
600 South Orchard, Suite a
Boise, ID 83705-1242

Re: Invalidation of the Idaho Law Governing Engineers and Surveyors Registration
(Idaho Code, Title 54, Chapter 12), Due to Judgeís Decision in Case No. CV-97-2954 Bonneville County

Dear Sir/Madam:

The above referenced Case is Edwin C. Turner vs. City of Idaho Falls. Your Board already furnished a written opinion on June 28, 1996 with respect to the definition of the term "responsible charge" which is a central issue in this Case. The American Engineering Alliance is in full agreement with your opinion. We are writing this letter because a serious situation has emerged due to certain portions of a recent decision by the Trial Judge.

In the attached "Memorandum Decision on Plaintiffs and Defendants Notions" dated November 4, 1998, among the portions of testimony the Judge struck from the record were all statements made by Professional Engineers, in which they gave their interpretation of the definition of "Responsible Charge", he nullified Idaho Code, Title 54, Chapter 12, Paragraph 54-1215(3)(c), which is the crux of the law.

This paragraph declares that the application of a Registrantís signature and seal on a document constitutes certification that the work thereon was done by him or under his responsible charge. It is obvious that the Law intended that Licensure of Professional Engineers conferred upon them the legal authority to interpret a term concerning which they are required by Law to render a certification as to its applicability to work represented on a particular document.

In declaring that a Licensed Professional Engineer cannot interpret this particular legal term, the Judge has invalidated this paragraph of Law. The invalidation of this paragraph renders the entire Idaho Registration System for Professional Engineers unable to effect its intended purpose of protecting the Public.

Unless corrective action is taken, there is no longer a justification for Registration of Engineers in the State of Idaho. I therefore urge that either:

    1. The Board institute necessary corrective language to make it unequivocally clear to everyone that a Professional Engineer is specifically authorized to interpret the term "responsible charge" as defined in the law.
    2. OR

    3. The Board take appropriate action regarding the Decision made by the Judge.

Idaho Board of Registration
December 17, 1998

Because the Board is the legally established guardian of the Public Safety in the form of the Registration System for Professional Engineers, the leadership of corrective measures is in your province.

The American Engineering Alliance is extremely interested in the enforcement of Registration Laws throughout the United States, and would appreciate being kept informed of progress on the resolution of this issue. We will do everything we can to assist your efforts in this regard.

Sincerely,

Louis R. Comunelli, P.E.
Chairperson

cc: Idaho Bar Association
Idaho Attorney General
NSPE
ASCE
File

 

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A Letter to Governor, State of Idaho

May 15, 1998

Hon. Phil Batt

Governor, State of Idaho
The State House
Box 83720
Bosie, Idaho 83720-0034

Re: Defense of Public Safety and The Law

Dear Governor Batt:

A court case will soon be heard in the Seventh Judicial District Court, in Bonneville County that will be closely watched by Professional Engineers throughout the United States.

In short, several years ago a Licensed Professional Engineers employed by the City of Idaho Falls was demoted, then forced to resign, for upholding the Idaho engineering licensure statute, and the dictates of his conscience. Ed Turner, P.E./L.S. was relieved of control over plans requiring a Professional Engineers signature and seal. Nevertheless he was ordered to sign plans over which he did not have "responsible charge".

To date Mr. Turner neither has his job nor redress. This is so, although the State of Idaho Board of Professional Land Surveyors agreed with his position in a letter dated June 28, 1996, and the Idaho Attorney General was advised on April 22, 1997 of this assault on Public Safety, The Law, and the Engineering Profession. The perpetrators of this injustice continue to steam ahead, while Mr. Turnerís honorable civil service career was jettisoned for expedience.

The Idaho Department of Labor, in their Appeals Bureau Decision on Docket No. 0134-97 exhibited their misunderstanding of the Law by substituting the term "reasonable charge" as specified in the Law.

