Testimony of Bruce Darling on behalf of ADAPT at the August 22 DOL Listening Session

Testimony of Bruce Darling on behalf of ADAPT at the August 22 DOL Listening Session

The Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed changes in federal labor rules that will have a significant negative impact on people with disabilities. These changes will most seriously impact people who have the most significant disabilities and rely on Medicaid services to live in the community.

Labor advocates have urged people to support these rules to assure that attendants get paid minimum wage and are paid time-and-a-half for overtime work. The disability community recognizes the invaluable role that attendants play, but the proposed changes will have a serious negative impact on people with disabilities and not improve the lives of attendants.

The proposed changes will force seniors and people with disabilities into institutions!

Increasing the cost of home and community based services by requiring overtime pay, without increasing the Medicaid rates or raising the Medicaid caps for available funding, will result in a reduction in hours of personal assistance, forcing some people with disabilities into unwanted institutionalization. The Department of Labor, itself, identified that some people would be forced into institutions because of these rules.

There are a number of different ways that the rules will promote institutionalization.

1. Individuals with significant disabilities on individually-capitated waivers may find that the additional costs generated by these proposed rules will exceed the established cap, forcing them to go without needed services or be institutionalized. It should be noted that when individuals go without needed services, they are most-likely just delaying institutionalization.

2. When there is an overall aggregate cap established for the group of individuals being served, increasing individual costs results in an overall decrease in the available hours of support which may not directly result in the institutionalization of specific individuals based on their individual cost but will impact the ability of these programs to meet the needs of people with the most significant disabilities.

3. When an individual receives services and supports through a Medicaid state plan benefit – like the Personal Care Option, states may not immediately reduce services, but eventually will need to contain increased costs and will most likely do so by reducing the availability of services.

4. Alternatively, these proposed changes will result in caps on the hours the attendants may be allowed work, reducing the available workforce. Because Medicaid and Medicare rates are not being increased to cover the additional cost associated with these changes, states and home care agencies will simply limit the hours attendants can work. Although some attendants who currently work more than 40 hours a week will choose to work for multiple agencies in order to match their current standard of living, the complexity of managing schedules through multiple agencies and the increased travel time will mean that overall, they will have fewer hours available to work.

5. Some attendants – who can no longer make a good living doing this work because their hours are capped – will simply choose to stop doing it and seek other employment. This will likely impact people living in areas with a high cost of living as well as consumer directed programs which draw from a wider pool of workers.

6. Family and friends frequently who work as attendants in consumer directed programs generally won’t do attendant services for a stranger. Consequently, limiting the hours that these attendants may be paid as attendants so overtime costs are not incurred will significantly reduce this vital component of the attendant workforce.

7. Limiting the hours that trusted family and friends may work will impact individuals living with their families where the family may not want to bring strangers into their home. By limiting the hours of those trusted attendants, some families will choose to institutionalize a loved one rather than have strangers come into their homes.

8. These changes will disproportionately impact attendant service users in rural, frontier and tribal communities. There is a shortage of a traditional attendant workforce in these communities where consumer directed services provided by family and friends have filled the gap. These proposed rules will likely cap the hours of those workers and worsen the workforce issues. Additionally, the new requirement that attendants be paid for travel time between cases could further reduce the availability attendant services as home care organizations will simply choose not to schedule attendants to work for multiple people in the same day or with an individual who doesn’t live within close proximity to other individuals.

9. Non-English speakers are another group of people who will be disproportionately impacted by these rules. Often elders who do not speak English and need assistance are underserved by traditional providers, often relying on friend and family attendants who can provide culturally-competent assistance. Limiting the hours their attendants can work will destabilize their services and may result in institutionalization.

10. Individuals with the most significant disabilities have the most hours of service and often require consistent coverage, therefore they are most likely to generate the need to pay overtime. Consequently, to limit risk, state programs, managed care companies and home care agencies will likely try to limit their exposure to this risk by limiting enrollment of individuals with more significant disabilities or will discharge individuals with significant disabilities who generate overtime payments – most likely when such individuals are hospitalized and the home care organizations can indicate that the reason for discharge is “safety”.

11. The Department of Labor acknowledged that these rules may impact “continuity of care” but that disruption in services is likely to have serious consequences for attendant service users with the most significant disabilities – like those who use ventilators. While it may be unpleasant for some people to bring strangers into their homes, cutting the hours of long-term, knowledgeable attendants for these individuals may have dire consequences.

