SunSentinel Mention

July 2, 2021
Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP
President, Chen Moore and Associates

Last week: As (I believe) the only licensed engineer in the South Florida 100, I must say that the tragedy in Surfside very much hit home. Everything we do is for public safety, health and well-being, and to see such a tragedy unfold is our worst nightmare. Unfortunately, I’ve seen several professionals weighing in with their opinions. That’s not how engineers do things. We base our work on facts, and conjecture ought to be the opposite of our nature. I know those that felt loss want closure, but forensic engineers will get to the bottom of this. Until then, just pray.

Looking ahead: One of the most significant revenue increases in many years for the state of Florida was the online sales tax. An estimated $1 billion in revenue would come from the new enforcement of sales taxes technically already owed. Right now, few Floridians pay in-state sales tax on purchases made from out-of-state sellers, in part, because they are required to send a separate check to the Department of Financial Services after they make their purchase. It’s about time that we leveled the playing field for our brick-and-mortar retailers. Let’s see how it helps in the coming weeks.

Karen RachlesSunSentinel Mention
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SunSentinel Mention

June 11, 2021
Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP
President, Chen Moore and Associates

Last week: This past week, Gov. DeSantis finally appointed new members to the Florida Board of Professional Engineers. Many of the empty spots had sat vacant for years and the business of the board was only being conducted by those whose terms were long expired. I know that the gubernatorial appointments office was backed up, but for a profession that was deemed by the governor’s office as essential, it seemed like the appointments were long overdue.

Karen RachlesSunSentinel Mention
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SunSentinel Mention

May 28, 2021
Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP
President, Chen Moore and Associates

Last week: My daughter attends a local religious private school, and her last day of school was this past week. I personally appreciate the great care the relatively small school took in providing safeguards for all the children, particularly since most of the are younger than the age of 12. What happens now remains to be seen. With the public schools ending June 9, parents will once again have a group of children who cannot yet be vaccinated with no place to go safely. My company still affords flexibility in work location, but most working parents aren’t that lucky.

Looking ahead: I’m getting ready to head to two out-of-town conferences in the next two weeks. They aren’t the first times that I’ve had out-of-town meetings since COVID began, but it is definitely the start of a wave. Many organizations used PPP loans and temporary expense reductions to survive the pandemic, and this means that pulling off a successful (profitable) in-person event is the road to recovery and normalcy for their employees and boards. But the “flip the switch” that has happened since the CDC changed the masking guidelines just feels reckless.

Karen RachlesSunSentinel Mention
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SunSentinel Mention

May 21, 2021
Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP
President, Chen Moore and Associates

Last week: Last week, I had the pleasure to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity with dozens of other CEOs. It was a well-run event, but to see so many leaders giving back to the community was a great sight. For me, this site was adjacent to my high school, Blanche Ely High, so it was great to see the spark of positivity in the neighborhood. Last, but certainly not least, was the ability to tour the unfinished home with the future homeowner. He shined with pride, and that’s why we give back.

Looking ahead: To me, the coming weeks are going to be filled with anxiety as more and more places open up, yet my daughter is too young to get vaccinated. Even when she’s eligible, I’m going to be very concerned about the gene-swapping technology used in the Pfizer vaccine and its impact on the developing body. I know that the clinical trials will be exhaustive, but as a parent, it feels too fast. I want things to be back to normal, but I also want her to be safe. I sense I’ll have anxiety for some time.

Karen RachlesSunSentinel Mention
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SunSentinel Mention

May 14, 2021
Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP
President, Chen Moore and Associates

Last week: Lost amongst the pipeline hacks and gas lines, a significant crack was found on the I-40 bridge between Memphis and West Memphis. The good news is that the crack was found before there was a catastrophic failure. The bad news is that now the 71-year-old I-55 bridge is the only crossing in a 160 mile stretch of the Mississippi River and barge traffic under the bridge is essentially shut, which will greatly impact the movement of goods. Yet another reason why infrastructure benefits more than just the construction industry.

Looking ahead: More work in the resiliency space will begin this week. The governor’s signing of SB 1954 and SB 2514 will – among other things – invest hundreds of millions of state dollars in flooding infrastructure projects. In addition to the funds, which are definitely needed, though, the plans that accompany the funds are really the exciting part. Instead of these being one-time infusions, this will create a financially sustainable plan for future generations of Floridians.

Karen RachlesSunSentinel Mention
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SunSentinel Mention

May 7, 2021
Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP
President, Chen Moore and Associates

Last week: This past week, the Federal Treasury said it expects to borrow $463 billion in the current April-June quarter, which will be part of its plans to borrow $2.28 trillion for the full budget year, which ends September 30. The $463 billion represents a significant jump from the government’s initial estimate three months ago that it would need to borrow just $95 billion in the current quarter. The government ran up a record $3.1 trillion budget deficit last year, reflecting the COVID relief spending and a drop in revenues caused by the recession. We need to stop reckless spending.

