Susan Bryant, the Wake County GOP chair, says Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue's administration was attempting to stifle free speech when a senior DOT official accused a North Raleigh resident of practicing engineering without a license. [2/4/11 update: see today's story with reader comments.]
“The governor sets the tone for her administration, and I believe she should immediately take action to demonstrate the state welcomes input from its people," Bryant said today in a news release. "And just because the input is well researched and organized doesn’t mean the people are attempting to impersonate a professional. Licensing professionals has nothing to do with the Constitutional rights of citizens to make their feelings known."
Bryant cited Kevin Lacy, chief traffic engineer at NCDOT, who complained that David N. Cox and members of his neighborhood group appeared to be practicing engineering without a license when they submitted a report to bolster their campaign to have traffic signals added at two intersections on Falls of Neuse Road (see today's story, with dozens of reader comments).
"It’s a clear attempt to stifle free expression, freedom of speech and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances," Bryant said.
The document produced by Cox's group has the kind of boring technical title you might see on a boring technical report from a professional engineer: "Analysis of Traffic Signal Warrants for Selected Intersections of Falls of Neuse Road." But it doesn't call itself an engineering report or claim to have been produced by an engineer.
It says (and this is a stretch, of course) "Submitted by the Residents of North Raleigh." Actually it came from a group called the North Raleigh Coalition of Homeowners' Associations. Cox e-mailed it to U.S. Rep. Brad Miller, who then relayed it to DOT.
Now this document is Exhibit A in an investigation by the N.C. Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors.
The board will spend a few months deciding whether the public was misled into thinking this report (which became a public document when it was sent to DOT) had been produced by a licensed engineer. Read it yourself. What do you think?
Lacy had advised the North Raleigh Coalition of Homeowners' Associations to hire a licensed, professional engineer to make its case. He was surprised and apparently peeved when they decided to do it without professional help.