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Board Meeting Minutes — February 11, 2009

CALL TO ORDER

Board Chair James Miller called the meeting of the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) to order on February 11, 2009, at 9:00 a.m. in the Empress meeting room of the Hotel Del Coronado in Coronado, CA. A quorum was established.

Board Vice Chair Cynthia Mitchell led the Board in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Board Members Present: Board Members Absent:
James Miller, Chair   Bernedette Medrano
Cynthia Mitchell, Vice Chair   Bruce Rust
Eddie Barnes, Secretary    
Robert Brown    
Joan Hancock    
Matthew Kelly    
Louise Kirkbride    
Robert Lamb    
Ed Lang    
Stephen Matich    
Lisa Miller-Strunk    
     
CSLB Staff Present:
Stephen Sands, Registrar Karen Ollinger, Licensing
Don Chang, Legal Counsel (DCA)   Bob Porter, Testings
Michael Brown, Legislature   Peter Sugar, Enforcement
Jonathan Buttle, Budget Analyst   Jeanette Ayubi, Executive Office
Amy Cox-O'Farrell, Info Technology  
David Fogt, Enforcement  
Rick Lopes, Public Affairs  
CHAIR’S REMARKS AND BOARD MEMBER COMMENTS

Chair Miller introduced incoming Chief Deputy Registrar, Cindi Christenson and she addressed the Board and audience.

Lisa Miller-Strunk publicly thanked Jeanette Ayubi, Executive Office on behalf of Board and her assistance to its members.

Steve Sands introduced the new supervisor of CSLB’s San Diego office, Vicki Corre.

PUBLIC COMMENT SESSION

No public comment was presented.

APPROVAL OF THE NOVEMBER 20, 2008 BOARD MEETING MINUTES
  • MOTION:  A motion was made by Board Member Robert Lamb to approve the November 20, 2008 Board Meeting Minutes and seconded by Board Member Matthew Kelly.
    Motion was carried 11-0.
ETHICS TRAINING BY LEGAL COUNSEL

Don Chang, DCA Legal Counsel, introduced a proactive presentation on "Ethical Decision Making for Department of Consumer Affairs Board Members" to promote good government and to maintain the public’s trust, in all DCA Boards.

The objectives of the presentation are two-fold: to create an awareness of potential ethical dilemmas that Board members may encounter, and to provide suggested methods for resolving them. Portions of the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act were covered, including situations where there is either a need to disqualify oneself from voting on or abstaining from a matter based upon a conflict of interest.

The three duties involved in the Bagley-Keene Act are: 1) adequate meeting notice that identifies items to be discussed during meeting; 2) conduct meetings in open session; and 3) provide the public with an opportunity to comment on items discussed during the meeting as they are presented to the Board. Compliance with the Bagley-Keene Act helps the Board avoid the perception that they may be engaging in "back room deals." Public perception is very important as we are civil servants to the public.

Mr. Chang reviewed the types of meetings covered by the Bagley-Keene Act, i.e., anytime the majority of a Board is together—either in person or via electronic device—to discuss a matter of business in which the Board must make a decision, it is considered a meeting, even if not formally noticed. Similarly, with a committee, if the majority of the members are together discussing Board/Committee business, it must be noticed so the public may participate.

Exceptions to the definition of "meeting," as outlined in the Bagley-Keene Act, would be anytime there is a committee composed of fewer than three people. Individual members may talk amongst themselves about particular Board business, but need to be careful to avoid "serial" meetings, i.e., one member talks to another, that next member talks to another about the same subject, and so on. A Board participating in a conference or other state function does not need to be noticed unless the Board begins discussing business within its jurisdiction. All Board members may attend a social function together, provided Board business is not discussed.

Mr. Chang covered disqualifications, abstentions and ex parte communications. Since the Board is allowed to review disciplinary decisions made by the Contractors State License Board’s Registrar and modify the decision before it is enacted, it places them in the role of a judge, requiring them to remain fair and objective, and judge without bias in such decisions. The parameters of both disqualifications and abstentions were defined in detail. Relative scenarios were presented as examples. Ex parte communications were reviewed and suggested responses were provided should Board members find themselves involved in such a situation. Professional association relationships were covered, as well. Any financial gain from an association of $398 or more is deemed a conflict of interest and the Board member must recuse him or herself from any participation of related discussions presented to the Board for review. The goal is to keep the integrity of the Board and its members above suspicion and reproach. Mr. Chang addressed questions from various Board members and provided specific resolutions to the different examples addressed.

