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Best Response to the Joe the Plumber License Frenzy
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He’s not “unlicensed.” He’s “undocumented.”

Hat tip: Commenter Maine Yankee.


Joe The Plumbers are everywhere. They’re speaking up in Tennessee:

Joe Schwark, owner of JMS Plumbing in Spring Hill, said he has a general distrust of politicians, but appreciated the recognition of his craft.

“Personally, I don’t think either of them is what the country needs,” he said. “But it is what it is.”

Schwark said he agrees with the original Joe the plumber’s problem with raising taxes for people who earn more than $250,000 a year. Taxes are the plight of the small-business owner, he said.

“I work for every penny,” he said. “Taxes are what kills me, and if either of them raise taxes, it hurts people like me. You know, we jump though hoops as business owners. There is liability and vehicle insurance, and there are gas prices. For every dollar that comes in, it’s going out.”

ArMatey at STACLU dissects the controversy:

Now let me tell you that many news outlets are getting the story right, that Joe’s boss, Mr. Newell (in business since 1974, God bless you sir, I’m sure you could never have imagined all this happening to you in America), is in fact licensed in Lucas County. How do I know? Because the State of Ohio’s computers told me so, and they would tell the media the same if they looked…like I did.

Mr. Newell is licensed. He is licensed in Lucas County. His license number starts with the digits 329 and then has two more digits. I don’t see any need to post more identifying information about innocent people. Search here, plug in the right parameters, and you can download the list of all licensed plumbers in Lucas County, Ohio. It is not difficult, though you have to provide information about yourself as the requester of the information.

So I got this list of licensees.

Mr. Newell is on that list. And if I read the rules of apprenticeship correctly (I am not an Ohio attorney, and yes I could be reading it wrong), the reported date of November 2003 as the date of filing of Joe’s apprenticeship papers seems to be just fine. According to this,


“The Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (O.C.I.L.B.), Department of Commerce, Division of Industrial Compliance, issues state commercial licenses to the following contractors: electrical, HVAC, hydronics, plumbing, and refrigeration. To receive a state license, an applicant must meet the following requirements: 1) be at least 18 years of age; 2) be a United States citizen or a legal alien-must provide proof of being a legal alien; 3) either have been a tradesperson in the type of licensed trade for which the application is filed for not less than five years immediately prior to the date the application is filed, currently be a registered engineer in this state with three years of business experience in the construction industry in the trade for which the engineer is applying to take the examination, or have other experience acceptable to the appropriate section of the board; 4) not have been convicted of or plead guilty to a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or of any felony; 5) pass the examination in the trade; 6) carry minimum $500,000 contractor liability coverage; 7) pay the applicable fees”

So here’s the point. Many news outlets have gotten it correct, but some have not and that needs to be corrected. Mr. Newell is licensed, and Joe the Plumber is just short of his five years before he can apply for licensure, but as supervised by Newell, he’s o.k.. You can look at screen captures of the entire list of Lucas County licensed plumbers here (part 1) and here (part 2). And as we read the news stories about local officials mobilizing to put Joe out of work, (quote: “A staff person with the Toledo Division of Building Inspection told On Call this afternoon that her division will contact Wurzelbacher to notify him that he can’t work without a license. “We’re trying to track him down,” she said”), consider the following:

Not one of the officers of Local 50 of the union shop of plumbers is on the list of licensees. Disclaimer: I don’t care that none of them are on the list, and I know that not necessarily every one of the union officers are plumbers at all, as they also represent other trades. That said, their spokesman is on record slamming Joe about licensure.

To their credit, an ACORN spokesman has weighed in that, “There is no such thing as an undocumented plumbing person.”

I made that last part up. Now I’m going to go watch some football.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Joe The Plumber