Happy Veterans Day!

I’d like to wish all of my fellow Veterans a Happy Veterans Day! Thank you for your service!!

US Navy

Help Save the USS Ranger CV61

Please help save the USS Ranger CV61.

USS Ranger CV61As some of you may or may not know, I served in the US Navy onboard the USS Ranger CV61 from January 1982 to December 1985. I have many many great memories of my time on this great ship.

Please sign the petition
There is currently an effort to save the ship from the scrap heap. A little background, for many years, a non profit group (put together by some former Rangermen) tried to turn the ship into a museum, they failed. Since then, the ship has been removed from the donation list by the Navy.

There is currently another push to save the Ranger, aka Top Gun of the Pacific, organized by others who had served on her. They contacted the City of Long Beach who is now conducting a feasibility study in the hopes of mooring her there next to the Queen Mary.

Part of the process is to submit a petition to NAVSEA. We’re asking if you could take a moment of your time to sign this petition. Please CLICK HERE.

If you’ve toured the Midway in San Diego or the Hornet in Alameda, you’ll understand the value these ships bring to many people and the communities where they’re moored.

Thank you for helping to save the USS Ranger CV61.

State Authorities Warn Against Price Gouging

State Authorities Warn Against Price Gouging

Water well drillers must follow pricing guidelines set by emergency declaration.

SACRAMENTO – The California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) reminds all contractors, especially those with C-57 Well Drilling and C-61/D-21 Machinery and Pumps licenses, to make sure the prices they are charging for water well drilling or related services during the state’s emergency drought declaration are within legal guidelines. It has come to CSLB’s attention that price gouging may be occurring in some California counties where the drought has taken a serious toll on individual residential water wells, especially in Tulare and Kern counties.

Remember that the legal down payment is 10 percent of the total contract price or $1,000, whichever is less, for residential water well drilling.

The marketplace demand for drilling services is not justification for raising prices for the same services that would have been charged prior to the declared state of emergency. California Penal Code (PC) section 396 clearly states that “…when a declared state of emergency results in abnormal disruptions of the market, the public interest requires that excessive and unjustified increases in the prices of essential consumer goods and services [is] prohibited…during and shortly after a declared state of emergency.”

PC §396 (c) states the following for contractors:

“…[Upon the emergency declaration or] a period of 180 days following that declaration, it is unlawful for a contractor to sell or offer to sell any repair or reconstruction services or any services used in emergency cleanup for a price of more than 10 percent above the price charged by that person for those services immediately prior to the proclamation of emergency.

However, a greater price increase is not unlawful if that person can prove that the increase in price was directly attributable to additional costs imposed on it by the supplier of the goods, or directly attributable to additional costs for labor or materials used to provide the services, provided that in those situations where the increase in price is attributable to the additional costs imposed by the contractor’s supplier or additional costs of providing the service during the state of emergency, the price represents no more than 10 percent above the total of the cost to the contractor plus the markup customarily applied by the contractor for that good or service in the usual course of business immediately prior to the onset of the state of emergency.”

A violation of PC §396 is a misdemeanor and could result in county jail imprisonment for up to one year or by a $10,000 fine, or both. This violation also constitutes unlawful business practice and unfair competition within California Business and Professions Code and could result in additional civil penalties.

Article from: http://www.cslb.ca.gov/

Contractors State License Board Profiling

Is the Contractors State License Board profiling out of State applicants?

CSLB Profiling

UPDATE: Turns out the application was for a “critical classification” so the CSLB was true to form in asking for additional documentation. The applicant was able to prove his experience and his exam date has been scheduled!

It seems they are. Case in point: An applicant for a non “critical classification” was required to submit pay stubs, w-2’s, contracts, permits, etc. He also submitted copies of his licenses from Washington State and Colorado. I’m sure the CSLB would say that this app was part of the minimum 3% to receive a secondary review, that would be incorrect. That secondary review is to take place after the app has been posted. This particular app hadn’t been posted. So, it stands to reason, if it hasn’t been posted and isn’t a “critical classification” why are they requiring the additional documentation and a wage determination? There is only one reason… he was profiled because of out-of-state experience. What right, rule, law, or regulation does the CSLB have to treat applicants with out-of-state differently? None, nada, zip, zero!

Furthermore, he was also told that his two out-of-state licenses could be faked and would not be used to determine his eligibility. When he asked the tech what a wage determination was, he was told “I don’t know” by the application technician.

How can the CSLB make an hourly wage determination? What is that formula? What rule or regulation gives the CSLB the authority to do this? Will they be determining what he would have made if he was working in California? Or will they determine what he should have make in the two other States?

It wouldn’t surprise me if the CSLB attempted to determine what someone should have been paid in another State. Their level of arrogance is mind boggling.

