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My morning mail arrived with a packet sent by an anonymous contributor…copies of emails and correspondence concerning the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC). I must say it caused me to choke on my breakfast.

The CAMTC, according to their website, is currently conducting a search for a CEO. That’s not shocking news. What is shocking news is the insistence of former Board chair Ahmos Netanel, who is said to be gunning for the position, that the job is worth $348,000 a year, and that it should come with an executive assistant to the tune of another $144,000. Is there another Gold Rush in California that the rest of us haven’t heard about?

Let’s put that in perspective: The governor of California gets paid $206,500 a year. The President of the United States makes $400,000 a year. An e-mail from Netanel states “…for the kind of skill set and record we are looking for, anything less than $29,000 per month would represent a major cut in pay for the kind of CEO we need."

I personally think that’s over the top. I know hundreds of hard-working massage therapists who don’t make $29,000 a year. Can you say “non-profit?” It really looks like somebody is going to profit, and in a major way.

I believe there are former CEOs all over the country with great skill sets, knowledge, and expertise who are out of work, who’d take the job for half of that and be glad to have it. Is the head of a state massage association really worth more than the governor? I hope the Board members at the CAMTC will wake up and smell the coffee. It smells a little burnt from where I’m sitting.

Peace & Prosperity,

Laura Allen

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Comment by Paulina O (Backrubs Massage & B) on February 17, 2010 at 6:00pm
I was very happy when the statewide certificate became available and I applied the first week of Sept. I had to call in early November to see if there was a problem because their website said everything was in but the FBI scan. I spoke to someone who said the live scan was received almost immediately and the FBI scan should have came in shortly after, she said would look into it. Anyway the certificate was issued the next day and I still have no idea what the hold up was. I know they are very busy so maybe someone just missed it. I still want to believe that making statewide certification available is a good thing for massage therapist, even if it seem like a big hassle in the beginning.

With that being said, I now wonder if the CAMTC is actually looking out for the best interest of the massage therapist. The state of California is already full of corruption in the government and if things continue as they are the state will probably always be in debt because so many elected officials are overpaid and enjoy many perks while things like education and healthcare take a back seat. Many districts are closing schools left and right because the funding isn't available but the people we elect continue to have lavish lifestyles.

I think the salary that is being considered for the CAMTC CEO is a bit too much. I understand that being a CEO is a big responsibility and whoever gets the job should be well compensated for the experience they will be bringing to the job but I can't honestly see how they can justify over $300,000 a year. I guess I would be interested in knowing what exactly this person will be doing to justify that kind of money. I guess being nonprofit means that at least one person does profit. I have to admit that I have not been keeping up with what has been going on with the CAMTC but I am certainly interested now and want to get involved in having a voice in this.
Comment by Simone Fairly on February 17, 2010 at 3:34pm
As a massage professional that has followed this issue from it's inception, I can not help but chime in on a few of the previous comments. CAMTC = Brilliant Idea Soured by Greed, Corruption & Lies

Number one: about the board member who "leaked" confidential information to the public. First, it's not confidential information. This board is subject to the Bagley-Keene Act, which means that any and all board correspondence has to be made open to the public. You can count on this group not making it easy to find the information you are looking for. Also, that board member has nothing to gain and everything to loose by this endeavor being unsuccessful. By making inside info public, perhaps s/he is trying to expose this board for what it has become - corrupt, biggoted theives! Personally, I'd like to shake his/her hand!

Number two: Do you really think it's a coincidence that the man who "made all this possible" is a highly paid consultant to spa owners like you and me? As board chair, Mr. Netanel had to continually be in front of the very same people that in his personal business, he is trying to sell something to. I went to a couple of spa director meetings where Ahmos Netanel presented the CAMTC thing to us, and it was nothing more than a sales pitch for his own business. It's illegal for a board director to profit from their "volunteer service". But this guy sure has. Furthermore, it's no coincidence that all of the new board members are his cronies and trained (by fear I am sure) to vote in his favor. You should attend one of the public meetings - it's a 3-ring circus and nobody dare vote against Ahmos Netanel or Paul Schwinghamer.

Next: Is it a coincidence that immediately after (and you can read this in the minutes if you are lucky enough to find a copy) the board voted to approve this new position and the outrageous salary that goes with it, Ahmos tendered his resignation as chair and promptly submitted his resume?!

