A Word of Advice to the BAR Cheif

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A Word of Advice to the BAR Cheif

stopthestarprogram
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This post was updated on .
Dear Cheif Wallauch ,

Welcome! We are hoping you are the man to halt the STAR program before the inevitable devastating consequences occur. In saying all this I consider myself, in effect, a whistleblower (though not for corruption) and as such, claim protection.

Why the STAR Program Needs to be Abandoned


I have been proud to be involved with the Smog Check Program as a technician, school director, shop owner and instructor for many years. I have made it my business to turn consumers with a chip on their shoulder into supporters of the Smog Check program through education. I have also taught respect for law and ethical conduct to my students. I hate to see what is happening to the Smog Check program now. It is not too late to reverse this disastrous course.

This ill-conceived program (STAR) will, I have no doubt, result in the worst public relations debacle in DCA history in addition to a great deal of litigation resulting in large judgments against the state. Quite probably it will also cost people their state positions. In short, the strategies employed by this program were clearly not devised by anyone with a proper understanding of how smog inspections work nor will they ever survive a legal challenge. That is to say, that once technicians start being deprived of their livelihoods based on such arbitrary criteria as a ‘Follow-up Pass Rate’, the lawsuits will come fast and furious. A brief hypothetical excerpt from such a trial might go something like this:

PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY
So my client, Mr. Technician, is no longer eligible to test directed vehicles. Is that so?
BAR
Yes.
PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY
And you agree this seriously curtails his livelihood, yes?
BAR
I suppose it does.
PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY
So it’s a punishment, then.
BAR
Yes.
PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY
So Mr. Technician is being punished for some misdeed then.
BAR
Well…
PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY
It is your contention that he has done something wrong, though. Surely. To suffer this fate?
BAR
Well…he must have.
PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY
Excuse me?
BAR
Well, you see, he tested a bunch of vehicles and passed them but then two years later they failed.
PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY
I see. (p) And?
BAR
That’s it.
PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY
So he has been deemed a negligent technician or worse because of things that happened after his inspections, apart from his shop and that are done by other technicians. Is that it?
BAR
Well…yes…that’s it.
PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY
Is there any specific act he has committed in violation of the Bureau’s regulations? That you know of?
BAR
Umm. No, not specifically but we have this robust long-term metric, you see and…


And the agony would only multiply from there. Now let us look at some of the technician performance evaluation categories and what is fatally flawed with them.

ASM Restarts and Aborts

First, the notion that restarting an ASM test to ensure a proper test result is somehow ‘overconditioning’ is absurd. If restarted at the end of the 50/15 the vehicle in question has to sit at idle for over five minutes. Any excess catalyst heat is surely gone by this time. Setting that aside, as you see on the attached summary, the details of the particular ‘violations’ for these two categories are lacking. Of course no one will ever accept this. Sorry, Mr. Technician, but you restarted x% of your tests and aborted a bunch more. Which vehicles on which dates? I am currently keeping a log of all restarts, aborts and OBD-II bypasses, none of which were avoidable. I expect to find a very expedited dispute and resolution process which will remove these adverse website entries (as well as the other categories) which are, despite what we had been told in the 2011 Update, NOT protected but available to anyone who wishes to look. As it is we have damaging and often false information (i.e. OBD-II bypasses on CAN vehicles) being disseminated to the public with NO recourse on the technician's part. That is unacceptable. Furthermore the only time a dishonest technician would restart a vehicle to allegedly ‘overcondition’ it (a spurious idea) is when it has failed the 50/15. Does the system automatically filter out restarts which occur during the 50/15? It should, for that is when the majority of restarts occur.

Similar Vehicle Fail Rate/Follow-up Pass Rate

I wonder if the architects of STAR have ever considered the litigation that is certain to result the first time a technician is deprived of his livelihood based on something as arbitrary and unprovable as the purely speculative Follow-up Pass Rate (or the Similar Vehicle Fail Rate). These prove absolutely NO misconduct on the technician's part, which any first-year law student could easily prove, yet BAR intends to render such techs and stations virtual pariahs and take away a significant portion of their income. The fallout from this will not be pretty. There are already attorneys mobilizing with legal arguments such as Invasion of Privacy. Personally, I think defamation and libel are much more appropriate.

