Commission Meeting of Wednesday February 18, 2006
CARI M. DOMINGUEZ Chair
NAOMI C. EARP Vice Chair
LESLIE E. SILVERMAN Commissioner
STUART J. ISHIMARU Commissioner
CHRISTINE M. GRIFFIN Commissioner
GWENDOLYN YOUNG REAMS,
Associate General Counsel
PEGGY R. MASTROIANNI,
Associate Legal Counsel
BERNADETTE B. WILSON,
NICHOLAS M. INZEO,
Director, Office of Field Programs
This transcript was typed from a video tape provided by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: The meeting will now come to order. Good morning and welcome. We are delighted that all of you were not dampened by the rain outside and are joining us here today. I particularly want to say -- I think it's early enough in the year to say to all of you a Happy New Year and to all who may be watching on closed circuit television.
It's a great way to start the year. Just a couple of days ago we honored and celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose dream became a reality with the enactment of the Civil Rights Act and with the creation of this agency. So as we move forward in the New Year, let's think about Dr. Martin Luther King's vision and his dream. He dreamt big dreams.
Sometimes we get down because we don't have the resources and we don't have other kinds of material support but Martin Luther King never lost track of his dream and those inner resources made it a reality. So, we are buoyed by that. I know that all of you join me in renewing our efforts and commitment and our energy in finally making equal opportunity dream a reality for everyone in our nation.
That's one good reason why we have this meeting this morning. Another very good reason is because, as you can see, we now have a full slate of Commissioners here and I am particularly delighted to welcome our new Commissioner, Christine Griffin, back to the Commission. She is no stranger to the Commission. She knows our programs. She has excelled as I had the honor to administer the oath of office.
In everything she's done she has always risen to the top of any organization and any project, so we are just really delighted to add that caliber of talent. We are particularly fortunate that her talents and abilities are being invested toward furthering the mission of EEOC. Welcome Commissioner Griffin.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Thank you very much.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Let me open it up. I know my fellow Commissioners would like to also add their welcome. Madam Vice Chair.
VICE CHAIR EARP: I want to attach myself to the Chair's comments, Commissioner Griffin, and welcome you. I look forward to working with you and your staff, and especially getting with you sometime so that you and I can swap private stories since we've both had the distinction of first serving as special assistants and then later coming back as a Commissioner, so welcome.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Great. I'm still trying to figure out is it better to be a Commissioner or a special assistant.
VICE CHAIR EARP: That's exactly what we're going to talk about. That's exactly right.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Commissioner Silverman.
COMMISSIONER SILVERMAN: That depends on whether or not Stuart is on the Commission.
Welcome, Commissioner Griffin, and I have had the opportunity to swap stories
and this is one fascinating magnificent woman and she's done a lot of wonderful
things and clearly broken through pretty much any barrier that is put in front
of you. You obviously jump right through that.
I'm thrilled to have a fellow Bostonian. It's been many years since I lived there and, frankly, in your presence I feel very inauthentic and I have to keep reminding myself that yeah, my family really is from there.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Just say it over and over again, "Park your car," "Harvard Yard."
COMMISSIONER SILVERMAN: My two-year-old for some reason has a Boston accent.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: It's genetic.
COMMISSIONER SILVERMAN: Either way it's at home but, anyway, welcome.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Thank you.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Commissioner Ishimaru.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thank you, Madam Chair. I, too, want to welcome our new colleague, as the former junior member of this panel. It's nice not to be at the bottom of the food chain. Chris Griffin brings an incredible amount of expertise. She brings diversity to our body. I don't know if people saw during the holidays but she was honored as one of the top lawyers in the nation by a national publication. She's a strong dedicated advocate for the things she believes in.
As I've told her, I have found being here working with my colleagues, people are committed to the mission and that's the nice thing about being in a political situation that we are in. But people agree on the fundamental mission and we disagree at times. Sometimes it sounds sort of heated but at the end of the day, everyone truly believes in what we're doing and the question is how to do it better.
I've been very pleased during my tenure here to have colleagues like that. After the smoke clears from the room, and sometimes it gets pretty smoky, we can go back and we can talk like real people and we work to work it out. So I welcome you. I look forward to working with you. I think having a new person here brings a new dynamic in. It's a new year and I'm looking forward to it. Again, welcome.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Thank you very much. I really appreciate being here and having this opportunity. It's great to be here at my first Commission meeting. I'm really looking forward to working with all of you. I also believe that everyone, not only sitting up here but in the audience and throughout the EEOC, throughout the country, our people are dedicated to this mission.
Employment for people means access to everything. If we can do anything to eliminate discrimination that people face, then we are doing a good job. I'm really excited about being here. I'm really looking forward to many of these meetings and really having open discussions with the stakeholders that we serve about what we're doing here, how to make it better, and what they see as the issues that we should be working on. I'm really looking forward to this. Thank you.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Thank you, Commissioner Griffin.