Licensure laws are necessary to protect the safety of the Public. Disregard of these laws constitutes a threat of the Public. Nowadays in this country, it seems that a tragedy involving the loss of human life is the only event that spurs our leaders to action on Public Safety. We are writing to you because we believe that you want to defend the citizens of Idaho, and like us, you have the insight to see that if the Licensure Law is not enforced, further encroachments will undoubtedly occur. This will surely lead to calamity for not only the citizens of Idaho, but for All Americans.

Hon. Phil Batt
May 20, 1998
Page 2

The American Engineering Alliance represents the interest of the Engineering Profession as they coincide with the Public Interest. We urge you to investigate this matter and take action to remedy the injustice done to Mr. Turner, and to the Public Safety.

Sincerely

 

Louis R. Comunelli, P.E.

Chairperson

Encl Ltr dtd 6-28-96, from Idaho Bd of P.Eís and P.L.ís to Chad Stanger

Ltr dtd 4-22-97, from NSPE to Alan G. Lance

Appeals Bureau, Idaho Dept. of Labor Docket No. 0134-97

cc: K. Walsh, P.E. ĖPresident, NSPE

R. Jones, P.E. Ė Executive Director, NSPE

L. Graef, P.E. ĖPresident, Asce

Post Register, Idaho Falls

KIDK TV

KIFI TV

 

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A Letter to Idaho State Bar Association, September 28, 1998

American Engineering Alliance

+ Bowling Green Station+ P.O. Box 1446+ New York, New York 10274-1446+(212)-606-4053

September 28, 1998

Idaho State Bar Association
525 West Jefferson
P.O. Box 895
Bosie, Idaho 83701

Re: Validity of the Idaho Engineering Licensure Law

Dear Sir/Madam:

There is a case in Bonneville County, number CV-97-2954, which will greatly affect the way the Engineering Professional is practiced, not only in Idaho, but in the entire United States.

Ed Turner, P.E. a former City Engineer of Idaho Falls, Idaho alleges that he was constructively discharged because he refused to break the Idaho Engineering Licensure Law which prohibits signing and sealing plans over which and Engineer does not have responsible charge. Mr. Turner is suing the City if Idaho Falls, and the case is now in the Idaho Falls courts.

It has come to our attention that Mr. Turnerís case is being summarily dismissed, not because of any defect in his arguments, but because the trial judge determined that the format in which Mr. Turnerís Legal Brief was deficient.

Engineers throughout the United States are closely monitoring the results of this case because it has the potential to dramatically change the way they approach their legal obligations. The Engineering Profession sees itself as Societyís guardian of safety in public works and structures of any kind. They have gladly accepted the responsibilities conferred upon them by all the state laws governing their profession.

The crux of each of these laws is that an engineerís signature and seal on any plan or document is an assumption of full responsibility for that plan or document. Any dilution of this principle creates a serious defect in the system that is designed health, safety and welfare. Each state law intends that only a licensed Professional Engineer, and no one else, have full control over what is being signed be him/her. If this Professional Engineer does not, then someone else who is not licensed to do so, is practicing Engineering with out a license. Each state law provides that any Licensed Engineer taking part in such a scheme is in violation.

Idaho State Bar Association
September 28, 1998

The American Engineering Alliance is committed to promoting the ethical and competent practice of Engineering for the benefit of the Public Interest. The allegations in this case are too important to be brushed aside because of a questionable issue of technicality. Our purpose in writing to you is to be sure you are aware of the concern for Public Safety involved in this case, the far reaching effects of what is taking place in Idaho Falls, and to request that you investigate the necessity of either calling for the clarification or supplementing of Idaho law.

Engineers from all over the country will be assessing what happens in Idaho. I pray the outcome is a reassurance for Public Safety and Welfare.

 

Sincerely,
Louis R. Comunelli, P.E.
Chairperson

 

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Engineering Voice,  Progress Report.

American Engineering Alliance Fall 1998

Progress Report
by Louis Comunelli - Chairperson

Liaison With Other Organizations

There are two current instances where AEA has been networking with other Engineering organizations:

In our efforts to support Ed Turner in his battle against those who would relegate Engineers to "Rubber Stampers", we have contacted over 25 Engineering Societies. Some of them have responded to us and have expressed a desire to work with us on mutual goals. We will continue to dialogue with them on a regular basis as much as possible.

