Thursday, September 30, 2010

Board of Engineers rejects Warnock's complaint

The Mississippi Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Surveyors cleared Richard McAfee of any wrongdoing in response to a complaint filed by Madison County Engineer Rudy Warnock.

Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler and Madison County Engineer Rudy Warnock skirmished a few months ago over his work for Madison County. WLBT reported:

"According to Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler, private citizens hired engineer Richard McAfee of Florida to review Madison County contracts with Rudy Warnock's engineering firm. McAfee is with PMA Consultants, LLC.

McAfee used public records from nine roadway projects. He claimed to have found multiple instances of excessive fees and two million dollars worth of questionable disbursements to Warnock & Associates, LLC.

"Principally, it appeared to be the result of the inadequate oversight and then some instances of Warnock & Associates potentially over charging or double charging. For the most part it appears to be a combination of the two,"McAfee told WLBT news in an interview Wednesday."

Mr. Warnock then took the offensive and filed a complaint on April 28, 2010 with the Board alleging Mr. McAfee engaged in the unauthorized practice of engineering since he is not licensed in Mississippi and identified himself as a professional engineer in the report. Copy of complaint (The "audit" starts on page four.). Mr. Warnock also issued a press release on the same day through his attorney, Dorsey Carson.

The Board took a nice long look at it all and told Rudy: sorry kid, better luck next time. The Board met yesterday and rejected Mr. Warnock's complaint. The Board informed Mr. Carson in a letter (obtained by JJ through a public records request and reprinted below in its entirety):

"The Board has concluded its investigation into Mr. Warnock's complaint against Richard McAfee.

It is the committee's opinion that Mr. McAfee's report is not an engineering report. The report contains no designs, analysis, judgments, conclusions or recommendations requiring licensure as a Professional Engineer. The report is an evaluation of Mr. Warnock's business practices by a peer.

The committee declines to determine the origin of the various versions of this report and the differing signature titles, because it would make no difference in the committee's conclusions. Mr. McAfee may sign with the P.E. title in the future, however, it is suggested that he either disclose the state(s) of his PE licensure, or that he avoid any confusion by not using the title in states where he is not licensed."

The next question to be asked is how valid are the charges in Mr. McAfee's report. It will be interesting to see if Stacey Pickering's audit reports the same findings found in McAfee's examination. Stay tuned. This is probably starting to heat up.

This earlier post contains Warnock's rebuttal to the audit and video of his press conference. The video is pretty good entertainment as it goes back and forth from Rudy to Mary several times.


Anonymous said...

Notwithstanding this decision, any idea what Rudy's relationship with the Board of Licensure is? All Boards tend to be political and I'm just curious if they were inclined to go with him or against him to start with.

Kingfish said...

No idea. I thought it was a frivolous complaint. The engineer was expressing his opinion, not actually designing something. If this is illegal, then start kicking out of court all those expert witnesses like Steffey that are not licensed in Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

I'm no fan of Steffey, since he was a liberal douche professor of mine. And I know that the Clarion-Ledger routinely calls him for comments, which is astounding since he practiced a grand total of 18 months of law.

But does he really testify as an expert witness? What kind of cases? Disputes over essay grades?

Anonymous said...

This is some of the best news coming from some type of governing body that I've heard in a while. Don't know if I can sit still and wait for Pickering's report. Too bad Rudy didn't hold a press conference to let us know that the board told him thanks for shopping.

bill said...

If Rudy will just release the subcontracts he will take all the steam out of Mary's arguments, provided of course that the information contained in the subcontracts doesn't substantiate Mary's accusations. My opinion is that Mary's hit the nail on the head and Rudy's chosen the loud and self-righteous defense because he knows he's sunk if the word ever gets out about how much money he made for making a few phone calls. Come on, Rudy...either release the records or hunker down and weather the storm. Bill Billingsley

Anonymous said...

With elections coming up next year, the Secretary of State should be working on requiring better election finance reporting. That way we would know who and how much people like Warnock were paying for the privilege of doing business (or who they were funneling the money through). What was filed in the Madison County Circuit Clerk's office for the last election was a joke!! The big assumption here is that what gets reported is all there is.