Vice Chair Cynthia Mitchell continued the meeting on behalf of Chair Miller who excused himself momentarily from the meeting. Vice Chair Miller asked Registrar Sands to present the Executive Committee Report.

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE REPORT

Registrar Sands identified the state budget as the most prevalent issue the Board must address. However, since CSLB is a "special fund" board, it is less affected than state offices that rely on the general fund. Mr. Sands noted that Budget Analyst Jonathan Buttle would address the topic in the Budget Update. Fresno SWIFT employees are on staff. Enforcement Representative (ER) series exams are scheduled and candidate lists will be bolstered for hiring employees. Delegation of personnel activity is in its final stages of approval, which will allow staff to make determinations on personnel without processing through the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). Furloughs began last week, and are scheduled for the first and third Friday of each month. Furloughs are expected to continue through June 30, 2010. Secretary Barnes asked the Registrar if we had lost any employees due to the furloughs. Registrar Sands mentioned that Chief of Information Technology would attest to new hires that chose agencies promising not to furlough over ours in their job selection. Vice Chair Mitchell inquired about the actual dates and facilities involved in the furloughs, and the Registrar described the details as conveyed by DCA and designated by the Governor.

Amy Cox-O’Farrell, Chief of Information Technology (IT), advised that the Division was reorganized to move two decentralized positions from the Testing Division to IT. After six months of interviewing, these positions were offered to the candidates referenced earlier that chose the Department of Justice (DOJ) over CSLB due to the Governor’s furlough policy.

BlackBerry devices will be provided to all Enforcement staff in the coming weeks. The new reports established over the last couple of months in IWAS have assisted departments and generated positive feedback. The iLicensing project is moving forward and support is being given to ensure that DCA allows credit cards to be used online and for payments at CSLB’s front counter.

Chair Miller introduced Jonathan Buttle to present the Budget Update. Mr. Buttle stated that the final 2008/2009 budget for CSLB is $59.7 million dollars, which includes reimbursements. Through December 31, 2008, CSLB has encumbered $31.1 million dollars, roughly 52% of its budget. Adjustments made include a Technical Services rate adjustment, employee compensation increase, and retirement rate decrease, which are relatively minor in comparison to previous years. Revenue is slightly under what was projected at the beginning of the fiscal year primarily due to a slow-down of applications and new licenses. It is projected that we will end our fiscal year under budget by nearly $1 million. The repayment of the General Fund loan of $10 million provided by CSLB was specifically outlined in the 2008 budget for reimbursement, which affects both how we must be paid back and restricts us from increasing fees to ensure it is repaid without causing a budget deficit.

Chair Miller briefed the Board on the 2009 California Building Officials (CALBO) Annual Business Meeting and thanked Registrar Sands, Enforcement Chief David Fogt and Legislative Chief Michael Brown for participating in the forum. The new "owner-builder" brochures provided by CSLB were extremely well received. Issues presented during the CALBO forum included licensed contractors transferring responsibility of obtaining permits over to the homeowners. Also, CALBO will release a new guide including the various construction boards as a reference for builders. The "green" building trend is picking up great momentum and California is the first state in the union to pass a "Green Building Code."

Registrar Sands commended Legislative Chief Michael Brown on his contributions to the legislation for the "owner-builder" permit application forms, which were discussed at great length during the recent CALBO meeting.

Mr. Sands asked each Division chief to present the status of its respective area’s Strategic Plan objectives, then continued with an update on the upcoming strategic planning session.

Chair Miller asked Jonathon Buttle to present the Review and Preliminary Approval of Regulations to Raise Fees. He explained that effective January 1, 2011, CSLB would like to increase all licensing, renewal and delinquent fees to their statutory maximums. Without the fee increases, CSLB projects a deficit for the 2011/2012 fiscal year.