AEA has cooperated with the local New York City NSPE organization which is coordinating industry comments on a proposed New York City law aimed at licensing construction contractors.

Case Update

Case 98-2 Idaho Fall vs. Engineering

The civil suit being brought against the City of Idaho Falls by Ed Turner, P.E. is still at the County Court level. The City is doing all it can to suppress a statement from the State Board for Engineering and Land Surveying, and a final determination from the State Industrial Board, both of which agree totally with Edís complaint. The local political establishment is not giving up easily. However they have no case, and Ed does!

This is the ideal battleground for defending the authority of our Profession over Public Works and structures. It is up to each one of us to help the cause. If we do not help all we can with money and letters of support, we do not deserve to have the Engineering Profession elevated in stature. See the Public Relations Report for details on how you can help.

A Final Note

It isnít often that an opportunity presents itself that allows us to defend our Profession, and at the same time strengthen our hand in dealing with the "powers that be" in our Society. However the Ed Turner case is just such an opportunity. The AEA as an organization can write letters, but written communications from a great many individuals can mean much more. If many of you write to Edís lawyer in support of his case, (if circumstances permit, include a check), and encourage your colleagues to do the same, the effort of such a campaign will reach far beyond Idaho Falls.

In my personal recruitment efforts, I have come across the attitude in some Engineers that they require a perfect organization which has already achieved a raised status for Engineers, before the will consider joining us. Thatís a heck of a lot of expectation for fifteen dollars a year! The truth is that a great many more members are needed who will part with a relatively small amount of money to help finance our operations. This is the only way we can succeed. I urge each one of you to challenge defeatist attitudes in your colleagues and become a recruiter, even of one other member. By doing this, you will help ensure our ultimate success.

The Engineering Voice Summer 1998

Public Relations Report

by Salvatore Galletta, P.E.

These past several months AEA has concentrated its P.R. effort on publicizing the Ed Turner legal case in Idaho Falls, Idaho. As many of you know, Ed Turner has been engaged in a protracted legal battle with the City of Idaho Falls. He was forced to resign because he refused to sign and seal projects over which he did not have responsible charge. He acted ethically and professionally. His conduct is a shining example of true professionalism which all engineers should strive to emulate.

The issues at stake in this case are so critical to the very survival of the engineering profession that AEA has committed considerable resources to seeing that Ed Turner prevails in his lawsuit. AEA has taken the lead in mobilizing support for Ed Turner within the engineering community. Our chairman, Lou Comnunelli, P.E. has sent several dozen letters to the presidents of various engineering societies urging them to publicize the Ed Turner case. Several AEA board members have made numerous phone calls trying to solicit support from key individuals and organizations. We have sent out a press release and mailed out information packets to journalists, newspaper reporters, various engineering societiesí publications. Some of the media that have received our information packet include Time, Newsweek, Wall Street Journal, NY Times, the major national TV networks and CNN. We intend to intensify our public relations effort until the mass media picks up this story and starts covering this very important case which has major implications not only for the engineering community but also to the public at large.

We are in the process of creating a web page on our web site (www.AEAWORLD.org) dedicated exclusively to Ed Turnerís case. This web page will serve to publicize his lawsuit and educate engineers and the public about the issues involved in this case. We want to generate support not only within the engineering community but also the general public. The web page will report on the latest legal developments.

Those of you who want to do something tangible to support Ed Turnerís fight for the profession, can write letters to some of the key players in this case or you can send contributions to Turnerís Legal Defense Fund (see below). With over 3 million engineers out there, if everyone sent $1 we would have a fund that would be substantial enough to defend Turnerís lawsuit and also other engineers who find themselves in similar situations. I have spoken to Ed about this and he would be happy to use the legal fund to help others in similar need. He also volunteered to speak publicly on these issues and to do whatever else he can to help defend our profession.

