Added on by Erick Grau.

Right before Christmas, the Department of Justice rescinded key protections for disabled workers.



On the Thursday afternoon before the Christmas holidays, Attorney General Jeff Sessions' Department of Justice rescinded 25 guidance documents that the department found "unnecessary, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper." The list included 10 texts on disability rights, including one as recent as 2016 (i.e. hardly out of date). This recent document codified the labor rights of disabled people as they move from sheltered workshops paying sub-minimum wage into the integrated economy. Its deletion represents the latest effort of the Trump administration to roll back disability protections in the 21st century.

The Americans With Disabilities Act was never meant to be run by lawsuits. Instead, since 1992, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has been releasing technical assistance documents in order to explain disability-related civil rights obligations in plain language. The goal is to preemptively answer questions, but also to provide a model for consistency across the country. Private citizens and judges use these documents, as do people working on disability-related services in public, non-profit, and for-profit sectors. In the two and a half decades since the ADA became law, the DOJ has offered guidelines on how to move people with disabilities out of institutional living, and out of segregated, disabled-people-only work environments: Instead of being told that, as a person with a disability, you have to live in a special facility and work only where special arrangements have been made, the ADA guarantees you the right to live and work wherever reasonable accommodations make that possible. This is a matter of basic disability justice, but also protects disabled people from abusive living situations and exploitative work environments.

The 2016 text in question (archived here) boasts the unassuming title, "Statement of the Department of Justice on Application of the Integration Mandate of Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act and Olmstead v. L.C. to State and Local Governments' Employment Service Systems for Individuals With Disabilities." It was designed after a laborious process to help people with disabilities, disability-service providers, employers, and government agencies understand their legal obligation to create pathways to good jobs for disabled Americans. It represented the end of a long process of figuring out how a landmark Supreme Court decision on integrated housing might apply to work. The Olmstead decision from 1999, authored by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, ruled that states must place people with disabilities in community living if "treatment professionals have determined that community placement is appropriate, the transfer from institutional care to a less restrictive setting is not opposed by the affected individual, and the placement can be reasonably accommodated." In plain language, the court ruled that states must create clear pathways for people with disabilities to live in their own homes or group homes located within their communities, rather than isolating them in segregated institutions. Over time, Olmstead has been interpreted to apply to workplaces as well.

Meanwhile, workplaces are just as potentially isolated as live-in institutions, and there's also a risk of economic exploitation of disabled people's labor. Segregated workshops are legally allowed to pay disabled workers pennies per hour. They are incredibly lucrative, and often their owners use their wealth to buy political access. But in 2015, a class action suit in Oregon (Lane v. Brown) and a consent decree in Rhode Island resulted in the new DOJ guidelines: Basically, everyone deserves an opportunity to work in integrated settings. That's only possible if education systems, workplaces, and housing providers play by the same sets of rules governing the public and private mechanisms of disability rights work together. Before 2016, I was optimistic about our chances to wholly reform work opportunities for people with disabilities, so that each person would maximize their potential. Now it's anyone's guess what's going to happen next.

I spoke over the phone to Eve Hill, former deputy assistant attorney general for the DOJ's Civil Rights Division. Hill tells me that technical assistance around the ADA is vital for everyone involved. Removing it doesn't change the law; "the law is the law," she says. But when people don't understand that law, access to services can be threatened, and the courts become the only recourse. Hill says she's angry because the Trump administration is taking away a proactive and "helpful approach," leaving confusion (and the likelihood of litigation) in its wake.

The Sessions DOJ claims to have deleted the guidance documents in order to "afford further discussion with relevant stakeholders, including public entities and the disability community, as to how best to provide technical assistance in this area." That discussion, however, has already taken place. Hill tells me that career Justice appointees (not political appointees) led the way on the 2016 document after talking to "people in sheltered workshops, sheltered workshop providers, parents, people who were formerly in sheltered workshops, people in competitive employment, vocational rehab providers, educators, everyone." There's been plenty of discussion already—and the suggestion that deleting these documents was in the best interests of disabled people is deeply misleading.

