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This post has been moved to the No Design Legislation blog at http://nodesignlegislation.wordpress.com/2009/03/11/asid-backpeddling-as-fast-as-they-can/

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http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs060/1102107213116/archive/1102484179858.html

Interior Design Protection Council
YOUR STORY IS NEEDED!
Proof needed to DEREGULATE Florida’s Anit-Competitive Law

Our voice has been heard…now let’s finish the job

Members of the Florida design community:

Governor Crist has indicated that he is interested in deregulating professions that have been faltering under the burden of excessive and redundant governmental regulation which is stifling Floridians’ ability to earn a living, as well as hindering growth of the state’s economy. Senator Don Gaetz, Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Florida’s Economy, has also expressed a keen interest in deregulation, particularly of interior design.
Both the Governor’s office and Senator Gaetz are seeking real life examples of how the current anti-consumer, anti-competitive practice law has negatively impacted your ability to market yourself and/or how it has restricted you from practicing to the full scope of your abilities and caused you to turn down business that you would otherwise be able to perform.
This is the opportunity we’d hoped for!
You can change the future of interior design in Florida

and be a part of this exciting historical opportunity!
Please compose a letter detailing how this law has hurt you over the years. Be specific — list:
  • Examples of jobs you have had to turn down, like small offices, common areas of condos, community centers, hotel foyers, etc.
  • How not being able to accurately describe what you do or market yourself in the yellow pages, website or search engines, advertisements, has cost you business because potential clients cannot find you
  • How not being able to fully practice is making you less competitive
  • Names of individuals or organizations that have recently emailed or telephoned you to do commercial work, but that you had to turn down
  • List examples of any and all disciplinary actions inflicted on you by the prosecuting attorney, detailing exactly why you were cited
  • List any fines you had to pay
  • List any attorneys fees or legal bills associated with defending or answering disciplinary charges
  • List any costs associated with being forced to come into compliance
  • State if you had to sign an affidavit to avoid fines, basically signing away your right to ever practice interior design or call yourself an interior designer and how that has hurt your ability to earn a living
  • List any particularly egregious charges, such as being disciplined for “referring to yourself as interior designer on a bookmark” or “listing yourself as interior designer on your application for licensure,” etc.
  • If you live in another state, but are prohibited from working in Florida and contributing to the Florida economy through the products you would purchase and people you would hire to complete your projects, you should also write to the Governor and Senator.

Please email all letters to me at pmorrow@IDPCinfo.org by Thursday, March 5th. You may sign them or remain anonymous using just your first name, initials, or pseudonym if you prefer privacy. Keep them to one page, and attach as a word document, if possible.

I will collect all the letters, fax them with a cover letter to the Governor and Senator Gaetz, and follow up with a phone call on behalf of the interior design community. I understand that at least one other group is doing this as well.
It is important that the Governor and Senator understand the we are a LARGE, organized group and that WE represent the majority voice of the design community. They’ve already heard from ASID/IDAF… NOW IT’S OUR TURN!
LET’S MAKE OUR VOICE LOUDER THAN THEIRS! Let’s shout it from the coast to coast,
“Florida’s interior design practice act is unjust,

unconstitutional, and unnecessary

and needs to be undone!”

Now it’s up to you
  • Do you want to continue to let this cartel restrict you from performing services that you would be perfectly able to provide in 47 other states?
  • Do you want to continue to let this cartel take away your First Amendment Right to accurately describe yourself and what you do?

Please email your letters to pmorrow@IDPCinfo.org by March 5th.

Support our efforts to protect Florida interior designers’ rights and livelihoods.

Click here to become a member of IDPC.

Click here to read IDPC’s call to action on February 19th.

CONSUMER PROTECTION? Absolutely NOT!

Not a shred of evidence has ever been presented to warrant a conclusion that the unregulated practice of interior design places the public in any form of jeopardy.

In fact, 12 government agencies have looked into this issue and concluded that interior design licensing does nothing to protect the public beyond the processes already in place.
Click here for a list and access to all 12 government reports, including the 1999 Florida report recommending that the profession of interior design be deregulated.
DID YOU KNOW THAT….

Juanita Chastain, who is working for the Department of Business Professional Regulation as the Executive Director for the Board of Architecture and Interior Design, is married to Dwight Chastain, who is working as an investigator for the firm responsible for prosecuting designers and decorators? This was confirmed on February 5th by David Minacci of Smith, Thompson, Shaw & Manausa, the private prosecuting firm for the Board.

While we have no direct proof of unethical or illegal conduct, the obscure nature of some of the disciplinary actions brought against the design community leaves us highly suspicious. For example, about a dozen individuals were disciplined for using the words “interior designer” on their application for licensure. How would the attorney and/or investigator know about those instances if not for the direct communication of such, and is the alleged feeding of such information to the prosecuting law firm or its investigator an accepted activity? It would seem that the privatization of the prosecutions should have eliminated any oversight capacity Mrs. Chastain might have had, should it not?

These and some of the other ambiguous disciplinary actions at the very least give the appearance of impropriety, and should be addressed.
We will stay on top of this and keep you informed.

THIS IS THE PERFECT OPPORTUNITY TO RID FLORIDA
OF THIS UNNECESSARY AND ANTI-COMPETITIVE LAW!
Patti PR headshot
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at pmorrow@IDPCinfo.org.
Patti Morrow

Executive Director
Interior Design Protection Council

Join Our Mailing List!