12. Finally, because the Department of Labor has indicated that it will not enforce this rule on households that privately and directly pay their attendants, these households will continue to be able to offer premium shifts of extended hours, drawing attendants away from Medicaid-funded programs, further reducing the available workforce to support people with significant disabilities living in the community.

The proposed changes will negatively impact our attendants!

While we have highlighted how these changes will hurt people with disabilities and promote institutionalization, we are equally concerned with the negative impact that these rules will have on our attendants. For every person with a disability who would be hurt by these proposed rule changes there is an attendant who is hurt as well. While we face the loss of our freedom and independence, our attendants face the loss of income and their financial stability. Some will lose large amounts of money – like in California and New York – where some attendants may have their earnings cut in half, in some cases losing $20K a year. Others, who may only work a few hours over 40 in a week, face more dire circumstances. Even though these attendants may lose significantly fewer dollars, those dollars are needed for necessities like shelter, food and clothing. We stand together in opposing these changes because they will hurt all of us.

The proposed changes will devastate consumer directed programs which are consistent with the intent of the original exemption!

The Department of Labor did not adequately assess the impact of their proposed rules on consumer directed programs. In their analysis, the Department of Labor stated that “There is no consolidated source of data on state consumer-directed programs”. That is absurd. There are several national resources devoted to the services within the disability community and DOL would have known that if it had effectively engaged the disability community in drafting the proposed rules.

The DOL analysis mischaracterizes consumer directed services and fails to assess the impact that the proposed changes will have on that system for providing services and supports to people with disabilities.

In the proposed rule, the Department dramatically mischaracterizes the nature, scope, and intent of consumer directed (also referred to as self-directed) personal assistance and minimizes the prescribed role of the consumer (or designated representative) in that model. DOL asserts that consumer directed personal services are “over-the-back- fence network of women [who are] usually untrained, unscreened, and unsupervised, but more affordable without an agency’s fee, less constrained by regulations and hired through personal recommendation” (RIN 1235–AA05, page 81208). This statement is categorically untrue, and completely misrepresents the model.

It is our understanding that the Department of Labor has decided to determine who is the “employer” using an economic determination, which would determine that the agency is the employer in the vast majority of consumer directed programs. Even though the individual hires, trains, supervises, and dismisses their attendants. This approach disenfranchises the vast majority of people with disabilities who receive Medicaid services.

Because DOL did not look at consumer directed personal assistance services, it was unable to consider the consistency between consumer directed services and Congressional intent regarding the exemption. The Congressional Committee on Education and Workforce’s Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held a hearing on “Ensuring Regulations Protect Access to Affordable and Quality Companion Care .” That hearing provided useful insight into the Department’s interpretation of Congressional intent.

At the hearing, Ms. Leppink, on behalf of the Department, noted that the reason for the original “carve out” of companionship services from the extension of the FLSA to domestic services employment, back in 1974, was due to an understanding that companions “were typically friends, neighbors, or fellow parishioners of the individual receiving the companionship services, performing the services in those roles and not as employees engaged in a vocation.” These workers performed the services for the purpose of providing care to their specific friend or family member; not as typical employees engaged in a vocational path toward health care services.

The Department’s description of the original “carve out” is, in fact, extremely consistent with the description of consumer directed services. In a consumer directed model, the majority of attendants are not focused on career paths and professionalization, but rather are focused on providing transfers, meal preparation, and suctioning to their cousin (for example) so they do not have to go into a nursing facility. This workforce is not concerned about securing overtime, but rather making sure the necessary hours and supports are provided for their family or friend to remain independent at home.

It is clear, even in the DOL analysis, that the consumer directed model is based on a non-traditional workforce. In looking at the Cash and Counseling demonstration states, DOL notes that in New Jersey and Arkansas, the percentage of paid family and friend attendants is 71 percent and 78 percent respectively (RIN 1235–AA05, page 81209). Even in Florida, family caregivers are a prominent component of the consumer directed workforce as 58 percent of attendants hired under the Florida program were family members or friends. DOL notes that 80 percent of these family caregivers had previously provided unpaid assistance to the individual with a disability prior to becoming involved in the Cash and Counseling demonstration program (RIN 1235– AA05, page 81210).

