News from Joplin
I visited Joplin on June 15 along with AIA leaders from St. Louis, Kansas, Missouri, and Springfield chapters and AIA National. AIA Springfield organized a two-day workshop with FEMA, SEMA, Joplin architects, and Joplin city officials to begin laying out a process for recovery and rebuilding. More on that below.
President Obama had committed to support Joplin’s clean-up by paying for 90% of the efforts for 75 days (closing Aug. 7). Many AIA members have asked me if the debris was going to be sorted for recyclable content, and the answer is Yes, the best that it can be. Wood, metal, and vegetation are being separated for salvage.
Although a few new construction projects have been underway, the City wants to keep the disaster area clear from construction traffic to allow the Corps of Engineers to do their clean-up job. The Corp has 800 workers and are working 12 to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, to meet the Aug. 7 deadline. The Chamber anticipates 2 dump trucks are entering the disaster area, and 2 are leaving, every minute. I saw these trucks around town and on the highway outside of Joplin, and they are massive.
Amidst the devastation that I witnessed that day was a sense of hopefulness and determination. It was hard to witness the epic scale of loss, but I was bolstered by the good wishes sent by our chapter and the commitment of AIA to do its part to help Joplin repair the physical and emotional damage caused by this tragic natural disaster.
AIA National | Repeal Three Percent Withholding Law
The three percent withholding law, which was enacted without any debate, mandates that federal agencies, states, and certain local governments withhold three percent of nearly all of their contract payments. Compliance with this law will impose significant, unnecessary financial burdens on architecture firms that do business with any government agency both the public and private sectors, and will essentially give government an interest free loan on the backs of small businesses.
This withholding will be a flat percentage of revenues from government payments, bearing no relationship to companies’ taxable incomes, and will restrict cash flow that firms need for day-to-day operations and investments. In addition, it will impose substantial administrative and capital investment costs on businesses and governments struggling to comply- hitting small firms the hardest. Ironically, the provision will cost more to implement than it is estimated to raise in new revenue- completely defeating its intended purpose.
The Senate will soon take up Amendment 405 to S. 782, authored by Senators Scott Brown and Olympia Snowe, which would repeal this provision that is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2013. Now is the time to tell Congress to repeal this law. Please take just a moment to send your Senators a message through the AIA’s advocacy center. Click here to send your message.
Vice President AIA Government & Community Relations
The American Institute of Architects
Keeping in Touch with Joplin Recovery
AIA Kansas City continues to be part of the conversation about the rebuilding of Joplin, Missouri. I am grateful to Brandon Dake, the president of AIA Springfield, for his leadership in bringing architects to the table when Joplin city officials and FEMA officials are discussing the plan for rebuilding. Brandon is keeping all of the AIA chapters in our region and AIA National staff apprised of his efforts, as well as coordinating any and all offers of support from AIA members. Special thanks, too, to Trudy Aron, Executive Director of AIA Kansas, for taking time to meet with me and share her vast archive of information related to the Greensburg, KS disaster recovery and rebuilding efforts.
The rapid assessment of buildings was completed in the first week by SAVE-certified architects. That effort was coordinated by Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA, http://sema.dps.mo.gov/). Some of you might have assisted in the building assessment; we’d like to hear from you if you were involved so that we can share your story with our members. One positive outcome of this disaster would be to have more AIA members become SAVE certified to be prepared for the next disaster.
The current focus of AIA Springfield is to advocate for architects being involved in the planning process to rebuild, serving alongside FEMA officials and Joplin officials. The City is looking specifically to FEMA for guidance, but local [Joplin] architects would like the AIA to offer guidance, as well. The Joplin rebuilding scenario resembles that of Greensburg, KS, but with many key differences. Although it appears that the City of Joplin is not seeking the same level of LEED design as was pursued in Greensburg, their familiarity with Greensburg means that some of those players will be involved.
The biggest AIA opportunity appears to be in supporting the City and local architects in the planning process. The AIA National Disaster Recovery Task Force is well versed and experienced in planning and
rebuilding disaster-ravaged areas. It is essential that the AIA National Task Force provide adequate representation to aid the local Joplin architects; otherwise, the City with look to FEMA for planning guidance because of their experience. Brandon believes that “the leadership of Joplin architects will be critical in this planning process and I want to provide them with the national experience that the AIA can offer.”
We have no shortage of expertise and compassion among our AIA members. I look forward to keeping you informed of ways that we can lend a hand.
Mayor James urges Kansas Citians to get involved on the City’s boards and commissions
Kansas City Mayor Sly James invites all residents to get involved in serving the City we call home. As part of his initiative to increase the number of Kansas Citians who participate in their government, Mayor James announced he has made an easy online application available for the City’s boards and commissions.
“I applaud the efforts of everyone who has served our City. The talent and dedication exhibited by the outgoing board members and commissioners is a tribute to our residents. These are volunteer positions, and I know each of them has put in countless hours to make our City great. As we begin a new administration, I invite all Kansas Citians to consider pitching in and helping us move our City forward. This is a great chance to hear new ideas and shape exciting new possibilities. We have already received many great applicants, but I continue to urge everyone to consider applying and serving in these important roles,” said Mayor James.
It is an exciting time for Kansas City and every resident can be a part of it. The City has over 90 boards and commissions in which citizens can serve.
A full list of boards and commissions and the Mayor’s online application is available here: