January 8, 2018
Disability Policy Consortium Weekly Update


Happy New Year.  We hope you had a wonderful holiday season.

We begin the year with an update on recent advocacy efforts at the DPC.  We also have an update on issues at the RIDE.

That banging you heard around the holidays was not Santa Claus bringing presents.  It was Attorney General Jeff Sessions taking a hammer to the civil rights of disadvantaged communities including people with disabilities. 

We have a job opening for you and a fun video from Muscle Beach. 

As always happy reading.

John Winske
Disability Policy Consortium
ADPC Update:  Advocacy 

The year 2017 ended with a bang in the advocacy arena at the DPC.  If you are on the PCA program, you should have received a letter from the Commonwealth informing you of delays in implementing Electronic Visit Verification (EVV).  While expected, it is still good news at the end of this year.

Along with other advocates, we are asking both the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)  and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey to look at our privacy concerns.  We are also working with advocates from across the country who are horrified at what is happening in their states.  In Ohio, consumers received EVV devices with cameras and microphones.

We will continue our leadership in opposing EVV in Massachusetts.

You may remember a recent editorial about things I am not thankful for.   One of them was the new requirements for ID cards to enter One Ashburton Place.  Well .DPC Board member Penny Shaw went to work and soon there was a front page story in the Boston Globe.

Bing, bang, boom and one day later  State Representative Steve Ultrino (D-Malden) and State Senator Barbara L'Italien (D-Andover) announced legislation ensuring no-fee access to state IDs for low-income Massachusetts residents.  The proposal would allow people living below 300% of the federal poverty level to receive a state ID for free.  

Before you could blink an eye, the ACLU and legal service organizations got involved.  It turns out security at Ashburton Place are not only checking IDs they are scanning them and saving digital images.  This is a disturbing development.  We will continue to keep you updated on this issue.

in due time, we will update you on our advocacy agenda for 2018.  Rest assured we will continue our leadership in protecting the rights of all people with disabilities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Net News:  We Was Robbed

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) made it abundantly clear over the holidays that they will not be the greatest backers of disability rights legislation.   They took four separate actions to demonstrate the antipathy of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to our civil rights.

First, the DOJ scrapped more than two dozen guidance documents on civil rights, including eight that pertained to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Then they announced they'd be scrapping all pending rulemaking on Title III of the ADA, including those on accessible websites.

Just for good measure, they also rescinded guidance on Title II - Olmstead.

Finally, this week, Attorney General Sessions  rescinded federal guidance on marijuana.  The former directive discouraged federal prosecutors from enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states where it is legal.  This move gives prosecutors the freedom to crack down on dispensaries.
Net News:  MBTA Removes RIDE Contractor

On December 18th, The Boston Globe had a story that the MBTA and Global Contact Services had "mutually agreed" to end their contract.  Global Contact was brought in to provide scheduling and dispatching services for the entire RIDE area.  They failed miserably and never took over services for the entire area.  You can read the article here.
Net News:  Dancing at Muscle Beach 

We need a warm up story!  This video of integrated break dancing from Venice Beach in California is fabulous.  Hope you like it.
Employment Opportunity:  Part-Time Paralegal  

Prisoners Legal Services (PLS) is seeking an outstanding part time paralegal to concentrate on working to combat staff-on-prisoner assault in Massachusetts jails and prisons. This position will work through PLS' excessive force projects to deter staff-on-prisoner assaults, advocate for impacted prisoners, support PLS' efforts to provide legal services to these prisoners and increase community awareness of this problem.

The paralegal will meet with injured prisoners, usually within 72 hours of report, to interview and photograph injuries, collect documents and give legal advice about the clients' rights. After the prison visit, this position will conduct follow-up advocacy, primarily regarding preservation of evidence and any unmet medical needs from the assault. In those cases that meet the criteria to be considered for litigation, the paralegal will also investigate the prisoners' claims by gathering records generated by the prison or jail in relation to the incident, as well as conducting witness interviews. With supervision, the paralegal and other PLS staff will evaluate completed investigations to determine whether there is sufficient proof to merit litigation. Meritorious cases are litigated, when resources allow, by PLS attorneys or, if possible, are referred to private attorneys. This position is three-fifths time and will share responsibilities with another paralegal, who is two-fifths time. Both project paralegals are supervised by a senior PLS staff member.

Other Qualifications

Must be comfortable having frequent contact with prisoner clients through visits, telephone and letter, and advocating for their needs.

Spanish speakers are strongly encouraged to apply.
  • Excellent organizational, administrative, writing and communication skills are required.
  • Travel to Massachusetts prisons and jails is required. Applicants must have a valid driver's license and regular access to a car.
  • Ability to work cooperatively with a team is required.
  • Ability to speak and write in Spanish strongly preferred.
  • Bicultural, bilingual candidates and people of color are strongly encouraged to apply.
  • Experience working with and advocating for marginalized populations preferred.
  • Attention to detail required.
  • Applicants will be asked to demonstrate professional writing skills by drafting a letter at the time of the interview.
Benefits and Salary

PLS offers salary competitive with the legal services field and commensurate with experience. PLS provides a comprehensive benefits package, including family medical and dental coverage which are pro-rated for this part-time position. Flex time or other alternative arrangements considered. PLS is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

How to Apply

Interested applicants should send a resume, cover letter and three professional references to Al Troisi at atroisi@plsma.org. No phone calls or mail inquiries please.
Calendar:  MCDHH Public Hearing

When:  Saturday, January 20, 2018, 10 A.M. - Noon

Where:   College of the Holy Cross, Hogan Center, Room 320. 1 College Street, Worcester, MA 01610.

MCDHH will hold a public hearing for MCD06, the new contract for American Sign Language Interpreters and Transliterators for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. 

This contract will replace MCD01 when it ends on June 30, 2018. 

This hearing will allow stakeholders an opportunity to comment on the proposed MCD06 contract. Comments and signed videos may also be submitted by email to: jane.sokol.shulman@massmail.state.ma.us  (deadline for comments: 5:00 p.m. on  Tuesday, February 13, 2018 .)
Calendar: 13th Annual "Focus" on Vision Impairment & Blindness Conference:  

When:  Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Where:  Four Points by Sheraton
1125 Boston-Providence Turnpike
Norwood, MA 02062 

Save the Date

13th Annual "Focus" on Vision Impairment & Blindness Conference: Meeting the Needs of Individuals with Intellectual Disability & Vision Loss

‚óŹ Registration Forms available now from "Training": www.focusonvisionandvisionloss.org/conferences--workshops.html

Meg Robertson COMS MA
Director Orientation and Mobility Department
Massachusetts Commission for the Blind
600 Washington St. 3rd Floor
Boston MA 02111
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