We can look more closely at these non-traditional attendants’ perceptions of their work and their motivations. According to an analysis of worker’s satisfaction in the consumer directed program in Arkansas, “Despite receiving modest (and sometimes late) pay and almost no fringe benefits, about 45 percent of directly hired workers reported being very satisfied with their wages and benefits; only 16 percent reported being dissatisfied. In contrast, 22 percent of agency workers reported being very satisfied with their wages and fringe benefits, whereas 38 percent reported being dissatisfied. Thus, although policymakers might be concerned that directly hired workers receive inadequate wages and benefits, the workers themselves are fairly satisfied with their compensation, especially in comparison with agency workers.” (“The Experiences of Workers Hired Under Consumer Direction in Arkansas”, June 2003)

More recently, PHI released a study (“Self-Determination and the MI Choice Medicaid Waiver Program: A survey of direct-care workers people using the MI Choice self-determination option”, October 2011) that clearly demonstrated the applicability of the companionship exemption to consumer directed services. PHI found that, “The most popular motivation for people choosing to work for a self-directed participant is that a family member or friend needed support (78%), followed by personal satisfaction (55%)…”

These are not career attendants who are seeking opportunities for advancement in the field. They are concerned family members and friends who are willing to help this individual. DOL doesn’t acknowledge the consistency with the original companionship exemption or consider the impact that this change would have on those family members who provide critical supports to individuals.

There are practical problems with implementing these rules within consumer directed models. For example, when an attendant works for multiple consumers within a consumer directed system, there is no clear understanding of which consumer would be responsible for paying the travel time between jobs. Additionally, because the fiscal intermediary doesn’t manage the schedule, they are unable to control the utilization of overtime. Although they could modify the wage structure to accommodate time-and-a-half for overtime, not all attendants work those hours and such changes would hurt those attendants. Additionally, some areas have living wage laws that require a wage much higher than the minimum which makes time-and-a-half completely unaffordable.

Consumer directed fiscal intermediaries – like those in New York State – have expressed concerns that the proposed rules undermine the model because they will require fiscal intermediaries in the state to assume responsibilities that had previously been done by consumers. Even Independence Care Systems – a managed care organization sponsored by PHI – doesn’t require or fund time-and-a-half wages in the contracts it has with consumer directed fiscal intermediaries! PHI’s organization has applied these rules to agency-managed services, but has been unable to develop a sustainable model for applying time-and-a-half to consumer directed services. This clearly demonstrates that consumer directed services must be addressed separately.

The process used to develop these rules violated Executive Order 13563 – Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review – signed by President Obama in January 2011!

Executive Order 13563 – Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review – established an expectation that “Before issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking, each agency, where feasible and appropriate, shall seek the views of those who are likely to be affected, including those who are likely to benefit from and those who are potentially subject to such rulemaking.” Despite this explicit requirement in the Executive Order, the Department of Labor never worked with the disability community, including ADAPT and groups representing people with disabilities who use consumer directed personal assistant services. After the Obama Administration released the proposed rules and in response to the public outcry from the disability community, there have been meetings – such as this one – where the administration has “listened” to the concerns being raised by the community. However, because the rule-making process had already been initiated, there has been no dialogue between the administration and the disability community.

ADAPT and the National Council on Independent Living have proposed a compromise that would allow President Obama to keep his promise to modify these rules, while holding consumer directed programs harmless from the changes. The ADAPT-NCIL compromise would simply eliminate the exemption for third party employers, treating Medicaid consumers who function as the employer under a common law assessment, as private employers. This change, alone, would eliminate the companionship exemption for 70% of home care workers, while minimizing the negative impact on people with disabilities. This would then allow the Department of Labor to sit down with representatives from the disability community to craft additional changes to the rule in a manner that minimizes the negative impact on people with disabilities.

We have proposed this compromise as a show of good faith that we are trying to find a path to move forward while giving the disability community an opportunity to come to the table as full partners in developing the rules which will impact consumer directed services. During our Spring Action, ADAPT secured meetings with SEIU and AFSCME which pledged to bring proposals to the table which would address our concerns. We have been engaged in substantive meetings to develop an approach we can all support.

We have heard that the administration intends to finalize the rules around Labor Day. This listening session – where we have three minutes to explain the complex impact of these proposals – should not signal the end of a process that has disempowered and steam-rolled over the disability community. It should be the start of a process that fully engages us.

The ADAPT Community

For more information, including our original comments on the proposed rules go to: www.DOLoffMYbody.org<http://www.doloffmybody.org/>

Kilroy/T.K. was here…

Once again, the Internets have come through big time!  For some reason, recently I was thinking about how my father would scribble his version of the “Kilroy was here” image in various places, and his explanation for the drawing.  This image and story has always struck me as funny and I had to confirm this information.  As it turns out, there is a dedicated website for everything you could possibly want to know about “Kilroy was here“.  Practically everyone associated with the World War II generation is familiar with this story, and it was definitely part of my father’s consciousness.  He even had a cat named “Kilroy”.

