ASCE rebukes Levees.org

This recent article in the Times Picayune concerning the American Society of Civil Engineers on their decision to conceal the findings of the committee concerning an ethics complaint regarding obstruction of independent investigators appeared Thursday.

Sandy Rosenthal of Levees.org forwarded the following e-mail correspondence on August 7

Angry over excessive delays by an internal ethics panel conducted by the American Society of Civil Engineers, we took matters into our own hands, and sent a direct set of questions to the elite group whose first Fundamental Canon of Ethics is to uphold the safety and welfare of the public.

Just 27 minutes after sending our list, we were issued a tersely worded note essentially saying “we don’t have to and we won’t.”

Responses like this from ASCE are becoming a pattern. This is not the first time ASCE has reacted with sulking non-reactions. Last summer, ASCE admitted an egregious error in a press release accompanying their long awaited External Review of the corps-sponsored levee investigation after Katrina, but the society refused to issue a retraction. And last October, the ASCE threatened to sue levees.org and a bunch of high school kids over an adorable satire we produced together that spoofed the very same thing the ASCE ethics panel is reviewing this very moment.

This unresponsiveness is alarming in light of the publicly stated mission of ASCE, to provide essential value to its members and their careers; to its partners and to the public.

A subsequent correspondence with Levees.org resulted in an e-mail transcript from August 5, 2008 that apparently led to the TP article.

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Re: List of questions
From: xxxxxxx@reaengrs.com
Date: Tue, August 05, 2008 4:07 pm
To: “HJ Bosworth Jr.” , “Jim Amoss”
, “Cain Burdeau” ,
xxxxxxx@asce.org

The Committee on Professional Conduct conducts confidential investigation into complaints of ethical misconduct by ASCE members. The Committee establishes its own timeline for its efforts. No timeline has been provided to anyone other than the Committee and none will be.

Because of the confidential nature of the inquiries the Committee reports its actions and findings only to the Executive Committee of the Board at the conclusion of any case. No report will be released to anyone else.

On 5 Aug 2008 at 15:41, Sandy Rosenthal wrote:

Date sent: Tue, 5 Aug 2008 15:41:16 -0500
From: “Sandy Rosenthal”
To: xxxxxxx@reaengrs.com
Subject: List of questions
Copies to: “HJ Bosworth Jr.” ,
“Jim Amoss” ,
“Cain Burdeau” , xxxxxxx@asce.org

> Dear Mr. Hovey,
>
> How are you?
>
> We understand that you are in charge of the Committee on Professional
> Conduct looking into allegations in Dr. Ray Seed’s ethics complaint, and
> that the final report would have been completed in April 2008.
>
> We appreciate the work you have done, but we haven’t seen anything yet.
> Feeling that the delay is excessive, we feel it necessary to ask you some
> questions. We feel the questions should be reasonable, and we hope that in
> answering them, we don’t significantly delay the ethics investigation even
> more.
>
> We kindly ask that you answer our questions by August 19; that gives you two
> weeks.
>
> Sincerely yours,
> Sandy Rosenthal
>
>
> —
> Sandy Rosenthal
> Founder and National Spokesperson Levees.Org
> http://www.levees.org

In this morning’s Times Picayune there was a letter to the editor reply from the ASCE

ASCE will release ethics report
Posted by Letters to the Editor August 10, 2008 1:44AM

Re: “Ethics report’s results will remain secret, ” Metro, Aug. 7. As president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, I have publicly stated ASCE’s intention to release the findings of the Committee on Professional Conduct’s ethics inquiry into allegations made by University of California-Berkeley engineering professor Raymond Seed.

Reporting the comments of the CPC chair as the position of ASCE is an egregious assumption.

In accordance with the Society’s by-laws, when the committee has completed its work, its findings will be delivered to the Executive Committee, of which I serve as chair. As I have said many times, ASCE remains committed to releasing the CPC’s findings to the public and taking appropriate action. That position has never changed.

David G. Mongan, P.E., F.ASCE
President
American Society of Civil Engineers
Reston, Va.

Here is a commentary piece by the editorial staff at Gambit weekly on 8-12-08 concerning this content (link coming when Gambit posts it Tuesday)

And for those skeptics out there that might question the veracity of Ms. Rosenthal’s forwarded e-mail, I say this – I’d first believe Ms. Rosenthal’s correspondence since she has stuck her neck out there for the benefit of the community, for the benefit of ALL Americans living in proximity of faulty levees as opposed to the ACoE and the ASCE who cloak their actions in confidentiality, endless studies and blatant inaction. With that said, the need for the federal 8-29 commission is dire, especially since Katrina was a man-made disaster. And just another argument for transferring control of the nation’s levee system out of military hands and into the private sector.

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~ by maringouin on Sunday, August 10, 2008.

One Response to “ASCE rebukes Levees.org”

  1. […] Judy B. put tpgether some recent correspondence between levees.org and the ASCE. Levees.org sometimes grates on people, but within their limited role as ASCE/ACOE antagonists I think they do a great job. NOTE TO LEVEES.ORG: this compliment does not mean I want you to spam my email, clog up my comments, or otherwise act like a needy psycho ex. It’s a compliment; take it and move on. Here’s a few via the splendid lanewslink.com, even if they do sometimes repost parts of my cartoons without permission (cough): […]

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