Is it about Civil Rights – subminimum wage

As the issues of eliminating special certificates for subminimum wage for those with disabilities heats up more and more  this legislative session we need to have an understanding and clarification of what civil rights and civil liberties are.

Below ( at the bottom of this post) are some quotes from the findlaw website which may help a little bit in understanding what we’re talking about with regards to civil rights and civil liberties. Libel and defamation are not protected under civil rights and the continued practice of these violations by the Arc of King County’s “advocacy expert”, Shaun Bickley, needs to be addressed.  The Arc of King County is aware of some of these abuses but their statement has generally been that Shaun is not speaking in the capacity of an Arc representative so they have no comment.

Shaun Bickley is an autistic activist who led the legislation in Seattle regarding elimination of special certificates.  It was during this time that I came into contact with him regarding some concerns with information being shared by the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities regarding “facts” with the numbers of people affected and the choices of those people affected by this change. Bickley’s immediate response was to attack me  many times online via the commission Facebook page and then he violated the First Amendment by censorship and then blocking me from having any interaction with the official Seattle City Commission Facebook page (he was the admin of the page).

Many issues have transpired since the time the law passed in Seattle without listening to the overwhelming number of people who sent letters in to the Office of Labor Standards ( Public Comments to OLS regarding special certificates ).   Bickley continued to oppress information shared by those who had concerns. There were multiple complaints to various Seattle City Council members, the director of the Office of Civil Rights and the Mayor with regards to Bickley’s abuse and oppressive censorship to anyone who had concerns about this issue or seemed to question anything on Bickley’s agenda.

It appeared to many of us that these complaints and violations were not heard.  But in August 2018 Mayor Durkan we did remove Bickley from the mayor’s appointed seat on the commission .  This appointment had expired in April 2018 but Bickley was continuing to serve as co-chair of the commission even though the appointment had expired.

Bickley was upset by this action and took to social media to voice his complaints regarding his sense of victimization. The next commission meeting he self nominated himself to be the commission appointed seat on the commission to which he was narrowly voted in and again  appointed to the co-chair position on the commission.  This was all temporary until Bickley could be appointed by the Seattle City Council. The first step in this process was a vote by the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee.  Shaun Bickley – Appointed as Commissioner to Seattle Disabilities Commission

Typically once a person is appointed by the commission and voted through by the committee the person is then appointed by the full Seattle City Council at the following full Council meeting. There were clearly some problems with this appointment of Bickley to the commission and there were some additional complaints of harassment filed by other commissioners to the Office of Civil  Rights shortly after the September 21, 2018 Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee  meeting. (start  the recording at 13.56  – 26.25 to hear not only my testimony but that of several others who had concerns regarding Bickley’s appointment.)  Bickley’s appointment was never addressed before the full city Council so it appeared this appointment was in limbo

Arc advocacy expert

In November 2018 Bickley published another online essay about his victimization for Autistic Speaking Out Day.  The 4-part essay is published on this site – Radical Neurodivergence Speaking Blog 

The issues that Bickley writes about in his essay are either totally false and fabricated or the truth is twisted so much that there’s really no truth left so it needs to be taken with a grain of salt because the whole essay is really a statement of Bickley’s inability to be in touch with reality or to engage with others in a civil manner

After I read this essay by Bickley and saw another reference to it and other social media I decided to file a police report which recounted the abuse that I have entered from Bickley over the past year or so in addition to violations of the First Amendment which he practiced while co-chair of the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities. I thought that the issues would just die out since I had no interaction with Bickley since the September Seattle Council Committee meeting.

I did attend a few commission meetings during this time and Bickley was absent from these meetings. I and others were informed by a commissioner that Bickley was no longer a member of the commission in December 2018.

