The issue of the elimination of the special certificates for people with disabilities has been very controversial. There have been many problems related to lack of transparency and accountability on the part of the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities.
Many attempts to have a conversation with the Commission and collaborate have been denied which is a violation of The Constitution of the United States, First Amendment.
The First Amendment provides individuals with the right to engage in protected speech without government interference. If a local government establishes a social media site to communicate with the public about agency business, the First Amendment will apply to the comments and posts made by others on that site.
So, the moderator of the agency page cannot simply delete, hide or block posts or people based solely on the content of the message that was posted.
The Commission blocked, censored and harassed community members, disability advocates, people with disabilities and stakeholders who had concerns and/or questions from interacting on the Commission’s public Facebook page. This exclusion by the public entity of the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities of the very people the Commission was set up to advocate for is an extreme example which is becoming all too common.
When ideology is used without consideration of other viewpoints as the sole decision-making process, there can be many unintended consequences. A healthy debate with varying viewpoints and a rational analysis to problem solve in the decision-making process can help to mitigate the abuse of power that is used when decisions are based solely on ideology. People do not have to agree but when there are discussions we can all learn something.
Many problems have been encountered in this process and I question the legality of the decisions that have been made when proper procedures were not followed.
- June 2017 was the first mention of any issue of the elimination of the special certificates for people with disabilities according to the Commission’s meeting minutes.
- A quorum was not achieved at the June 2017 meeting in which the Commission reports they had a unanimous vote to eliminate the special certificates.
- According to the by-laws of the Commission, they need a majority of appointed Commissioners present in order to have a quorum. During June 2017 there were 13 appointed Commissioners – they would have needed 7 Commissioners present for a quorum – they only had 6. This means they would not have been able to have a meeting or a vote.
- A Quorum needs to be present in order to have a vote
- The so-called “unanimous vote” was actually invalid according to the Commission by-laws
- June 15, 2017 minutes PwD
- It was reported in July 2017 by the Mayor and Councilmember Herbold that there had been a unanimous vote by the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities. This article states that the Office of Labor Standards will begin rule revisions and a City Council vote before the end of the year.
- Revisions proposed to the City of Seattle’s Minimum wage rule – eliminating subminimum wages for employees with disabilities – August 17, 2017
- First public notice from OLS regarding Special Certificates requesting public comments – unfortunately, the decision had already been made by former OLS Director Dylan Orr, Former Mayor Murray, and Councilmember Herbold. Was the information shared during legislative meetings in June 2017 by Commissioners Shaun Bickley and Matt Kanter representative of the community they represent?
- Office of Labor Standards (OLS) received the most comments on this issue than any other rule revision comment request in the past. They received 70 responses and it had been reported that there was a “slight” preference for the elimination of the certificates. (later found to be false when records were reviewed – see below)
- OLS announces Final Rule September 29, 2017
- If you submitted a comment you most likely received the following email from Karina Bull from OLS about September 30, 2017, with a copy of the Press Release dated September 29, 2017.
From: Bull, Karina
Sent: Saturday, September 30, 2017 7:15 AM
To: Bull, Karina <Karina.Bull@seattle.gov>
Subject: OLS Issues Final Rule Revisions for Seattle’s Minimum Wage Ordinance
Thank you for submitting a comment to inform our rulemaking process for subminimum wages for people with disabilities. We carefully considered all comments and sincerely appreciate your contribution to this process. Yesterday, our office announced the final rules; the announcement is below.
Again, thank you for your participation.
City of Seattle | Office of Labor Standards
810 Third Avenue, Suite 375
Seattle, WA 98104-1627
10. Given the lack of transparency and accountability in this legislation, I began to do more research into how the decision had come to be made.
11. Seventy comments were received by OLS – 33 (or 18 if duplicate scripts are not counted) were in favor of the elimination of certificates; 37 were against the elimination of certificates. Clearly far from unanimous and from my perspective indicates there needs to be more research done on the issue.
12. There were 15 comments which were identical to the script template that Commissioner Shaun Bickley had sent out and tagged many people on Social Media sites to send in to bolster his project – 45% of the comments in favor of elimination were this exact script.
Dear Ms. Bull
I am writing to express solidarity with the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities’ recommendations to end subminimum wage and the use of subminimum wage certificates in Seattle.
As you know, the Commission conducted an extensive four-month review, and received overwhelming support for this course of action from both community members with disabilities and disability organizations. They also contacted the workers making subminimum wage along with their family members and employers, who have all agreed to this timeline.
I believe that we should listen to people with disabilities, especially those with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are most impacted by this. They know what they need and we should support them and applaud them in their quest for equality before the law.
I look forward to Seattle becoming the first location on the west coast to grant wage equality to workers with disabilities, and in finally ending this blatantly discriminatory practice.
(Resident of Seattle, connection, etc)
13. Comment received from Karina Bull, Policy Manager of the Office of Labor Standards regarding the corrections to the reported facts on the OLS comments.
“Our office carefully reviewed the outpour of comments in favor of retaining subminimum wage, as well as the outpour of comments in favor of prohibiting the subminimum wage. Ultimately, the final rule was reached with strong support of our former Director, Dylan Orr, former Mayor Murray, and Councilmember Herbold. The more recent decision to codify this prohibition in our Minimum Wage ordinance was passed by City Council, 8-0
14. My view of this is that the comments sent in were basically meaningless in the decision-making process. I do not know what information Dylan Orr used but I do believe that both former Mayor Murray and Councilmember Herbold were not provided with accurate information on the issue. Again, the saying “Nothing about us, without us” was disregarded in this legislation.
Where is the accountability for the actions taken by this renegade Commission? Do they represent what you need? If not, join me in attending their meetings and providing much needed common sense and input.