Anonymous said...

"If this is illegal, then start kicking out of court all those expert witnesses"

In the case of engineers, that's been tried, actually. I worked on a case where the plaintiff invoked the same MS law as Warnock did, trying to strike expert testimony by a non-MS non-engineer.

Case settled, so we never got an answer from the trial court, but I think the the correct answer is that the Legislature does not get to set the rules of evidence for the courts.

Anonymous said...

SOS has worked on campaign finance -- both DH and EC. But the people who have to approve it are the same guys who hate having to file. The legislators are the ones who have opposed requiring electronic filing so the data can be put into searchable datbases. They've opposed every other proposal to require more detailed reporting.

As bad as many agencies are about making information available, the SOS Office has done a decent job the last 10 years or so. And the entire state could do a good job if the Legislature would man up and require transparency and electronic access of public records. Which they aren't going to do.

Anonymous said...

@11:26, not sure what Warnock's current relationship with the Engineering Board is, but he was sanctioned for operating without a Certificate of Authority a couple of years back, prior to his run for Transportation Commissioner.

Anonymous said...

A handyman was called to a customer address. He got out and assessed the problem. Went to his truck and retrieved a small hammer. Returned and tapped a small pipe twice. Filled out the bill and presented it to the customer, who exclaimed, "You charged me 125.00 for two taps of a hammer? I demand an itemized invoice. The handyman returned to his truck and completed another invoice. "Two taps of hammer and travel time. $15.00. Knowing where to tap hammer. $110.00."

Moral of story. Why does it matter what Rudy charged? They paid him for knowing who to call and what to say when he got them on the other end. Period.

Move along folks. Nothing to see here.

bill said...

9:16, you aren't looking below the surface. First, it matters plenty when taxpayer dollars being irresponsibly used to overpay for any service. Your example would be more applicable if the plumber charged $125 to call another plumber who the customer also knew to come out and tap the pipe. Then the first plumber gave $75 to the second plumber $75 and kept $50 for himself. The second plumber might be okay working cheap, but the customer still got screwed because the phone call shouldn't have cost $50. Second, if there's even a whiff of impropriety when public funds are being used, the person receiving the funds must provide clear records as to what happened to the money. The reason that you think there's nothing to see here is because Rudy hasn't released any subcontracts so we don't know who and how much he paid and what services were received. All he needs to do to put this behind him is release the subcontracts and let the light shine in. If he's telling the truth, there's no downside for him. In fact, he gets to rub Mary's nose in it if he can prove what he's saying, which should make him very happy. Conversely, if he refuses to release the subcontracts, how is the public supposed to just take his word for it and not be suspicious? This is never going to die unless he comes clean. Bill Billingsley

Raymond Engineer said...

The facts will come out in the sub-contracts most if not all engineering contracts (I'm and engineer) require the consultant to complete at least 50% or more,of the work in house. This is to keep the consultant from becoming a broker.

You get the work based upon the fact that you can do the work not that you can find other people to do it.

Special items such as environmental impact statements or geotechnical engineering can be sub contracted out.

It will be interesting to see the results, because the State Auditor's office reviews engineering contracts for all the State. They the rules and the game.

Raymond Engineer said...

I just re-read my comment please excuse the couple of typing errors.

Like I said, I'm an engineer not an English teacher.

Kingfish said...

Not one peep out of the local media. They sure didn't mind reporting on the complaint against Mr. McAfee but can't be troubled to report on his exoneration.

Raymond Engineer said...

McAfee was exonerated but he over stepped his knowledge base. He came into an area where he did not know local practice and made some statements that made him look foolish to local engineers.

And I'm no fan of Rudy, I think he is a political hack, but McAfee criticized his percentage State Aid Contract with the county, not knowing that is established by State law.

He also did hold him self up as an engineer when he was not licensed in Mississippi, and that is what the board told him when it said he did no engineering so it was not a violation, but leave off the PE behind your name in future non-engineering political fights.