Max Readiness Monitors

This is sheer folly. Technicians are not required to check monitors prior to the test (though many have begun to, out of fear) or reject them based on this criterion so how can this be held against them? Most likely it will be the motorist’s fault if such manipulation has occurred though in the case of 2001 and newer, though one incomplete monitor is quite common among vehicles, even when no repairs have been done recently.

Incorrect Gear Selection

An ill-conceived notion. If a vehicle has (automatic) transmission trouble that causes it not to shift but still keeps the RPM range within the test parameters, there is NO requirement for the technician to stop the test. This happens. There are also many issues with Electronic Throttle Control vehicles which cause them to be impossible to stabilize. Using their second gear will often rectify this. The way the data is collected is highly suspect as well. For example, I have a so-called ‘violation’ which reads like this:
2005 Lexus LS 430 (automatic trans) 50/15: 1661 RPM, 25/25: 1861 RPM.
How in the world does that constitute incorrect gear selection? Yet there it is, visible to the entire world and tarnishing my reputation. There are many variables which render this criterion invalid. I wonder if some of the consultants who devised this program could come down and show us how it is done.
Fuel Cap Functional Test

Makes sense, but now dishonest technicians are merely going to tell BAR what they want to hear but testing the Master Pass Cap or pinching the hose. This category is pointless.

EVAP Not Performed

A valid concern; however there are case-by-case instances where the ordinarily testable is not. Can be faked by unscrupulous technicians. In fact, honest technicians are more likely to suffer since they are unwilling to tell BAR what they want to hear but will correctly detail the difficult and rare situations.

Timing Not Performed


A valid concern; however there are case-by-case instances where the ordinarily testable is not. Can be faked by unscrupulous technicians. In fact, honest technicians are more likely to suffer since they are unwilling to tell BAR what they want to hear but will correctly detail the difficult and rare situations.

OBD-II Not Performed

A great idea but there should be NO tolerance for this at all (provided the vehicles are really OBD-II). However, I have seen many instances of ‘deviations’ reported for bypassing OBD-II testing on CAN vehicles (according to the www.obdclearinghouse.com database, which we are to use) and diesels, many of which are not OBD-II testable as well.

Capping all this off is the fact that, as far as I have observed, and I have seen literally thousands of ‘deviations’, all are recorded with regard to vehicles that pass the inspection. Obviously not incorporating failed test information makes this approach utterly unrealistic and no objective body, i.e. a court, will ever accept this system of technician evaluation.

In summary, bad times are coming for the BAR. This will not end well. In the last few years, there has apparently been a mad rush to upend and reinvent every aspect of the Smog Check program…training, technician licensing, station types…even the delirious bill put forth by Mike Eng (who?) to rely on OBD-II only testing for 2000 and newer vehicles. Anyone who knows the ins and outs of Smog Check knows that little or none of these changes are necessary. Again, I am not trying to be a troublemaker. I have been proudly involved with this program since 1998. I urge you to do everything in your power to stop all this before the train goes completely off the rails. It saddens me to see the widespread cynicism and suspicion among technicians who should be, in the words of the training material, partnering with the state.

My Sincere Thanks for Listening,

Inland Empire Smog Instructor
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Re: A Word of Advice to the BAR Cheif

smoginstructor
I see our great B.A.R. Chief read our forum and has decided to send out a letter which pretty much looks like he his just wiping his hands and saying well you guys have never said anything before about what we do so deal with the STAR Program.  Hate to break this to you Mr. B.A.R. Chief but we are sick and tired of all you harassment's!! not one not even drug dealers have to put up with the SHIT we do!!  Sorry but B.A.R. is going to court!!
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Re: A Word of Advice to the BAR Cheif

Mark
I agree 100% A drug dealer has more rights than a Smog Tech.
We do not even have the normal channels of due process. We have 30
days to appeal and no chance at a jury trial AND we are a source of MONEY
charged with "cost of prosecution" fined for minor errors that our Employees
make.