Civil Rights, Subminimum wage and choice

There are many things to be considered when one is looking at eliminating the special certificates. The certificates are entered into by choice by the employer and the employee and look at a specific employee with a specific disability for a specific job for specific wage for a specific amount of time. There is absolutely no exploitation taking place and this is fully legal and actually quite desired by many who have been able to be employed under the certificates

The Push to End Subminimum Wage Remains Divisive (Disability Scoop)

Mr. Lemus is hardly an expert in the area and though people may appreciate the fact that he feels worried he really has nothing to be worried about when looking at what the parents and the disabled persons expectations and goals are. As legal guardians for people with disabilities the guardians and the person have gone through a court and medical process which has concluded that the person is best represented through the legal process of obtaining a legal guardian. The legal guardian has a legal duty which has been bestowed upon them through the courts to act in their persons best interest and to speak up and interpret the choices of the person they represent. This scrutiny provides a much better understanding of a persons needs and choices than Lemus and others like him who “worry”.  Mr Lemus states he was diagnosed in 2003 with a mild developmental disability.  By the very fact that Mr. Lemus is able to verbalize that he can understand what a hard job it is for parents and how difficult it was for his parents, indicates a higher level of thought processing (the ability to have abstract thoughts) than many of the people I know and work with have.  With the ability to have abstract thought, Lemus should also be able to understand that people are different and not all have the same level of or type of disability.  This is why it is so critical to listen to the legal guardians who do have a very good understanding of the support needs and choices of the person they represent.

This legal obligation is often ridiculed by Mr. Lemus and Shaun Bickley who routinely discount the legal obligations of the guardians. In denying the legal guardian a place at the stakeholder podium for the person they represent is a violation the civil rights of the person they represent. This violation is repeated over and over again by the likes of so-called advocates like Lemus and Bickley, in addition to agencies such as the Arc agencies, Self Advocates in Leadership, People First and other similar organizations.

In addition to denying disabled people who have a legal guardian a voice on issues that directly affect them, these so-called advocates also misrepresent job opportunities and quality of life experiences that are available for people with significant disabilities. Lemus and others believe that if only people were given the opportunity and educated that they would be able to be fully functioning without needed supports in the community. This is magical thinking and is not based in reality .

In fact Lemus, Bickley and other so-called advocate/activists often miss represent the law and the number of people affected by it. They practice censorship and other violations of the First Amendment by denying people directly affected by these laws to have their voices heard.

The real stakeholders have not been heard nor have their concerns and choices even been considered. When others who don’t even know them make their decisions which go directly against these peoples personal choices while at he same time denying those affected to be heard – Isn’t that Exploitation?

The documentary “Bottom Dollars” by Disability Rights Washington and Rooted in Rights states “If people are given the proper services and supports and proper assistive technology, the sky is the limit for many, many individuals.” This I believe to be true but there is a big IF.   We can’t make these decisions based on IF because we have already witness ed how little supports are funded. Do you really want to have your life choices decided for you by people who believe in magical thinking ? I don’t and I don’t want my sons or others I know lives destroyed because of the misguided activists/advocates

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

“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.

A New Low for Disability Rights Washington

I have recently been informed of a situation in which a lawyer from Disability Rights Washington – Susan Kas – removed a 19 year old young woman from her family home and took her to an undisclosed ‘shelter” in another city.  Disability Rights Washington  (DRW) is the federally funded Protection and Advocacy Agency for our state.

Last month, Amber O’Neil, age 19, went missing from Seattle and was thought to be with a 52 year old man she met at Seattle Central College.  Here is a link to the news media coverage of her missing and then of her being found in Oregon.  David Posey was the man she was with and he was taken into custody in Oregon by US Marshall Service on June 20, 2018 for parole violations and remains in prison.  He had previously been charged and found guilty of grand larceny, larceny of banknotes/checks (counterfeit money) and “simple assault of family members”.  He also had counterfeit money on his person when he was taken into custody on June 30, 2018.  Amber returned home to Seattle but continued to correspond with David Posey, claiming to be in love and wanting to marry him.  Amber’s father is against this relationship and this difference of opinion has caused some turmoil in the family.