This is why I was a little taken aback in January 2019 since I had not had any interaction with Bickley for about four months. My employer informed me that the president of the company had received a letter from Bickley in which he identified himself as co-chair of the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities and as a board member of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance.  He did not identify himself as the Advocacy specialist from The Arc of King County but he was working in that position and continues to work in a position.  The director of the Seattle Office of Civil Rights and the chair of the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities stated that they had no idea about this letter that Bickley had written to my employer and did not support his opinion.  . I was then informed that Bickley was no longer a member of that commission  that in fact he had commit fraud by writing that he was co-chair of the Commission and implying that the letter was written and agreed-upon by that commission.

I also contacted the Washington Alliance for Low Income Housing since Bickley had signed a letter as a board member of that organization. The executive director of the  Washington Alliance for Low Income Housing wrote Bickley’s letter did not come from that board and they had no knowledge of the issues addressed. According to them Bickley was writing solely for himself and not from the board or their organization

In addition to the letter referenced above the president of my employer also received a letter from Jennifer White CEO of Able Opportunities supporting Bickley in his accusations against me and wondering what my company was going to do about this. Jennifer White did state that she had not met me but that the details of Mr. Bickley’s account were alarming. I do agree that what Bickley wrote were alarming but what Bickley wrote was a figment of his imagination not what actually occurred

A couple weeks after these letters were received by my employer I then received a letter from the Washington State Department of Health, Nursing care quality assurance commission regarding a complaint against me about allegations of unprofessional conduct. The letter stated there would be no investigation due to the fact the allegations were unsubstantiated and there had been no violation of nursing law. I have requested  a copy of the letter that was sent with the complaint but I can only assume it was sent by  Bickley given the timing of it and that in my over 35 years of being a registered nurse I have never had a complaint sent to the nursing board. I am anxious to read the complaint and see if there are any new issues he has accused me of.

Given that I had had no interaction at all with Bickley for months I had no idea why he had suddenly decided to send these libelous comments. I now assume they were his attempts at attacking me so that I would not voice my opinion and concerns regarding HB 1706 this legislative session.

These tactics have not worked if that was the tactics of his libelous letters and attempts and other attempts at defamation they have not worked. I will continue to speak out about injustices that I see and against civil rights violations that are happening right before our eyes.

Interesting addendum to the stalking accusations – I attended a public event sponsored by The Arc of King County on March 8 entitled “Community Strategic Listening Session” Bickley has now accused me of continued stalking him by showing up at his job (something he has accused me of doing many times to demand he be fired – none of which are true)

I had no personal interaction at all with Bickley except for one commission meeting which was recorded and which he is heard yelling at me and the Office of Civil Rights Commission liaison stepped to address Shaun to stand back.   This recording took place in May 2018. Bickley took me to court in June 2018 to claim I had been stalking and harassing him. The judge denied this petition stating that I was practicing free speech and it had nothing to do with stocking or harassment or personal attacks

The only issue I have with Bickley is the continued violations of civil rights and liberties that he practices while in the actions of a true hypocrite,  accuses others of doing the exact same things he is actually doing.

If it was possible to actually have a discussion and voice concerns, work collaboratively to solutions that work the best fort the most people, it would be a truly welcoming experience.

There are reasons that I oppose HB1706 – and my hope is that concerns of mine and the concerns of others will be heard and we will all be at the same table to come up with better and more inclusive legislation that will actually be a better solution for all.  It is possible but we need to listen to each other and hear our concerns.

 

Protecting civil rights is an essential part of the democratic values of the United States. Everyone realizes that interfering with another’s civil rights is a violation that creates an action for injury, but before you can protect your civil rights, you must recognize and know what they are. However, articulating an exact definition of civil rights can be difficult to pinpoint because it is a very broad set of laws. Civil rights are an expansive and significant set of rights that are designed to protect individuals from unfair treatment; they are the rights of individuals to receive equal treatment (and to be free from unfair treatment or discrimination) in a number of settings — including education, employment, housing, public accommodations, and more — and based on certain legally-protected characteristics.

