Sunday, November 05, 2006

City of Cambridge Harasses Guide Dog

1. Summary.
2. Your Editor’s Initial Press / Neighborhood Report (basis of the following, most reported above).
3. Tenant Organizer Response.
4. Editor response.
5. Kathy Podgers provides details.
6. Kathy Podgers on “Disability.”
7. Karen Parker response.

Bob La Trémouille reports:

1. Summary.

Monday night, October 30, 2006, the Cambridge City Council was in its fake environmental mode. I separately report on these hypocrites with regard to tree destruction.

In addition to the people commenting to the Cambridge City Council on the destruction of the Grant Street tree, a regular speaker by the name of Elie Yarden spoke. Mr. Yarden commonly speaks to the City Council. The meaning of his comments are frequently abstruse. I was not listening closely but, apparently, the mayor, chairing the meeting, did not have the slightest idea what Yarden was talking about. After perhaps two minutes, the Mayor asked Yarden to say what item on the agenda he was talking about. Yarden refused. The mayor declared him out of order and when Yarden refused to leave the microphone, the mayor declared a recess and called the police. Yarden left the mike and the meeting resumed.

At the same time, Councilor Decker was in the audience talking to Kathy Podgers. Apparently a staff member had previously informed Kathy that Decker had forgotten to take her allergy pills and asked Kathy to move to the far end of the chamber for the benefit of Decker. Kathy complied with the request. Decker, during the Yarden confusion, went to Kathy and demanded that Kathy leave the room with her dog. Kathy refused.

The mayor ordered Kathy out of the room with her guide dog. Kathy refused. The mayor declared another recess and called the police on her.

I noticed Yarden sitting to my left by a couple of seats. He had left the room and, possibly, after talking with police, returned to the chambers. He was besieged by reporters.

The reporters did not notice that the police had come in and were talking with Kathy about her dog. Kathy has had repeated harassment about her guide dog and carries legal papers supporting her right to bring it with her.

The police left and city officials warned that they would “research” the law.

My past experiences with Cambridge’s research of laws has demonstrated severe bad faith. Their people once tried to keep my name off the ballot because their people refused to obey a very well publicized case in 1998 concerning Jack E. Robinson, a candidate for governor whom people tried to keep off the ballot with alleged defects in nominating signatures. The Supreme Judicial Court very clearly struck that attack. Cambridge Election Officials and the City Solicitor refused to obey this very clear decision with regard to me. To my understanding, the City of Cambridge still refuses to obey the extremely clear Jack E. Robinson decision and will trash completely valid election nomination signatures on that basis.

Kathy has done the smart thing. Thursday, she complained to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

2. Your Editor’s Initial Press / Neighborhood Report (basis of the following, most reported above).

RE: The Police Action at City Council last night - anti-dog and anti-handicapped action

Following up on my telephone discussion last night, I do not know what happened with your reporter on the matter.

What happened was public and semi-public. The public part got the press. The semi-public may have been the real game and got no press interest that I could see.

Publicly, Elie Yarden indulged in a rather general attack on the Cambridge City Council without apparent connection to anything on the agenda. Reeves told him to talk to the agenda. Yarden would not identify what he was talking about.

Reeves called a recess and the police. Yarden left the room.

Not generally noticed was Decker talking to Kathy Podgers and telling Kathy to get Kathy's guide dog out of the chambers. Kathy refused. Kathy has had a number of incidents in which any number of parties have tried to keep her from having her guide dog with her in public.

There was a public exchange between Reeves and Kathy concerning the dog, but which did not to other people in the room seem to be other than an outburst by Kathy. Basically, according to Kathy, Decker went to Reeves, Reeves told her to get the dog out of the chambers and Kathy refused. All that the rest of us really notice was Reeves telling Kathy to be quiet when Kathy was publicly objecting to the order to get out with her dog.

Reeves called another recess with regard to Kathy.

Apparently Yarden spoke with the police outside the Chamber (I have no knowledge, this is just a guess) because he returned to the Chamber quietly sitting there.

The police came into the Chamber in response to the complaint against Kathy. Kathy, because of rather wide bias against the guide dog being with her, carries legal papers on the use of the dog. The police declined to take action against Kathy. That I saw and I was confused as to how the dog got involved until I discussed things with Kathy. To the public, the exchange with Kathy had seemed that Kathy was backing up Yarden, not that it was a "separate" incident, although apparently an incident which occurred under cover of the exchange with Yarden.

The city said they would research the law. The city's research of laws tends to results in distinctive rulings. For example, the city tried to keep me off the ballot once based on the city's bizarre refusal to obey the 1998 Jack E. Robinson ballot case in a gubernatorial nomination. Kathy says that she intends to file a preemptive complaint. Given the record of the City of Cambridge of lack of respect for law that is a good idea.

When Decker could not get Kathy's dog out of the room, Decker left.

My take is that the Podgers incident is a serious human (and animal) rights matter which is part of a continuing series of attacks on her. With regard to Elie, I am not at all positive if he ever told the city council what he was talking about, although he seemed to be telling the people who interviewed him.

Copying Kathy. I do not see Yarden on my list, so I am copying a couple of neighborhood associations who have him on their list.