So remember my rules of engagement:

1) Do not take no for an answer

2) Do not let the CSLB push you around. Push back!

3) Insist the licensing unit processes and makes a determination regarding your app

4) Get EVERYTHING in writing

5) Submit a complaint with your State Representative if you think you’re being treated unfairly. You can find your State Rep here: http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/

CSLB Application Processing in Action

CSLB application processing in actionHere is an example of the CSLB application processing in action.

04/21/2014 – APPLICATION RECEIVED
04/25/2014 – PRINTED ACKNLDGMNT LTTR TO APPLCNT
05/12/2014 – APP TO CASE MGMT FOR FLAG REVIEW
05/30/2014 – INSTRUCTIONS RETURNED FRM CASE MGMT
05/30/2014 – AIU REQUESTED APP TO BE POSTED
06/03/2014 – APPLICATION REJECTED FOR CORRECTION
06/03/2014 – REJECT – CONFIRM LEGAL NAME
06/03/2014 – CRITICAL CLASS DUTIES NOT SPECIFIC
06/20/2014 – REJECTED APP RECEIVED BACK AT CSLB
06/20/2014 – CORRECTIONS SENT TO BE SCANNED
06/20/2014 – ADD’L REJECT TO APPLICNT TO CORRECT
07/24/2014 – REJECTED APP RECEIVED BACK AT CSLB
07/24/2014 – CORRECTIONS SENT TO BE SCANNED
07/24/2014 – APPLICATION REJECTED FOR CORRECTION
07/24/2014 – NEED TRADE WORK DESCRIBED
07/25/2014 – APPLICATION POSTED
07/25/2014 – REFERRED TO EXAM SCHEDULING – BOTH
07/28/2014 – NOTICE TO APPEAR FOR EXM 08/18/2014
08/18/2014 – EXAM SCHEDULED FOR BOTH LAW & TRADE
08/18/2014 – PASSED BOTH LAW AND TRADE EXAM
09/18/2014 – APP SENT TO SUPERVISOR FOR REVIEW
09/18/2014 – APPLICATION RETURNED TO PROGRM TECH
09/23/2014 – APP TO AIU FOR INVESTIGATION

Rejected not once, not twice, but three times. Then, after providing the corrections requested and passing both exams, they sent this app to the AIU. Which, from what the CSLB has said, no longer exists.

Government, by definition, is a cluster…. But the CSLB has taken ineptitude to a whole new level.

Let’s break it down:

5/12 the app is sent to Case Management. Probably because the applicants name is the same or similar to someone else’s. There is 2+ weeks wasted.

5/30 AIU requests the app to be posted. Wait… AIU? I thought the app was in Case Management? One would think the app was good to go since the AIU said it could be posted. (Posted means accepted and that the applicant can proceed to testing)

6/3 Rejected for correction. On 5/30 the AIU said it could be posted. Now it’s being rejected for correction?

6/20 Corrections received and sent to be scanned… AND rejected again! My assumption here is that they didn’t get back what they requested, or they are playing with the applicant in the hopes that he’ll withdraw the app.

7/24 Corrections received, sent to be scanned… AND rejected again!! “Need Trade Work Description” Was this not included in the original reject? Did the applicant not provide this with the original reject? Or is the CSLB just rejecting it again because they didn’t bother to include it in the original rejection?

7/25 App posted and exam date scheduled. This would suggest that everything the applicant submitted was accepted. That is how any logical person would view this comment.

8/18 Exams passed. Bonding and insurance purchased, business cards ordered, ready to move forward… but wait…

9/18 One month later.. the app is sent to the supervisor for review. Review of what? The supervisor sends it back to the tech with instructions to send the app to AIU. Again, I thought the AIU was no longer?

9/23 5 days later the app is sent to the AIU, where the investigator will ask for all of the same documents the tech would have asked for months ago and 5 months after the app was submitted.

So there you have it. The utterly inept CSLB application processing in action.

Will this applicant get his license? I hope so! He proved his knowledge by passing the State mandated, CSLB created exams.

 

Office Will Be Closed

Our office will be closed from 9/29 – 10/2.

 

If you purchase study materials during this time, they will be shipped on 10/3.

Thank you.

CSLB Explains B General Experience

Finally, something in writing from the CSLB that explains the B General Experience requirements.

B Acceptable Experience per CSLB

And there is nothing in the law that backs this up!

What you see here was sent to a client of mine from Indiana. The highlighting was done by the Contractors State License Board application technician.

The bottom two lines clearly state [Experience in framing and at least any two…], but there is nothing in any law or regulation that states this. Now it’s always been this way, it was this way when I worked at the CSLB from 2001 to 2005, but just because it’s been this way for a long time doesn’t make it right. This is a CSLB underground reg that needs to be corrected and/or stopped!