Later that same afternoon, I was delivering some homemade kimchi to my friends Alejandra Ospina and Nick Dupree, who live in lower Manhattan.  Alejandra and Nick are a more than interesting couple and both are very computer savvy!  By way of explanation, Alejandra seems to be everywhere all over the Internet and is an administrator/liaison for an online community called GimpGirl; Nick is a cartoonist, writer and student, who creates his art using a trackball mouse and Photoshop software to publish his work online at superdude.org

T.K. was here

T.K. was here

This visit started me to think about how I used to draw quite often and it sparked a creative urge related to the aforementioned Kilroy.  Apart from the artistic component, I am compulsive and I wanted to see whether I could dip my toe into visually creative waters once again.  So as to not to bite off more than one can chew, all I wanted to produce with my first computer drawing effort was to change “Kilroy” to “T.K.”.  In a way, I had a head start with this effort because I had already “borrowed” the “Kilroy was here” image and then converted the image to a bitmap file. From there, I inserted the graphics file into a Microsoft FrontPage document and inserted the “T.K.” by figuring out how to draw lines and move them around.  Next, I took a screenshot of my progress and then opened it up in the primitive “Paint” program to save it in a JPEG format.  Finally I went back to my photo editing software to crop the image. Talk about an absolutely crazy computer work around effort…!

In the end, this whimsical project was a lot of fun.  If you are wondering, being self aggrandizing is far underrated and figuring out the different steps in this process was an interesting exercise.  Everyone should do something creative every day creative…!

Recent hiatus

It’s hard to believe that it has been more than four months since my last posting.  During that time there was the frenzy of the holiday season, but also, I had some nagging medical problems and I had to take care of the most difficult experience of my life when my father, Neal E. Small, passed away on January 7, 2012. 


Neal E.  Small was a proud and loving father to me and my sister Lucy and, in addition to (or despite) being an attorney, he had many interests beyond the law.  Among his eclectic list of interests were: everything nautical, history, writing, politics, poetry photography, painting, tools and woodworking, science and engineering, inventions, etc.. In short, he was a Renaissance man.


As I have explained to people recently, my father was my biggest champion, supporter and best friend.  Particularly for people with severe disabilities, the relationship between a parent and child is especially strong and it definitely was between my father and me.  Hopefully in the near future I will have time to properly describe our bond.


In the meantime, I have been gradually getting back into work and have been participating in a national systemic advocacy issue by encouraging people to “Tell the US Department of Labor to work with the Disability Community!“.  This effort is part of a national campaign to submit comments to the US Department of Labor in explanation of our opposition to these regulatory changes.  For further information, take a look at the background information provided by the Center for Disability Rights


Back in December, the Obama administration proposed amending the US Department of Labor regulations concerning home care workers. Under the current rules, home care workers are not subject to the ordinary overtime rules. This is called the “companionship exemption” to the Fair Standards Labor Act. The regulatory change that the US Department of Labor is considering is to eliminate the companionship exemption; workers would then theoretically be entitled to be paid overtime pay for everything over 40 hours per week. 


However, basically every state and local government is on the verge of bankruptcy, so the prospect of home care workers actually getting paid overtime is a pipe dream at best.  If these regulatory changes go through, what will probably result is an unofficial cap in the hours that a worker can put in per week.  On a personal note, two of my personal care assistants will have their pay reduced.  Thank you Pres. Obama!

The Importance of Community


This week I attended three separate events which caused me to slow down and acknowledge the importance of community.  Throughout the week of October 16-22, I participated in the Occupy Wall Street demonstration, the Concepts of Independence Inc. Annual Gala and ending the week on Saturday, I went to a memorial service for a friend named Michael Imperiale, who recently passed away.  One might think that there is not much connection between these events, but they would be mistaken.  Within the disability community practically every event tends to illustrate our similar spirit and identity.

According to Miriam Webster, “community” is defined as:

1: a unified body of individuals: as a : state, commonwealth b : the people with common interests living in a particular area; broadly : the area itself <the problems of a large community> c : an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location d : a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society <a community of retired persons> e : a group linked by a common policy f : a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests <the international community> g : a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society <the academic community>
2: society at large
3: a joint ownership or participation <community of goods> b : common character : likeness <community of interests> c : social activity : fellowship d : a social state or condition.