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This post has been moved to the No Design Legislation blog at http://nodesignlegislation.wordpress.com/2009/03/03/wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee-in-sb-337-will-hurt-your-ability-to-compete/

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Thousands of designers in Texas rally against possible legislation that would prohibit unlicensed designers from doing commercial projects, and would put at least half of the state’s 10,000 designers out of business.

And Marilyn Roberts, ASID, the president of the Texas Association for Interior Design, which along with ASID is responsible for promoting anticompetitive legislation in Texas,  also admitted that there is “no documented case she knows of in Texas where an unlicensed interior designer created a safety hazard“.

Read the full story and watch the video here:  http://www.kxan.com/dpp/news/local/Interior_designers_rally_for_rights?disqus_reply=6433417#comment-6433417.

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ACTION NEEDED!

Interior design SB 337 passes Senate committee 6-1

Bill goes to Senate floor on Tuesday, February 24th

Yesterday, February 18th, the Senate Committee on Commerce & Public Policy passed SB 337.

This bill would create a new state registration for a small group of interior designers who have passed the NCIDQ. It appears that this bill would benefit less than 10% of IN designers who would not qualify under the guidelines, thereby resulting in the state becoming the marketing agent for these select few, while placing the majority of the design community at an unfair competitive disadvantage.

Beware! While this may on the surface appear to be an innocuous piece of legislation, historically the pro-regulation faction will accept any piece of legislation in order to get their foot in the door. Once some kind of regulation has been established, they will come back year after year, and quietly, under the radar, attempt to incrementally amend the law until it meets their true goal: a full blown practice act.

This is not speculation.

It has, and is, happening in many states.

Incredibly, Governor Daniels, whose strong veto message denounced the 2007 Indiana title act bill, is now said to be in support of this bill because it could bring in state revenue. This is not true! The fiscal impact statement provided with the bill absurdly claims that 950 interior designers in Indiana will register @$100. The truth is that only a very small percentage of these designers (reportedly less than 100) are either qualified or willing to register, thus it will COST the state many thousands of dollars that would be better spent on recovering from the difficult economy.

Reportedly, Sen. Ron Alting, the Chair of the Committee commented in a prior meeting that he is tired of the constant barrage from ASID.

THAT IS NO REASON TO PASS LEGISLATION!!!

Are you going to let ASID’s relentless whining that they “just want some recognition” result in their getting the business you deserve? Please note:

  • According to reports that have come in referencing the ASID website, there are only 67 “professional” ASID members in Indiana [and many of those were most likely grandfathered and did not pass the NCIDQ.]
  • According the the [ultra-conservative] BLS statistics, there are approx. 1512 interior designers in Indiana.
  • Are you going to sit back and let this 4% [less if you take out those grandfathered] of elitist insiders dictate how the remaining 96% of designers in Indiana market themselves? Surely not!

THIS BILL IS GOING TO PASS UNLESS

THE SENATE IS BARRAGED

WITH LETTERS AND PHONE CALLS

OPPOSING THE BILL!!!

IMMEDIATE ACTION:

  1. Contact your Senator. Phone and fax are best, followed by email. Do ALL THREE if possible.
  2. Ask your clients, vendors, friends and family to contact their Senators and register their opposition to the bill.
  3. Contact the Governor and ask him to withdraw his support for the bill.

Link to sample letter provided below.

PLEASE DO NOT MAKE THE MISTAKE of thinking that others will do this for you!

THE ASID-LED CARTEL IS

“BOMBARDING” THE

SENATE WITH LETTERS RIGHT NOW!


Without a groundswell of opposition, this bill is going to pass. But with your help, we can defeat it.

If you live in a state surrounding IN and currently have business there or would like to work there in the future, please contact IN Senators and the Governor.

Do not let this special interest group reduce you to a second class citizen within the design community.

Protect your livelihood

Protect your rights

Protect your future!

Executive Director

INTERIOR DESIGN PROTECTION COUNCIL

Legislator Contact Info

Click here to find your Senator

Governor Contact Info

Governor Mitch Daniels

Phone: (317) 232-4567

Fax: (317) 233-4275


Sample Letter

Click here for sample letter

Contact Us

email: info@idpcinfo.org

phone: 603.228.8550

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Sick and tired of the state of Florida meddling in your design practice? Learn how to support the growing movement to deregulate the interior design profession, and why it should be deregulated.
Here’s a link to the full article, since this has gotten cut off and I still don’t know how to fix it.

Interior Design Protection Council

TAKE ACTION!
Florida deregulation will restore your right to practice!

Florida Statute 481 is anti-competitive and anti-consumer

Members of the Florida design community:

The Interior Design Associations Foundation (IDAF), the ASID-supported and funded coalition responsible for the perpetuation of Florida’s monopoly practice law, is mobilizing their licensed designers in a mass letter writing campaign in an attempt to derail the deregulation movement and save their ruthlessly enforced protectionist interior design law.

The talking points email that IDAF sent to their members to “remind legislators” is filled with misleading and blatantly false information in what appears on the surface to be an intentional effort to mislead government officials.

Click here to read IDAF talking points, 02.10.09

We cannot allow your Florida legislators to be hoodwinked into believing that (1) IDAF’s information is true, or (2) that it reflects the will of the design community. IDPC has written a STRONG REBUTTAL, which factually, statistically and empirical disproves ALL of IDAF’s claims.

Click here for IDPC Rebuttal to IDAF Talking Points.

The rest is up to you…

  • Do you want to continue to let this cartel restrict you from performing services that you would be perfectly able to provide in 47 other states?
  • Do you want to continue to let this cartel take away your First Amendment Right to accurately describe yourself and what you do?