Civil Liberties

Civil liberties concern basic rights and freedoms that are guaranteed — either explicitly identified in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, or interpreted or inferred through the years by legislatures or the courts.

Civil liberties include:

  • The right to free speech
  • The right to privacy
  • The right to remain silent in a police interrogation
  • The right to be free from unreasonable searches of your home
  • The right to a fair court trial
  • The right to marry
  • The right to vote

Interesting comments from The Arc of King County regarding their advocacy specialist

@arcofkingcounty reply

advocacy supports and the arc

Clarification regarding wages

As EHB 1706 goes through the legislative process, we are discovering more and more the various data that is used and how pieces are missing, assumptions are made and reported as facts, and other issues misinterpreted.

 Data The Arc of King County uses is from a taken from a different date cycle than what is reported through the DDA Caseload and Cost Report.  ( which we used to obtain our information).  It is also unclear if The Arc of King County has read or addressed the two recent reports from the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC). The Review and Analysis of Employment and Community Inclusion Measurement  provides some excellent analysis of the tools used in addition to what needs to be measured and the report below provides information on the people and their jobs.

Legislative Auditor Report on DDA Employment

Depending on if one removes the number of DDA clients using the Community Inclusion services ( 1513 on July 2018) from their data, they could report that that 60% or 75% of those in DDA employment services were “making minimum wage or better”  The BIG problem with this information is that The Arc of King County does not use any data that addresses the wage people are making – this information is totally made up.

DDA does address this in their report and that information is provided here.

DDA caseload and cost report

Representative Noel Frame, prime sponsor of HB  1706 who credits autistic activist Shaun Bickley with introducing her to this issue is unaware of this data from DDA also.  Rep. Frame reports that in 2018 there were only 350 Special Certificates granted by L&I, 60-80 of which are not used any longer due to Entrust in Yakima closing their pre-vocational program.  Rep. Frame could be correct in that number of certificates but that means that all those DDA clients working for less than minimum wage or no wage they may be victims of wage theft.  This opens up a whole new hornets nest that is caused by activists who may only know or understand part of the whole.

There needs to be open discussions and dialogue with hard questions asked and answered before moving forward on this misguided legislation

“Facts” from The Arc of King County

The Arc of King County published Some facts about the subminimum wage bill on their advocacy blog today  – we say – check their “facts”

The Developmental Disabilities Case load and Cost report has data that is very different than what the Arc of King County reports – take for instance the number of people in supported integrated employment who work and make minimum wage.

DDA reports  8102 people are in the supported integrated employment services program, 3678 (45%) make at least minimum wage, 2294 (28%) make less than minimum wage and 2130 (27%) do not make a wage.

The Arc of King County reports – “Most people served by individual supported employment (the other 92 percent getting DDA employment services) already make minimum wage or better.”

DDA reports that 45% of those in supported integrated employment make minimum wage or better.

The Arc of King County reports “Most people served by individual supported employment (the other 92 percent getting DDA employment services) already make minimum wage or better.”

A national trend?  We don’t think so.  Of great importance is that there has not been evaluations done for quality of life, meaningful life or job satisfaction/employment rates since some of these states have made changes.  As policy makers, one would think that evaluations are important before making decisions.

The Arc of King County reports Vermont closed its sheltered workshops in the 1990s and abolished subminimum wage certificates for people with disabilities. New Hampshire, Maryland and Alaska all passed legislation to abolish subminimum wages for people with disabilities

Review Magical Thinking for some research and insights from New Hampshire and Maine on the issues of eliminating subminimum wage.

From Alaska :  While the Employment First movement has picked up in recent years, it does pose new challenges in how providers should tailor job-training services for each person.

One approach has been to give workers a job coach, who goes to work with them during their first month on the job and helps them learn the ropes.
(from 2018 – no evaluation of the outcome of their legislation yet )

These are just a few of the facts that have been checked – there are more.

Please ask The Arc of King County, Representative Noel Frame, Activist Shaun Bickley or any of those organizations on the list of organizations which support this bill,  about these discrepancies.