Almost all aspects of the definition above were present in all of these events.

Like many people in America that are frustrated with the economy, government, and a whole host of corporate malfeasance, people with disabilities are no different.  So, when the burgeoning Occupy Wall Street movement started to take hold, many were intrigued and wanted to get involved, myself included.  Finally, people are coming together in opposition to the Tea Party/Ayn Rand activists.  Naturally, I wanted to know more.  Soon I discovered that other disabled people were interested too.  In NYC, a group of activists with disabilities have given themselves on Facebook the name “Krips Occupy Wall Street” and have pledged to meet at Zuccotti Park every Sunday.  While I probably won’t be able to go every weekend, I was there last week.  People with disabilities have historically been discriminated against and marginalized in practically every aspect of society.  Whether it is segregated education, a healthcare system that promotes nursing homes and the institutional bias, or the disproportionate rate of unemployment and poverty within our community, if there is one group that should be demanding our rights and accountability, it is the disability community.  To be part of that effort was fantastic!

By way of background information for those that don’t know, Concepts of Independence Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that administers the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program here in NYC.  Concepts was the first such organization of its kind in the country to allow people with disabilities to hire, train, manage and control the care that an individual receives in the home.  After nearly 30 years, Concepts has become the model across the country.  Under the Consumer Directed model, people with disabilities have the freedom to live independently and notably, in these tight budgetary times, this type of care is less expensive.  Under this care delivery model, Personal Assistants are allowed to perform tasks which ordinarily must be completed by trained medical professionals, which is where the savings are generated.  For most of the people that were in attendance at the Concepts Gala, we share a common experience of fighting for our independence and living independently successfully.  While our disabilities are all very different, it is our desire to live freely that binds us together.

Michael Imperiale in Washington Square Park

The memorial for Michael Imperiale was held in the community room where Disabled In Action meets, which is more than appropriate, given that Michael was a long-standing member.  Disabled In Action (cofounded by Judy Heumann) was one of the earliest disability rights groups and Michael was involved from the beginning.  Michael had a zest for life that few can match, but everyone should emulate.  Michael had a definite connection in a large segment of the NYC disability community.  Although Michael wasn’t a leader in the traditional sense, he was undeniably a strong disability rights activist.  He attended practically every demonstration that I can remember over the past 20 years and at public meetings, Michael will be remembered for his unique ability to speak directly and get to the most important point.  I will always remember his comment at a NYS Department of Health meeting, “Don’t you understand?  This is about choice!”.  Michael’s statement is exactly what people with disabilities are fighting for all across this country and it is part of our common consciousness.

The foregoing description of the disability community is something that should be celebrated and not viewed, as by some non-disabled people, that our lives are difficult and not worth much.  I love the sense of commonality that I experience with other people with disabilities.  For instance, rolling down a sidewalk and making eye contact with another chair user, there is usually a slight nod, or smile of acknowledgment and recognition.  In a sense, we have all rolled in each other’s path.  For me, being connected with my fellow disabled brothers and sisters is important.  The disabled community has shaped the person I have become and I am lucky to be part of this vibrant community.

CLASS is Out

Recently I wrote a blog posting entitled “Thoughts on Occupy Wall Street” and, in rereading this piece, it struck me that the most important part of my earlier message was the part where I express my hope that the Occupy Wall Street movement ultimately results in a society that promotes “accountability of all those in power”. This week we saw another striking example of why this objective is so desperately important.

Specifically, I am talking about the Obama administration’s telling abandonment in implementing the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, which was part of his overall healthcare reform package.  By way of background, the CLASS Act was to be a voluntary, long-term care insurance program promoted by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.  Like other types of insurance, the CLASS Act was intended to create an insurance program for individuals to pay into a pool and at some point in the future participants could draw benefits to supplement long-term care, whether community-based or institutional.  Obviously the CLASS Act would primarily assist working people.  In complement of the CLASS Act was another piece of legislation called the Community Choice Act, which intends to eliminate the current institutional bias favoring nursing homes and institutions under Medicaid.

Clearly the CLASS Act and the Community Choice Act are related and should have been included in the omnibus health care reform legislation together.  In fact, during the 2008 presidential campaign, the then Sen. Obama specifically mentioned the imperative of the Community Choice Act with a video message explaining his disability platform.  On a personal note, it was this very commitment by Sen. Obama which made me support his candidacy.  There were many people like myself who took this as a strong endorsement of the civil rights of Americans with disabilities; in essence, a promise to support our freedom.  For the first time the disability community felt that there was someone on the way to Washington who would be working on our behalf. 

