HB 1706 – Elimination of Special Certificates

Below is a copy of an email to sponsors of this bill that was heard today in the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee.   This bill is being heard without an understanding of the full impact and pushed “as the right thing to do”.  I’m sorry, but we have already seen how policies driven by ideology with little regard to facts, evaluation and assessment of changes has contributed to our current and continued crisis in the supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
It’s time to stop the charades, work together and come to real, sustainable solutions that best benefit the most people.  HB 1706 is not one of those solutions.
Collaboration concept in word tag cloud

As a sponsor of HB 1706 I am writing you this email with information regarding the discrimination of this bill by denying the opportunity of any disabled person to work as an apprentice, learner or messenger.  By eliminating the special certificates for people with disabilities, the other jobs are also denied.  Apprenticeship, learners and messengers can be great jobs for people with certain disabilities and it’s shameful to deny those choices.

As stated in the documentary “Bottom Dollars” produced by Disability Rights Washington and Rooted in Rights  – “If people are given the proper services and supports and proper assistive technology, the sky is the limit for many, many individuals”  I truly believe this – unfortunately, HB 1706 does not address any of the issues of support – just the wage.  Do not pass HB 1706 until all the issues are addressed and planned as is recommended in research by national agencies.

Supported Employment is great – it can open up many opportunities for people.  It needs funding to be successful and this bill does not address the issue of supporting funds for job coaches, job development, job training or transition planning.  It only looks at eliminating the special certificates.  Eliminating special certificates without addressing the critical issue of funding supported employment/integrated employment for this population will result in a crisis.  This population is already involved in a crisis situation with lack of caregivers and supported living with many people stuck in hospitals with no place to go.  Passing this bill at this time is not in the best interest of anyone.

It is interesting to note that not one research report of any advocacy agency recommends immediate elimination of certificates.  A well planned and funded transition is needed for a stable and sustainable integrated supported employment opportunities.  There is nothing in this bill that addresses any issues regarding transition.  It has been stated that a rapid elimination would actually be detrimental to our population.

Elimination of special certificates without taking into consideration the other issues involved will only result in job loss.  It will not increase the employment opportunities nor will it mean that those with disabilities will now make a living wage. When a person is only able to work 10 hours a week, minimum wage will not allow them to be self-supporting.

In Seattle, the legislation caused people to lose hours at their jobs.  Yes, their wages increased but their hours decreased.  For some of these people their job was also their opportunity to be integrated in the community – with the loss of hours, their community integration opportunity decreased too. A question asked in today’s public hearing by Representative Mosbruker was regarding an evaluation of what has happened in places that have eliminated the special certificate.  This is a very critical question that also needs to be answered before moving forward.  There is information available on this for New Hampshire, Maine and some other states – I would be more than happy to provide links to you.

In Seattle, there were 8 people who were working under a Special Certificate – 6 at Ballard Locks were working 5 hours a day had their hours cut to 3 hours a day, the person at Ballard Lutheran had her hours cut from 15 hours a week to 12 hours a week and the person at Ballard Market was working 6 hours a week and did not have hours cut but the manager express concern about being able to hire employees with significant intellectual/developmental disabilities in the future.  It should be noted that none of these employees needed 1:1 job support for their jobs.

I did not hear anyone testify about the support needs for those involved in integrated employment or talk about the number of hours these employees may work a week or the coordination of supports (transportation, housing, personal needs support)  needed to be employed.  These are all critical issues that need discussion before a bill such as this is passed.

Again, as an example, my son who lives in Supported Living also has supported employment.  He works 9 hours a week at Lowe’s and makes $16.59 an hour.  This means that his gross wages are $597 per month.  He also receives SSI which is reduced due to his wages so overall his income is roughly $900.00.  He needs to pay rent, utilities, groceries and all living expenses from that $900.00.

The County (through DDA) pays the employment vendor about $2400.00 a month to provide the support to my son for his 1:1 job support.  What have you heard about the funding for these integrated jobs for people like my son who needs 1:1 support to be employed in an integrated community setting?  While the employer is paying the employee minimum wage, someone needs to pay the job coach or there is no job at all.

Please do not pass HB 1706 at this time.  Yes, fair and equitable wages are important but in order to have fair and equitable wages in an integrated setting we need to look at the whole picture.

