About 30 people came out to the public meeting; some voicing opinions in favor of the 'Residential Plumbing License;' a legislation they say will open the doors for many more tradesmen. Others opposed it, saying the 'Master Pluming License' is fine just how it is, and if it's not broken, don't fix it.
"Civilizations were wiped out because of bad plumbing and bad water in years past, and what the New York State Health Department put in place was codes and codes were to protect people," says Frank Scharf, Utica Master Plumbing Board Chairman.
Scharf says the 'Master Pluming License' is fine the way it is.
"It's a residential/ commercial competency test. It's competency in the profession of professional plumbing. It's understanding pipes, materials, how things are put together in a safe way," says Scharf.
But advocates of the 'Residential Plumbing License' say while the 'Master Plumbing License' is not "broken," it includes residential and commercial plumbing; something they're not qualified for.
"Nobody in their right mind should want me or anyone that's not qualified to hold that license," says Robert DeLeonardo, contractor and business owner.
DeLeonardo says Utica is the only city in our area that restricts unlicensed plumbers. They want to make residential plumbing a separate entity in the city.
"We're talking about a residential license only," says DeLeonardo.
"We can't have an all White Plumbing Board; we have to make it diverse," says Jerome McKinsey Sr., Utica Councilman, D-5.
Another controversial issue; As we reported earlier, there is a glaring lack of minority on the active master plumbers list, with no African-Americans or women.
"If it does not represent the demographics of the city, than that trade entity needs to evolve," says McKinsey Sr.
But a representative from the Plumbers' Union says...
"We go to any job fair to entice minorities and women to come into the trades. Could there be more done? Guess we need to get together and figure out what we can do," says Thomas Zalocha, representative for Local Plumbers' Union 112 (Plumbers & Steam Fitters.)
And after the lengthy public meeting, there was no action taken by the council. But the plumbers and contractors we spoke with say these issues are far from over.