Look! Up in the Sky! It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Dog Sense in Montesano?

Remember when yours truly famously opined,Much of the discussion and reportage on Marisa Salzer and the Montesano City Meanies has been a wee bit lopsided. No more”?

I also said, “And yes, there’s more.” Here’s the latest installment in our spine-tingling thriller. Or some of it.  And dog-gone if those big meanies at city hall just might come out looking like something other than leftover Purina.

An October 13, 2014 letter from Montesano City Attorney Daniel O. Glenn to Council Member Marisa Salzer is a case in point. Glenn’s letter is in response to a request by Salzer asking about the review process the City undertook after the council member filed a complaint for “discrimination” with the Washington State Human Rights Commission. Mayor Ken Estes, City Administrator Kristy Powell and City Attorney Dan Glenn were named in the July complaint. The full text of Glenn’s October 13 letter, obtained via public records request, reads as follows (commentary appears between blocked print, without italics):

You have asked as to what type of review was undertaken. There was no written report done. What follows is a summary of the factual history of the review process.

Don’tcha hate it when them dog-gone facts get in the way of other agendas?

I: It was and is my understanding that both Mayor Estes and Ms. Powell had discussed with you the type of hearing assistance you felt was required as a result of the disability. The indication given was your hearing assistive equipment was not of such a nature as to allow the use of the “blue tooth” type of connections utilized with the T coil system installed as part of the update of the Council Chambers.

II: As a result of that inability to utilize existing electronic resource, you requested and the City provided the services of a visual interpreter. Those services have been provided at all Council Meetings attended by you since that time with the apparent exception of one meeting. That provision has included the allowance of the interpreter to be present during executive sessions.

III: Shortly before you filed your complaint, the Mayor and Ms. Powell were informed, either through you or your preferred interpreter, that the provisions of such services by an individual for a meeting of more than an hour duration was unduly tiring for the person providing the interpretive services. The City Administration took prompt steps to obtain the services of a second interpreter at such meetings which had the potential of being more than one hour in length. It should be noted that additional contact with another provisioner has indicated it is their experience and opinion that interpretive services for meetings of two hours or less can be provided by a single interpreter without a problem.

Tip (throwin’ this in for free): Alienating a city attorney always leads the list of Great Ways to Win Friends and Influence People. More on this in a minute.

IV: After you filed your complaint, a review of the steps taken, including the services provided, was done. Taking advantage of the material available on the internet, it was confirmed that the basic duty is to make reasonable accommodations so as to provide a person with a disability such as yours an equal opportunity to participate in activities, such as the council meetings. It was also noted in the material that while visual interpreters are one of the possible alternatives, other alternatives such as captioning are also acceptable. However, as you are aware, the City has given primary consideration to the type of assistance you have requested.

See? Told you they’re big bad meanies.

V: The conclusion reached from our review of the requirements and the alternatives was that, while other alternative means of meeting your needs are available and are subject to review, the City’s provision of the interpreter’s service has not only been the method you have requested, but has also met the Act’s requirements.

Bow-Wow Alert: It almost sounds like those big meanies at Montesano City Hall might be tryin’ to do some actual accomodatin.’ Again.

The cc list on Glenn’s letter to Salzer includes Adreta Armstrong of the Washington State Human Rights Commission. As we’ve all heard a zillion times, Salzer filed a complaint with the Commission dated July 7, 2014 alleging “discrimination.” Copies of the original complaint, obtained via public records request, appear below. (Personal info. has been omitted.)

Still with me? Good. Because it’s worth noting that Glenn’s October 13 letter is preceded by another pertinent communiqué from Glenn to our heroine. It’s dated July 2. Glenn is responding to Salzer’s email of June 29. He writes:

I have had a chance to review your email and speak briefly with Mayor Estes and Ms. Powell in relation to your concerns and comments. It is my perception the Mayor was a bit saddened by your not accepting the broad invitation he issued at the Tuesday Council Meeting for anyone with a problem or concern to come meet with him. However, it is an individual choice.

