No Design Legislation

Opposing interior design legislation everywhere

Help for Victims of Florida’s Witch Hunt

Help for victims of Florida’s WITCH HUNT!

Interior Design Protection Council
Legal assistance!

Over the last year, many designers who live or provide services in Florida have contacted me for a legal recommendation to understand and defend against the Board of Architecture and Interior Design (BOAID) disciplinary actions (a.k.a. “the witch hunt”).  Regrettably, I did not personally know of an attorney who had expertise in regulatory proceedings and was unable to give a referral.

Well, I am delighted to tell you that is no longer the case!  I have been contact by a Florida attorney with many years of extensive experience in interior design regulatory laws and procedure.  She knows Statute 481 and the DBPR inside and out.

And she wants to help! She does not agree with the BOAID’s very broad interpretation of the statute.  She is offering representation to persons targeted by the BOAID on a cost-only basis and instead will seek legal fees via statute from BOAID (which really should be held liable for paying fees for defense of their unfair “enforcement” activities).

As you may be aware, most people accused of unlicensed interior design activity either resolve it by attending the “probable cause” hearings and signing an affidavit admitting guilt and accepting cease-and-desist orders, or they hold out until after an administrative complaint is filed and then settle, paying a fine of something less than the $5000 threatened by the Board, even though they do not agree than they have violated any laws.

We believe more harm than good may come from the accused attending these probable cause proceedings without expert, experienced legal representation.  First, the cease-and-desist orders that the board routinely issues in lieu of a finding of probable cause are not subject to dispute at a hearing through the Florida Administrative Procedures Act (see section 455.228, F.S.) and future “violation” of a C&D can lead to a heavier second penalty.  Although the designers who do not appear will most likely be issued an administrative complaint, the complaint certainly can be challenged. The BOAID would have to prove their accusations at an administrative hearing through clear and convincing evidence.   How many victims of this witch hunt “knowingly” violated the statute?  The BOAID ignores that crucial element.

Moreover, if an “improvident finding of probable cause” is found in response to the complaint, it is possible that the defendant could require that the agency/board pay attorneys fees and costs (see section 57.111, F.S.).   Interestingly, if you perform a search on the Division of Administrative Hearings website (www.doah.state.fl.us) which is where disputed complaints would be adjudicated, you will see that the BOAID has not actually gone to hearing on an administrative complaint against a designer since the 1990s, and then the cases involved only disputed licensure denials.  Instead, the board routinely “helps” people into compliance with some pretty stiff fines and costs. Or they “help” them become compliant by telling them they can avoid a fine if they just sign an affidavit admitting guilt and promising not to do it again.  What they don’t tell them is that the admission of guilt becomes public domain, and any client or potential client using an internet search engine (like Google) will see their Florida record for years, perhaps a lifetime.  This result of the witch hunt is just one more way that the Florida cartel places “unlicensed” designers at an unfair competitive disadvantage.

Since there are not many attorneys willing to actually challenge them, the BOAID makes a ton of money this way.  Most lawyers without administrative agency experience are not familiar with regulatory law or procedures, so even when respondents have legal representation, some of the professional boards are able to get away with very iffy procedural practices.

This intimidation must STOP NOW!
If you or someone you know has been issued a cease and desist, please tell them to contact me at pmorrow@IDPCinfo.org and attach a copy of the cease and desist order, and I will be happy to answer any questions and put them in touch with this attorney.

IDPC is pleased to be involved in putting yet one more nail in IDAF’s coffin.  Click here to read how we’ve helped the Florida design community over the last year.

Please show your support for IDPC’s work by becoming a member or by making a donation of your choice.

Best regards,

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Patti Morrow
Executive Director
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July 1, 2009 Posted by | Florida | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Letter from an ASID Allied Member – This Could Happen to You

Think you aren’t going to be affected by interior design legislation, even if it comes to your state? The following post details only one of a huge number of stories coming out of Florida and other states about the destruction of lives and careers that ASID’s witch hunt is causing. None of us can afford to remain complacent and let others fight this battle. What happens in other states could well be coming to your own state soon, so beware!

from the Interior Design Freedom Coalition blog:

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Letter from an ASID Allied Member

We just received an email newsletter from IDPC (Interior Design Protection Council) that is worth reading regarding the enforecment [sic] of Florida’s “medieval” interior design statute as the State of Florida continues to use an outside law firm to terrorize unsuspecting “Interior Designers” in Florida.

Read what happened to this Allied ASID member from Florida!
This could happen to YOU!
January 2009

Adelene Keeler SmithWest Palm Beach, FL

Dear Allied Members of ASID:

I write to validate that the Interior Design Protection Council, Liberty for Pennsylvania Designers and Institute of Justice are telling you the truth.

I am not an activist, but your design colleague. Iʼd like to share more insight on the negative impact licensing of interior designers has had on me personally.

