New face at top of builders

Lobbying group: Leadership changes at Building Industry Association of Washington

January 5, 2011 

Jeff Losey, a building-industry leader from the Tri-Cities, has taken over as interim executive vice president at the Building Industry Association of Washington, which last month paid outgoing executive Tom McCabe $1.25 million as part of a settlement.

Losey said he expects the organization to do a formal search for a permanent executive vice president, and he said many changes are on their way after a recent election in which Patrick McBride of King County was installed as president. That includes a possible change in the lobbyist lineup for BIAW as the Legislature starts a new session Monday.

“I think there is an opportunity for BIAW to pave a new path, and it’s going to start with this session,” Losey said this week, unable to say yet who will be the organization’s face for lawmakers. “The bottom line is there will be somebody representing the builders’ interest.”

Losey, the executive leader of the Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities, also said “the principles and policies of the building industry remain the same” as under McCabe, who was a tireless fighter of government regulations and who once helped get voters to approve repealing state ergonomics regulations.

BIAW’s leaders still are working through what changes they want to bring about, Losey added.

“We want to assure our members and the public that the BIAW will continue to operate and be a strong force in the state of Washington, working to serve as the voice of the housing industry,” he said.

Along with Losey, the builders announced they were naming Art Castle, the retired executive leader of the Home Builders Association of Kitsap County, as interim assistant executive vice president, and Jan Rohila as interim operations manager.

Other BIAW newcomers: Kevin Patrick, first vice president, from Yakima; Scott Rainwater, second vice president, Burlington; Audrey Borders, secretary, Bellingham; Jim Blair, treasurer, Wenatchee; Matthew Clarkston, immediate past president, of the Vancouver area.

McCabe boosted BIAW’s membership to more than 10,000 builders. He also turned the trade organization into a feared lobbying force that was active on state campaigns – including Supreme Court races in 2002 and 2006 and both of Dino Rossi’s Republican campaigns for governor.

This year, it also launched Initiative 1082 to open the state worker’s compensation program to competition by private insurers. It also agreed to pay $240,000 in fines related to allegations it hid contributions in 2007 that were destined for the Rossi campaign a year later.

Losey said he was on the fringe of the disputes over the organization’s direction and its hard-nosed approach to lobbying and politics.

“The projection right now is there presumably will be a search firm or headhunter firm hired. It could be three or four months before a new executive vice president is hired,” Losey said.

The Olympian first reported on McCabe’s departure and obtained a copy of the agreement he and BIAW leaders signed. It calls for severance pay of up to $250,000 total for nine other McCabe employees if they leave by June. Losey said he could not say whether anyone had left under the agreement.

Brad Shannon: 360-753-1688

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