  • Review and Preliminary Approval of Regulations to Raise Fees
    • MOTION:  A motion was made by Board Member Eddie Barnes for review and preliminary approval of regulations to raise fees and seconded by Board Member Matthew Kelly. Motion was carried 10-1. Board Member Kirkbride opposed.
  • Review and Approval of 2009 Board Member Administration Procedure Manual
    • MOTION:  A motion was made by Board Member Matthew Kelly for review and approval of the 2009 Board Member Administration Procedure Manual and seconded by Board Member Robert Brown. Motion was carried 11-0.
LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE REPORT

Board Member Stephen Matich asked Legislation Chief Michael Brown to give an overview of Board-sponsored bills. Assemblyman William Monning has agreed to author the bill with our proposed amendments to mechanic’s lien laws. Member Matich mentioned this may be the only new legislation CSLB sponsors this year. Member Matich asked Mr. Brown to discuss the Review and Preliminary Approval of Blanket Performance and Payment Bond Regulations (Title 16, Division 8 of the California Code of Regulations).

  • Review and Preliminary Approval of Blanket Performance and Payment Bond Regulations (Title 16, Division 8 of the California Code of Regulations)
    • MOTION:  A motion was made by Board Member Matthew Kelly for review and approval of the concept of the Review and Preliminary Approval of Blanket Performance and Payment Bond Regulations (Title 16, Division 8 of the California Code of Regulations and seconded by Board Member Robert Lamb. Motion was carried 11-0.

Board Member Matthew Kelly commended Legislation Chief Michael Brown and industry associate, Sam Abdulaziz, on their hard work and efforts in conjunction with the mechanic’s lien legislation.

ENFORCEMENT COMMITTEE REPORT

Enforcement Committee Chair Bob Lamb gave an overview of the Enforcement Committee Report. CSLB realized a record year in 2008 for proactive enforcement, conducting over 150 sting operations. Mr. Lamb offered his appreciation to industry partner, The Painting and Decorating Contractors of America (PDCA) and their Director, Clifford Bird, for their efforts in assisting by providing flyers to their members to encourage them to offer sites for CSLB sting operations. Mr. Lamb introduced Enforcement Chief David Fogt for the Enforcement program update. Mr. Fogt highlighted a few of the cases listed under the Investigative Centers section and referenced our partnership with the Shasta County District Attorney’s office. Mr. Fogt reviewed CSLB’s involvement with industry representatives to ensure guidelines are followed for public works projects.

Committee Chair Lamb introduced Organizational Development Chief, Peter Sugar for an update on staff development. Mr. Sugar advised the Board on the five ongoing organizational development projects: Staff Development, the Central Valley SWIFT office, our Model Office Program, Training and Industry Expert Training.

Mr. Fogt gave an update on the Service and Repair Task Force case involving contractors that have been cheating customers for over 15 years. The principles of a settlement have been established as a result of mediation requested by the Superior Court judge in the unfair business practice case presented. The Attorney General’s office is reviewing the settlement and CSLB is hopeful of its acceptance.

Mr. Sugar conducted a presentation on the results of the 2007 Consumer Satisfaction Survey.

Committee Chair Lamb concluded the Enforcement Committee Report.

LICENSING COMMITTEE REPORT

Licensing Committee Chair Ed Lang asked Licensing Chief Karen Ollinger to present an overview of the Licensing Program Update. Licensing Chief Karen Ollinger reviewed the detailed reports provided in the Licensing Summary report. Revisions have been made to seven of CSLB most frequently used applications. Ms. Ollinger responded to Board Secretary Mitchell’s request for a description of how CSLB processes applications. Testing Chief Bob Porter highlighted the Testing Division’s progress to date. Committee Chair Lang concluded the Licensing Committee Report.

PUBLIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE REPORT

Committee Chair Robert Brown commented on the focus groups conducted throughout the state with contractors and telephone surveys with consumers. Mr. Brown asked Public Affairs Chief Rick Lopes to provide an overview of these programs along with the Public Affairs program update. Due to the furloughs, many events such as the Senior Scam Stoppers, focus groups and plans to commemorate CSLB’s 80th anniversary will be downsized. Eighty different references were found involving CSLB’s claims of criminal background checks on contractors, none of which reflect overstatements on CSLB’s behalf. The preliminary results of the focus groups were reviewed. Robert Brown concluded the Public Affairs

Review of Tentative Schedule

Registrar Sands announced that the next CSLB Board Meeting/Strategic Planning Session will be held at the Monterey Beach Hotel in Monterey on April 23-24, 2009. The year’s remaining Board meetings were discussed.

Meeting Adjourned

The Board Meeting adjourned at 12:20 p.m.

 

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