Haste Makes Waste – Seattle Style

Seattle has been played by a disability activist who has worked extremely hard to have legislation passed that removed the use of special certificates for people with disabilities.  While this may seem like a great step forward in the name of social justice, in reality, it has caused people to lose employment hours and discriminates against people with disabilities by limiting choices and alternatives.

The old saying “haste makes waste” was very evident in the process that has occurred.  Information from concerned and involved stakeholders was blocked which made it impossible to collaborate with the Commission and the Office of Labor Standards with regards to the rule change. Several City of Seattle staffers questioned the urgency of the issue but continued to push this along at the rapid-fire rate the activist was insisting upon.

When the voices of those directly involved are silenced and actions are taken without their input, violations occur.  This is an all too common theme in issues related to those with disabilities – particularly those with intellectual/developmental disabilities.  It’s even more frustrating when this rebuff is done by a Commission that is there to advocate with and for those with disabilities.

This transcript sums up fairly well the response that I received to any inquiry or concern.  The Co-Chair alleges that I harassed and stalked him in addition to many other fabricated stories of what I have done.  This conversation was between a disabled community advocate and the Co-Chair of the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities.   transcript between Cheryl Felak and Shaun Bickley May 2018

The law, as now written, actually discriminates against people with disabilities who would be able to get a job as “an apprentice, learner or messenger.” 

It is costly and time consuming to hire and train anyone and employers may be even more wary of hiring a person with an intellectual/developmental disability.  Having the option of using a special certificate for a limited amount of time as a trial is an alternative that actually could have provided an opportunity for both employers and employees to “try out” a job without out a full investment for something they may not be sure would work out for either of them.  Having a time limit to the special certificate is a protection for the employee.

According to the Policy Manager of the Office of Labor Standards, the Minimum Wage ordinance prohibits our office from approving a special certificate  for any individual who meets the criteria of “an individual whose earning capacity is impaired by age or physical or mental deficiency or injury” regardless of the individual’s occupation.

It also needs to be noted that the Commission did not contact the City of Seattle Supported Employment Program for any information regarding supported employment.  The City of Seattle is recognized as a “best practice” and has received many awards for the work they do.  Supported Employment Brief Overview_2018 describes the City of Seattle Supported Employment program.

Some excerpts from City of Seattle Supported Employment Overview:

We customize each job by bundling a variety of entry-level duties into positions that individually match candidates’’ skills, which also allows your other employees to maximize their time.  The supported Employment program’s hallmark is its ability to design effective positions that adapt to individual human and organizational needs.

Job coaches provide training and coaching “support’ as needed for the supported employee.  Job coaches are a valuable resource for the entire workplace of a supported employee, and are available at no cost to an employer who hires a supported employee.  Coaches are dispatched from local community agencies that serve the employment-related needs of people with developmental disabilities.

How did the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities totally ignore this program and employees?  One reason is that the Commission refused to communicate with anyone that had concerns or questions about their push for a rule change and legislation.

It’s too late now to change the law in Seattle but there is time to stop this activist from going statewide with this and causing more harm.

Seattle Minimum Wage and People with Disabilities describes some of the deceit, lies and violations of the First Amendment practiced by The Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities in pursuing the law to eliminate special certificates.

If you are approached by Shaun Bickley (@lLeftistAutist on Twitter) to sign on to the campaign he has posted  or circulated – please think it through and understand what is missing in this campaign – mainly planning, transition, funding, collaboration and sustainability for disabled employees and our community.

Shaun Bickley campaign to end subminimum wage in Washington State July 2018

 

I got the city to ban subminimum wage

 

 

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.

Elimination of Special Certificates

The issue of the elimination of the special certificates for people with disabilities has been very controversial.  There have been many problems related to lack of transparency and accountability on the part of the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities.

Many attempts to have a conversation with the Commission and collaborate have been denied which is a violation of The constitution of the United States, First Amendment.

The First Amendment provides individuals with the right to engage in protected speech without government interference. If a local government establishes a social media site to communicate with the public about agency business, the First Amendment will apply to the comments and posts made by others on that site.

So, the moderator of the agency page cannot simply delete, hide or block posts or people based solely on the content of the message that was posted.

The Commission blocked, censored and harassed community members, disability advocates, people with disabilities and stakeholders who had concerns and/or questions from interacting on the Commission’s public Facebook page.   This exclusion by the public entity of the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities of the very people the Commission was set up to advocate for is an extreme example which is becoming all to common.

When ideology is used without consideration of other viewpoints as the sole decision making process, there can be many unintended consequences.  A healthy debate with varying viewpoints and a rational analysis to problem solve in the decision making process can help to mitigate the abuse of power that is used when decisions are based solely on ideology.  People do not have to agree but when there are discussions we can all learn something.

Many problems have been encountered in this process and I question the legality of the decisions that have been made when proper procedures were not followed.