Their lobbyist, Ron Books, is already working behind the scenes and allegedly has $400,000 at his disposal to distribute to legislators as he sees fit.

But a strong grassroots movement can trump the pocket-lining! And that’s where you come in…..

TAKE ACTION NOW!


You must act
now to let your Legislators and the Governor know that, especially in this difficult economic climate, the state government should continue no laws which make it more difficult for its citizens to compete in the free and open market unless there is clear and compelling evidence — which is clearly lacking here.

IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUIRED:

Fax, call, and email the following Legislators (click on committee or legislator link below for contact information):

Faxes are prefered over emails. Please follow up with a phone call to make sure they received your letter and see if you can answer any questions. If you can’t send a fax or email to every member of each committee, at least send one to the Chair of each committee.

It’s very important that at least one person in each committee gets a letter from you! Note: one option is to select 2 or 3 committees to send to each day. Another option is to fax a letter to the Chair, and send one email addressed to the rest of the committee members.

Fax, call and email the Governor

Rally all students you know to write as well. Licensing HURTS not helps them. (See details in Rebuttal)

Ask your clients, vendors, friends, family, and other consumers, to call or write to their legislators, asking them to deregulate the interior design law as it restricts their right to hire whom they choose, serves no ligitimate public good, and is bad for the Florida economy.

Designers in other states — If you currently do any kind of design or decorating work in Florida, or if you plan to in the future, then you also need to contact the government officials above to protect your rights.

Support our efforts to protect Florida interior designers’ rights and livelihoods.

Click here to become a member of IDPC.

CONSUMER PROTECTION? Absolutely NOT!

Not a shred of evidence has ever been presented to warrant a conclusion that the unregulated practice of interior design places the public in any form of jeopardy.

In fact, 12 government agencies have looked into this issue and concluded that interior design licensing does nothing to protect the public beyond the processes already in place.

Click here for a list and access to all 12 government reports, including the 1999 Florida report recommending that the profession of interior design be deregulated.

DID YOU KNOW THAT….


Interior design practice laws affect more than just interior designers? In Florida, approximately 22 professions have been the subject of disciplinary actions of Statute 481.

If you work in any of the following professions, beware — you could be the next victim!

*interior designer *interior decorator *office furniture dealer *residential furniture dealer

*restaurant equipment dealer *flooring company *wall covering supplier *fabric vendor

*builder *real estate stager *real estate developer *realty company *remodeler

*accessories retailer *antiques dealer *engineer *drafting services *lighting company

*florist *kitchen design *upholstery workroom *carpet retail *art dealer *paint store

Even if you are an extremely successful or even a “celebrity” designer, you will not be sheltered from this law. In Florida, even internationally known designers like Kelly Wearsler, Hirsch Bedner Assoc., Juan Montayo, Clive Christian, and Phillip Sides were victims of ruthless disciplinary actions.

Click here to see the list of hundreds of Florida disciplinary actions.

THIS IS THE PERFECT OPPORTUNITY TO RID FLORIDA

OF THIS UNNECESSARY AND ANTI-COMPETITIVE LAW!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at legislation@IDPCinfo.org

Patti Morrow

Executive Director
Interior Design Protection Council

Join Our Mailing List!

Forward to a friend!

Interior Design Protection Council | 91 Reserve Place | Concord | NH | 03301

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Thanks to the Interior Design Freedom Coalition blog for the following post. I’m a little behind in updating my blog. And I’m really, really sad that, as stated, “ASID is not the organization it once was”.

================================================================================

We just received a copy of this letter from IDPC:

www.idpcinfo.org

ASID RESIGNATIONS
-GROUP 2-

January 16, 2009
Michael Alin, Executive Director
The American Society of Interior Designers
608 Massachusetts Ave., NE
Washington, D.C., 20002

Dear Mr. Alin:

Once again Allied designers have come together to state the reasons for their dispute with ASID and to resign as a group in protest of the organization’s policies and practices.

Despite the fact that ASID leadership thinks it knows better, designers who have been practicing for years understand what they do for a living and how clients react to their work. And what they know is that they are not endangering the health and safety of the public, nor are they prevented from practicing by the IBC – both simply serve as excuses for licensing.

What they also know is that licensing is totally unnecessary, and basically a device that is used by ASID and its testing partner, NCIDQ, to DISQUALIFY, not qualify, designers through legislation, and through NCIDQ requirements that cripple designers’ ability not only to take the test, but to pass it as well.

Most designers have absolutely no desire and see no reason to take the NCIDQ. Nowhere has it ever been proven that designers who take it are any better than those who don’t. Many of the most accomplished, famous designers in the world (notably those often featured in Architectural Digest) have never taken the test and certainly don’t need to. What they have is talent, plus the ability to be creative and visionary. Techno-engineering is not what we want to study and it’s not what we want to do. But this is what ASID is trying to force upon us.

We see increasing comprehension and anger from young design graduates who were fed on the milk of ASID’s policies from an early age, and were uneducated as to how these policies would negatively affect their careers. They are now coming to understand how ASID’s methodology will keep them from moving on up into the so-called professional ranks. NCIDQ’s requirement for years of what many young designers are calling “indentured servitude” makes it impossible for anyone coming out of school to immediately take the test.

And the lack of NCIDQ-certified designers who could or would hire these young graduates into that required indentured servitude makes even the possibility of taking the test very unlikely indeed.

Many young designers have simply abandoned the desire to take the NCIDQ and are taking other roads – which is apparently another way that ASID deliberately decreases the ranks of future interior designers.

