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Name: McCarthy, Richard
Current Position: Executive Director

Despite the objections of Governor Pete Wilson, the 17-member Seismic Safety Commission cast all but one vote for Richard J. “Dick” McCarthy to be its executive director in 1996. He had been acting as interim director since the 1995 resignation of L. Thomas Tobin shortly after publication of a report on the 1994 Northridge earthquake that blamed lax enforcement of current building codes for much of the damage.

McCarthy graduated from the University of California, San Francisco. He is a  certified engineering geologist, a registered geologist and a certified petroleum geologist. From 1973 to 1975, McCarthy worked  as staff geologist for Fugro, Inc. in Long Beach,  where he helped identify sites for nuclear power plants in California, Arizona and Puerto Rico.  He then worked for four years at Getty Oil Company in Ventura as a production geologist. From 1979 to 1990, he was the senior engineering geologist for the California Coastal Commission. In 1990 he became a senior engineering geologist on the Seismic Safety Commission.

His selection by the commission to be its director came after the commission rejected two candidates put forward by Governor Wilson—Bill Megidovich, head of the state Office of Emergency Services in the Deukmejian administration, and former State Architect Harry C. Hallenbeck. Neither of the governor’s preferred candidates made it past a commission subcommitte that reviewed 43 applicants. The only vote against McCarthy came from Red Cross representative Keith Wheeler, whose daughter worked in the governor’s office.

Wilson had a rancorous relationship with the commission at the time and, according to the Los Angeles Times, there were rumors that the administation was considering proposals to fold the commission into another state agency.

McCarthy is also a member of the Western States Seismic Policy Council and the California Integrated Seismic Network Advisory committee, and served on the Tsunami Safety Ad Hoc Committee.


Richard J. McCarthy (Seismic Safety Commission website)

Tensions Between Wilson and Quake Panel Intensify (by Kenneth Reich, Los Angeles Times)

About People (Geo Times) 

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