The law does state: “The application is, as determined by the registrar, for a classification that is closely related to the classification or classifications in which the licensee is licensed, or the qualifying individual is associated with a licensed general engineering contractor or licensed general building contractor and is applying for a classification that is a significant
component of the licensed contractor’s construction business as determined by the registrar.” “As determined by the registrar” is the key phrase here. Other than in this CSLB provided text, where is it stated that Framing is a requirement?

As determined by the registrar is a dangerous statement. The registrar could “determine” any number of policies or procedures that would have a very negative effect to applicants, licensees, construction companies, and the industry as a whole. I think “As determined by the registrar” needs to be removed from the law.

7057. General building contractor

(a) Except as provided in this section, a general building contractor is a contractor whose principal contracting business is in connection with any structure built, being built, or to be built, for the support, shelter, and enclosure of persons, animals, chattels, or movable property of any kind, requiring in its construction the use of at least two unrelated building trades or crafts, or to do or superintend the whole or any part thereof.

This does not include anyone who merely furnishes materials or supplies under Section 7045 without fabricating them into, or consuming them in the performance of, the work of the general building contractor.

(b) A general building contractor may take a prime contract or a subcontract for a framing or carpentry project. However, a general building contractor shall not take a prime contract for any project involving trades other than framing or carpentry unless the prime contract requires at least two unrelated building trades or crafts other than framing or carpentry, or unless the general building contractor holds the appropriate license classification or subcontracts with an
appropriately licensed contractor to perform the work. A general building contractor shall not take a subcontract involving trades other than framing or carpentry, unless the subcontract requires at least two unrelated trades or crafts other than framing or carpentry, or unless the general building contractor holds the appropriate license classification. The general building contractor shall not count framing or carpentry in calculating the two unrelated trades necessary in order for the general building contractor to be able to take a prime contract or subcontract for a project involving other trades.

CSLB Summer Newsletter Part II

CSLB Summer Newsletter Part II, the analysis continues.

Direct Supervision and ControlThe CSLB summer newsletter contained an article about RMO abuses. While the law does allow a qualifier to be an RMO on up to three corporate licenses at the same time, the qualifier needs to ensure that they are involved in every project done under those licenses.

Here’s the article:

After a sharp rise in consumer complaints against license qualifiers who have been granted a test waiver, the Enforcement division has established a task force to investigate cases where Responsible Managing Officers (RMOs) are suspected of acting as paid figureheads for a company, but exercise little to no control over its operations.

Contractors who serve as qualifiers for a company’s construction operations must exercise direct control and supervision. If you are an RMO and do not have active involvement in the construction and business operations, you risk CSLB administrative penalties against your license(s) as well as criminal prosecution, regardless of whether you’re aware of substandard work being performed by unqualified individuals.

In a sample group investigated earlier this year, consumer complaints were filed against 40 percent of the RMOs who qualify licenses. A similar review in October 2012 identified complaints against 23 percent of the sample RMO group. By comparison, only about 3 percent of CSLB’s almost 300,000 licensed contractors are the subject of a consumer complaint each year.

The task force will be watching for exam waiver requests from applicants suspected of only seeking to rent their name for a fee. CSLB also will seek to revoke qualifier status previously granted to anyone whose actions demonstrate they do not have an ownership stake or are not active decision makers listed on a license.

A new law that took effect in January 2014, Business and Professions Code section 7068.1, now authorizes CSLB to discipline a qualifier, and the licensed entity they are qualifying, when the qualifier is not actively involved in the construction activities of the license they are representing. In addition to administrative penalties, the individual falsely serving as a qualifier on the license can be charged with a misdemeanor and be sentenced to serve up to six months in jail, and required to pay a fine from $3,000-$5,000, or both, if convicted.

A review of Business and Professions Code section 7065 will provide further explanation of examination waiver laws.

End of Article

Here are the interesting parts of this article.

1) What is the CSLB’s definition of “direct” control and supervision?

823. Definitions: Bona Fide Employee; Direct Supervision and Control:

(b) For purposes of Section 7068.1 of the Code, “direct supervision and control” includes any one or any combination of the following activities: supervising construction, managing construction activities by making technical and administrative decisions, checking jobs for proper workmanship, or direct supervision on construction job sites.

According to the law as written, you do not have to perform direct supervision on-site. The law states “any one or any combination of…” You could receive mailed or emailed updates, photographs, video conference. With today’s technology, you could review workmanship via skype, for example. I’m sure an attorney or judge would say… “The intent of the law is…” But if the CSLB is going to pursue qualifiers based on direct supervision and control, they better not penalize RMO’s for not setting foot on the job site. Again, the law states… “any one or combination of…”

2) Complaints filed against 40 percent of the RMOs who qualify licenses? Where did they get this stat from? And were those RMOs active owners in the business and how many of them qualify more than one license. They throw out a stat like that without detailing how many of those RMOs qualify more than one license.