Additionally by requiring young designers to work only with NCIDQ certificate holders (few that there are) they also deny them the possibility of working with the top designers in the world who are not NCIDQ-certified.

Once again, we are appalled by the situation unfolding in Florida, which, sadly, has provided a glimpse into the real future of the meaning of design legislation.

If it has been your goal to cut the ranks of interior designers in Florida, you have succeeded
If it has been your goal to restrict decorators to the bare minimum of “legal” services where they would be less competitive, you have succeeded
If it has been your goal to use the Florida practice act to cause much pain in the design community in Florida, you have succeeded
If it has been your goal to cause Florida designers to operate in a state of fear, you have succeeded
If it has been your goal to penalize and exact huge fines against interior designers and collateral trades just trying to do business as they were used to doing, you have succeeded
If it has been your goal to destroy the ability to design in freedom in Florida, you have succeeded.

It is, however, our goal to inform designers of the type of restrictive actions heading their way if they allow ASID to pass legislation in dozens of states where legislation is slated to be introduced. And it is our goal to make sure that you never succeed in forcing this legislation on the design community, causing this type of damage to our fellow designers again.

Designers no longer feel that ASID’s dues represent a good value. In letters written by Allied members, they cited over and over again the fact that better information could be had over the internet, that Connex is worthless because of extensive censorship, that mandatory dues force people to pay for lobbying efforts they do not support, and that ASID does not do what it should to promote designers (especially Allied designers). Most agree that they can buy their own magazines, and for far less than $440 a year!

And perhaps the most important reason of all is that clients simply don’t care whether prospective designers are members of ASID – only that they like their portfolios, feel comfortable with the designers and agree with the proposed financial arrangements.

Additionally, ASID’s claim that it promotes the interests of Allied members is particularly ludicrous since other than paying dues that support lobbying for legislation that will put us out of business, the Society seems to have no use for us. Cited over and over are the elitist attitudes that permeate leadership and chapters around the country, creating an uncomfortable and unwelcome atmosphere for Allied members who are looked upon as second-class citizens.

Just because a designer passes the NCIDQ test and serves an NCIDQ certified practitioner for a number of years, does not make that designer a professional, nor does it entitle those designers to take an elitist attitude that is unwelcoming to others within the same organization who are not NCIDQ-certified.

Professional designers are those whose vision and creativity evolve over time, and who serve their customers successfully with expertise that is derived from any number of different sources, and these professionals include people who are self-taught through their own hands-on experience. “Professional” status is something designers earn through the quality of their work in the competitive arena of a free market – it is not something that can be conferred simply by passing a test or obtaining a government-issued license.

ASID will continue to lose members as long as it pursues professional licensing through legislation; as long as it continues to lose credibility by misrepresenting to its membership that licensing is necessary and good for the profession; as long as ASID continues to deny that licensing will put thousands of designers out of business; as long as it continues to ally with NCIDQ to disqualify designers from practice; as long as it continues its elitist attitudes; as long as it continues to mislead newcomers about their future in design; as long as it continues to deny designers who disagree with policy a voice; as long as it continues its policy of mandatory legislative assessments; and as long as it continues to promote its dictatorial policies, while denigrating its own membership.

ASID is not the organization it once was. We see that clearly, and have no desire to continue our membership.

And so we are resigning.

Thomas M. Bauer, #29892, Indiana
Paula Bertucci, #52512, California
Denise Bressler, #1485955, Florida
Edith Clamen, #42256, New York (previously resigned for above reasons)
Diann Gibson, #1226118, Florida
Starr Gobtop, 1868762, Illinois
Amy Hart, #1503605, Virginia
Melodie Hunt, #39056, Missouri
Patrick Mallaley, #1894927, Canada
Carolyn McComber, 1538456, Florida
Nicole Mitchell, #1527699, Pennsylvania
Emily Nagel, #1860696, Washington (state)
Richard Parker, #1480188, Florida
Deborah A. Rodeghier, #1485759, California
Kelly Savell, #1551058, Tennessee
Janet Schmierer, #1238256, New Jersey
Cricket Seal, #2440, Texas
Mimi Swerdlow, #1223205, Connecticut
Margaret Vogt, #84751, North Carolina
Corey Zucker, #1222704, New York

cc: Bruce J. Brigham, President
Board of Directors:
Bruce Goff
Charrisse Johnston
Doug Hartsell
Lisa Henry
Mary G. Knopf
Rachelle Schoessler Lynn
Stephanie Clemons
Sybil J.B. Van Dijs

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As a matter of fact, well-behaved people of all genders are rarely the ones who are most instrumental in effecting any sort of important social changes.

It’s unfortunate, but it’s also a reality that it usually takes getting in bad guys’ faces loudly, and sometimes quite aggressively spreading the word, in order to rectify conditions in society and anywhere else that are unjust, discriminatory, and just plain wrong.

Look at the Suffragettes and the civil rights movement as just two examples that were even more extreme in their tactics than any anti-design legislation groups or proponents will ever be. It often takes people who are willing to put their own necks on the line, to risk everything from their reputations to their freedom to their very lives to stand up for what’s right, and protect the rights of all.

It takes repetition and yes, even loudness to get the apathetic to even pay attention, even when it’s their own interests at stake – and make no mistake about it, legions of designers have been incredibly apathetic about this issue, especially those who are most likely to be affected. Once they hear about the realities, though, they are sitting up and taking notice in droves.

