The following Op-Ed is from citizen Paul Plante. The opinion is derived from correspondence with The University of the State of New York, The State Education Department, Office of the Professions
Division of Professional Licensing Services.
First of all, once again, thank you very much for your timely reply to my inquiry as a licensed professional engineer regarding the meaning of the phrases “fraudulent in character” and “dishonest in character” as they are used in § 29.3(a)(1) of the Rules of the New York State Board of Regents wherein is stated “unprofessional conduct shall also include, in the profession of engineering being associated in a professional capacity with any project or practice known to the licensee to be fraudulent or dishonest in character, or not reporting knowledge of such fraudulence or dishonesty to the Education Department.”
Rereading that, the question really becomes one of what duties does that language in that Rule impose on me as a licensed professional engineer with regard to the phrase “or not reporting knowledge of such fraudulence or dishonesty to the Education Department,” if and when as a licensed professional engineer I am being associated in a professional capacity with a project and/or practice known to myself to be fraudulent or dishonest in character, where in this specific case, the phrase “being associated with” as it applies to me means being the licensed professional engineer doing forensic analysis to uncover and document for the record alleged professional misconduct being willfully committed by licensed professional engineers employed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation conducting a whitewash to protect a known polluter and law breaker with a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation permit to operate an industrial scale garbage transfer facility in Poestenkill (T), Rensselaer County.
It is my understanding of that language that the duty to report to the Education Department is both on me as the engineer uncovering the fraud and dishonesty as well as the engineers committing the fraud and dishonesty, and if I am misreading that, I would appreciate being informed as to so by the Education Department, where pursuant to your writing to me of 4 March, 2022, it is stated that the Education Department can share with me commonly accepted interpretations of applicable laws and regulations, which is as it should be, given that it is the Department of Education that is responsible for writing those regulations and so, would be the authority as to what they are supposed to mean.
Which takes us to these statements from your 4 March 2022 writing, to wit:
“Please understand that the Education Department does not answer hypothetical questions, issue advisory opinions or offer detailed legal advice.”
“Such requests should be directed to your attorney.”
Please be advised in answer to that strange message that as a licensed professional engineer, I do not have an attorney, and I’m quite curious as to why the Education Department, which licenses professional engineers only after they have proven they are of the required good moral character to possess such a license in the first place, would think that any New York State licensed professional engineer who prior to being licensed by the State of New York pursuant to § 7206(1)(7) of the New York State Education Law must be of good moral character as determined by the department would need a lawyer of all people to tell them what is right and what is wrong, which takes us to an address to the Albany County Bar Association in New York State on that very subject by its then-president Michael P. Friedman in March of 2003, to wit:
Does anyone really think lawyering involves ethical behavior?
Our advice to clients is not designed to guide anyone in ethical behavior.
We do not exist to tell anyone what is right and wrong.
We are all but prohibited from doing so.
Our duty is to advise of the legal consequences of actions, and to promote the interests of our client within the boundaries of the legal system.
For this reason, we do not necessarily advise the guilty to accept their punishment, nor do we chastise the adulterer, the negligent driver and the trespasser.
So, we don’t deal in fairness, we deal in legal results, without regard to ethics.
You think clients come to us for our opinions on good and evil?
Think again, Jack.
We are not the clergy.
After all, it is just “Ethical Considerations” in the Code of Professional Responsibility, as in “OK, I’ve considered it, now here’s what we do.”
Given that by their own admissions, the advice of lawyers in New York state to clients is not designed to guide anyone in ethical behavior, nor do lawyers in New York state exist to tell anyone what is right and wrong, being all but prohibited from doing so, nor do their clients come to them for their opinions on good and evil, because in their own words, they very clearly are not the clergy, why would I as a New York State licensed professional engineer who long ago proved that he was of good moral character be seeking any kind of guidance from a lawyer of all people as to what constitutes unprofessional practice by a licensed professional engineer in New York state?