Ask them about the numbers of hours that employees work a week, ask them who pays for the job coaches and supports that will be ongoing for many of the employees to keep their jobs.  There are too many unanswered questions or concerns that have not been addressed for this bill to advance without causing more harm than good.

Eliminating subminimum wage – HB 1706

EHB 1706 passed the House yesterday in a vote of 81-17.  We have many concerns regarding this bill and now after one of our contributors received a response from Representative Noel Frame regarding the number of people who had special certificates, we are more concerned about the lack of information she and other legislators may have regarding the Special Certificates, sub-minimum wage, supported integrated employment and people with disabilities in general.

 

Representative Noel Frame

Below is the conversation from Noel Frame’s Facebook site. Clearly Representative Frame does not understand that there are over 4000 people in the DDA integrated supported employment program that are employed and make less than minimum wage.

It appears that Representative Noel Frame thought the only people earning less than minimum wage were those in sheltered workshops (which are no longer in Washington State anyhow) and totally missed that there are many in our integrated community sites that do not earn minimum wage or maybe do not earn any wage.

Felak and Frame Facebook posts from Noel Frame site

 

DDA caseload and cost report

Cheryl Felak also wrote:

While I understand that you, Noel Frame, were introduced to this issue by your constituent, Shaun Bickley, who is a very hard worker and activist, Bickley is misinformed on some of the information – partly because he blocks people who have a difference of opinion or ask questions for clarification – He blocked me over a year ago so any comments he may post, I will not be able to see.

It appears to not only me but many other advocates that Bickley has a vendetta against parents and allies who do not 100% agree with his position. Given that the MAJORITY of people in DDA continue to live with their families and depend on their families for housing, transportation and other activities of daily living, it is critical that we also listen to families, caregivers and other natural supports in this discussion. Without these people involved who do their best to ensure their family member with IID is integrated in the community people who want to make policies and laws regarding support are missing a huge part by ignoring these very critical partners.  They are a huge part of the discussion. Ridiculing them and stating they are speaking out of fear is a bias that is uncalled for.

As an aside to this – the issue of many, many people with IID being dumped in hospitals for months, chemically and physically restrained because their group homes have refused to care for them any longer is reality for many families now. Families tried to speak up about this in the past but were ridiculed. Families know the reality and they need to be listened to and be a real part of the conversation too.

It will be interesting to see what type of response we receive.  It would would have been best to have been part of the discussion from the beginning rather than mopping up a mess.

HB 1706 Striker and Amendments

We received information this morning that there will be a striker for HB 1706 proposed on the House Floor this morning.  In addition to the striker there are two amendments to be discussed.

HB 1706 – H AMD 323
By Representative Kilduff

1706 AMH YOUN TANG 063

1706 AMH YOUN TANG 060

This striker does not violate the ADA by excluding people with disabilities from being able to work under a special certificate.  Rather than eliminating this option it will still be available and there appears to be better oversight written into the law.

Adding an objective review through utilizing JLARC is important.  The recent JLARC report on Employment and Community Inclusion – Services for People with Developmental Disabilities was very informative and gave excellent guidance to the department on how to improve services.

UPDATE:  It appears HB 1706 Striker was adopted and the amendments were withdrawn.  The bill now goes to the Senate.

 

 

 

Is this “Community Inclusion?”

Seven months of trauma/crisis care and the crisis continues.

Kevin on a rid

Kevin is 26 years old and autistic.  He had been living in a supported living group home for 4 years after living at Fircrest for several years.  He started to have some behaviour issues develop in August 2018.  His psychiatrist attempted to adjust his medications but there were no positive results.  It was discovered that Kevin had elevated ammonia levels due to medication and this is what instigated the behaviour changes.

These behavior changes caused Kevin to assault his caregivers and a housemate.  The police were called, Kevin was handcuffed and taken to the hospital ER several times in the first 3 months of these changes. In November 2018, Kevin was hospitalized for 5 days due to self-injurious behaviors.  He then returned to his group home.