Following my post about the Michael Smith situation, I received an email yesterday from a colleague who shall of course remain unidentified, criticizing me for essentially being as outspoken as I have been against design legislation, telling me my behavior is “unprofessional”, as well as “abrasive [and] combative”, for posting about it the way I do, which I’ve done in various venues.

I’m certainly not trying to make any kind of history, and frankly, I’d much rather spend the time I spend working against legislation on a whole lot of other things, including building my own design practice and the new patient advocacy business I want to start, taking care of my very sick brother and father, and blogging about the more fun aspects of interior design, but there comes a time in life when you’ve got to speak up for what you believe is right, and to protect the rights of others, even if the issues at hand will not affect you personally. And even if it brings the wrath of others down upon you.

I reached that point about a year ago, after several years of debating back and forth about the value of legislation, and studying both sides of the issue in great depth. I’ve written extensively about my thoughts on this subject both on this blog and elsewhere, including some of the listings on the CADAL and IDPC websites. Not all are attributed to me, but my thoughts are there. Eventually, I’ll get the CADAL site updated with more of the most current information.

Unfortunately, more sedate and quiet methods of trying to dissuade ASID and its legislative partners from their destructive paths have not worked. Until roughly sometime in the last year or so, their actions went unopposed, and people who disagreed with them had little recourse, as well as few others with whom to even discuss their dissent.

But now, there is a very strong grassroots opposition movement that is gaining steam nationwide, dedicated to spreading the word about how legislation is anticompetitive and only serves to harm the very designers and even the public whom its proponents claim to want to be protecting. The word is getting out – the truth is getting out. And there’s been an avalanche of support from every corner.

And the word must be spread. IDPC has been doing an amazing job of reaching a large segment of the design community, especially Allied ASID members and students, but there are still tens of thousands of others who need to know what’s going on, that will affect their livelihoods. Joni at Cote de Texas has done a bang-up job of alerting a lot of people to the issues and how they are playing out in Florida in her superb post “ASID: An Agency Out of Control” and other bloggers such as Laurie at Kitchen Design Notes have also done a huge amount to help. Patti Morrow of the Interior Design Protection Council is tireless in sending out email blasts, which are archived at http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs060/1102107213116/archive/1102156670830.html and there are dozens of other equally dedicated people who are posting all over the blogosphere and Twitterland about the issues, many of them in terms far less complimentary than any I have used. At least one has posted a quite obscene (although wickedly creative and funny) image graphically displaying her feelings.

And frankly, for every person I’ve encountered who disagrees with what we have to say, I’ve met many, many more who are applauding our willingness to stand up and put it all on the line, to fight for every designer. Every day, we are hearing from more and more people thanking us for the work we do, for helping them realize that they are not alone, and that they can fight back – and they can prevail.

In the past 2-3 years alone, something like 50 separate pieces of legislation have been voted down, vetoed, struck down as unconstitutional, or otherwise legally challenged or eliminated, because legislatures all over the country are recognizing that there’s simply no just rationale for this kind of law.

The Emperor has no clothes; we are just pointing that out – and we are winning, because the truth speaks for itself, and almost always triumphs, once people’s eyes are opened.

I used to think I’d miss out on a lot of networking and working with nice and talented people by not being associated with ASID, and the loss of some of the relationships I’d built with other members as a result of our finding ourselves on opposite sides of this issue has definitely saddened me, but the reality is there are thousands of incredibly nice and extremely talented designers all over the place who are not affiliated, and I find that I’m just forging solid relationships with others instead.

If spreading the word about the reality of what’s happening in our profession, exposing the real agenda of an organization that ought to be looking out for its members instead of using their own money against them, and working hard to protect the rights of all designers to practice is unprofessional, then I accept the charge and will wear that label proudly.

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Oh no, an unlicensed designer is going to decorate the White House – heaven forbid! Quick, get out the sandbags; the Obamas aren’t going to be safe in their own home, and neither will the public!

Or at least that’s what ASID’s Michael Alin would apparently like President and Mrs. Obama and the rest of the country to believe.

Feh.

As everyone already knows, the extremely talented and world famous California designer Michael S. Smith has been tapped by the Obamas as their designer for their private White House quarters. He couldn’t possibly be a better choice, as ample other posts in the blogosphere have already detailed and dissected (see Patricia Gray, The Peak of Chic, and Cote de Texas, among many others). Gifted, personable, with a versatile of-the-moment style that’s incredibly well-suited to a young, modern family in the US, Smith’s selection fits well with everything we know about our new First Family to date, and will creatively meld a contemporary aesthetic and lifestyle with the traditions of the White House in an utterly fresh, uniquely American way.

What’s particularly interesting, however, is that, as best as I have been able to determine, Smith is not only not licensed in the District of Columbia (one of only 4 jurisdictions in the US that requires licensure for interior designers to practice our trade), but is probably not even eligible, according to current ASID and NCIDQ standards, as I was unable to uncover any evidence that he possesses a degree in interior design. Despite this, he is clearly acceptable to the Obamas – and to all of the security people surrounding the more powerful person in the country.

As well he should be, because Smith is bloody brilliant – and is the embodiment of all of the reasons that the ASID argument that only licensed/certified/ASID and NCIDQ-credentialed designers know what they’re doing is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Now, in reality, the White House is technically on Federal land, not District land, and so licensure would not be required in any case, but ASID is still obviously upset about the Obamas hiring someone who is unlicensed anywhere – and clearly not a member of ASID, according to a search of their website. You can readily see this from the fatuous letter Interiors & Sources published from Michael Alin of ASID in their most recent issue, exhorting the Obamas to consider the health and safety of their family and visitors first and foremost – as if their safety has not already been more than amply assured by legions of security and safety experts.