At the risk of continued personal assaults from one of the people testifying today, I feel obligated to inform people of the consequences of taking such rash actions without a full understanding and acknowledgement of the various issues involved in coordination of supports. It was not a collaborative process at all with Shaun Bickley (he was co-chair of the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities) taking the helm and violating the First Amendment by censoring and blocking comments from constituents to the Seattle Commission and later writing libelous comments about others and most recently commiting fraud, conspiracy and interference with contractual relations with regards to my work as a registered nurse.  This is all in retaliation against me for trying to have accountability and transparency in the process of the elimination of special certificates in Seattle.

I would be more than happy to provide information on national research regarding the issue of special certificates and special wages, integrated and supported employment and transition planning to ensure sustainability and success.

Thank you for your concern and attention to this critical issue.  

If. . .

If I wrote this email or was a recipient, I would not want to discuss the deceit that was practiced in passing a discriminatory law either –  but I would hope that one would be interested in evaluating the process, the new law, how it discriminates those it should have helped and how to correct it.  Unfortunately, recipients contacted do not want to discuss the issues.

Dear Friends and Allies

 

Shaun Bickley – Appointed as Commissioner to Seattle Disabilities Commission

Shaun Bickley, Autistic Leftist Activist,  full of vitriol and ableism, was confirmed today in a Commission Appointed seat on the Seattle Disabilities Commission.

Below is a link to the special meeting – there are several public comments which start at 12:15 and run through 26:00.  The  discussion with Bickley and Co-Chair ObeySumner regarding the appointment begins at 1:03:45 and runs through 1:31:29

I fully understand the process and the “hands-off” approach the city council is taking with a Commission Appointment. I also understand this is the first time there have been public comments opposing an appointment.  Given that this appointment, with knowledge of the allegations and evidence of abuse, libel, discrimination, violations of First Amendment and violations of the  Washington State Law Open Public Meetings Act, was confirmed sets a dangerous precedent in Seattle.

Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts Committee – Special Meeting 

Is it an oxymoron that Mayor Durkan signed  Executive Order 2018-04: Anti-Harassment and Anti-Discrimination today?  This “will reform and update how the City addresses allegations of harassment, discrimination, and other forms of misconduct.”

Both Bickley and ObeySumner identify as autistic.

 

Shaun Bickley – “Breaking” Barriers

I was not at this meeting but I do believe there was chaos present given what I have witnessed and experienced at past meetings.
So many questions and concerns about Bickley – reading how he is disturbed by others who may not show behavior of respect and professionalism, I clearly remember the first in-person interaction I had with him.  Bickley, himself needs some lessons in being a professional and a public servant – volunteer or not, disabled or not.
Public Facebook Post this evening –

This is the email I sent Evan Philip in the Mayor’s Office, CM Lisa Herbold and her staffmember Shannon Perez-Darby, and Interim Director of OCR Mariko Lockhart.

I’m at my wit’s end with the city standing behind misogynists and white supremacists but bristling at the slightest criticism of their policies. Despite the work we have been able to accomplish, several of us are ready to quit after today if the city can’t deal with these issues and provide competent staff support.

*****

To all concerned,

I want to continue to express my disbelief at the city’s unwillingness to provide support to the Disability Commission, and its ongoing support of white supremacist, misogynist, and ableist behavior.

I don’t know how many Commissioners have to come forward and complain about misogyny and white supremacy from Mayoral and Council-appointments before the city takes it seriously. Apparently six isn’t enough. Ten? Fifteen?

Today I witnessed ChrisTiana ObeySumner co-chair by themselves while two older white men screamed at them, interrupted, and corrected them. At one point Eric Scheir began screaming at the top of his lungs at ChrisTiana, threatening to sue. People left the room,. Mr. Scheir is perfectly aware of his ability to physically intimidate women and non-binary people by screaming at the top of his lungs, and if he isn’t, he is unqualified to serve on the Commission. I can tell you he would be fired from any job I have ever had for that kind of behavior.

Jayson Morris is a Council-appointed Commissioner. Six Commissioners have complained about his behavior, the Co-Chair and the Director of OCR had a meeting with him to address his behavior, and the Co-Chairs wrote Councilmember Herbold about him on June 8. Nothing has happened. Eric Scheir is a Mayoral appointment who has exhibited this kind of narcissistic, racist, and misogynistic behavior since before he was appointed. Nothing has happened.

At what point do I assume that individuals acting as agents of white supremacy and misogyny, on behalf of the Mayor and City Council, are simply carrying out the will of those entities? Especially since Meg Bartosovsky and I were removed without even being spoken to because of our advocacy on the Commission. There is a pattern here, and it’s that white supremacists and eugenicists are given every chance and every opportunity to thrive, but developmentally disabled advocates who question the city are removed post haste.

Six Commissioners signed a letter asking for Marta Idowu to be replaced in her position as Commission liaison. Today, while this screaming rant happened, Marta did nothing. What “support” is OCR providing if they don’t address violence within the meetings, don’t keep order, don’t address micro and macroaggressions, and can’t even keep accurate minutes?

My peers voted to appoint me into a Commission-based seat and for me to continue on as co-Chair. I would love to continue the great work we have done, work the City has praised and been credited for, but I sat in that meeting feeling physically unsafe as a man screamed his lungs out at us with the full backing of the Mayor and City Council, and I’ve seen the disparate treatment we receive when we bring light to these issues.

I don’t know how many time I can ask that someone–the Mayor’s Office, OCR, the City Council–take responsibility for the situation it has created: to deal with violent Commissioners and to provide competent staff support to our meetings.

Thanks for listening,
Shaun Bickley
Co-Chair, Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities

Shaun Bickley For the record, it’s been 3 weeks and I still haven’t been given a reason why I wasn’t reappointed (and Meg Bartosovsky STILL hasn’t been told even as little as I have–they removed her without a word). I don’t expect this administration to reappoint me at this point, but I do expect them to be professional about it and to stop supporting racist, misogynistic, and ableist behavior.

 

Transcript of conversation between Cheryl Felak, disabled community advocate and Shaun Bickley, Co-Chair of the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities

May 17, 2018

This “discussion” took place at Seattle City Hall at a public meeting

Cheryl Felak statements     Shaun Bickley statements

I’m banned because you don’t agree with my opinion, my questions have not been answered I’ve just been told I’m a liar, 

  • You’re abusive

Huh

  • You’re abusive – you’re banned because you’re abusive

I’m abusive?  So what has been abusive about what I’ve said?

  • Calling people low functioning

I did not do that

  • Harassing people okay – I don’t really– I don’t really like – what is your point? Why are you here?

My point is that I would like to have some information shared with some facts

  • And I have told you repeatedly and you’ve said it’s a lie – you’ve been answered – you did a public disclosure request you already have the information that you asked for – did you pay for it- did you pick it up

Yes I have and I’d like to

  • Ok great –

 Tell you there’s information

  • Can you please not get in my face because you’re way too close to my personal space

Okay I’ll stand back

  • Thank you

I’d like to tell you that there was information and facts that were not shared with the commission and with others about jobs and yes, I understand supported employment – do you understand about transportation, what it costs, training, job development, job skill development was any of that

  • Yes – what’s your point

My point is – was that addressed by this commission

  • (Exasperated exhale and long pause) – uh we have two legal certificates – you understand the Northwest Center wasn’t – right

I understand that – I’m not talking about the Northwest Center – I’m talking about the special certificates

  • Right

Were the issues of job skill development, job coaches?

  • Yes

That was all discussed in this commission in relation to elimination

  • So let me

Let me finish my sentence – in relation to elimination of those certificates – was that discussed and how that was going to be taken into consideration

  • It’s not a factor because they consented and they agreed to keep those people at their level. We had two people – this isn’t like Texas where there were 121 certificates – we had 2

You haven’t answered my question yet

  • YES WE DISCUSSED IT AND WE DISCUSSED THAT THERE WEREN’T ANY BARRIERS WE WERE READY TO GO and so listen I really need you to understand, now listen I need you to understand, now listen

Now you back up

  • No

You’re in my space

  • I’m not in your space

City of Seattle Liaison “Shaun back up”

Back up

  • Ok we’re done – Good-bye

Ok – thank you

  • You’re abusive – I don’t need to speak to you, I’m a volunteer,

I’m a volunteer

  • FUCK YOU – GO FUCK YOURSELF – I DON’T WANT TO TALK TO YO

Bickley fabricates stories which border on delusional thought patterns.  

The list of the “great work” includes

  • Spearheading violations of the First Amendment by the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities

 

  • Spearheading the rule change and legislation to eliminate special certificates – essentially making it impossible for people with disabilities to have any sort of integrated/independent job within Seattle. 

 

  • While being non-binary and dogmatic in using pronouns of they/them (by the way, non-binary is not a disability) Bickley, is unyielding in his binary labels of disabled vs “the abled” 

 

  • Bickley and the whole Seattle Disability Commission should be gutted and started with a fresh set of people who do not have the extreme biases, hate speech and abuse the current commission roster chooses to utilize.  

 

Let’s get some people who know how to collaborate and work together and really break barriers-

Not this renegade group of activists. 

Missing – Common Sense

This is been a year long battle with The Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities regarding their rapid elimination of special certificates that can allow specific people with specific disabilities to work at a specific job for a wage that may be less than the minimum wage.  While they are calling these certificates “discrimination”, the certificates  can actually provide people with an alternative for community integration that they may not have now.
This Commission and those organizations that have signed onto this thought process believing that just raising the wages will enhance these people’s lives have forgotten to ask the affected people themselves.  Some very important information regarding critical issues that people with disabilities who have significant support needs and how those needs are going to be accommodated have not been addressed.
This is the fallout of making laws without collaboration and without addressing the concerns of those who are directly involved.  The Commission refused to address a variety of concerns from stakeholders saying that those concerns didn’t matter and had nothing to do with the certificates or elimination of sub-minimum wage.
The facts are very different – there were 8 employees in Seattle who were making a sub-minimum wage  –   6 were at Ballard Locks making between $9.00 and $10.50 an hour and 2 other employees at community sites who earned  $11.01 and $11.25 an hour.  (The Commission reported extremely inaccurate information via a press release stating that there were “at least 130 disabled workers in the city of Seattle making subminimum wage, most making under $1.60/hr.  The lowest-paid worker under these exemptions in Seattle makes 20 cents an hour”   SCPWD Press Release June 22 2017
The totally false information The Commission released to the press (and previously to the former Mayor and Councilmember Herbold) was discovered as a mistake by the then co-chair of The Commission.  This error was pointed out to the person of contact on the Press Release who refused to issue a correction.  The author stated – press release already went out, if we receive follow up we can discuss that with those people.  He also stated that he would believe the documents he got from Department of Labor over what someone told him.  Unfortunately, this person was not able to read the document from DOL correctly and made this huge mistake in numbers of employees and their wages.  Commission will not amend press release
This is how the Commission responds to those who questioned their numbers:
April 13 2018 second chance from Commission - spam and deliberately false information
Before this issue goes any further under such faulty research and data collection, stop and listen to those whose lives were and will be directly affected by these changes.
I continue to ask the Commission about accountability and transparency – they feel threatened and harassed by me and want to have me banned from Commission meetings.
Maybe the Commissioners should actually read some of the comments I have shared and read the research and documents they presented regarding recommendations.  While doing that, they should research what has happened in those other states who have changed their laws – are the people working, have their lives improved?  These are all issues that need to be addressed before more action is taken.

Email from Shaun Bickley regarding City Council – do not share

The Seattle Disability Commission is proud to be among the first organizations to call for an end to Washington’s exemption to minimum wage laws, which allow employers to pay disabled people, and only disabled people, less than minimum wage.

A current copy of the letter can be found here: https://docs.google.com/…/1cCT_IL6I3HLcmYKdK5QhdNamqQ…/edit…

If your business or organization (operating in the state of Washington) would like to be added, please email sbickley@arcofkingcounty.org . Text is below:

We, the undersigned organizations, oppose the practice of paying workers with disabilities subminimum wage. On April 13, 2018, Seattle joined the states of Alaska, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maryland, in ending the outdated practice of allowing subminimum wage employment of people based on their disabilities. We do not believe workers should be discriminated against on the basis of disability and join the growing coalition advocating for an end to state laws that allow such discrimination.

We believe all workers should be fairly compensated and are entitled to the same minimum wage protections regardless of their disability status. We hope the State of Washington will join other states and cities in taking the lead to put an end to this unfair employment practice.