David Posey had instructed Amber to contact DRW regarding her civil rights.  Amber did as she was instructed and DRW staff lawyer, Susan Kas, has personally been involved in helping Amber with her civil rights.

Susan Kas, staff lawyer with DRW

Susan Kas personally went to Amber’s home, served some papers to Amber’s father and together with some other staff removed Amber from her home and took her to an undisclosed “shelter”.  Amber appeared in court with about 5 DRW lawyers/staff on July 9, 2018 regarding issues of guardianship.  Adult Protective Services was also involved.

Disability Rights Washington cannot provide direct assistance in the following situations:

  • Criminal law
  • Family law
  • Assistance becoming the guardian of an individual with a disability
  • Out-of-state issues
  • Workers compensation
  • General medical malpractice & personal injury
  • General consumer bankruptcy issues
  • Any issue or problem not directly related to your disability
  • Assistance finding employment, housing or financial assistance
  • Assistance filling out forms & Social Security applications
  • Anything that is not the wish of the person with the disability

From the video Disability Rights Washington – Rooted in Rights

“when we choose how we advocate, we don’t advocate for what a person may say is best for a person with a disability, we really try to focus on the expressed interest which is different than what some people might call the best interest of someone.  That’s what we think everybody, regardless if you have a disability ought to be able to make important personal decisions for themselves.” (Susan Kas, Staff Attorney, Disability Rights Washington)

Issues of Guardianship – The court needs to be involved  there are legitimate concerns in this issue regarding the relationship of a vulnerable adult with man almost 3 times her age who has a history of being convicted of grand larceny, counterfeiting and abuse.  He was on parole but is currently incarcerated after taking Amber out of state – she was missing for about 30 days – when they were located in Portland on June 30, 2018.  Common sense tells us that this relationship would be cause of concern FOR ANYONE! Having a concern about this relationship is not abuse – it is true concern for the safety, well-being and protection from exploitation of a young woman who just recently graduated from High School.

DRW sees this as a violation of Amber’s civil rights.  Are they now providing her with the counseling that her father was?  Are they providing Amber with honest choices and truth about the situation?  Or, are they using her as a PAWN to in this horrendous situation of civil rights vs. common sense and caring?  This is not a game, this is the life of a young woman who was in school and had an internship for this summer that she has now lost.  She had goals of an education and a better life.  What does she have now? What will she have in the future?

Disability Rights Washington is governed by a Board of Directors, with help from our Advisory Councils. These groups are made up of people with disabilities, family members, and others who have an interest in disability rights.

This video describes the Protection and Advocacy System

A substantial portion of the Disability Rights Washington budget is federally funded.

Just my opinion

Caution – this is just my opinion – you may or may not agree, may be offended or not – but I own it.  You are allowed to comment, I won’t censor if you do not agree with me or if you hurt my feelings – I may tell you but I won’t censor your opinion.

When a person writes an “OPINION” essay and it is published  in a public online magazine it becomes open for discussion.  Some people who write “opinion” pieces become upset or hurt at comments that may be generated from readers who express their own opinion or have questions for the author of the original “OPINION” piece.

Isn’t  one objective of an “OPINION” essay to gather comments and hear what others may have to say?  It may be an opportunity to learn from others who may have a different opinion or to learn a different perspective from those who share the same opinion.

This issue is one that I have faced over and over again with regards to advocating for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Apparently there is a “right” opinion and if your opinion is different than that “right” opinion your comments may be deleted and you may be banned from further discussion.

This censorship only causes harm to those who the so-called advocates are supposedly advocating for.  Without an open discussion regarding various viewpoints people will be isolated and unable to work through problems that may exist.  Ignoring barriers to quality care and efforts to help support people in having a meaningful life only only makes the situation worse.  Unless you live in a fantasy world.

 

 

Mental Age?

Motive asymmetry – the belief that one groups motives are driven by love, care and affiliation and the rivals are motivated by the exact opposite.  This term is generally referred to with regards to political conflict but I see fully activated in the issue of advocacy for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

It feels to me that motive asymmetry is at play with regards to trained self-advocates and parents/guardians/healthcare professionals/case managers/disability advocates when any topic related to care, support, employment, inclusion, residential settings and community environment are discussed.