Darn. There go those big city hall meanies again, tryin’ to maintain an open door and two-way communication. You’d almost think they were tryin’ to do some actual accomodatin’. Again. Again.

In any event, it appears there are slightly different memories of certain of the conversations and past events. However, any differences really are not relevant to the fundamental issue. The issue being addressed specifically is assuring the City provides reasonable accommodations to all citizens with handicaps who desire to attend meetings of the Council. It is an issue which is very relevant not only to you, but also the Mayor, who has a hearing loss, and to myself since I have a significant hearing loss. That being said, an individual’s level and nature of hearing loss is a very personal matter.

Dadgummit. There they go again…

As the Mayor makes clear at the beginning of every meeting, the goal of making reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities of any type has been and is a commitment the City has to all.

Don’t look now, but… Well. You know.

For example, it is my understanding the Council Chambers have been equipped with a telecoil so as to allow transmission of the proceedings taking place in the Chambers to those with hearing loss. That commitment has also been shown by the provision at public expense of the services of the interpreter at past meetings.

Seemingly skipping over just about everything else, Salzer pounces on the phrase, “at public expense,” which she notes in her Commission complaint. See “Attached answers for questions” under “Action.” Referencing the “at public expense” phrase in her complaint, Salzer writes:

Which I can only assume it means that the public expense is now too much of a burden and the current accommodations must be modified at the expense of my disability and right to privacy by bringing the “alternatives” to the decision to the rest of my council members.

If the public isn’t paying for this accommodation, who is? Meanwhile, it almost sounds like “the rest of the council members” may be taking their responsibilities seriously as stewards of public funds. And that “right to privacy” thing? Someone not reading her press clippings?

Back to Glenn’s missive:

In terms of having a visual interpreter to continue to insure your ability to fully participate in the future Council sessions, whether regular or executive, I have been assured that will occur. To the extent one was not available a few times in the past, my perception is that was the result of misunderstandings.

In terms of the future, as indicated Ms. Powell has taken the steps to assure that the Council’s meeting for July and August, there will be adequate staffing to make certain your ability to participate will not be reduced as a result of the fatigue of the interpreter. As to further in the future, the Mayor and Ms. Powell are reviewing a number of alternatives which will be presented to the Council. For instance, from your personal standpoint, have you had a chance to test a system broadcasting directly to a headset you would wear to achieve the goal? If not, would you be willing to try such a system out? Of course, the testing would be done well in advance of a Council meeting at which it would be utilized to make certain it provides a satisfactory result. Also, review is being undertaken of other electronic systems, including effectively is a program which immediately translates the comments into a written form which would appear on a screen.

Oh, dear. Anyone heard anything about our heroine willing to hum anything other than the two interpreters mantra?

 The bottom lines are that the City recognizes its responsibilities and will fulfill them. (Emphasis mine.)

Glenn’s final paragraph closes with an FYI regarding copies and communication with the relevant parties.

Inquiring minds want to know how city hall finds time to do much of anything besides look for reasonably accommodatin’ means, methods, and options?

Once more, with feeling: Are there valid misunderstandings between the City and Salzer on this topic? Probably. Miscommunications? Ditto. But active, intentional “discrimination”? Anyone interested in a beachfront bridge in Barstow?

Meanwhile, some Monte residents and others of good will and common sense are seeing the Bow Wow Brigade for what it is: A Bow Wow Brigade desperate for a Glidden-free agenda. (If they’re fresh out of Glidden, don’t worry. They’ll try digging some up somewhere. Or manufacture more.) And what do you know?  Not everyone patronizes the Douggie and Danny Gold Dust Twins Emporium. Shops the Senseless aisle. Or cashes in on Tunnel-Vision two-fers.

Speaking of which: Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Naw. It’s another Super Chihuahua sighting!

Yep, there’s more.

Is this place great, or what?

Bow Wow Alert

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Photo credit: public domain