Two month later, on January 7, 2019, Kevin became anxious, hit a caregiver and a housemate – police were called and again Kevin was handcuffed and taken to the Secure Emergency Care Unit (SECU) .  Kevin was in a room with 4 other patients in the SECU – a unit that is critically important for the healthcare of our community but not the place to hospitalize an anxious person with autism. Kevin was very, very upset, cried and wanted to go home.  The group home stated that he was not allowed to return.

Kevin’s family took him to their family home but within 2 days Kevin became more and more upset because he wanted to go to HIS HOME.  His parents were unable to calm Kevin down and they were forced to call 911 for assistance.  Kevin again went back to the SECU for a night before he was transferred to a medical unit where he stayed from January 10, 2019 through February 20, 2019 when Kevin’s family was so devastated by the trauma he was experienced by being restrained chemically and physically in the hospital they attempted to take him home.

The home visit started out well but within a couple of days, Kevin became more and more anxious, wanting to go back to HIS HOME.

“The owners of the group home came yesterday and I think he was thinking he was going to his group home yesterday or today and that took him to the breaking point. No big changes, he just doesn’t want to be here anymore. He asked for his favorite caregiver all the time.

We just don’t know what else to do. It is such a sad situation. The group home owners told us they don’t want Kevin back until he gets his medications and behaviors fixed by the Fircrest team. DDA people are telling us there are no beds. Kevin is trapped in this mess and his father and I don’t know how to help him anymore!! 😢

Kevin again was admitted to the SECU about February 27, 2019 where he remains today.

The plan that DDA has come up with now is to find a place to have a respite bed and Kevin will be able to stay there from March 11 – March 28, while DDA helps the group home look for a house.  If Kevin does not have any behavior issues during this time he will be able to go to the new house if it is ready – if not, well – let’s not go there and let’s assume DDA will be able to provide the community supports that Kevin needs.
Kevin mowing the lawn

Please put pressure on our legislators to fund community supports – years of cuts in addition to understaffing and underpaying caregivers in addition to greatly underestimating the necessary funding for services and supports has led our state (and others) on a rapid downward spiral.

It’s time to pull ourselves out of this mess, understand the choices and needs of those we support and be realistic with funds and services.

 

Employment First!

Washington State is an Employment First state – this means working age adults (ages 21-61 years of age)  enrolled in Developmental Disability Services are REQUIRED to first participate in employment services for 9 months before they can switch to community inclusion services.

According to the “JLARC Review and Analysis Report of Employment and Community Inclusion Measurement 2018  the data collected by the State of Washington through the CARE database and the National Core Indicators (NCI) limit the evaluation of the benefits and outcomes for people with IDD to just a descriptive state level information.  There is no information that can be used for systemic improvement of services for actual individual outcomes for people with IDD.  Below are just a few quotes from this informative report.

We often assume that services for people with IDD are effective but often this is assumption is only supported by anecdotal evidence or no evidence at all.

Under the new Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) settings rule, there has become a heightened need to assure the services people with IDD receive allow them to use personal autonomy, community inclusion and choice.

It has been noted that with fewer people with IDD working in sheltered workshop settings today there has not been a corresponding increase in the percentage of people with IDD working competitively (Butterworth, etlal, 2012)

The Arc of King County reported in a tweet:

87 percent working in WA

According to data from the Developmental Disabilities Administration 2018 Caseload and Cost Report a different story is told:

In FY 2017 there were 8102 people receiving supported employment services

  • 45% made at least minimum wage
  • 28% made less than minimum wage
  • 27% did not earn any wage

This is very concerning regarding current legislation of HB 1706 which will eliminate special certificates.  Also, what are those 27% doing if they are not earning a wage?  Are they losing skills while they sit and wait 9 months until they can request to be transferred to community inclusion services?

DDA cost report 2018 employment status

 

DDA employment clients by wage status