As a parent/guardian/disability advocate, this concept is very clear to me since I have been told by many trained self-advocates that guardians are only self-serving. This is truly not my perspective at all but it is attributed to me since I am a guardian. One effective tool used to help bridge this conflict is to meet in person. Once you know the person, views and ideas may change. It is only by meeting people and working together as people, rather adhering to  inflexible ideologies, that we can break down these silos and make progress.

Mental age theory

Ivanova Smith has written an article in NOS Magazine regarding the issue of using “mental age” as a description for people who happen to live with an intellectual and developmental disability.  She states “We need to educate medical professionals that there are better and more respectful way to explain the needs of people with Intellectual/developmental disabilities. Difficulty doing specific tasks isn’t the same thing as being an actual child.”

I have never seen this description used to state that an adult with IDD is a child – they are adults who have a variety of support needs in many areas of life skills.  Using labels and descriptive terms for various ranks, steps or skill levels are used in all types of employment, school, sports and athletics,  and hobbies.  One must pass through step 1 to get to step 2.  This is a natural progression.  One need not necessarily master the step but at least have a passing effort before one is able to proceed or progress.  There could be many reasons for a rapid or slow progression through these levels.
People do not excel in all areas of life and do not need to be an expert in everything they attempt to have enjoyment and meaning from it. Also, people may “stall out” at one step and many years later may revisit and then gain more skills. This is not set in stone as it is a fluid process and there is always learning and progress occurring as people experience life. This progression is also true with developmental, emotional and maturity stages. It is not “good” or “bad” but just is.

I often hear that people do not like labels – but labels help us to learn and navigate life in so many ways. Think for instance of working in trades – there are labels applied to levels of skill development – apprentice, journeyman, master. One is not a better person than another by having a different label but has a different skill set. These labels help us, who may not be familiar with the work to be done, who we might want to seek out for consultation. Labels are not inherently bad but can be extremely useful in many situations.
I am asking for your input into how you, as a trained self-advocate, differentiate between people who may need an extreme amount of support to manage the daily activities of living versus someone who may only need some occasional guidance with specific areas? How do you, as a trained self-advocate, differentiate between someone who is unable to utilize public transportation and needs to be driven everywhere in a private vehicle versus someone who can navigate the city independently on public buses?
Or maybe you do not see the need to differentiate – if not, why not?

Please contact me Ivanova – I would love to meet with you in person.

Thank you – Cheryl Felak

 

Have you ever heard the phrase “that person has the mind of a five year old In an adult body?” It is something many adults with intellectual disabilities, like me, have to deal with. For years, medical professionals have told parents of newly diagnosed Intellectually disabled people that they would mentally be children for their entire lives.…

via Mental Age Theory Hurts People with Intellectual Disabilities — NOS Magazine

#inclusivity  #diversityisstrength  #YouAreTheChange  #beyondinclusion  #disabilityrights  #intellectualdisability   #disabilitysupport  #mentalage  #agetheory

 

White House Petition regarding Olmstead

We must work together across this great country to protect our most vulnerable citizens.  This petition, started by the Murray Parents Association in Illinois, is part of the plan to stop the injustice that is spreading.  Please sign and circulate.

Link to We the People – Your Voice in our Government – Petition to The White House

 

www.MurrayParentsAssociation.com  ( From Laurie Stengler)

I have submitted a petition to the White House to request enforcement of Olmstead to include the right of the disabled to choose institutional over community based living. We have until 12/20/2012 to accumulate 25,000 signatures. After reaching this threshold the White House agrees to review the information and send a response to all signing the petition. I am really hoping we can a strong show of support for this and any help you can provide is much appreciated.

Please consider signing the petition and forwarding this information to others. We need to let the Obama administration know that enforcement of this decision has gone too far compelling states to close vital centers and putting the most severely disabled at risk for abuse and neglect.

 

Thank you – please forward to people so we can gather signatures!