3. Tenant Organizer Response.

Why do people object to Kathy having a her guide dog with her. Is Kathy a blind person and the dog seeing eye dog or is this just a woman who wants to have her dog with her. If Kathy is blind and the dog is a seeing eye dog then the law requires that she be allowed to have toe dog with her. If she is not blind and the dog is not a seeing eye dog then what basis does she claim she can have the dog with her. What type of dog breed is the dog,

[Ed: Second issue raised, very much not relevant. References to the second issue deleted here and below.]

4. Editor response.

Copying you to Kathy Podgers and the Cambridgeport list for obvious reasons. I would encourage each to reply as they deem fit.

I am copying to others not shown as well and probably will add your comments to my blog deleting identification of you and the comments about the Cambridgeport list.

To me, the attacks on Kathy are part of a package of maximum destruction possible to all beings who are not human beings. The destructive people cannot kill every dog in the city, so they simply do their best to regulate them to death.

Animals in general are subject to destructive behavior by destructive people. Period.

That is the real reason for the outrages at Fresh Pond and on the Charles River. The people who behave like that deserve to be condemned. These are the people who are destroying our world.

As far as Kathy goes, Kathy has physical problems which require the use of a guide dog, and that is pretty much the end of the discussion.

5. Kathy Podgers provides details.

Kathy gave the following response to the above:


In response to the question raised about my "dog", legally, my service animal is not a pet, but a service animal. The city constantly refers to it as a dog, to avoid using the legal and apropiate term.

My service animal is a purebred siberian husky, 3 years old, and is trained to help me with my locomotion. One think she does is help me to "get up" so I don't trip, or fall, also she helps me walk, as one of the symptome of my disability, liver disease, is profound fatigue. I also have several severe diseases of the spine, including radiculitis, which means inflamation of the nerve roots. My neck has "collapsed" I have lost 4" of my height, and when the spine, esp the neck become irritated, the nerve roots becomew inflamed. This is not felt as a pain in the neck, but as pain, and weakness in the extremities, such as feeling like I have a broken arm, or my foot can't "feel" the ground. I can soon feel "sea sick" and "loose my balance" so the service animal can walk in front of me, and "part the crouds" so folks don't bump into me, provided a steady "pull" so I have a "counter weight", well, I cound go on and on.

I selected the husky because their temperment is just what I need for my disability, and because huskies are not territorial, so she does not "protect" me from agressive people, and does not bark or growl to "protect" her territory. So if folks yell at me, lean over me, she is not "provoked" to "defend or protect" me. she is beautiful and friendly, and most folks love her, and want to pet her.

Both Mass State law and city ordinences re service animals are non compliant with the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1990, public law 1990, also known as The Americans With Disabilities Act, the ADA.

The ADA trumps both state and local law. neither the state nor the city is allowed to have writen policies or unwriten "practices" that discriminate against people with disabilities as defined by the ADA. It is difficult to meet the definition, and I do. The ADA protects the "person" from exclusion, and segregation, based on their disability, and provides that the person must be allowed to have service animal accompianied them any place the publ;ic is allowed. Alergies and fear are not reasons to exclude a person using a service animal. If a persons alergie is so severe that it rises to the level of a disability as defined by the ADA, the person using the service animal can be seated away from the person with the alergy. In the case of the public meeting, the City is required to accomodate both equally, and not exclude one or the other. Guide dogs, dog guides, hearing dogs, seisure dogs, all are examples of "service animals" as are monkies, cats, birds, etc.

It is not about the dog. A seeing eye dog can not be allowed to attend a meeting where pets are not allowed if the person with the guide dog is not blind. The dog must be trained to perform a task for the person with the disability.

If anyone has any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

6. Kathy Podgers on “Disability.”

I was asked, in an e-mail, about Decker's "disability." This is my response. (This e-mail is blind copied to quite a few selected individuals.)

I do not know if Decker's disability raises to the level that would afford her protection under the ADA, and no one has made that claim to date.

On Oct 16th, [Cambridge City Employee] Sandy informed me, outside of City Council chambers, that Decker's allergies were bothering her because she had not taken her medication, and asked me if I would mind moving to the far side and back of the public seating area in Sullivan Chamber. I did not ask about the degree of Decker's allergies, and I agreed to move, for which Sandy thanked me. I agreed to move "as if" I had been told that her allergy was so severe that it was a disability as defined by the ADA. By that act I already agreed to accommodate her allergy as though it were a qualified disability. I did not violate her privacy by making unessary inquiries into the nature of her allergy, nor inquire if she had a disability, which might be a violation of law.

The law should not "pit" one person's disability against another's, and if in fact Decker should claim the city must provide her an accommodation based upon her disability, she would need to show, or at least claim that she had a disability as defined by the ADA. The City could not provide her an accomodation by refusing to provide an equal one for me. That is why I agreed to sit in the back and the far side of the room, because I rfesponded "as if" they had told me she was disabled and protected from discrimination by the ADA. That is the accomodation they requested, and I did agree to it.


7. Karen Parker response.


I am sorry this happened to Kathy, hope you are well, this Decker woman is crazy and so aren't the other city counselors, I wouldn't even put them into the category of city councilors, buffoons is probably a better description. [Comment on other issues omitted.]