Looking ahead: Last year, the Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) created a task force on local government efficiency. The task force has effectively finalized its recommendations to streamline government processes. The Local Government Efficiency Task Force, established by the Legislature last year, is set to hand its final report to Gov. Ron DeSantis, Senate President Wilton Simpson and House Speaker Chris Sprowls by June 1. The report includes recommendations on elections, public meetings, reporting, pension plans, unfunded mandates and business taxes. The question comes down to whether or not these recommendations will make next year’s legislative agenda.

Karen RachlesSunSentinel Mention
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SunSentinel Mention

April 30, 2021
Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP
President, Chen Moore and Associates

Last week: $100 Billion! I hear that with the voice of Dr. Evil from an Austin Powers movie, but this isn’t a comedy, this is a tragedy. Trust me, I know that we have needs in this state – health, economic and infrastructure – but I’m very concerned that the state budget crossing this boundary violates a mental barrier that future legislators won’t hesitate to cross. Florida still has an immature economy, depending on transactions in the form of sales tax and doc stamps. Until we have a more robust manufacturing economy to add additional stability, we need to stay lean and mean as a state.

Looking ahead: The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) is 169 years old, representing over 150,000 members in 177 countries, making it the largest civil engineering organization in the world. Why is that important in the coming weeks? Because the election of the next President-elect (and other positions) will happen during the open voting period of May 1 through June 1. Of personal significance, I am one of the two candidates vying for President-elect. This would make me the third Floridian (and first native) elected, bringing Florida into the national (and international) spotlight once again. I’ll know the results June 3.

Karen RachlesSunSentinel Mention
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SunSentinel Mention

April 17, 2021
Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP
President, Chen Moore and Associates

Last week: To obtain my civil engineering degrees, I was only required to take two classes about traffic and transportation practices. It may not seem like a lot, but it’s two more than everyone on the Florida House Commerce Committee has taken, and yet, they seemed to think that passing House Bill 1113 last week was a good idea. This bill requires the removal of yellow flashing lights at crosswalks, in favor of changing them to red lights. Federal standards do not allow red lights, so the flashing lights will be removed. Why throw out years of practice for political posturing?

Looking ahead: I’m preparing to get my second COVID-19 Pfizer shot, like many of my colleagues and clients. I’ve noticed, though, that CDC guidelines have barely moved even when including those who are vaccinated. How is a business supposed to “get back to normal” when the CDC guidelines don’t factor in those who voluntarily vaccinated? We strongly believe in personal choice and freedoms, but as things get back to “normal,” quarantining after a flight or international travel is going to become onerous, particularly if those employees are vaccinated. The “new normal” needs to have at least a little normal in it.

Karen RachlesSunSentinel Mention
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SunSentinel Mention

April 9, 2021
Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP
President, Chen Moore and Associates

Last week: I was very disappointed in the House State Affairs Committee this past week. In a 12-8 vote, they moved HB 1131 through the committee. The sole purpose of the bill is to remove the requirements for the State University System to follow FS 287.055 – the Consultant’s Competitive Negotiation Act. This state law requires public agencies to hire architects and engineers on qualifications first and price second. Do you want your high-rise building or bridge designed by the lowest bidder? This is required for federal funding and is overall bad policy – why start the slippery slope?

Looking ahead: Next week, we’ll continue to see the state House and Senate get together on budget appropriations. With water in the forefront of everyone’s policy, right now only about 12 of the hundreds of budget requests are in the draft funding list in both chambers. While this isn’t a death sentence for these projects, it is a step in the wrong direction. The appropriation requests were already reduced with the impacts from COVID unknown at the end of 2020. The time for our Legislature to get together and make water a priority is now.

Karen RachlesSunSentinel Mention
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SunSentinel Mention

April 2, 2021
Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP
President, Chen Moore and Associates

Last week: As the “infrastructure guy” in the SF100, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the $2 Trillion Infrastructure Plan unveiled by the president this week. The problem with the figure is that, of that money, half is allocated toward elderly/disabled programs and research, development and job training. While I certainly find value in the latter, they are not capital investments in infrastructure. This result in the program only achieving about 40% of what the ASCE Report Card on America’s Infrastructure unveiled just a couple weeks ago. It’s a start, but I worry that it will be too little too late.

Looking ahead: Sticking with the topic of infrastructure, but this time putting the emphasis on the political will to make the necessary investments. In less than 20 years, not properly funding infrastructure will cost America $10 trillion, over 3 million jobs and nearly $3.4 trillion in exports. It’s a frustrating world as an engineer when we know how to fix these problems, and we hear our politicians saying they want to give the general public the best, but they are unwilling to make those tough choices. It’s not a matter of if, but when, we need to act.

Karen RachlesSunSentinel Mention
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