Do you think it's a coincidence that the board member in charge of deciding whether or not a school makes "the list" actually owns a school in direct competition with the schools he is denying!? And they think we're the prostitutes!

I just read in a response from Beverly May that the salary further comes with a $5,000 monthly benefits package. Who needs $5,000 a month in benefits? I'll tell you who. A man that resides in Hawaii, but has to hide it for PR purposes. It wouldn't look good for the Board Chair turned CEO of a "non-profit" (lol) California operation not to at least live in California. I would bet my last dime that the $5,000 is going toward a mortgage somewhere in California! Mr. Ahmos Netanel, you should be ashamed.

And with all due respect to Keith, I for one found his response to be nothing more than public relations, or more likely a "cover your own *ss" plan. If they are going to get rid of the existing Director and hire a CEO, it needs to be someone from the outside.

One of the things I learned recently was that as a "quasi-governmental" agency, these guys are not supposed to charge more for a certificate than it actually costs them to produce. If they were following this rule, do you think they could afford a salary range like that? According to my calcualtions, these guys are sitting on about $3,000,000 - all of it from unsuspecting, hard working, professional massage therapists - most of whom don't even have a certificate yet. I applied for two - using the same exact credentials, but different passport photos. Oddly enough, I received a certificate with my caucasian friend's face on it. My true application is still "under review by the board". Coincidence or discrimination?

Unfortunately, I know the answer. A friend of mine with "the city" informed me that in a meeting with Beverly May (the current chair), she stated that the board would be, what they call "red-flagging" all asians. I happened to learn this trade from my father, who learned from his father before him. I am a proud asain-american massage professional and I trusted that when Ahmos said to me that "CAMTC would be taking away the city's ability to treat [me] like a prostitute", that he was being truthful. Now, I am being treated less fairly by CAMTC then I ever was by my city's police department. My heart is broken.

The CAMTC was a great idea, but it has since gone bad. Maybe they need to ask the government for a do-over. And BTW, this is not a new position. The CAMTC has a staff, I am sure you've talked to them on the phone. Distraught over almost losing my business, I drove to Sacramento to meet with them. A young lady there heard my story and actually cried with me. I can see that she wanted to help, but her hands were tied. Now I am hearing behind the scenes info that these guys are trying to fire the entire staff! Perhaps these kind folks have gone against Ahmos' and Paul's plan for World domination. (okay, that was kind-of mean... please don't deny my application!).
--Laughing Our Loud, but Crying on the Inside
Comment by Laura Allen on February 14, 2010 at 6:58pm
Thank you, Ms. May, for weighing in.

It appears that CAMTC has got their work cut out for them, especially in light of the bill (AB 1822) introduced on Feb 11 by Assembly Member Swanson. It will be a big step back for CA; basically a state mandate for the profession to be regulated by cities and counties. I think that would be a logistical nightmare and worse than no regulation at all. I hear through the grapevine that the CAMTC will oppose the bill, and I hope it will. I also hope as a member state, that you will seek the assistance of the FSMTB in opposing the bill.

As a state Board member myself, who also has a real job, I can appreciate the hours people put in on a Board. While my hours of Board service do not amount to 40 hours a week, anyone who has ever been in service on one can attest to the fact that it is time- as well as energy-consuming. I am fully aware of the list of entities you have to interact with, and every Board does. CA happens to be a big state with a lot of people practicing massage and a lot of schools. I certainly appreciate that, and I also appreciate your vow to be transparent. I will still stick to my premise that the director of the state massage association does not deserve to be more well paid than the governor--whom I imagine has a few more responsibilities on his head.
Comment by Beverly May on February 13, 2010 at 8:08pm
As the chair of the Board of Directors of the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC), I think it’s important to set the record straight about our Board’s deliberations and decisions about hiring a CEO. At this point, the only things that have been decided are that we need a CEO and that we need to complete a due diligence process to determine the appropriate compensation for the position. On Feb 11th the Board approved a budget with a range of $10,000 to $22,500 per month plus a maximum of $5,000 benefits/month.