I urge all of you to become involved and give whatever support you can. Ed Turner and the engineering profession need your help. Send contributions to:
Turner Engineering Litigation Assistance
P.O. Box 1341
Idaho Falls, ID 83403-1341

Dirk Kempthorne,
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, ID 83720-0034
208-334-2400

The Post Register 
Editor Jerry Brady
333 North Gate Mile Highway
Idaho Falls, ID 83401
208-522-1800

KIFI TV Station
1915 North Yellowstone
Idaho Falls, ID 83401
 208-525-8888

Attorney General Alan Lance
P.O. Box 83720-0010
Boise, ID 83720-0034
208-334-2400

KIDK TV Station
1255 East 17th St.
Idaho Falls, ID 83404
208-522-5100

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AEA Editorial, May 1999

EDITORIAL
May 1999

Dear Editor:

I would like to bring to the attention of NYSSPE members a very important legal case now unfolding in Idaho Falls, ID. This case involves the issues of responsible charge, which goes to the heart of the Engineering Profession, Ed Turner, PE/LS, a member of NSPE, has been engaged in a protracted legal battle with the City of Idaho Falls over the past three years. Ed was the City Engineer for over 20 years until he was forced to resign for refusing to sign and seal projects over which he did not have responsible charge. He acted ethically and morally. His conduct was exemplary and highly professional.

Until recently, Ed has been fighting the good fight on behalf of the Engineering Profession essentially on his own. His case did not achieve national prominence until ENR wrote about it back in April of 1998. Since then my colleagues an I have been working hard to mobilize support for him from the Engineering Community. We at the Queens Chapter have passed a resolution urging NSPE to become more actively involved in supporting Ed Turner. As we have repeatedly pointed out to both our National and State Society leadership, Ed Turnerís fight is our fight. He is battling for all of us. It behooves us to support him, not only because itís the right thing to do, but also because itís in our own best interest. The Engineering Community must stop retreating. We can no longer hide in a corner and ignore the attacks on our Profession. We must draw a line in the sand and that line goes through Idaho Falls.

I urge all of my colleagues to speak up and become active. Grassroots effort is needed to encourage national support of this issue. Please make your voices heard both at NSPE and NYSSPE, Individual members can take positive steps to support Ed Turners battle by contacting public officials and/or sending contributions to his litigation fund.

Sincerely,

Salvatore Galletta, PE

Dirk Kempthorne,
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, ID 83720-0034
208-334-2400

The Post Register 
Editor Jerry Brady
333 North Gate Mile Highway
Idaho Falls, ID 83401
208-522-1800

KIFI TV Station
1915 North Yellowstone
Idaho Falls, ID 83401
  208-525-8888

Attorney General Alan Lance
P.O. Box 83720-0010
Boise, ID 83720-0034
208-334-2400

KIDK TV Station
1255 East 17th St.
Idaho Falls, ID 83404
208-522-5100

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A Letter to the Idaho Office of the Attorney General

AMERICAN ENGINEERING ALLIANCE
Bowling Green Station * P.O. Box 1446 * New York, New York 10274-1446 * (212) 606-4053 *

June 2, 1999

State of Idaho
Office of the Attorney General
Contracts & Administrative Division
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, ID 83720-0010

Attention: Kay C. Manweiler, Deputy Attorney General

Re: Invalidation of Idaho Law Governing Registration of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors

Dear Ms. Manweiler:

Thank you for your May 14, 1999 letter concerning the above subject.

The American Engineering Alliance (AEA) is aware that the Board of Engineers is authorized and mandated to enforce the law entrusted to them, and that the Attorney Generalís Office has not been requested to act as their agent.

The purpose of our sending you a copy of our May 7, 1999 letter was not to elicit a reply from the Attorney Generalís Office, but for the following two reasons:

    1. We believe that your office would have an interest regarding our observations, as a matter of the status of an existing law which may not be enforceable.
    2. We believe it is the interest of the Attorney Generalís Office to monitor a situation which will indicate whether or not a State Agency is effectively carrying out its mission.

For these reasons we would like to continue to copy you on correspondence of this nature. Please be assured that our correspondence will be addressed to the appropriate parties. If it is your desire that we not keep you informed in this manner, please let us know.

Sincerely,

Louis R. Comunelli, P.E.

