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Vol. 46 No. 3

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Joel G. Carson To Succeed John Bachner as GBA Executive Director
Joel G. Carson has been selected to serve as GBA's new executive director, succeeding John P. Bachner. Bachner's firm — Bachner Communications, Inc. — has managed GBA since May 1973; Bachner has served as GBA's chief of staff during that span. GBA will become a fully self-managed entity in November 2015. Carson will be tasked with assembling the new management team that he will lead to achieve GBA's long-term strategic vision.

Mr. Carson began his career in 1988 after majoring in civil engineering at the University of Utah. In 1993, he joined the staff of Kleinfelder, a multidiscipline technical-services firm that today employs some 2,000 staff members worldwide.

According to GBA President Gordon M. Matheson, Ph.D., P.E., P.G., D.GE (Schnabel Engineering), "The GBA Board of Directors conducted an extensive search to find the right individual. Joel has the executive leadership capability we need, a deep understanding of management, and an intimate knowledge of GBA and the people who comprise it."
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EBC Launching New Phase I ESA Standard-of-Care Survey
GBA's Environmental Business Council (EBC) is launching yet another Phase I ESA standard-of-care survey. The first step is gathering cosponsors to increase the quantity and diversity of reports, recruit more reviewers, and enhance the survey report's credibility. The effort is being led by EBC Member (and Council of Fellows Chair and GBA Past President) W. Jerrold "Jerry" Samford, P.G. (Troutman Sanders, LLP). Jerry's letter to environmental professionals does an excellent job of explaining why the new survey is so important.

ASTM's current Phase I ESA standard (ASTM E1527-13) identifies a new issue — contaminant migration in the vapor phase — environmental professionals must address for a study to comply with EPA's all-appropriate inquiry (AAI) rule. However, the preamble to EPA's final AAI rule states that environmental professionals should have considered contaminant migration in the vapor phase even when the prior standard — ASTM E1527-05 — was in effect, even though that standard was silent on the issue. The standard of care survey, covering 2007-2010, should demonstrate that contaminant migration in the vapor phase was seldom if ever considered before 2011, meaning that not considering the issue was not a failure to abide by the standard of care.

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Freshly updated, Design Professional Limitation-of-Liability Case Index and Bibliography of Economic-Loss-Doctrine Cases are immediately available for download. Both references were developed for GBA's Legal Affairs Committee by Committee Vice Chair Terence J. "Terry" Scanlan, Esq., a principal of the Seattle (WA) law firm Skellenger Bender, P.S.

Amidst hoots of derision, GBA introduced the 400-year-old limitation-of-liability (LOL) concept to the design and environmental professions in 1969. The Index identifies key cases on a state-by-state basis, describing each case in terms of its background and the points or holdings involved.

The economic-loss doctrine (ELD) is another important protection for design and environmental professionals. It bars the use of tort claims (e.g., professional-negligence and negligent-misrepresentation claims) to recover purely economic losses, such as those stemming from construction delays or property damage. In states that uphold the ELD in full, claimants against design professionals may recover purely economic damages only via breach-of-contract suits, limiting claimants to design professionals' clients.

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  Past Conferences on Demand

Bring home the best of GBA conferences with content on demand — online and on DVD.

Safety and Your Geoprofessional Practice: The Whys and How-tos of Establishing a Safety Program
Safety has become a top priority for many design and environmental firms, and not just because they are concerned for the welfare of their employees. As explained in Safety and Your Geoprofessional Practice, the most recent entry in GBA's series of GBA Best Practices monographs, "For many major clients, safety performance is a key criterion when it comes to the procurement of professional services, directly or by subcontract. They are committed to avoiding on their property work-related injuries or illnesses caused by any outside entity that fails to follow established safety regulations or best industry practices." Many of these major clients "use comprehensive prequalification questionnaires that inquire about a firm's safety program and request electronic copies of documents that support the answers." The new monograph provides important information essential to the development of an effective safety program. Part of this information focuses on the direct and indirect costs of an inadequate safety program, ranging from higher insurance premiums and legal exposures to lost business and lower productivity. Also covered: Some of the key safety metrics being used; benchmarks firms can use as targeted objectives; and an array of techniques for developing a "robust, proactive safety program that seeks to eliminate hazards and prevent injuries."
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Trapped under the Sea
Neil Swidey discusses his best-selling book, Trapped under the Sea, which recounts the factors leading up to and following a major construction accident that took several workers' lives in the nearly 10-mile long Deer Island Tunnel. The workers were commercial divers who were tasked with removing 55 large safety plugs that had been installed at the end of the tunnel, which lies hundreds of feet below the ocean floor, and carries up to 1 billion gallons of wastewater from the Boston wastewater treatment plant out into the deep Atlantic waters of Massachusetts Bay. The presentation is free to members with the discount code and just $249 for everyone else!
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Date Event Location
October 8-10, 2015 GBA Fall Conference St. Regis Monarch Beach
Dana Point, California
January 29-31, 2016 GBA Winter Leadership Conference Hyatt Dulles Hotel
Herndon, Virginia
April 14-16, 2016 GBA Spring Conference The Adolphus
Dallas, Texas
October 13-15, 2016 GBA Fall Conference Grand Hyatt Seattle Hotel
Seattle, Washington

  For a complete list of upcoming events, click here.

