State Independent Living Council Discussion Archive

NATSILC: NCIL Rescindes Position and Invitation

Posted by: Lou Diehl
Date Mailed: Thursday, April 17th 2003 08:31 AM

Date: Fri, 14 Mar 2003 22:43:10 EST


Last December, NCIL informed its membership that after consulting with
several attorneys, it had been concluded that NCIL could not pursue legal
action against RSA, that could only be from an organization or state being
directly affected, so they had decided to request that the National
Council on Disability conduct a study. 

In January, participants at the National SILC Congress were told by Troy
Justeson, Disability Policy Liaison for the White House, and Kelly
Buckland, NCIL Vice-Chair, that the only way the problems with RSA's lack
of enforcement of the Rehab Act could be addressed would be for "somebody"
to file a lawsuit. 

The DIMENET continues to provide information and history.  The new
March/April issue of Ragged Edge included an article entitled "Independent
Living:  Stop the fraud and corruption," in which the issues being raised
by the Alliance for Compliance were outlined and folks were encouraged to
learn the law to protect the movement. 

The following information was disseminated to NCIL membership in an e-mail
sent March 14, 2003. 

1.  Update on NCIL'S Pursuit of Legal and other Actions Against RSA for
not Enforcing the Rehabilitation Act. 

This memo is to update the NCIL membership on our work regarding the
pursuit of legal action against RSA and language changes to the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.  NCIL's primary concerns relate
specifically to RSA's lack of enforcement of the Rehabilitation Act, the
autonomy of statewide independent living councils (SILCs), consumer
control in the selection of the SILC Chair, and following the State Plan
for Independent Living (SPIL) as written and approved by each SILC and the
Designated State Unit (DSU.)

Mike Oxford and I met with another lawyer and discussed the continuing
national problems due to RSA's lack of enforcement of the Rehabilitation
Act and NCIL's intent to pursue legal action against RSA.  It was a very
positive meeting, and we discussed the possibility of their assistance in
filing a suit.  NCIL staff and board members have been talking with
legislative staff regarding RSA misinterpretation of the section of the
Act related to the selection of the SILC chair.  NCIL is requesting that
the Act be amended as soon as possible to clarify the congressional intent
of consumer control providing the SILC with the authority to select the
chair from the voting members of the Council. 

NCIL continues to receive and document anecdotal information from various
states related to SILCs being controlled by the DSU, thereby being out of
compliance with the Act as it relates to the autonomy of the SILC. Bob
Michaels has informed NCIL that as a follow up to his yearly SILC survey
work, he is conducting a brief study of the relationship between
individual state (SILC & DSU) recommendations for the distribution of
Title VII Part C funds and their actual allocation. Even though the study
is not connected to NCIL directly, Bob has agreed to share his findings
with us. 

NCIL received a response from its letter to the National Council on
Disability (NCD) regarding our grave concern over RSA's lack of
enforcement of the Rehab Act.  In his reply, Lex Frieden chair of NCD
stated that "NCD recently established an internal work group to address
the reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act. I will share your concerns
with the Council members and I am sure they will be interested in NCIL's
recommendations for the upcoming reauthorization." 

We also received a reply to our request that RSA re-examine its
interpretation of the law related to the selection of the SILC chair (see
attached).  Because of the continuing problems with RSA, and our pursuit
of legal action, I spoke with Commissioner Wilson and informed her that
NCIL is rescinding its invitation for RSA to present at the NCIL

The Annual Conference committee will identify a more suitable workshop to
takethe place of the cancelled "RSA Update Workshop," and will provide the
new workshop topic to NCIL members and individuals registering for the
conference after the next committee call. 

NCIL is committed to stopping the noncompliance problems that continue to
plague CILs and SILCs nationally because of RSA's refusal to enforce the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.  We will keep you updated as we
continue to make progress. 

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. 

Anne-Marie Hughey
Executive Director

In an e-mail dated December 17, 3002, Courtland Townees III, Director of
Advocacy and Public Policy for RSA sent NCIL members a memo dated December
16, 2002 entitled NCIL-RSA Update. 

It said: 

After consulting with several lawyers, we were informed that because RSA's
action or inaction does not affect NCIL directly, NCIL cannot file a suit
against RSA. The suit would need to come from an organization or state
that is being directly affected, such as the recent successful legal
action taken by the Pennsylvania SILC. 

Because of this, NCIL wrote a letter to Lex Frieden, Chair of the National
Council on Disability (NCD) to request that NCD conduct a study, similar
to the ones NCD did related to DOJ enforcement of the ADA and HUD's
enforcement of the Fair Housing Act.  We have also offered to assist them
in setting up hearings around the country. 

NCIL firmly believes that if NCD studies RSA's enforcement of the Rehab
Act, and hold hearings around the country, they will find many of the same
problems NCIL has identified and will be able to report on how these
problems are negatively affecting the independent living movement

Although we are not in a position to pursue legal action, NCIL will
continue to be a strong advocate for the right to have Statewide
Independent Living Councils that are truly autonomous, and retain the
right to select its Chair.  We will continue to fight on! 

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