Chairperson

cc: Dave Curtis, P.E., Executive Secretary to the Board

Governor, State of Idaho
Idaho Bar Association
NSPE; ISSPE; NYSSPE; ASCE

 

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American Engineering Alliance Letter, July 22, 1999

AMERICAN ENGINEERING ALLIANCE

Bowling Green Station * P.O. Box 1446 * New York, New York 10274-1446 * (212) 606-4053 *

July 22, 1999

State Of Idaho

Board of Registration of Professional Engineers
and Professional Land Surveyors
600 South Orchard, Suite a
Boise, ID 83705-1242

Attention: David L. Curtis, P.E., Executive Secretary

Re: Invalidation of the Idaho Law Governing Engineers and Surveyors Registration
(Idaho Code, Title 54, Chapter 12), Due to Judgeís Decision in Case No. CV-97-2954
Bonneville County
FOLLOW-UP

Dear Mr. Curtis:

Thank you for your June 25, 1999 response to our letters.

The language of the Judge in the Ed Turner case regarding defining and interpreting of the term "responsible charge" was quite clear to us, despite the opinion received from your legal counsel. Whether or not it will serve as a precedent is also a moot point. Please be assured that it is not our purpose to further debate these particular issues with the Board.

However, I am saddened that you do not share our disappointment at the Judgeís ruling. It represents a potential time bomb that either may, or may not, blow up in the face of your Licensure Law, and has potential serious consequences for others States. As such, we feel it would be wise to take preventative action now, before it causes any further harm.

The AEA has a keen interest in the outcome of the Turner case because of its wide ranging implications. We will continue to closely follow all aspects of it. The AEA stands ready to assist your efforts to preserve and strengthen the protection offered the public in the Idaho Statue.

Please keep us apprised of your activities concerning the case, and let us know how we may be of assistance.

Sincerely,

Louis R. Comunelli, P.E.

Chairperson

cc: Governor, State of Idaho

Idaho Bar Association
Idaho Attorney General

NSPE, ISPE, NYSSPE, ASCE

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An Open Letter To All Engineers

AMERICAN ENGINEERING ALLIANCE
Bowling Green Station * P.O. Box 1446 * New York, New York 10274-1446 * (212) 606-4053 *

June 15, 1999

An Open Letter To All Engineers

Re: The Ed Turner Case - A Battle That Must Be Won

Dear Colleagues:

Ed Turner, P.E./L.S. was the City Engineer of Idaho Falls, Idaho serving that city for over 20 years. A new city administration demoted him to make room for a non-Engineer, but still required him to sign and seal plans over which he no longer had responsible charge. He refused because it was a clear violation of the Idaho Professional Engineer Licensure Law.

Placed in this impossible situation, he was eventually forced to resign. For several years now, he has been engaged in litigation against those who are responsible for this injustice.

The litigation highlighted situations endangering the entire Engineering Profession:

    1. A local government is endangering Public Safety by circumventing State Law which was specifically created to protect it.
    2. A trial judge decided that Licensed Professional Engineers do not have the authority to define the term "responsible charge", even though required by law to certify that they possess it when they sign and seal a document.
    3. A State Licensing Board, which has the responsibility of enforcing the law has not shown that it has the desire to do so, leaving the Public at unacceptable risk.
    4. It appears that the Engineering Profession either will not, or cannot defend itself against those who would turn it into a group of "rubber stampers".

Make no mistake about it. Weíre all in serious peril if the Ed Turner litigation is not seen through to completion. He needs money RIGHT NOW to continue the fight through a new lawsuit, which will rectify the damage thrust upon him in the first suit. The trial date is October 5, 1999.

Each one of us has the obligation to be part of our Professionís getting off its knees, its standing up for the Public Interest, and its demonstrating to the enemies of Public Safety that Engineers are not such an easy target. If we do not, we will lose even the little influence we still have.

Please send a check IMMEDIATELY to:

Turner Engineering Litigation Assistance

P.O. Box 1341

Idaho Falls, ID 83403-1341

This contribution IS NOT Income Tax deductible. Even if you have previously given, please send another check!

Louis R. Comunelli, P.E.

Chairperson

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