GBA Issues Case History 101
Sporting GBA's new graphics, the case describes how a GBA-Member Firm dealt with a serious error it committed while performing CoMET services for a new hospital building that was the key element of a high-profile, $600-million project. Importantly, the constructor-in-charge faced significant penalties if it failed to complete its work by the targeted date. The CoMET firm's errors were likely to cause a significant delay, resulting in major penalties, plus a serious cost overrun, all of which the GBA-Member CoMET firm feared it would have to pay for. The loss of an important client also was likely. The case history chronicles exactly what the CoMET firm did to undo its error without cutting any corners, to the delight of its client — the constructor in-charge — as well as the owner and its structural engineer. Perhaps even more important than the technical competence it displayed, the firm also demonstrated a great deal about the value of ongoing communications. In fact, when all was said and done, the CoMET firm emerged from the project with an enhanced reputation. According to the GBA-Member Firm representative in charge of the project, "Run toward your problems; meet them head on! That's the best way to confront risk. If you fail to do that; if you stick your head in the sand, the problems will almost certainly spiral out of control."
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HR DEPT.: How Many of Your Managers Shouldn't Be Managers?
Gallup Business Journal
How do you identify managerial talent? Are you looking for the right attributes? Maybe not. According to Gallup, companies choose the right candidate 18% of the time. The remaining 82%? Failure! But what is talent? Gallup defines it as "the natural capacity for excellence. People can learn skills, develop knowledge and gain experience, but they can't acquire talent — it's innate." Gallup says it has identified the five dimensions of manager talent that are the surest predictors of performance regardless of the specific manager role; e.g., general manager, field manager, or team manager. The five "talent dimensions" are motivational ability, assertiveness, accountability, ability to form and maintain relationships, and decision-making. An individual who exhibits the five dimensions to a high degree is what Gallup calls a "high-talent manager." In a study of 2,551 managers, Gallup found that 54% of high-talent managers are engaged at work; that's double the percentage of managers with limited talent.
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Missed an issue of GBA NewsLog? Click here to visit the NewsLog archive page.

In-House Lunch & Learn Topics
GBA's Education Committee developed the Lunch & Learn seminar series to help GBA-Member Firms conduct high-quality, to-the-point seminars for members of staff and, possibly, others, such as client and colleague staffs. Each Lunch & Learn seminar outlines key points to be made and includes note-taking forms participants can use to help reinforce key lessons learned, as well as a PowerPoint presentation. Each seminar uses GBA materials that members can obtain free of charge in unlimited quantity.

Using these is so easy: just download the materials, set a date, reserve a conference room, issue the invitation, order in some pizza and sandwiches if you're feeling particularly generous, and you're ready to go!

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ROAD WARRIOR: Take That, Jet Lag!
"How do you beat jet lag?" That's the question one reporter asked, and did she ever get answers! Example: Reserve an aisle seat in the very back of the plane. Why? Because most travelers regard the last row as the least desirable, meaning you'd have your best chance of having the other two seats empty. When that occurs, just spread out and snooze. Not tired? Some advise you can get there by taking a mild, sleep-inducing product composed of the antihistamine diphenhydramine, the "PM" part of products like Tylenol PM. Don't drink coffee or alcohol in flight, some say. Others advise that you avoid the two liquids starting a day before you leave. Yoga can help, too, some have found, in addition to strategic exposure to sunlight. It's all interesting stuff, and there's a lot of it!
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Confronting Workplace Bullying: A GBA Best Practices Monograph
The GBA Business Practices Committee prepared the monograph in response to a Workplace Bullying Institute survey indicating that 35% of the U.S. workforce — 53.5 million people — say they've been bullied on the job; another 15% say they've witnessed it. While the United States is the only industrialized Western democracy without a federal or state statute prohibiting workplace bullying, the problem can still create severe liability risks for some employers. Nonetheless, the Committee states, the principal reason for developing and enforcing a rigorous anti-bullying policy is not to confront liability risk; it's to create and maintain "a positive work environment where the entire workforce is engaged, united in its commitment to the firm's success." The monograph provides some background information about workplace bullying, identifies sources of additional information, and presents a comprehensive model workplace-bullying policy for GBA-Member Firms' reference in developing a policy of their own.
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DR. ENGLISH: E-Mail Disownership
I recently came across an e-mail disclaimer that is so poorly written, it deserves coverage in this column. It demonstrates how we sometimes fail to say what we intend. Here's the disclaimer:

The information contained in this e-mail or attachments, may be privileged or confidential. Use or unauthorized distribution of this information is prohibited by anyone other than the intended recipient. Although our technology system is set to scan incoming e-mail and any attachments for viruses or other defects that might harm computer systems, [our company] disowns responsibility for any resulting loss or damage.