If these professionals, charged with keeping the First Family safe, don’t feel there’s a safety risk in allowing the Obamas to select a designer without the “formal” ASID-dictated credentials that Alin and his minions tout, then surely the hundreds of millions of other citizens of our country who want freedom of choice in selecting a designer for their own homes and offices are not at any greater risk without legislation to “protect” them.

Funny how ASID is always screaming bloody murder about unlicensed designers specifically endangering the public all over the Web and email, and interfering in many designers’ lives and livelihoods – but they didn’t even directly bring up the question of Smith’s credentials or licensing status up in this letter. Could it be that they realize how utterly ridiculous it would make them look if they were to blather on about how Smith isn’t licensed – to the President of the United States, who just selected him? And how overtly critical of Obama’s judgment that would obviously make them seem? What is Alin seriously expecting? That the Obamas will read his letter, and then suddenly decide, uh oh, they’d better find another designer from within the ASID ranks, because the almighty ASID (which is unknown to most people) has hinted not at all subtly that the President and his wife are not adequately protecting their family because of their current selection?

Designer Walter B. Peterson of Philadelphia-based Weixler Peterson Luzi Interiors responds to the editors in more detail about how ridiculous this argument is, and how the Obamas’ selection demonstrates how utterly unnecessary interior design legislation is:

————————————————————————————————————————-

Mr. Robert Nieminen, Editor

Mr. Jamie Nicpon, Managing Editor

INTERIORS & SOURCES Magazine

615 Fifth Street, SE

Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

Dear Sirs:

Michael Alin’s “Letter to President Obama” published in Interiors & Sources is presumptuous and embarrassing. Doubtless his advice is unsolicited, as the President’s and First Lady’s selection of the noted interior designer Michael S. Smith already satisfied their requirements in this area. Additionally, Mr. Alin’s expressed concern for the First Family’s environment – “modified to be safer and healthier” – rings hollow. One would be hard pressed to imagine any other head of state whose every environment, including the newest limousines he rides in, is any safer or healthier than that of the President, and any consideration of making the White House safer, healthier or more accessible would be handled by a team of government architects, conservators and the Secret Service, not an interior designer. But it is Mr. Alin’s suggestion that they consider the “health, safety and welfare” of their children before engaging an interior designer that is most offensive. Like all good parents, the Obamas have been taking such considerations into account since before their two lovely daughters were even born. Moving into the White House is the safest and healthiest move any family could make on this planet regardless of whom they hire to design it, and for Mr. Alin to imply otherwise is patently absurd.

Lastly, the fact that Michael S. Smith is not licensed to practice interior design in Washington, D.C. seems not to have altered the First Family’s decision to hire him, nor does it seem to upset the district’s legal authorities, who on any other resident’s unlicensed designer would doubtless impose punitive fines and possibly imprisonment. Given the round-the-clock concern for the President’s and First Family’s safety, the appointment of Michael S. Smith to design their most private living quarters sends a clear message to every legislature and court in the nation that interior design licensing is a bogus act, completely unnecessary to protect the public’s health and life safety, and therefore nothing more than an attempt by a tiny minority of ASID’s interior designers to create an exclusive monopoly in the marketplace of creative ideas and design.

Sincerely,

Walter B. Peterson

WEIXLER PETERSON LUZI
Exceptional Interiors ~ Extraordinary Living
232 South Fourth Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106
T: 215-592-9570 – F: 215-592-4782 – C: 215-880-3955
www.wplinc.com

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Please see the No Design Legislation blog at http://nodesignlegislation.wordpress.com for further information, extensive links about fighting interior design legislation in all affected states, and to discuss the issues. Please post your legislation-related comments there.

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Concerned about your right to practice interior design anywhere in the country? Think you’re alone?

No, there’s a very strong grassroots opposition movement well underway spearheaded by the Institute for Justice and the Interior Design Protection Council (IDPC), and a wide range of individual grassroots organizations in affected states – and we’re having huge success blocking anticompetive laws, and in some cases, having existing ones overturned.

All this takes money, though. ASID reportedly has spent nearly $6,000,000 to the date of this post on their campaign to disenfranchise the majority of designers and has an army of paid lobbyists. We’re winning, as my previous post indicated, and expanding like crazy as money comes in to pay the support staff, despite being all volunteers, and operating on donations.

Join IJ and IDPC today to help fight anti-competitive legislation nationwide, and preserve interior designers’ right to make a living at our chosen profession. Please also see the No Design Legislation blog for a list of links to individual known state grassroots opposition organizations.

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We just received a copy of the letter below sent to ASID Headquarters. Thanks to the Interior Design Freedom Coalition http://www.interiordesignfreedom.org/blog.html for posting it.

Please see the links on this blog in the Interior Design Legislation Opposition section to the Interior Design Protection Council and the Interior Design Freedom Coalition for more information on licensing efforts and how to protect your real right to practice in your state, and how ASID efforts will put thousands of designers out of business.

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ASID RESIGNATIONS
-GROUP ONE-

December 19, 2008

Michael Alin, Executive Director
The American Society of Interior Designers
608 Massachusetts Ave., NE
Washington, D.C., 20002

Dear Mr. Alin:

Over the last several years, we have watched as ASID has recklessly spent our dues and MANDATORY legislative assessments on a failed policy falsely proclaiming to “raise the level of the profession” and to cull what you have decided are the “real designers” from those not following the path you dictate. The legislation you support has requirements so restrictive that most designers would not be able to comply and will therefore be denied the right to practice.

