2011/01/25: Press releases from Rep. Oxford and MoGASP about Ms. Judd’s ADA complaint

State Representative Jeanette Mott Oxford, who has been very active on this issue in the House, started the media buzzing about the ADA complaint filed against the State Capitol in Jefferson City when she forwarded a letter prepared by Mr. Billy Williams for Ms. Rossie Judd yesterday.

Since then a lot has appeared in the media, some already noted on this blog. Immediately below is Rep. Oxford’s media alert and below that a Press Release distributed later by Missouri GASP on the same subject.

From: Jeanette Oxford
Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 8:15 AM
To: Jeanette Oxford
Subject: citizen has filed ADA complaint about smoking in the Capitol Building

Members of the Capitol Media:

I have received the message below and these attachments indicating that Rossie Judd of Fenton, MO has filed an Americans with Disabilities Act complaint about tobacco smoke in the Capitol Building. In speaking with Billy Williams at 214-226-2117, I learned that, if the complaint is either not processed or denied, it will then be sent to the U.S. Department of Justice.

I do continue to believe that the Missouri Capitol Building should be 100% smokefree. The inconvenience of having to go outside this building to smoke is minimal if it can prevent an asthma attack or heart attack and possibly even save a life. It is also very important that we set a good example, as well as protect the health, of the thousands of school children who tour this building annually.

In the debate on House Rules on January 13, House members voted to end smoking in the members’ lounge area behind the chamber. The Rules do not affirmatively state that we may smoke in our offices, but some members have long asserted their right to do so. The amendment I offered sought to establish the House as 100% smokefree, and, if passed, I had hoped House leadership would then advocate the same policy in the Senate.

It was unfortunate that Majority Floor Leader Jones signaled that all GOP members were to vote no instead of allowing each member to vote his or her own conscience on this matter. I had received enough support from GOP members for the motion to have carried if it had not turned into a partisan vote. Perhaps that would not have happened if Rep. Jones had been in when Rep. Ellinger, Rep. May and I went to his office on Jan. 11. I believe Rep. Jones may have simply seen my amendment as part of the wrangling that the majority and minority do about the Rules when it was really a bi-partisan public health matter. I should have followed up with Rep. Jones to make sure he understood that distinction, but we juggle a lot of competing priorities as legislators, and I simply ran out of time to do so.

A previous ADA complaint resulted in guidance about where smoking may occur and where it may not, but much has been learned about the dangers of secondhand smoke that was not known when that agreement was reached(in 1999 I believe). When you add what we are also now learning about “thirdhand smoke” (chemical residue in carpeting, drapes, clothing, etc.), it is hard to justify allowing smoking in any workplace that is not truly private and used only by the smoker him/herself.

JMO

Jeanette Mott Oxford
State Representative, 59th MO House District
2910 Lemp, St. Louis, MO 63118
573-751-4567 (Jefferson City)
314-771-8882 (St. Louis)

Text of Missouri GASP’s Press Release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Please contact: Martin Pion, President, Missouri GASP [Group Against Smoking Pollution] Inc.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011 St. Louis, Missouri.
http://www.mogasp.wordpress.com

Other contact information:

Mr. Billy Williams 1-972-353-8764
Ms. Rossie Judd 1-636-575-4895

PRESS RELEASE: Ms. Rossie Judd files ADA complaint aimed at making Missouri House smoke-free;
Alleges present policy allowing smoking in legislator’s offices denies her access.

Following the failure of efforts via House Rules by Rep. Jeanette Mott Oxford to make the House side of the State Capitol smoke-free, an ADA complaint has just been filed with the entities controlling the House with the same objective.

The complaint was submitted on Monday, January 24, 2011, to Mr. Keith Sappington, ADA Coordinator for the House of Representatives, on behalf of Ms. Rossie Judd, an asthmatic and former assembly line employee at the Daimler-Chrysler minivan plant in Fenton. Copies were sent to Mr. D. Adam Crumbliss, Chief Clerk to the House, and Speaker Steven Tilley.

Judd succeeded in getting the Fenton plant to go entirely smoke-free in 2004 after pursuing discrimination complaints with federal agencies, assisted by Williams and Missouri GASP.

Since then Judd has been diagnosed as suffering from asthma, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), chronic bronchitis, and chemical sensitivity and is now receiving Social Security disability.

This latest complaint against the Missouri State Capitol was filed on behalf of Judd by Mr. Billy Williams, in collaboration with Mr. Martin Pion.

Williams, a retired PanAm airline mechanic, is Executive Director of GASP of Texas. He maintains a website devoted to the issue of secondhand smoke and relevant ADA case law at http://www.gaspoftexas.com/.

Pion is president of Missouri GASP (Group Against Smoking Pollution), a St. Louis-based not-for-profit grass roots advocacy group in existence since 1984. He is now semi-retired and formerly a scientist working initially in the field of optical fibers and later at McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co., in laser diode space communications.

The success in the Daimler-Chrysler minivan plant in Fenton came after battling one of the largest automakers in the U.S. and one of the most powerful unions, the UAW, which was fighting to maintain smoking. It led to both Judd and Missouri GASP receiving recognition from the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute in Miami Beach, Florida, at its Third Annual Scientific Symposium in May, 2004.

Pion and Williams have collaborated for many years, filing ADA complaints on behalf of individuals suffering from breathing disabilities caused or exacerbated by exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.