First, the comma after attachments should not be there: One should not separate the subject — The information contained in this e-mail or attachments – from the verb with a comma. The second sentence — Use or unauthorized distribution of this information is prohibited by anyone other than the intended recipient. — says that only the intended recipient may perform unauthorized distribution, which, if it is authorized, is not unauthorized. (Now my head hurts!) And then the final sentence says almost the exact opposite of the author's intent, by noting that the company is not responsible for damage caused by its technology system, vs. not prevented. Say what you mean! And rely on effective e-mail disclaimer guidance from GBA.

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GBA Logo for Your Website
Put your GBA membership to work for you on your website! We have a logo for member firms to use that expresses your firm's commitment to your clients' success through membership in GBA; place this logo on your website today.
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GRAPE PRESS: Freaking Out
"Oooooo. Napa-Valley cabernet sauvignons are SO wonderful; that's why they're so expensive." Sure, some are great, but a lot of them are mediocre and, of those, some are ridiculously high-priced. Plus that, Napa Valley's not all that special, especially compared to other parts of the state, like Lodi. There Michael and David Phillips are turning out some great wines. The one we like the most — and we're drinking now — is the pair's "Michael David Freakshow" cabernet sauvignon, vintage 2012. What Robert Parker calls a sleeper of the vintage, this great, 90-point wine is big, complex, and delicious fruit bomb, with tastes of raspberry, spices, and licorice. Buy this by the case: Just $15 (or less) by the bottle.
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Investigation and Treatment of a Swallvette, A.K.A.: Sinkhole Remediation at the National Corvette Museum
At 5:38 am, February 12, 2014, security cameras recorded the collapse of the display floor and development of a sizeable sinkhole inside the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY. While the geology and engineering aspects of this event can be discussed in great detail, this presentation from Michael J. "Mike" Marasa, P.E. is mostly nontechnical, focusing on the historical significance of the vehicles affected by the collapse, history, anecdotes, photos, comedy, lore, and examples of infatuation with America's sports car while working amidst worldwide attention and media chaos. The presentation is free to members with the discount code and just $149 for everyone else!
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Mother Nature to Texas: "[Expletive deleted]"
The New York Times
Mother Nature has whipsawed Texas yet again. On Labor Day 2011, the problem was heat- and drought-fueled fires that raced through the Austin exurbs. On Memorial Day 2015, the problem was flooding. Do you believe it's caused by man-made climate change? Well, here's what we believe: Texas loves development and the fruits of that love affair do much to enhance the state's economy. Unfortunately, some of that development has occurred where, in hindsight, it should not have, given what it does to Mother Nature's ability to deal with environmental exuberance. But the real problem is inadequate infrastructure. Yes: We're all familiar with the sentiment, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." But if it's almost certain to break in ten years (especially after 100 or more years of service), and it will take five years to fix it, intelligent planners know that the fix needs to start sooner rather than later. Sure: Spending on infrastructure is likely to dampen the state's economy somewhat, but look what the "savings" have already cost the state and what they're likely to cost in the near-term future. It's a hard way to learn that infrastructure is an investment, not an expense, but — hopefully — it is a way. And assuming the state has learned or at least is learning the lesson, now's the time to offer infrastructure-based services in the Lone Star State.
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Gordon M. Matheson, Ph.D., P.E., P.G., D.GE
(Schnabel Engineering, Inc. / Glen Allen, VA)

Joel G. Carson
(Kleinfelder / Omaha, NE)

Laura R. Reinbold, P.E.
(Terracon / Nashville, TN)

Charles L. Head, P.E., P.G.
(Sanborn, Head & Associates, Inc. / Concord, NH)

Kenneth R. Johnston
(GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. / Norwood, MA)

Kimberly F. Morrison, P.E., R.G.
(Morrison Geotechnical Solutions, Inc. / Denver, CO)

Alex Sy, Ph.D., P. Eng.
(Klohn Crippen Berger Ltd. / Vancouver, BC)

Woodward L. Vogt, P.E., D.GE, F.ACI, F.ASCE, F.ASTM
(Paradigm Consultants, Inc. / Houston, TX)


Phone: 301/565-2733

Executive Vice President
John P. Bachner
Ext. 223 /

Operations Director
Sarah P. Lanning, PMP
Ext. 231 /

Program Director
Barbara A. Nappy
Ext. 222 /

Program Manager
Sara Menase
Ext. 232 /

Associate Program Manager
Melody A. Patrick
Ext. 225 /

Phillip D. Pettway
Ext. 233 /


John P. Bachner, NewsLog Editor-in-Chief, 301.565.2733 ext. 223   
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Cait Harrison, Content Editor, 469.420.2657   
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