The Board is unanimous in its belief that a CEO needs to be hired to manage the tremendous volume of CAMTC work, much of which has been carried by the completely volunteer Board of Directors. Several of these volunteers have made a tremendous personal sacrifice and averaged over 40 hours a week the last year or more. The CEO must be able to work with the diversity of people and organizations with whom CAMTC interacts, including massage schools, massage professionals, law enforcement, elected officials, industry associations…the list goes on.

One of the things I love about the CAMTC Board is that it is comprised of individuals from varied backgrounds who have diverse opinions on almost any topic we discuss. So, yes, individual Board members have expressed their opinions on CEO qualifications and compensation – as they should. After we have completed our due diligence, the Board will vote on a salary range for the position and then will vote again on the specific compensation when it chooses a CEO. It will be an open, transparent process…and one that won’t involve anonymous packages.
Comment by Billie Shea on February 13, 2010 at 3:04pm
I have mixed feelings about this Salary for the ED position for California. First off, where do I apply. After all, I have spent the past 8 years of my life as a lobbyist, unpaid director and chair of a State Massage licensing board. I have worked with all city and county officials, including police and special investigations, Have lobbied in several counties within my state to help to develop good working relationships to transition our licensing and regulating procedures to the new state agency and finally have served as a board member for the past 4 years and as chair for at least 3 of those years. My experience makes me more than qualified to be considered for the job.


I just hope others who are as qualified will also consider applying and that the people who are hiring apply sound interviewing and selection techniques to find the best candidate. The salary is R.I.D.I.C.U.L.O.U.S, but the real issue is whether they are open to getting the best person in the job or just hiring a friend.


California, I wish you all the success you deserve in your future. My advice is to treat this and all your business with the personal detachment that comes from the wisdom of managing a large corporation. I would recommend that you are now a multi million dollar business and so your actions should reflect that responsibility to your stakeholders who represent the profession in California.


Best regards,

Billie Shea, LMT
Comment by Lori Bradshaw on February 13, 2010 at 11:09am
The problem is not with having a CEO, its with the ridiculous salary that was proposed. I have to have faith that the board will make the right decision about salary. But as Laura says the board has to get its money from somewhere. Its not coming from the State, thank goodness, So that means the salary and other board expenses are going to come from the therapists pockets. Many can barely afford the fee as it is. They are cutting their fees for service and seeing many less clients because the general public still sees massage therapy as a luxury and it is one of the first things they are going to cut back on to save money. Their income is way down. Keep that in mind people.
Comment by Emmanuel Bistas on February 13, 2010 at 9:48am
I agree about everyone getting involved and voting, but I also think that our elected leaders should be considerate of how compensation, perks, conflicts of interest (real or perceived), behavior, etc affect not only the organization but can have a ripple effect in the entire profession. Sometimes people cannot vote, they are not even members of an organizations but what happens elsewhere affects them.

If the 348K deal goes through, I am signing up for the "Mission Profitable" sales/negotiation coaching to which Netanel attributes his success.
Comment by Laura Allen on February 12, 2010 at 6:23pm
If I had a vote, I'd vote for Keith myself. I've read his blog for a long time, and participated in conversations with him on several forums, and I think he is a fair and balanced advocate for the profession.

Our own massage board in NC does not receive a penny from the state. It is a shame that as Mike said, money has been taken away in some states that do have state-supported boards. I think any state board has the potential to be self-supporting, but based on the experience here, a board has no money when they first start up. They have to get it somewhere.
Comment by Mike Hinkle on February 12, 2010 at 5:43pm
Hi Christopher,
Yes that is correct. As stated, "if state done". I know the state cannot gut CAMTC. I was just saying it would be done cheaper by the state if they were in charge but if they were, they would gut it as they have done so many boards. Thus the creation of CAMTC and the posing discussion. I also hope it was wishful thinking about the salaries posed by Laura.
Comment by Christopher Alvarado on February 12, 2010 at 5:02pm
Hi Mike,

My understanding of the language of California Senate Bill 731 is that it mandates the creation of an independent certification body which ultimately became CAMTC. In doing so the state did not have to provide tax dollars to support the certification process. Since CAMTC is formed as an independent self-funded nonprofit entity, I don't believe it is subject to being "gutted" by the state legislature. That is one of the benefits of the way the state certification process was structured in California.

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