Over and over… we have watched as ASID’s president, members and board repeatedly mislead their own ASID colleagues about the EFFECT of legislation on our right to practice, while currying support from the very designers who would be put out of business by your legislative actions. And we have listened as Allied Members were described as the “Cash Cows” of the organization – too stupid to understand that we were being used to fund our own demise.

Over and over… we have watched as ASID betrayed its own ethics to push its own agenda – an ego-driven agenda that has the potential to destroy more than half of its own membership.

Over and over… we have listened as ASID members said sweetly, “We’re not trying to put you out of business.” [Subtext: as long as you forego your practice to go back to school for at least 2 years, do a supervised internship with an NCIDQ certified designer – if you can find one who also happens to be hiring – and intern from two to five years while being paid virtually nothing; then if you have any money left, pay about $2000 to take step workshops, purchase study materials, and take and pass the NCIDQ test (which is rarely passed on the first attempt), and then prove to the satisfaction of your own competitors that you actually are a designer, and comply with any regulations they happen to write.] But nobody’s trying to put you out of business; after all, there’s grandfathering. And from what we’ve seen of the way “grandfathering” is often written into the legislation, that’s just as bogus a claim as the rest of the pro-legislation argument.

Legislators have told us that representatives (either ASID and/or IIDA members) have misrepresented the content, objectives and design support for their legislation while governors of four states have clearly understood it to be anticompetitive and protective.

In states where practice acts have been enacted, designers have suffered terribly – persecuted for what they have done successfully for years, sustaining huge fines and legal fees for miniscule “infractions” and in some cases, bankrupted and driven out of the state in order to earn a living.

Florida designers bear witness to the travesty of your actions, and we hear more and more from them every day. The disgraceful behavior of Florida ASID members who deliberately work to expose and report their own members, as well as others, and help to put them out of business tells us what we need to know about ASID as an organization and about how legislation really works to
destroy designers’ rights to practice. And Florida is not the only state where this happens or has happened: try Alabama, Texas, New Mexico, Connecticut and others.

There are estimated to be between 200,000 and 400,000 interior designers in practice in the U.S. today. ASID claims membership of only about 20,000 practicing designers, the majority of
whom don’t even care about “raising the level of the profession”. Many are not even aware of your legislative agenda. They just want to practice design successfully as they always have.

We have personally spoken to Allied designers all across the country, and have found the vast majority to be opposed to your actions. As we’ve said before: the only designers who benefit from your tactics are the so-called professional designers who have passed the NCIDQ – and those are few and far between.

You do not represent independent designers as you have claimed, hence the title independent. They don’t want ASID’s interference in their right to practice, and have told us that they resent ASID’s efforts to dictate policy in which they have no say. Even ASID members are not welcome to disagree with your policies as the invitation to the Arkansas conference clearly shows, where attendees were carefully vetted to make sure that there would be no discordant voices.

ASID HAS NO RIGHT AND NO MANDATE TO DICTATE TO HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DESIGNERS ALL ACROSS THIS COUNTY WHO WILL BE ALLOWED TO PRACTICE AND WHO WILL NOT. YOUR LEGISLATION IS BEING DEFEATED BECAUSE DESIGNERS DO NOT SUPPORT YOUR OBJECTIVES.

It is clear to us that ASID no longer advocates for all of its members. This is illustrated in the make-up of the board which is ponderously commercial, in the membership of your pro-legislation coalitions across the country, where the majority are often commercial designers and in your undue influence in the schools, where students are pushed toward architectural/commercial design and where residential design gets short shrift. Students have told us that ASID has misled them, pushing them into commercial/architectural design on the premise that jobs at the commercial or architectural firms would be awaiting them when they graduate, and that ASID would help them get those jobs.

Even before the economic downturn, commercial jobs were very hard to come by – by ASID’s own statistics, only 15% of the market – and the few students who manage to land those jobs do so without ASID’s promised-but too often undelivered assistance. Many students, unable to secure those jobs have wound up selling commercial furniture and other commercial products. And most residential designers cannot hire them, as designers who have, have told us that they can draft, but cannot do other things that are crucial to residential design.

ASID’s preferential conduct is also apparent in the way Allied Members are treated on the national website’s “Find a Designer” page, where potential clients searching for referrals are offered a choice of “Show Professionals Only” (listed as the default) vs. “Show All Practitioners” which they have to search for [note: this appears to just have been changed]. This is insulting and clearly shows a bias toward “professional” members, which is especially unjustifiable considering that many so-called “Professional” designers have never passed the NCIDQ test and have just been allowed in. Allied Members pay the majority of dues and mandatory legislation fees, are no less professional in their work, and do not deserve a lesser marketing effort than any other members.

Additionally, by promoting its single-entry method as the one true path to design, ASID has created a rift between practicing designers and those who take ASID’s EEE path, with the younger designers evincing rudely worded disrespect for their more experienced elders – a situation which is not conducive to job creation.

Interior Design is a creative field. Yet ASID is determined to legislate creativity out of it by restricting the many paths of entry into the field that have nurtured that creativity and vision for years, producing brilliant designers – down to one path that is engineered to produce – engineers.

In a failing economy such as this, ASID should be using all its resources to support and market designers, not to destroy them through legislation. And make no mistake, we completely understand your actions and your intent.

We are ashamed and deeply disappointed by this organization. We can no longer support a Society that deliberately destroys its own membership and endangers the future of design and designers in its unending desire for power and dominance. And because of your exclusive policies, we know there is no hope of changing the trajectory of your actions.