Please link onto my website at www.adelenekeelersmith.com Allow me to walk you through my current website, which has clearly been diluted of the original strength and message it had when launched in February 2008. My research continues to point to the likelihood that a fellow ASID member reported my website to the state. In my efforts to clarify and confront this issue with ASID, I was met with flippancy, arrogance, and told “…but you were in violation! and why are you featuring past commercial projects on your web site!…donʼt you have something new to show! Donʼt take it so personally, just tell the investigator you are sorry and you wonʼt do it again!” Totally stunned, I replied that my corporate work stands the test of time and I feel I have done nothing inappropriate. When I called the IDAF director they suggested it might have been disgruntled client who filed thecompliant. “I donʼt maintain a clientele in Florida to report me”, I replied. My letters to the ASID and IDAF leadership have never been acknowledged. The complaint remains anonymous, but this action resulted in the investigation of my practice last year.

Here were the changes required to comply with and obey Florida law:

The Home Page: remove the term Interior Design or any other word combination containing them. I replaced it with Refined Elegance. I am now asked, so what is it that you do actually?

The Portfolio Page: every project you note here (even those obviously not in Florida) were under suspicion and scrutinized. I had to provide dates, names and project locations for each project. Can you imagine explaining that the tropical looking home was my personalresidence and not that of a paid client. All other Florida projects with timeless appeal, were completed before legislation or under current restrictions. In order to clear up any future assumptions or misunderstandings by the ASID or IDAF, I was required to by-line all commercial projects as not available in Florida.

The Profile Page: I had to remove any mention of the stellar interior design and architecture firms with which I had interned with, been employed by, or was mentored by in South Florida during or after receiving my five year BS degree in interior design. I suspect this was another way to discredit my obvious competency in commercial design even without the NCIDQ exam or professional level membership with ASID and IIDA.

The Process Page: I had to remove and re-write various verbiage. I had to explain in detail that the sample project boards on the website were not Florida projects, but were used as instructional materials only for the Commercial and Residential Design Labs I taught at alocal Florida college or were prepared for out of state clients. I am free to educate Floridaʼs students in Interior Design, but I am prohibited from practicing it.

Lastly, on my contact page, I voluntarily took off any indication or relationship to Florida,including area code and residential studio. (We returned to Florida for my husbandʼs careeras civil/structural bridge engineer) A good move back for him and Floridaʼs bridge needs…not so good for me. He needs the license, not me.

None of these changes required by the State of Florida where remotely required to protect the health, safety and welfare of its citizens. I believe it to be a witch hunt for the ASID agenda, cloaked under Florida state law that relishes any means of generating revenue in a state with no income tax.

In conclusion, I have been banned from practicing any commercial design, including condo lobbies, retail stores or corporate spaces for which I have received numerous ASID (first place) Awards for Excellence.

I am accused of soliciting and offering Interior Design services via my website to the state of Florida without a license. I am prohibited from establishing any interior design practice here (including residential, because I do not just decorate) without taking the NCIDQ exam necessary for application of a Florida license. (Note that in Florida tasks as basic as specification of furniture and creating a plan for arranging furniture are restricted to licensed interior designers. Unlicensed individuals wishing to perform residential decorating are limited to specifying fabrics, paint, flush mount lighting and window treatments.)

We received a wave of crank calls from so-called “prospective clients” to test our adherence to this warning. We politely declined their projects and referred them to a licensed Florida interior designer.

You be the judge of our website contents and my credentials. I believe I have conducted myself as a consummate professional in this industry for 35 years. And, because I will not cow-tow to anotherʼs definition or policy endorsed by the government, I am excluded and denied the ability to contribute to my family finances.

I am perplexed and troubled that ASID would allow this type of activity. Where was the civil and professional “courtesy call” that I deserved if a fellow ASID member had concerns about my new posted website. Silly me, I thought our new ASID chapter and membership would be welcoming, happy and excited for our new venture.

I am on a forced sabbatical.

In the next news letter, I would like to share with you my fall 2008 letter written to the new ASID incoming national President, my chapter administrator and two chapter presidents expressing matters at hand. Stay tuned!

Until then, the Happiest of New Yearʼs to you and yours!

Yours Sincerely,

Adelene Keeler Smith

April 14, 2009 Posted by | Florida, Pennsylvania | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Your Interior Designer *Really* Putting Your Life at Risk?

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more about “Is Your Interior Designer *Really* Pu…“, posted with vodpod

Reason.tv’s Nick Gillespie went looking for dead bodies, and for an explanation for why the state of Florida launched a legal case against Younts. State regulators demand that she obtain a license, a license she says she doesn’t need, a license that could cost her six years and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Do licensing laws protect consumers from death and destruction or, as the Interior Design Protection Council argues, do they protect licensed designers from competition? Should Younts be stripped of the career it took her decades to build? Should President Obama be worried about his interior designer, the unlicensed Michael Smith? Watch the documentary below, then you decide…

Written and produced by Ted Balaker. Director of photography is Roger Richards.

April 2, 2009 Posted by | Alabama, ASID, Florida, Georgia, Interior Design Legislation Opposition, Interior Design Protection Council (IDPC), ncidq certification licensing, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment