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

Activist or Advocate? Seattle Style.

I have come to realize that when an activist is unable to address questions about issues, the activist digresses to personal attacks that have nothing to do with the issues.  This is a diversionary tactic to distract the public from the truth.  It often works or they wouldn’t use this tactic.   The so-called personal attacks could be totally made up (as most are in this situation) or a major twisting of the objective truth.

Case in point – issues of the sub-minimum wage ban in Seattle.  The Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities instituted this rule change and subsequent legislation without listening to concerns in the community.   It’s difficult to separate the Commission from the current Co-Chair, Shaun Bickley since Bickley self-identifies as the person who got this ban in place.  If people credit the Commission, Bickley becomes upset that his name was not mentioned as the person responsible.  This is why many of the issues I address are written about/to Bickley since he was the person answering for the Commission.  This is not a personal issue about Bickley himself, but Bickley, acting as Co-Chair of the Commission and as a public servant for the City of Seattle.

As far as I’m concerned, any one of the Commissioners could answer but they have left it to Bickley to do the talking.  So, my calling out Bickley is only because Bickley is the one doing the communicating for the Commission.

But, Bickley, has made it a personal issue against him, when in fact,  it’s not about him at all but the issues.  I have only been trying to get a conversation on the issues.  Bickley writes as if I have been trying to invade his personal life – I know nothing about the person, his life, and have never tried to contact him personally outside of the Commission.  The fact that Bickley seems to think that the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities is his personal domain (Facebook and meetings) is a problem.

Bickley blocked me from the Commission Facebook page (he does state this himself) and that was a violation of the First Amendment.  Bickley claims that I cried ‘censorship” when he blocked me from contacting him.  The way he writes this it appears that he blocked me from his personal page and I got upset about that.  I have no idea since I have never gone to his personal page and never tried to contact him personally.  He did block me from the Commission page but that is not HIS page – it is a City Commission page and yes, that was a concern.  Bickley does not seem to be able to distinguish between himself and the Commission.

Bickley recently posted a long diatribe for Autism Speaking Day 2018 on his friends, Kassiane Asasumasu’s blog “Radical Neurodivergence Speaking”.  This essay is an exercise in narcissistic victimization delusions.  When I informed Kassiane Asasumasu of the libelous essay, she wrote ” It’s not libel when it’s true. It’s the best sourced item I’ve ever published.”  Maybe Kassiane Asasumasu never checks sources if she believes this nonsense too.  

For documentation and clarification of letters I have sent to The Arc of King County (Bickley’s place of employment which he claims I have visited and contacted many times asking for his removal).  Bickley also claims that I have shown up in person at his job to demand my dismissal, as well as at meetings he attends – including Commission meetings.    Yes, I have attended Commission meetings and one SAIL meeting with my disabled son but have never shown up at his place of employment regarding anything having to do with him.   These are public meetings for disability advocacy.  The Arc of King County is an advocacy agency for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities – something that I have been involved in for over 20 years.

Letter to Ramona Hattendorf, The Arc of King County, regarding the abusive response at a public meeting by Co-Chair Bickley – May 2018

Correspondence with Ramona Hattendorf regarding issues with Seattle Commission and explanation of events which have occured. June 2018

Bickley writes – she “tried to physically prevent me from exiting the Commission room, probably hoping to entrap me into shoving past her to escape so she could claim to be attacked by the big bad autistic.”

This statement is clearly a fabrication.  I left the room with the Office of Civil Rights Liaison, who is also heard on the recording saying “Shaun, back up”, and Bickley was nowhere near me at the time.  He was still in the Boardroom talking with others when Marta and I left the room in conversation.

Letter sent via blind cc to all those who submitted public comments to OLS May 2018 – I assume that the person that Bickley refers to has partner in this comment “She’s contacted many others, advocates and friends, including my partner, to warn them what a terrible person I am.” maybe one of the 70 people on this list.  This was also the only email that I EVER sent to Bickley’s personal email (except for the reply to his “cease & desist” letter)

Correspondence with Ramona Hattendorf, The Arc of King County, regarding the letter by sbickley@thearcofkingcounty.org regarding elimination of sub-minimum wage statewide – October 2018

As a follow up, the false accusations and libelous comments posted and shared on many Social Media sites regarding not only issues with me but with other disability advocates who have questioned him, are acts of aggression and harassment.

Bickley has NO evidence of the accusation he has fabricated and so the tactic is to make personal attacks and take on the abused victim role.  All I can say is that must be a very sad place to be and a sad place to see the world from.   I do hope that someone is able to talk with him and help him to come to grips with reality but given what I have learned about those with this type of personality disorder, it rarely happens unless that person can acknowledge fact.

And, Bickley, if you are reading this, please do provide supporting documentation for your claims because I have not seen the evidence.  Also, please discuss the issues as I have requested over and over again.

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. 

Inclusive? Seattle?

SCPWD photo

I have had issues with the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities for several months now.  I am not the only person who has been a victim of abuse by the current co-chair of the Commission .

The Commissioner apparently spearheaded a campaign to eliminate special certificates as a choice for disabled employees to have an alternative and accommodation in the work place.  There was total lack of transparency and accountability in the rapid elimination of these certificates which led to a new law in Seattle prohibiting these certificates.

In my many attempts to have a conversation, ask questions, voice concerns and provide additional information to the Commission and others involved, I have been accused of lying, spreading misinformation, harassment and  being abusive – yet my questions have not been addressed or answered.  I have no idea if they were ever even discussed within the Commission since they have not posted meeting minutes for over 7 months.

Yesterday, I again attended their monthly meeting.  I was able to give a public comment before the meeting and the Commissioner said that he would answer a question after they finished their agenda.  This recording was made at a public meeting in a public place (Seattle City Hall – Boards and Commissions Room) with several Commissioners present, the Seattle Civil Rights Liaison and many other community members and guests in the room.  The Commissioner was made aware of the recording.  In Washington State it is legal to record public meetings as long as the recording device is not intrusive.  This was not a “private conversation” and the topic matter was explicitly about the issue of elimination of special certificates.

Below is an audio recording of our “conversation”.  Beware of foul language.  The conversation starts about 48 seconds into the recording.

Co-Chair of Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities

I have written letters to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, the Seattle City Council in addition to The Arc of King County, this Commissioner’s current employer to inform them of this continued abuse.  I have asked for the immediate termination of this Commissioner from the Commission and to not be recommissioned (his term expired April 30, 2018).

May 17, 2018,

Dear Mayor Durkan,

I am writing regarding prolonged abuse and harassment by Shaun Bickley, co-chair of the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities.  My interaction with Mr. Bickley began in August 2017 with my concerns and questions regarding the supposed research and information that he, specifically, was sharing regarding information on the elimination of special certificates which allow certain employers to pay certain employees a certain wage for a specific job.

I understand the issues and the process that was utilized in passing this ordinance and then passing into law. There was no transparency or accountability on the part of this commission and efforts to have concerns voiced, questions answered and a conversation to understand how the change would greatly affect our community were censored. Comments that did not agree with the commission’s view were removed from their Facebook page and community members were banned from any interaction.

The accounting of comments to the Office of Labor Standards was inaccurate and prior to that the Mayor and City Council members were not informed of the exclusion of concerns and questions from community members.  Mr. Bickley reported that there was unanimous agreement among people with disabilities and organizations – a statement that is far from the truth.

Today, I was finally able to make a public comment and then after the meeting, I asked to speak with Shaun Bickley regarding “unbanning” me from the public Facebook page.  In the past, all my interaction with Mr. Bickley had been via email and this was the first time that I have actually met him in person.

There are many questions that need to be answered and that’s all that I have ever requested from the Commission in my comments which have been defined as “abuse and harassment” by Mr. Bickley.  This recording was made at a public meeting in a public place (Seattle City Hall – Boards and Commissions Room) with several Commissioners present, the Seattle Civil Rights Liaison and many other community members and guests in the room.  The Commissioner was aware of the recording.

Please listen to this short audio clip from the “conversation” I had today and tell me who is abusive.

I have written a complaint to the Office of Civil Rights in the Fall of 2017.  The response I received was that it was not their jurisdiction.

I ask for the immediate removal of this Commissioner from the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities.  His term expired April 30, 2018 and I would ask that he not be re-commissioned.  His behavior and inability to have a discussion without becoming abusive is harmful to our community.  Regardless if he has a disability or not, no one needs to talk to another person in the tone, manner and language that this Commissioner uses.

Please respond to my concerns since this has been on ongoing problem with his interaction not only with me but with many other disability advocates in our community.  It is totally fine to disagree but it is not fine to censor and shut out community members who are stakeholders and live with disabilities.

Thank you,

Cheryl
Cheryl Felak, RN, BSN
Because We Care – Beyond Inclusion
Seattle, WA

Commission of Bullies and Chaos

Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities – a commission that sounds as if it’s diverse, inclusive and collaborative has proven to be something else.  It has been a commission of bullies who falsify information to the public.

About the Commission page

  1.  I have requested meeting minutes be posted their website.  The Commission responded that it was up to the city to post the minutes, that they had been submitted.
  2. I requested copies of the meeting minutes through City of Seattle Public Records Request for the minutes from June 2017 through March 2018.  My response was returned “The records you requested have not been created and finalized by the commission because of lack of a quorum.  As a result, there are no existing records that match your search.”  (Office for Civil Rights)
  3. How is a city commission able to function for over 8 months without a quorum and also elect new co-chairs?  How can they function without meeting minutes?

This Commission needs to have some direction and oversight.  It is run by people of questionable motives with little understanding of some of the real issues facing our community members with significant cognitive and developmental disabilities.

My experience with this Commission has only been since July, 2017 when I found out about their agenda to eliminate special certificates .  By the time I had any information on this there had already been work done through the Office of Labor Standards. While I know there have been and still may be some people with integrity on the commission, they are not the ones that are making decisions and speaking on behalf of this commission.

From what I have seen since July 2017 bullying and causing chaos have been the behaviors that have been accepted by the commission.  The Commission roster has changed and there are new co-chairs.

Without having a quorum for at least 8 months I’m very curious how decision have been made and why there has not been a quorum.  How can new co-chairs be elected without a quorum?  What guidelines does this commission follow in managing their meetings and work?

April 30, 2018  –  Shaun Bickley (apparently co-chair) and Jessica Williams-Hall terms expire.

Meet the Commissioners April 2018

commission PwD roster changes 2017 through 2018

 

 

Shameful Seattle – CENSORED

Seattle Commission for PwD - please be accountableToday, Mayor Durkan, signed into law that Seattle has eliminated special certificates for disabled people to work for less than minimum wage.  Sounds like a great idea to encourage people to hire those with disabilities – that is, until you know the truth behind this legislation and the misinformation that was used to push it forward and make others believe it was the right thing to do.

While I fully support equal wages for equal work – regardless if one is disabled or not – I have great concerns about the lack of understanding of the complex issues involved in this legislation.  For the people affected by this legislation, community integration is as important, if not more important, than the wage they earn.

The Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities has so far been only mendacious in their replies to questions.  Also, as I was in the process of writing this post, I have again been blocked from the public Facebook Page for Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities.  Again, they refused to answer the questions and censored discussions.  Seattle PWD Censorship

 

Seattle Commission for PWD needs to be accountable and answer the questions.  Threats and accusations do not show accountability for decisions you have made.

Mayor Durkan was totally unable to answer the questions asked at the end of the press conference – either she knows the answer and is too embarrassed to say or she has no clue and bases her information on the lies she has been told by the commission.

 

 

Fallout: Loss of jobs and hours in Seattle

Social Justice Activists in the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities are showing how little they understand about the lives and choices of people with complex and profound intellectual and developmental disabilities.  With no planning in regards to transition for employees, employers, vocational training and job development, this commission has pushed for the rapid elimination of certificates which allow special wages for a certain population.

Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities

Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda and members of Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities

Specific employers to pay specific employees a specific wage for a specific job

These certificates are not a “catch-all” loop-hole to allow employers to pay any person with a disability less than the minimum wage.  The commission leads people and legislators to believe that these certificates are easy to get and allow employers to exploit their employees.  ACTIVISTS – PLEASE GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT

There is no “loop-hole” and there is no exploitation.  There is choice and alternatives that are based on an individual’s person-centered planning. These activists have literally pulled the rug out from under those who were employed with this certificate and those in the future who would have benefitted from this choice.  It is no longer available and there are no substitutes.

The people affected by this new law were working in integrated, community settings.  These jobs were a route to inclusion and community.  This is what people with disabilities and their advocates have been wanting.  Things were working well for the employee with a disability, the employer, the community and the family/caregivers of the employees.

That is until the Commission threw a monkey wrench into the lives of people they do not know or understand.  The Commission has greatly misinterpreted research on the issue, misinterprets the law behind the certificates and how they are used and totally disregards the choices of those most affected.  The Commission has led community members and our City Council to believe these employees are exploited and has twisted the truth to outright lied about the situation in order to push his personal agenda.

Contrary to what the Commission claims,  there were many concerns voiced by people with disabilities and disability advocates against the elimination of the special certificates.  Unfortunately, the Commission does not think that these people have the right to voice an opinion and so discounts them.

What happened to “nothing about us, without us?”

 


There is inaccurate information regarding the sub-minimum wage laws and certificates, false information regarding the laws and actions in other states regarding sub-minimum wage and employment trends for people with intellectual disabilities.

SubminimumWageLetter from PWD commission


 

Social Justice?  Making people with disabilities unemployable in Seattle

Sub-minimum wage – godsend or exploitation?

Seattle has rapid elimination of sub-minimum wage

Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda – thank you for the concern you have for our community members with disabilities. While I understand this has just passed into law, I believe there was some very critical information that was left out, not addressed and misrepresented by members of the Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities .

The first issue is that these certificates are not “general purpose” to allow any employer to pay a person less than the minimum wage just because that person has a disability. They were for specific employers for specific employees for specific jobs. Generally, they are used for people with complex and often intellectual disabilities. It is a fact that those with intellectual disabilities, just by the definition of the disability itself, may not be as productive as a person with a different type of disability – such as autism. Autism is NOT an intellectual disability but it is a developmental disability. This issue is one that the Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities has failed to acknowledge and understand.

The second thing is that for people working in these jobs, they tend to work 10 hours or less a week and most often have a job coach to assist them in their job. The job coach may be 1:1 or only check in occasionally – depending on the support needs of the disabled person. The funding for the job coach is typically paid for through the Developmental Disabilities Administration through the counties. Without a job coach, many of these people would not be able to get and maintain employment.

One example of this is the issue of my son. He does work in a supported integrated employment setting within Seattle. He does earn a bit more than the minimum wage and works 9 hours a week with a 1:1 job coach. The vocational vendor agency is paid $2700 per month to provide the job coach for his 9 hours of work a week. If for some reason a job coach is sick or on vacation and they cannot get a sub, my son is not able to go to work that day.

For people like my son, they are not working at these jobs for their sole income and they all tend to live in poverty. They most likely receive SSI which will be reduced from the $750.00 to something less based on their earned income. Due to the earned wages my son makes, his SSI is reduced to $532.00. He then needs to pay rent, utilities, food, household necessities, clothes, healthcare supplies not covered by insurance, and other necessities of daily life out of his SSI and earned wages.

People like my son (who needs to have 1:1 supervision during all waking hours) are generally linked with several agencies, family members, friends (natural supports) a healthcare team, community members and paid support staff to navigate daily life. It is a collaborative web that can work very well – until someone tweaks one part without working with the rest of the team and it can then all fall apart.

For instance, my son lives in supported living with 3 other disabled young adults. Luckily, their agency does provide a reliable van for them to use but they need to coordinate transportation based on the residents’ schedules. They are the ones who transport my son back and forth to work each morning since my son needs 1:1 handoff from his support staff to his job coach – Access bus is not an option – nor is any type of public transportation.

It’s extremely unfortunate that the Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities did little research on this issue and how it impacts the lives of those who work in these jobs. I have asked repeatedly for the research and the Commission has refused to provide it – but continues to refer to this non-existent research. I did provide the Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities with links to a report from the National Council on Disabilities which had clear outlines for a transition from sub-minimum wage to integrated employment and their timeline was from 2-10 years. Not a rapid, sudden elimination of certificates.

I also provided another very useful resource from the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation which had very useful discussions and resources on how to encourage and create integrated work for those with significant intellectual disabilities. Again, this looked at a period of transition and planning for funding to be stable and sustainable for the required job skill building and training of job coaches.

I do not believe that either of these extremely useful and national resources were even discussed at a commission meeting because their decision had been made and any information from a person who did not agree totally with the proposed agenda by the Commission.   The Commission has stated many times that there was unanimous opinions regarding the elimination plan by disabled people and advocates denying the fact that there were many who had a different opinion.
Regarding other states who do not use certificates:

New Hampshire did not have any businesses using the certificates but updated their policies to officially end the practice if they were used. The minimum wage in New Hampshire just $7.25 an hour and disabled people can be paid less if part of an approved work training program.

According to the NH Developmental Services Employment Data Report – the average number of hours worked a week is 11 and the average weekly pay is $92.73. More than 50% of the jobs are 2-9 hours per week.

A case study of the transition from sheltered workshops to integrated employment of disabled people in Maine done by the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, Department of Health Policy and Management highlighted the fact that when people leave the sheltered workshop, many work fewer hours per week and make less money than if they remained in the sheltered workshop.

Alaska recently banned the subminimum wage. Robert Dinerstein, a law professor at American University and director of the schools’ Disability Rights Law Clinic believes that Alaska will be able to accomplish an integrated workforce by giving workers a job coach who goes to work with the person for the first month to help them “learn the ropes.” Evidently, this professor does not understand the fact that some people may need the 1:1 support to remain employed – it’s not a “learn the ropes” and then on their merry, independent way.

Maryland has a 4-year phase-out of “sheltered workshops” which they hope to have completed by 2020. The plan involves moving people from sheltered workshops to competitive integrated employment. Each individual making less than minimum wage will receive an individual plan for the phase-out.

According to the United States Department of Labor “Subminimum wages must be commensurate wage rates – based on the worker’s individual productivity, no matter how limited, in proportion to the wage and productivity of experienced workers who do not have disabilities performing essentially the same type, quality, and quantity of work in the geographic area from which the labor force of the community is drawn. ”

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 and that included funding needs to provide supports and sustain them. Did the Commission for PwD look at these issues?

Please ask the Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities about the research they have done and the transition plan they have developed for our citizens in Seattle.

Seattle Outlaws Subminimum Wage

Council votes to eliminate sub-minimum wage

Seattle bans lower wages