Raymond Engineer said...

One final comment about Rudy, when you get your engineering work by politics, don't cry when you loss your engineering work by politics.

bill said...

Raymond, I agree that it will be interesting to see the State Auditor's report, and your belief that he'll review all the contracts is accurate. However, he has no access to the subcontracts between Rudy and the firms he hired, so no one knows what work Rudy actually did for the money he kept. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, all he has to do is release the subcontracts.

What local practice? Is the technical aspect of engineering different here than it is in Florida? If you're referring to a local practice that doesn't have anything to do with technical engineering, then McAfee's credentials are irrelevant. Also, he "held himself up as an engineer" because he IS an engineer. Just because he's not licensed in Mississippi doesn't erase his education and other state certifications. Finally, I don't know the state law or other legal ramifications concerning this case, but as a taxpayer in Madison County I have the right to know if Rudy is being overpaid and should have the amounts adjusted for future work. If the evidence shows that was the case, then he should have to reimburse the county for the overpayment.

Raymond Engineer said...

Local practice is a legal term, and yes technical aspects are different. Yazoo clay, loess and Hattiesburg formation clay presents a different method for foundations than shallow limestone in Florida and I would not be able just to move them and start design work.

By law McAfee is an "graduate engineer" and can say so, but when you put the PE behind your name on a signed report the implication is that you are resigistered in the state the report is issued and that is what the board told McAfee.

It is also been my experience that most public engineering contracts have sections in them that require that the auditors have access to all records, so they should be able to see the sub-contracts as well.

Raymond Engineer said...

One other comment. Engineers working as subs are still required to stamp their work so the plans and reports in the project file would show what subs did work. A look at this would be interesting.

Anonymous said...

Warnock, Johnson and Banks all crooks

Anonymous said...

They have fleeced County out of $millions, its time for them to go to another county, possibly Sunflower

Anonymous said...

1:59 - you are the man!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

KF: If 10:05 is correct, how do we find this info out? Rudy may not want to release the contract info, but that doesn't necessarily mean the other signing party has to be quiet.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Raymond and Bill for a very informative exchange.

While I understand a state engineer would have more experience with yazoo clay, etc.,isn't working with various soils and consulting geologists something that engineers learn to do?

What I'm wondering is if this requirement is our state failing to reach reciprocal agreements with other states to recognize their professional licenses and certifications, or an effort to reduce outside competition, or a reasonable requirement?

I also do not understand why , if a contractor contacts someone else for expertise why that is not out of his net profits? " A phone call" to someone not doing actual work on the project" or to someone with the same expertise should not be allowed as a legitimate expense charged to " the owner" or government entity. That is either a failure to have needed expertise or else akin to consulting one's attorney.
Is the contract letting process flawed or is there a lack of sufficient fiscal control in state contract law?
The way to get the " politics" out of the process is to set up reasonable controls in the system.
It's not burdensome government regulation if you authorize who can and can't have access, for example, to the petty cash drawer and require receipts for purchases from that drawer. That's sound fiscal management.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous October 1, 2010 2:07 PM-Said Rudy will move on to another county...I think it may be too late. I heard that he and Tim Johnson have their sites set for the City of Vicksburg. Heard that Rudy donated to the new mayors campaign and Turncoat Tim campaigned heavily for him. They are looking for fresh meat. It would be interesting to see how much work Mr. Rudy has got in the works in Vicksburg now.

Anonymous said...

Bingo, I heard the same things 8:31, only difference is Stacey P. has no idea or is that he wish he didn't so he would have to be involved in a big illegal mess right here at the cow bell of election...Now that would be interesting.

Anonymous said...

Madison Countians better watch out for "More of the Same Gerald Steen". He best buds with Turncoat Tim and Mr. Rudy. In fact I am pretty sure that he doesn't "toot" without Tim and Rudy's permission. He announced that he is running for supervisor against DI Smith...unless Madison County voters want 4 more years of MISERY...they need to stay away from Gerald Steen!

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