Lambert-St. Louis International Airport was the target of such a complaint, filed in 1994. Smoking was severely curtailed in 1997 when it was restricted to newly-opened separately ventilated smoking rooms. It became totally smoke-free on January 2nd, 2011, by St. Louis City ordinance.

Two similar ADA complaints have been filed against the State Capitol, both indirectly and directly by Missouri GASP, the second resulting in a February 5th, 1999, Memorandum of Agreement with the House, Senate, and Office of Administration, requiring that all public areas in the State Capitol be smoke-free but continuing to allow smoking in members’ personal offices. (Please see attachment.)

All other state owned and/or occupied office buildings are smoke-free. Legislators should be treated the same as everyone else.

Memo of Agreement with State Capitol, dated Feb 5 1999
Click image to enlarge

4 responses to “2011/01/25: Press releases from Rep. Oxford and MoGASP about Ms. Judd’s ADA complaint

  1. MoGASP,

    I am shocked that you would even use this information. It is so full of provable inaccuracy that it is unbelievable.

    “When you add what we are also now learning about “thirdhand smoke” (chemical residue in carpeting, drapes, clothing, etc.), it is hard to justify allowing smoking in any workplace that is not truly private and used only by the smoker him/herself. “

    Even Dr Siegel admits that this is cooked science.

    “ The application summary states: “Overall, our proposed work will be a critical step in a timely assessment of whether the THS exposure is genetically harmful to exposed nonsmokers, and the ensuing data will serve as the experimental evidence for framing and enforcing policies prohibiting smoking in homes, hotels, and cars in California and elsewhere in order to protect vulnerable people.”

    . http://tobaccoanalysis.blogspot.com/2011/01/anti-smoking-researchers-in-california.html

    Marshall P. Keith

    mogasp reply: We allow both factual and opinions, both pro and con, from those commenting on this blog. The only thing disallowed are references to Nazis and the gestapo and the like which are considered beyond the pale.
    As to your writing that “Even Dr Siegel admits that this is cooked science.” You imply that Dr. Siegel has trouble admitting the truth. That is a totally unwarranted suggestion based on my knowledge of him and his integrity. mogasp seeks to emulate Dr. Siegel’s objectivity.

  2. mogasp,

    I hope you know me better then that. Although I disagree with Dr Siegel on the issue of the smoking ban I have the highest regard for his integrity. I have even done blogs on that fact much to the dismay to fellow fighters for the freedom of choice. In this case I agree that the government has every right to restrict smoking as it is truly public property, my objection is using the ADA to achieve that goal. The “protected class” angle has long been used to strip property owners of their rights and this is just another cheap attempt to expand the scope of that philosophy. There is SCOTUS precedent showing that just because the public is invited in they do not lose private property status and to give the “protected class” more rights then the owner goes against every principle our country was founded on. The 14th amendment calls for equal protection from government intrusion not equal access to private property!

    Marshall P. Keith

    mogasp: Thanks for your comment. I received an answer from Mr. Billy Williams of GASP of Texas and have posted it here.

  3. Hello Mogasp! Several things:

    1) I don’t agree that we know much more about ETS now than in 1999 and to bring thirdhand smoke into this is nonsense. See my piece on THS at:

    http://globalhealthlaw.wordpress.com/2009/01/11/third-hand-smoke/#comment-52

    to see the sort of craziness THS involves.

    2) Involving the ADA in things like this may weaken the REAL value of the ADA. Should the ADA be used by those with extreme shellfish allergies to ban such from restaurants they might want to go to or work in? Or used by those with extreme sun sensitivity to ban restaurant patio dining? If not, why not?

    3) Doesn’t it seem slightly, a little, even microscopically odd that in all the history of the United States and every other nation around the world we have never EVER heard of anyone before who was unable to enter a gvt. building because someone inside was smoking in their office? How has this amazingly unique event just happen to occur in 1 small particular county where the issue came up?

    -MJM

    mogasp reply: With all due respect, your comments above suggest that the ADA is not an area in which you’re very knowledgeable. Plus it hasn’t been used that much by individuals such as Rossie Judd, despite her being made seriously ill by exposure to secondhand smoke on occasions. You might have a different attitude if you suffered from asthma yourself, and had had a near-fatal asthma attack due to SHS exposure.
    If you wish to educate yourself I suggest you visit GASP of Texas’s web site at http://www.gaspoftexas.com/.
    BTW: Thanks for respecting the character count limit of 1,000. Your comment is 990 characters.

  4. 990? Sheesh… I’d counted 999. I must be getting slack in my old age here! :>

    You’re correct: I actually don’t know the details on the ADA. I will check it out. I do think the ADA would apply though unless restaurants are somehow not under their purview: allergic reactions to shellfish and sunlight can be very severe for affected individuals and I see no reason why the ADA should not be extended to them if it is extended to individuals suffering from ETS reactions. In my own view, while I certainly feel badly for anyone who suffers from any of those sensitivities, I feel that extending the ADA to cover such extraordinarily small minorities weakens its power as a whole.

    In terms of my #3, I stand by it and believe it illustrates the arcane nature of such extreme tobacco sensitivities: I never once heard of tobacco smoke sensitivity being used before the draft boards during Vietnam, and if you remember “The Draft Dodger Rag” you can be sure it WOULD have been if it was at all possible.

    – MJM

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