What seems to be really happening, according to Hill and numerous other disability rights advocates to whom I spoke, is that the Sessions Department of Justice is siding with sheltered workshops. Sessions has a well-known general antipathy to federal enforcement of disability rights, so he's the perfect figure to use in rolling back this Olmstead guidance. Here, we merely have to follow the money. As Hill notes, "People who pay people with disabilities below the minimum wage get contracts that pay the regular fair market value even though they pay below minimum wage." Many sheltered workshops are extremely profitable enterprises, grossing considerable income from the work itself, while presenting themselves to the public as educational or charitable enterprises.


Vote for Good Sister on FanBoy Festival for Best Shorts!!!

Added on by Erick Grau.

After months of anticipation, the Fan Boy Film Festival which nominated Good Sister for Best Short - is OPEN for VIEWING and VOTING.

We are thrilled and honored to have been nominated and we wish to congratulate the producer for being a top choice in this fetival.

 Vote for GOOD SISTER!!!

Vote for GOOD SISTER!!!

Check out Good Sister and VOTE!!!!!  HERE

Remember viewing is FREE! There is no charge to viewers. All anyone has to do is sign-up for a Fan Boy account and they’ll have access to stream over 850 films! That’s a pretty good deal. Share the Fan Boy Film Festival with your friends, family and social media networks because come on who doesn’t like FREE movies



A tribute to the women who fueled the Arsenal of Democracy

Added on by Erick Grau.

In 1942, Mildred Crow Sargent was a teenage mother from Tennessee who migrated to Detroit to work in an aircraft assembly plant as part of America's massive mobilization for World War II.

And, as she told a New York University "Real Rosie the Riveter" history project in 2010, she was "the fastest riveter" in the place.

So fast that the plant managers encouraged her to slow production down a bit.

Sargent said she replied: "Those soldiers (on the battlefield) can't slow production. If someone comes at them with a gun, they've got to shoot."

After that, she said, "They didn't bother me anymore."

Sargent's spirit was emblematic of the attitude of millions of American women who flooded traditionally male workplaces in the 1940s to produce munitions and otherwise support the war effort. A spirit that was captured in song, promotional films and in the iconic "We Can Do It!" bulging-bicep and red-polka-dot-bandanna Rosie the Riveter poster.

This year, we are celebrating the contributions of those patriots who made victory in WWII possible, and in the process irrevocably changed the perception of American women in the workplace.

On Tuesday, on the first day of Women's History Month, we submitted into the Congressional Record a tribute to America's Rosies.

It reads, in part, "Through your service during the Second World War, you played an invaluable role in the war effort and victory as part of the Greatest American Generation. Your rigorous work and passionate love of our great country is arguably what sustained the American people, at home and abroad, during a volatile time of war and uncertainty."

Later, on March 22, dozens of "Original Rosies" will fly from Detroit to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorials built in their honor, courtesy of Talons Out Honor Flight, Ford Motor Company Fund, and the Yankee Air Museum.

As the Arsenal of Democracy in WWII, Michigan's ties to the rise of the Rosies and the successful prosecution of the war are deep and lasting.

The woman most often cited as the embodiment of a real-life Rosie the Riveter was a young Kentucky native, Rose Will Monroe, who worked on the production of B24s and B49s at the Willow Run Bomber Plant in Ypsilanti. It was there, in 1944, she was spotted by a Hollywood star working on promotional films for the sale of war bonds, and shortly thereafter became a star in her own right.

The inspiration for the "We Can Do It!" poster was another Michigan factory worker, Geraldine Hoff Doyle, employed briefly by an Ann Arbor-area metal stamping plant, long enough to be captured in a UPI photograph that became the model for America's most famous Rosie.

Monroe and Doyle are both gone now. But their stories, and the stories of the millions of American women who answered their country's call in WWII to go to work, will resonate for generations.

This is our history in Michigan, and it’s a history that needs to be remembered, taught and preserved, just as it was last year at Willow Run, when more than 2,000 women, including 43 “Original Rosies,” took back the Guinness World Record for the most Rosies gathered in one place since WWII. These women continue to move us with their grace, gusto and love for our country.