ASID had a slogan: PROTECTING YOUR RIGHT TO PRACTICE. You are, in fact, subverting your own raison d’etre by deliberately trying to destroy our right to practice. And that is unethical, unconscionable and unacceptable.

And so we are resigning.

Jacqueline Bazaar, #1533586, Pennsylvania
Margaret H. Benson, #1504190, Texas
Gayle Beyer, #1519494, Colorado
Loraine Brown, #1250453, Georgia
Christine Colman, #1534167, Washington
Ellen Fernandez, #1239917, Maryland
Diane Foreman, #61436, Oregon
Debbie Gersh, #1485135, Texas
Noreen Dunn Gottfried, #1502827, Pennsylvania
Carol Gumpert, 1550669, California
Karen K. Hartley, #75601, Georgia
Nancy Hartsing, #1559067, Arizona
Henrietta Heisler, #1859365, Pennsylvania
Elizabeth Kauermann, #97269, Pennsylvania
Nancy Phillips Leroy, #1231856, Pennsylvania
Christie Meehan, #1201627, Pennsylvania
Tonya Morrison, 1487732, Pennsylvania
Jayne Rosen, #78935, Pennsylvania
Rebecca Ruediger, #1250458, Missouri
Carly Sax, #1500172, Illinois
Anne-Marie H. Schimenti, #1504255, Florida
June Shea, #1486996, Virginia
Nadia T. Tanita, #1542001, Hawaii
Terri Temple, #18099, Connecticut
Mary Sue B. Wiedmer, #1215131, Pennsylvania

Resigned earlier this year for the above reasons:

Janice Onsa, Pennsylvania, former Allied Member
Diane Plesset, Oregon CMKBD, CID #5818, C.A.P.S., former ASID

cc: Bruce J. Brigham, President
Board of Directors:
Bruce Goff
Charrisse Johnston
Doug Hartsell
Lisa Henry
Mary G. Knopf
Rachelle Schoessler Lynn
Stephanie Clemons
Sybil J.B. Van Dijs
According to a survey by Interior Design Magazine as quoted in the New York Times, January 29, 1987

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I like belonging to professional organizations mainly because of the networking and educational opportunities. While I am highly opposed to any sort of mandatory licensing of interior designers, I do still very much believe in increasing our knowledge base so that we can do the very best job we can for our clients. If nothing else, there are so many new products and product categories coming out every day that we’ve got to have *some* way of staying abreast of new developments just so we can always offer the cutting edge to our clients.

I do think that having some kind of initials after one’s name does lend a certain air of “legitimacy” that *some* clients seek, but the longer I am in this business, the more I realize how little that really matters to most prospective and existing clients.

More importantly, I’ve also realized how little those initials actually mean in terms of “proof” of competency of any sort.

Many of the very best designers I know and know of would never qualify for membership in these organizations – and at the same time, I hate to say it, but some of the absolute *worst* design work I’ve seen has been done by ASID professional members. It seems as if there is almost an inverse relationship in many cases between the presence of letters after a designer’s name and the quality of his or her work.

I’ve also noticed that many of the people who tend to be most actively involved in the leadership of these organizations in particular are generally not the best designers around. The *really* best ones are clearly far too busy doing what they do to be bothered with meetings and all of the petty politics and so on that the organizations also bring with them.

Being a good designer requires a mix of technical knowledge and creativity. Anyone with a brain can learn the technical material just by reading books and various industry publications, or on the job (lord knows that almost nothing of what I know was taught to me in school), but the creativity that really gives one an edge and defines what an interior designer is at core cannot be taught and is innate. Education can foster it and bring it out further, but it cannot instill it where there is no fundamental underlying facility.

In a well-run professional organization that is truly responsive to the actual needs and preferences of the majority of its membership base, these groups can also be very powerful proponents of a profession, and do a lot of good.

However, when a small percentage of the leadership and membership decides that they speak for a majority and stand for a position that will actually *harm* the majority of their own membership base, as ASID is doing, then that organization has outlived its usefulness and should be shot and put out of its misery. It most assuredly should not be allowed to create legislation or internal policies that will adversely affect the lives – and livelihoods – of thousands of people the way it is trying to do nationwide without giving them all a direct say, especially if it is going to use their dues money to fund these initiatives.

Once an organization has gone out of control and is running amok wreaking havoc on the very constituency it ought to (and claims to) be serving, it completely loses all legitimacy and credibility.

So why do I continue to belong to one of these groups that is out of control when I obviously have so little respect for it? Mainly because my boss basically made it a requirement of my employment, but also because I’m somewhat of a Pollyanna at heart, and am still (almost undoubtedly naively) hopeful that I can help the organization “see the light” and correct course to be what it used to be and *ought* to be – a real resource for its membership.

Addendum:  This is why I let my membership in ASID lapse, because I can no longer support an organization that has been so bent on passing legislation that will put so many people out of business, and so restrict entry into the profession by new people.  They’ve been at this for 30 years, with little success, because there’s no merit in the position.  Such laws have been struck down as unconstitutional in several states, and yet they persist in spending millions of dollars of members’ dues that could be much better put to other purposes such as educating the public about the value that professional designers bring to the table.  I’m eligible to qualify for membership at the professional level, but it’s just wrong to do this.

I do continue to attend continuing education event sponsored by my local chapter, as that ongoing education is very important in this field, and they provide many excellent classes.  But it’s obtainable without belonging to such organizations, and responsible, professional designers take advantage of it wherever they can, even when they have no obligation to for sustaining a credential or designation.

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