  1.  June 2017 was the first mention of any issue of the elimination of the special certificates for people with disabilities according to the Commission’s meeting minutes.
  2. A quorum was not achieved at the June 2017 meeting in which the Commission reports they had a unanimous vote to eliminate the special certificates.
  3. According to the by-laws of the Commission they need a majority of appointed Commissioners  present in order to have a quorum.  During June 2017 there were 13 appointed Commissioners – they would have needed 7 Commissioners present for a quorum – they only had 6.  This means they would not have been able to have a meeting or a vote.
    • A Quorum needs to be present in order to have a vote
    • The so-called “unanimous vote” was actually invalid according to the Commission by-laws
    • June 15, 2017 minutes PwD
  4.  It was reported in July 2017 by the Mayor and Councilmember Herbold that there had been a unanimous vote by the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities.  This article states that the Office of Labor Standards will begin rule revisions and a City Council vote before the end of the year.
  5. Revisions proposed to the City of Seattle’s Minimum wage rule – eliminating subminimum wages for employees with disabilities – August 17, 2017
  6. First public notice from OLS regarding Special Certificates requesting public comments – unfortunatley, the decision had already been made by former OLS Director Dylan Orr, Former Mayor Murray and Councilmember Herbold.  Was the information shared during legislative meetings in June 2017 by Commissioners Shaun Bickley and Matt Kanter representative of the community they represent?
  7. Office of Labor Standards (OLS) received the most comments on this issue than any other rule revision comment request in the past.  They received 70 responses and it had been reported that there was a “slight” preference for the elimination of the certificates.  (later found to be false when records were reviewed – see below)
  8. OLS announces Final Rule September 29, 2017
  9. If you submitted a comment you most likely received the following email from Karina Bull from OLS about September 30, 2017 with a copy of the Press Release dated September 29, 2017.

From: Bull, Karina

Sent: Saturday, September 30, 2017 7:15 AM

To: Bull, Karina <Karina.Bull@seattle.gov>

Subject: OLS Issues Final Rule Revisions for Seattle’s Minimum Wage Ordinance

Greetings,

Thank you for submitting a comment to inform our rulemaking process for subminimum wages for people with disabilities. We carefully considered all comments and sincerely appreciate your contribution to this process. Yesterday, our office announced the final rules; the announcement is below.

 

Again, thank you for your participation.

 

Regards,

 

Karina

Karina Bull

Policy Manager

City of Seattle | Office of Labor Standards

 

 

810 Third Avenue, Suite 375

 

Seattle, WA 98104-1627

 

Phone: 206-684-4536

 

karina.bull@seattle.gov

 

10. Given lack of transparency and accountability in this legislation, I began to do more research into how the decision had come to be made.

11.  Seventy comments were received by OLS – 33 (or 18 if duplicate scripts are not counted) were in favor of elimination of certificates; 37 were against elimination of certificates.  Clearly far from unanimous and from my perspective indicates there needs to be more research done on the issue.

12.  There were 15 comments which were identical to the script template that Commissioner Shaun Bickley had sent out and tagged many people on Social Media sites to send in to bolster his project –  45% of the comments in favor of elimination were this exact script.

 

[suggested script]  

Dear Ms. Bull  

I am writing to express solidarity with the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities’ recommendations to end subminimum wage and the use of subminimum wage certificates in Seattle.  

As you know, the Commission conducted an extensive four-month review, and received overwhelming support for this course of action from both community members with disabilities and disability organizations. They also contacted the workers making subminimum wage along with their family members and employers, who have all agreed to this timeline.  

I believe that we should listen to people with disabilities, especially those with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are most impacted by this. They know what they need and we should support them and applaud them in their quest for equality before the law.  

I look forward to Seattle becoming the first location on the west coast to grant wage equality to workers with disabilities, and in finally ending this blatantly discriminatory practice.  

Sincerely,  

(Name)  

(Resident of Seattle, connection, etc)  

13.   Comment received from Karina Bull, Policy Manager of Office of Labor Standards regarding the corrections to the reported facts on the OLS comments.

Our office carefully reviewed the outpour of comments in favor of retaining subminimum wage, as well as the outpour of comments in favor of prohibiting the subminimum wage. Ultimately, the final rule was reached with strong support of our former Director, Dylan Orr, former Mayor Murray, and Councilmember Herbold. The more recent decision to codify this prohibition in our Minimum Wage ordinance was passed by City Council, 8-0 

14.   My view of this is that the comments sent in were basically meaningless in the decision making process.    I do not know what information Dylan Orr used  but I do believe that both former Mayor Murray and Councilmember Herbold were not provided with accurate information on the issue.  Again, the saying “Nothing about us, without us” was disregarded in this legislation.

Where is the accountability for the actions taken by this renegade Commission?  Do they represent what you need?  If not, join me in attending their meetings and providing much needed common sense and input.

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.

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