In the now famous Martin Luther King, Jr.I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. King speaks about the national obligation to fulfill a “promissory note” to the African American community.  In a direct parallel, President Obama has given a “promissory note” to the disability community to advance our civil rights to live in the mainstream community and has so far defaulted.  There were thousands of people that worked tirelessly to get Pres. Obama elected, largely as a result of his very public support for the Community Choice Act.  Yet, with the sausage making/health care reform negotiations of 2009-10, the needs of our community were once again forgotten. 

For me, it is not so much the abandonment of the CLASS Act that is indicative of the systemic betrayal to the disability community but rather, it was Pres. Obama’s failure to include and fight for the Community Choice Act that rubs me the wrong way.  From the beginning, I thought that the CLASS Act was a distraction and not that great an idea.  The CLASS Act was nothing more than tinkering around the edges.  Real health care reform needs to include community-based, long-term care services as part of the social contract.  Holding Pres. Obama and all other politicians accountable for this omission is one reason will will why I support the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Thoughts on Occupy Wall Street

My legal practice is in the area of promoting the civil rights of people with disabilities.  As such, I pay very close attention to public policy and practically everything related to politics. Both personally and professionally, I am supportive of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement.  I support this burgeoning movement, not because I agree with them completely, but rather, because so far they have been the only opposing voice to entrenched power and the Tea Party.  For many in the disability community, the Tea Party and Ayn Rand inspired activists are simply too scary. 

As an example of my concerns, consider long-term care i.e., nursing homes.  Medicaid usually pays the monthly bill for people in nursing homes, but on the other side, in many instances, these institutions are owned by publicly traded, for-profit companies.  Consequently, there is a financial benefit to the owners of nursing homes to keep people warehoused, often against their will.  Under federal Medicaid rules, states are required to pay for nursing home expenses, but they are not required to pay for services provided in the community.  This results in many states simply deciding not to pay for and provide care in the community.  

Another factor behind the institutional bias is the unions representing nursing home employees.  Politicians are so desperate to curry favor with the healthcare unions that they will do anything to “protect jobs” and get reelected.  We saw this most recently under Gov. Andrew Cuomo with his Medicaid Redesign efforts; New Yorkers with disabilities were largely shut out of the “Redesign” process and bracing for some awful policies headed our way.

In New York State alone, there are approximately 10,000 people in nursing homes, under the age of 65, that have expressed a desire to live in the community and, who by all objective medical standards, could live in the community safely and at a cheaper cost to taxpayers.  In other states, the statistics are even more biased in favor of institutions and I have two friends that moved from Alabama to New York because they were looking at being forced into a nursing home.

Gradually more coherent objectives will get fleshed out and I do not expect perfection right out of the gate.  Organizers on the right have been fine-tuning their arguments since the early 60s.  If it takes the OWS a little longer than a few evening news cycles to express their message, it’s okay with me.  What I hope ultimately results from the OWS movement is a series of principled policies that promote real accountability of all those in power, whether they are on Wall Street, politics/government, lobbyists or any organization which puts its self-interest above that of the individual.

For the time being, as the saying goes, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” and that is enough for me.

Violent Public Comments

As I have tried to explain to people, my work is somewhat nebulous and follows how the media covers people with disabilities.  Certainly, as an attorney I represent individuals and organizations, but of late I’ve been more interested in taking a more public role through my work as cohost of the Largest Minority Radio Show on WBAI.

In today’s New York daily news, there was a perfect example of something suggested by the title for this posting.  In an article entitled “It’s no Garden of Eden! Residents say adult home is abusing them” the story of a horrible adult home was conveyed. 

One might think that the average reader would be outraged and demand that more be done to help the residents.  Not so!  As is seen all too often, under the protection of anonymity, readers feel absolutely comfortable basically blaming the victims.  Without going into a comprehensive data analysis, I have seen this phenomena in a broad spectrum of publications.  Maybe this is simply part of the “human condition”.  But, it is important to at least be aware that this occurs.


I have been an Attorney since 1994, practicing primarily in the field of Disability Law and is a graduate of Long Island University and Brooklyn Law School. Additionally, I cohost a radio program called “The Largest Minority” on WBAI, New York, 99.5 FM in NYC.

Apart from my interest areas mentioned above, I also have my own blog.  While my writing will probably be related to the topic areas suggested above, I wouldn’t rule anything out.  Please check out my blog here.