CLINTON — The Clinton City Council on Tuesday night again heard debate regarding the adoption of the 2006 International Plumbing Code.

Clinton resident Highland Nichols addressed the council under the time set for audience comment and encouraged the council to reconsider its action on advancing an ordinance adopting the IPC at the Aug. 14 council meeting. Nichols said the city’s decision to utilize the IPC was a “gross miscalculation and error.” He said he wanted to point out the council’s inconsistencies in logic and said that a few weeks ago, the council passed an action to make the Uniform Plumbing Code the standard to which the new land-based casino facility was to be built. Nichols asked the council why it thought the casino deserved better protections than citizens’ homes.

Nichols remarked three citizens, including an elected official, offered a “preponderance of evidence” as to why the UPC was the superior code. He said the council instead “chose to ignore” the pleas of the public and later “assisted” the IPC representative in making the case for adopting the IPC. Nichols said Rita Swearingen, regional manager of government relations for the International Code Council, later “condemned her own code” by stating the IPC is not an installation code, but a performance code. He advised the council that it had previously expressed concerns about amateur citizens being able to perform their own work, but then went on to advance a plumbing code that is not an “installation code.” He added that after being in the industry for many years, he had never heard of a performance code, “because there is none.”

Nichols said the city of Des Moines enacted the IPC and included 19 amendments referring to the UPC in order to bring it up to standards. He noted that with new requirements in place, the city of Clinton would have to amend the IPC up to 50 times, making it a “quagmire of misunderstanding” and expense for the city. He also advised the council that the state licensing committee would be testing plumbers throughout the state by the UPC standards and probably be asking the legislature to make the UPC the code for the entire state. Nichols challenged the council to explain the decision that the IPC was the best code for the city following a “preponderance of evidence to the contrary.”

“And I’d like you to do that publicly in the newspaper, because I just can’t understand how you could reach that conclusion,” Nichols said.

He then asked the council to explain why on the Friday after the meeting, the council meeting shown on television was a previous meeting from two weeks prior and the Aug. 14 meeting was not shown.

Nichols also commented on “disparaging” remarks, some allegedly made by “this administration,” regarding union men and women in the community regarding “heavy-handed union action” attempting to force the adoption of the UPC. He said the men and women who are union members in the community are “not drags on this community,” but highly paid and highly skilled workers, dedicated citizens and part of the strength and backbone of the community.

Bill Schweitzer, North Central Regional Manager for the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, also addressed the council asking members to reconsider the removal of the UPC from the ordinance. Schweitzer said he would like to see the council put the 2006 UPC along with the IPC, and let the experts who will use the code decide what code they want to use. He said if the council needed help with the amendments, he was sure both he and Swearingen would be happy to assist the city.

When the ordinance adopting the 2006 IPC was considered, First Ward Councilman Bob Soesbe made a motion to change the IPC for the UPC, but the motion failed for lack of a second. At-Large Councilman Ron Mallicoat motioned for the third consideration of the ordinance. Ward 2 Councilman Mike Kearney seconded the motion and it was approved by a vote of 6 to 1, with Soesbe voting no. The motion to approve adoption of the 2006 IPC also was approved by a vote of 6 to 1, with Soesbe again voting against the measure.

Under unfinished business, Soesbe asked when the city would work on the amendments necessary to go along with the IPC and who would be going about that process. He said he is concerned because he heard that anywhere from 28 to 50 amendments would be required.

Gary Boden replied that the council would consider the amendments to be made and refer to the state to determine what amendments need be implemented, which would occur within the next month to six weeks.

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