The reality is that a licensed professional engineer, in all but very few instances, which are rare, the lawyers I encounter are firmly on the side of the fraud and dishonesty and the engineers who do commit professional misconduct in service to the “state” who they provide cover for, and a stark and vivid example would be an October 3 2002 decision of Rensselaer County Supreme Court Justice James B. Canfield in the Matter of Paul R. Plante v. Planning Board of the Town of Poestenkill, Rensselaer County Index No. 204938, wherein the Poestenkill town attorney, also believed to be the Rensselaer County Bar Association ethics attorney, was defending the fraud, dishonesty and corruption, to wit:
Poestenkill’s extremely casual approach to determining environmental impact also bears notice.
The administrative record here reflects Poestenkill’s complicity with Showers and Valente in using the proposed subdivision as a means of avoiding SEQRA review by reducing the impact of the immediate proposal without inquiring into the possibility of further development at a later date.
Regardless of Showers and Valente’s misinformation, Poestenkill’s determination of no environmental impact would have to be rejected based on Poestenkill’s failure to even give the appearance of complying with SEQRA.
So I clearly do not need or require a lawyer to tell me what is right and what is wrong and what professional misconduct is or is not, and frankly, I am very surprised that the Education Department would make such a suggestion in the first place.
As to the roots of the fraud and dishonesty at issue in this present matter of this whitewash involving licensed professional engineers employed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, there we need to go back to the morning of October 22, 1993, when New York State Assistant Attorney General Kathleen Liston Morrison appeared before Supreme Court Judge Robert C. Williams in connection with Matter of the Application of Paul R. Plante v. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany County Index No. 4840-93, and was put under oath by the Judge as he questioned her about an October 14, 1993 affirmation she had put before the Court in reply to this licensed engineer’s Article 78 Petition wherein she was forced to have to state on the record under oath that “(T)he state respondents admit that the Department (NYSDEC) erred in issuing the permit when it had an incomplete application under Environmental Conservation Law (“ECL”) Article 70, the Uniform Procedures Act, and the regulations promulgated thereunder in 6 NYCRR Part 621, the Solid Waste Management Act, ECL Article 27, and the regulations promulgated thereunder in 6 NYCRR Part 360, and failed to comply with the requirements of Article 8, the State Environmental Quality Act, and the regulations promulgated thereunder in 6 NYCRR Part 617,” the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation never had an intention to protect the public health and environment of the Poestenkill community.
For the record, since this is where this mess the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and its “partners” the New York State Department of Health, the Rensselaer County Department of Health and the Town of Poestenkill are trying to shove back under the rug again began, the Judge had her make clear under oath in his presence, and I was standing there as the Petitioner watching this exchange, she was admitting to a Class E felony committed by the “Department by and through the commissioner, who serves at the pleasure of the Governor” when it issued the Solid Waste Management Facility permit in question.
So why then would a licensed professional engineer who does not commit professional misconduct because he knows better seek out advice on what is right to do and what is wrong to do from a lawyer?
Lawyers are not licensed to practice engineering in New York state, which profession pursuant to New York State Education Law § 7201 exists for the sole purpose of safeguarding of life, health and property of the people of the State of New York, so that a New York State licensed professional engineer seeking advice from a lawyer about professional practice would appear to be guilty of violation of § 29.1(b)(10) of the Rules of the New York State Board of Regents, that being delegating professional responsibilities to a person when the licensee delegating such responsibilities knows or has reason to know that such person is not qualified, by training, by experience or by licensure, to perform them.
And further, if the licensed professional engineer has to seek advice from a lawyer of all people about professional practice, that professional engineer would also appear to be guilty to be guilty of violation of § 29.1(b)(9) of the Rules of the New York State Board of Regents, that being practicing or offering to practice beyond the scope permitted by law, or accepting and performing professional responsibilities which the licensee knows or has reason to know that he or she is not competent to perform.
Clearly, if the said licensed engineer must seek out his or her guidance concerning professional practice from a lawyer, that professional engineer is clearly incompetent, and should not be practicing as an engineer at all, nor licensed as one, which would also appear to make that licensed engineer guilty of violation of § 29.1(b)(5) of the Rules of the New York State Board of Regents, that being conduct in the practice of a profession which evidences moral unfitness to practice the profession.
So, once again, why would the Education Department in this case advise me to seek counsel from a lawyer who is not licensed to safeguard life, health and property?