Page 19 - Texas811 Magazine 2022 Issue 2
P. 19

Spare the Rod...
By Joe Igel Spoil the Child
Spare the rod...
As a first-time grandparent, I watch intently the interaction of our son with our grandson,
trying to observe the kind of father he is and guess the kind of father he will be. As I watch him, I cannot help but remember my experience as a father, trying to do the right thing yet failing from time to time. The age-old dilemma of being too hard on him or not hard enough haunted me. Knowing that
this decision can strongly influence the kind of person he would be, the kind of spouse he would be, the kind of parent he would be, all those worried me. That feeling of concern has never gone away, although observing his behavior now does significantly relieve it.
Ten years ago, Ohio passed revisions
to its underground dig laws. I was privileged to be one of the chairs of
the working group developing the legislative revisions to the law in effect at the time. I knew that the real work had just begun. A lot of effort was expended informing the excavating community, sharing the proper focus of the law and the group. There were a lot of questions, a lot of worries voiced.
When I was given the opportunity to serve on the first committee that would review complaints that were filed, I seized the opportunity. I wanted to correct behavior through any means
necessary but not necessarily by relying on huge fines against violators. Some of the same worries I had as a parent, the concern over doing the right thing for all the right reasons, re-surfaced.
Spoil the child?
From time to time, observers of our committee’s work have, both verbally and non-verbally, appeared critical
of our penalties and our corrective measures. Our penalties are not staggering, and our corrective measures and educational requirements are focused. Their purpose, to reduce the incidence of failures giving rise to complaints, to promote safe behavior and potentially create an environment where enforcement will no longer be necessary, that is our goal. My research has indicated that many such groups elsewhere levy higher fines than we do, but I have not seen a corresponding decrease in their complaints. Perhaps there are just a certain number of these complaints that will never go away. While I am sure that my results and observations are less than empirical in nature, I feel confident that we are on the proper course.
We always review the complaint
and make a judgment prior to the consideration of any corrective action or penalty. It is our sentiment that this allows a more neutral observation and
judgment of the facts of the complaint. If the complaint is judged to be valid, then we enter the penalty phase discussion.
Through education, some fines, process improvement plans (and necessary modifications to them when subsequent failures occur), the committee has performed its task. We have seen some growth in the number of complaints, but some against parties that have been doing the wrong things for some time and have just now been observed in that situation. It is a terrific opportunity to correct what they do. In the cases where we have had a persistent violator, however, we will not falter in the
action we take and have done so when necessary.
While I wish that there were a proper and correct answer that I could give,
it does seem a lot like parenting, with best guesses, research, concerns, and witnessing the results. Our performance is reviewed annually by our state legislature, and we are subject to periodic reviews. Perhaps their view is
a lot like being a grandparent, hoping that they have equipped us to do our job in the best interest of the State, of safety and of public welfare.
Mr. Igel recently retired as vice president of the George J. Igel & Co., Inc. after working there for more than 35 years.
2022, Issue 2 Texas811 • 17

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