Sincerely,

Able Opportunities, Inc.
Allies in Advocacy
The Arc of King County
The Arc of Snohomish County
ASUW Student Disability Commission
AtWork!
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network
Community Employment Alliance
Disability Rights Washington
Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC)
Geeks Without Bounds
Morningside
National Federation of the Blind of Washington
Open Doors for Multicultural Families
People First of Snohomish County
People First of Washington
Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities
Seattle LGBTQ Commission
Self Advocates in Leadership (SAIL)
Sherwood Community Services
TASH
Washington ADAPT
Washington CAN
Washington Low Income Housing Alliance
Working Washington
Work Opportunities

Cease & Desist Letter”

I received a “Cease & Desist Letter” from Shaun Bickley two days ago.  One more attempt of his to bully and refuse to be accountable for his actions.  He had already filed a petition for an anti-harassment order against me so I’m not quite sure what the purpose of the “Cease & Desist Letter” was.

I’m looking forward to going to court to defend myself against accusations of harassment, lies and stalking by one certain co-commissioner of Seattle Commision for People with Disabilities.  I’m very sorry that this person does not seem to understand the role of a public office and believes that when a constituent asks questions, voices concerns, requests clarification or desires to be involved in the decision making process  – it is not harassment or abuse but active participation that is encouraged by our laws.

My questions are not to this co-commissioner directly or personally other than the fact that he is the one who has been answering.  As far as I’m concerned any member of the Commission could provide the information but no one has stepped up to do that.  This Commissioner could also delegate communication with me to another person.  It doesn’t matter to me who answers the questions but that they are at least addressed and answered.

It’s very interesting to me that this person cites my legal access to public records and research as issues of harassment.  He claims the recording I made at a public meeting and witnessed by several others in the room was a “private conversation” and illegal.  It’s also interesting to note that in the supporting documents with the petition is a declaration from another Commissioner describing the events of the conversation on May 17, 2018 which are clearly not what occurred when one listens to the recording.

Washington State law allows one to use sound and video recording devices at public meetings unless they disrupt the orderly conduct of the meeting.   That is what I did and I’m glad I did because it provides proof of the actions and language used by this individual.  We don’t have to rely on hearsay by those who have been brainwashed by his tactics, we can hear for ourselves and make our own opinion about the conversation.

This person has a public office and is under the sames rules and regulations as any representative of a public agency (RCW 42.30.020)  and the agency has a duty to promptly record and provide meeting minutes for public review (RCW 42.30.030).     It doesn’t matter if the person is a volunteer or a paid public servant – they are all accountable to state laws and regulations.

RCW 42.30.020 – Legislative declaration states:

The legislature finds and declares that all public commissions, boards, councils, committees, subcommittees, departments, division, offices, and all other public agencies of this state and subdivisions thereof exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business.  It is the intent of this chapter that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly.

The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve the.  The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know.  the people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.

Holding our public servants (volunteer or paid) accountable to their duties is not abuse and harassment – it is doing our duty as a citizens.
My assumption of why this behavior has been allowed to go on so long after so many people have complained to the city government about the abuse, harassment and bullying practiced by this co-chair is that they are afraid he will sue for discrimination if he is reprimanded or let go.   That’s probably the case that he would file a lawsuit but is that reason to allow these actions to continue?  Not in my opinion.
 Forgot to add that this person is one of the recipients of the Disability Rights Washington “Breaking Barriers” awards.  So not only do we not hold people accountable, we give them honors for their abuse and harassment.

Did he say what I think he said?

The response that I have gotten from many people who have listened to the abuse that the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities spewed at me after their last meeting (May 17, 2018) is “Did he say what I think he said?”

YES – Hear for yourself – if you are offended by this encounter (this was the first “in-person” conversation that I had with this person) please write to any or all of the following people or agencies.

It doesn’t matter if one is a volunteer or not, disabled or not – as a representative of a City and Community Commission, one needs to uphold the duties of the office.

Mayor Jenney Durkan photo

Seattle City Council May 2018

Contact City Council

Seattle Boards and Commission Home page

Contact Boards and Commissions

Seattle Office for Civil Rights

Contact Office for Civil rights

Seattle Office of Civil Rights Commissions

Contact Seattle Disability Commission

If you would like to read a history of the questions and concerns that were excluded from any discussion on the legislation which eliminated choice and alternatives for those with significant disabilities, here is the document sent to the Office of Civil Rights (per their request) to receive answers to.

Questions to PwD Commission that need to be answered

Next Post will discuss the issues of the Office of Labor Standards and comments received regarding the rule change in September 2017.