Here is the most interesting part of this article.

“The task force will be watching for exam waiver requests from applicants suspected of only seeking to rent their name for a fee.”

“Suspected” of only seeking to rent their name… What guidelines will the CSLB be using to determine who is “suspected”? Are they suggesting that they will investigate, harass, go after any and all RMOs they feel are suspects? How would like to be running your above board business, following all applicable laws, only to receive a letter, phone call, or in person visit from a CSLB investigator that is arbitrarily throwing out an accusation that you may be in violation of 7068.1? If and when that happens, you’ll have to spend time and money to provide the CSLB with evidence that you are following the law. To me… it reeks of government overstepping. In other words… par for the CSLB course.

Are there people out their “renting” their name to qualify a license? Without a doubt! Should this practice be stopped? Without a doubt! But should a State agency have the power to put an entire class of people in the category of “suspect”? I think not.

CSLB Newsletter Summer 2014 Part 1

The CSLB Summer Newsletter 2014 was released today.

cslb newsletter foot in mouthI almost feel like I should thank the CSLB for publishing these newsletters because of the amount of blog posts they can generate. These newsletters give the CSLB the opportunity to continually stick their foot in their mouth in a widely publicized format, and me the opportunity to point it out.

A new Board Chair was elected, David Dias. Mr. Dias decided to make his first public written statement about his personal issues. Being a former HVAC guy, he’s decided to spend the Boards resources going after unlicensed HVAC contractors. Really? Shouldn’t he be focused on the construction industry as a whole? Or is he taking his position of power to tackle something that bothers him personally?

Here is his statement:

“After several extremely tough years for California’s construction industry, it appears that the worst is finally behind most of us, and the prospects for the remainder of this year look brighter for our colleagues. I am pleased to have been elected as CSLB’s Board Chair in this positive atmosphere, and look forward to more work – and jobs – for contractors as the state’s economy continues to recover.

I’m proud of the professionalism demonstrated by the vast majority of CSLB’s almost 300,000 licensees through good times and bad – those who maintained high standards and refrained from cheating, even under the strain of a crushing recession.

Unfortunately, there are always a few whose actions tarnish the reputation of our profession. In particular, I am troubled by the increasing number of complaints CSLB is receiving about predatory C-20 Warm-Air Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) contractors who are targeting vulnerable consumers after being called out for simple repairs or routine maintenance. This really hits home since I’ve spent much of my career working in the HVAC field, and I find it disappointing that my honest, hard-working colleagues suffer from association with the industry’s bad apples.

CSLB is taking steps to warn and weed out this element. We hosted a conference in San Jose in May that brought together industry officials, regulators, and C-20 contractors to discuss HVAC installation. The event also introduced CSLB’s new “Ambassador Program,” an education and enforcement campaign. A similar town hall meeting for HVAC contractors was held in early July in San Leandro.

CSLB plans to continue its campaign of educational HVAC workshops to remind contractors about California’s service and repair contract laws and requirements, including a customer’s three-day right to rescind a home improvement contract.

CSLB is partnering with local district attorneys, the Better Business Bureau, and industry leaders on these efforts. I also encourage HVAC business owners to join us in identifying those who are victimizing consumers and damaging the industry’s reputation.

CSLB’s Enforcement division will be reinforcing its HVAC scam zero-tolerance policy through targeted undercover sting operations. You can help in this effort by offering your residential or commercial properties to use for sting operations. An article in this newsletter explains how you can help.”

This is my favorite part of his statement:

“look forward to more work – and jobs – for contractors as the state’s economy continues to recover” He’s not new to the Board, but it seems he hasn’t been paying attention at the meetings. The CSLB licensing division still has its underground and illegal regulations in place that make it extremely difficult to obtain a license. I’m shocked that they haven’t put out some stats that show how many B contractors obtained a license in 2013 compared to any previous year. Ok, no I’m not really shocked, because I’d bet that a lot fewer B contractors were licensed in 2013. So… “more work and jobs for contractors”?? Reality is… they’re creating more underground contractors.

My second favorite part of his statement:

“CSLB is partnering with local district attorneys, the Better Business Bureau…” First, haven’t they always been working with DA’s? They were when I worked there from 2000 – 2005. Has something changed? Next… the BBB. The CSLB is “partnering” with the BBB? Apparently the CSLB is unaware that the BBB is a paid membership business whose business model is to turn a profit, not protect consumers. And does the CSLB think that the BBB is receiving complaints from consumers that they aren’t receiving? “Partnering” with the BBB is just their way of blowing smoke up … to make it sound like they are actually doing something.

Stay tuned for CSLB Newsletter Summer 2014 Part 2 in the coming days where I’ll discuss the CSLB getting tough on RMOs.

Contractors License Exam Study Materials

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