As we say for the Congressional Record: "You inspire us, and we will continue to tell your stories to our children and grandchildren, to ensure that the American spirit which you embody will never leave our hearts."

Candice Miller, a Republican from Harrison Township, represents Michigan's 10th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Debbie Dingell, a Democrat from Dearborn, represents Michigan's 12th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. 


Art and Heart: The World of Isaiah Sheffer

Added on by Erick Grau.

To all of you in the LA area, Catherine Tambini's  film ART AND HEART: THE WORLD OF ISAIAH SHEFFER will screen at the Getty Museum this Saturday and Sunday at 1 PM.

Art and Heart: The World of Isaiah Sheffer


Saturday, Sunday, March 19 - March 20, from 1 pm - 2 pm

Harold M. Williams Auditorium


Free | No ticket required


A new documentary by Catherine Tambini celebrates the eclectic career of Isaiah Sheffer, founding artistic director of Symphony Space, and resonant voice of Selected Shorts on public radio. Sheffer's life as an artist and cultural entrepreneur in New York City is shared via intercuts of archival material, stage performances and interviews with friends and colleagues, revealing his impact on the arts scene and the tremendous effect he had on those around him.



Added on by Erick Grau.

Bravura abounds in this portrait of one of Broadway’s brassiest stars.  The film follows the late, famously pants less cabaret singer as she dishes dirt on her early days in the biz, pads around her room at the Carlyle Hotel, and tirelessly rehearses for a one-woman show, illustrating the truism that there is nothing like a dame.

Read More

Raves for Jessica Hecht, star of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF and GOOD SISTER

Added on by Diana Brown.

Jessica Hecht, star of Providence Productions film GOOD SISTER, dazzles as Golde on Broadway in the revival of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. Seen here in the picture below: Hecht, Danny Burstein, who plays Tevye, and Sheldon Harnick, co-writer of the show. Congratulations Jessica! To read more about FIDDLER and its exciting return to Broadway, visit:


New York Filmmakers Elizabeth Hemmerdinger, Anne De Mare, Kirsten Kelly and Laverne Berry join us this week!

Added on by Erick Grau.


This week New York filmmakers Elizabeth Hemmerdinger, Anne De Mare, Kirsten Kelly and Laverne Berry are joining us to present award wining film The Homestretch, about the problem of youth homelessness, and works in progress including Dance with Me “a universal story of children struggling to be accepted for who they are, not for what they look like or what they cannot do as easily as their peers.”

The story unfolds at Dancing Dreams, a revolutionary physical therapy program that uses dance to improve mobility and to build self-confidence for a diverse group of children, ages 3-17 who have physical disabilities. What’s different about Dancing Dreams, which draws a multi-cultural following, is the contribution of teenage volunteers, recruited directly from high schools, assisting in the classes weekly, working without pay and virtually without initial training. With their own hands and bodies, they literally support the dancers, from toddlers to teenagers their own size, which has a clear impact on the self-esteem of helped and helpers alike. It is the blueprint for a replicable program in any community, anywhere.   The participants of Dancing Dreams learn trust and empathy from each other, vaporizing social constructs learned at an early age.  And then after months of working together, decked out in glitter and costumes, tap shoes and tutus, they put on a show for close to 1000 people.  Thus we have the framework for a larger story about self-expression, acceptance, lending a helping hand, and the value of inclusion.


The filmmakers will host an informal lunch with students to discuss the ins and outs of documentary filmmaking, a discussion following the screening of The Homestretch that will address issues related to the production and promotion of the film, and will direct a table reading of the script for work in progress Mazie Mullins Goes to War and take students through the process of taking a project from written script to animated short.


Documentary Film as a Form of Social Activism

Added on by Erick Grau.

How can documentary film be used to raise awareness of issues of social justice? How do such projects get funded? How do they gain visibility? What legal issues arise? Veteran filmmakers Elizabeth Hemmerdinger, Kirsten Kelly, Anne De Mare and Laverne Berry will join us to talk about their experience writing, directing and producing films