In accordance with the Sunshine Act, today's meeting is open to public observation of the Commission's deliberations and voting. At this time I want to ask Bernadette Wilson to announce any notation votes that have taken place since the last Commission meeting. Ms. Wilson.
MS. WILSON: Good morning, Madam Chair, Madam Vice Chair, Commissioners. And welcome back to EEOC, Commissioner Griffin. I'm Bernadette Wilson from the Executive Secretariat. We would like to remind our audience that questions and comments from the audience are not permitted during the meeting and we ask that you carry on any conversations outside the meeting room, departing and reentering as quietly as possible. Also, please take this opportunity to turn your cell phones off or to vibrate mode.
During the period November 15, 2005, through January 13, 2006, the Commission acted on seven items by notation vote, approved litigation on four cases, approved revisions to the Privacy Act fee schedule, approved a non-competitive contract for expert services, and approved the revised final No FEAR Act rule.
Madam Chair, it's appropriate at this time to have a motion to close a portion of the next Commission meeting in case there are any closed meeting agenda items.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Thank you, Ms. Wilson. Do I hear a motion?
VICE CHAIR EARP: So moved.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Is there a second?
COMMISSIONER SILVERMAN: Second.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Any discussion? Hearing none, all those in favor please say
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Opposed? The ayes have it and the motion is carried.
Today we have only one item on the agenda but an important one. We are going to consider and vote on a modification to Order 120 concerning our Baltimore office. Order 120 is the order that defines the geographical boundaries for each of our offices.
Nicholas Inzeo, our Director of the Office of Field Programs, is going to explain in greater detail what further change we're proposing to order 120 and the reason behind that change. The changes to the Baltimore office boundaries were initially circulated for consideration by notation vote.
After being fully briefed on this boundary adjustment, three of the four sitting Commissioners voted to approve the modification with Commissioner Ishimaru casting an agenda vote which brings us here this morning.
At this point let me turn it over to Mr. Inzeo.
MR. INZEO: Thank you, Madam Chair. Good morning. Commissioner Griffin, let me add my congratulations to Bernadette's and everyone else's. It's good to have you here.
I'm here to present some minor modifications to EEOC Order 120 which sets forth the Commission's jurisdictional boundaries. On July 8, 2005, the Commission voted to approve the Chair's proposed field repositioning plan and the changes necessary to EEOC Orders 110 and 120 to implement the plan.
Since that time, a substantial amount of effort and time has been devoted to meeting and discussion with members of Congress, Congressional staff, the union, and other stakeholders about our repositioning plan and its implementation. We have worked diligently to address all of the concerns that have been raised and answer the questions presented.
The only issue pertaining to the jurisdictional boundaries of our offices that has been raised by our Senate appropriators is the change that aligned five suburban Maryland counties with the Washington Field Office. As part of the Congressional notification process we were requested to give serious consideration to realigning those counties back to the jurisdiction of the Baltimore office. While we continue to believe that those counties could be well served if they remain in the Washington Field Office, in reviewing the plan internally and with OGC we have determined that returning these counties to Baltimore will not significantly impact our overall plan and will allow the plan to remain consistent to its original intent.
The proposal that is before you will amend Order 120 to include within the jurisdiction of the Baltimore Field Office the Maryland counties of Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George's, and St. Mary's. The order will be further amended to return to the jurisdiction of the Philadelphia District Office the Pennsylvania Counties of Adams, Franklin, Fulton, Lancaster, and York and the Delaware counties of Kent and Sussex.
I would be happy to answer any questions that you may have.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Thank you, Nick. Let me now turn it over to the Vice Chair. Madam Vice Chair.
VICE CHAIR EARP: Thank you, Madam Chair. Nick, I don't want to second guess anything that we've done leading up to the July vote. I'm on record as being supportive of repositioning but the union's letter that came in today, first, I should ask whether or not you've had an opportunity to review it.
MR. INZEO: The union's letter that came in today?
VICE CHAIR EARP: Yes. It came in via e-mail.
MR. INZEO: I have not seen it.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: There was an e-mail that came in yesterday. Nick may have seen yesterday's letter.
MR. INZEO: I did not.
VICE CHAIR EARP: You did not? Okay. I just saw it today. Basically it raises some concerns that we've heard before and knowing that you haven't had an opportunity to study it, let me just ask you generally what do the customer service trends show having had these few months to operate informally the way we are going to be repositioned where the union claims that the customer service trends continue to dog EEOC and that a backlog is rising. Do you have any general response that you can make to those concerns? I think some of this we have heard before.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Madam Vice Chair, I may need to interrupt here because I can appreciate that. I have a copy of the letter. I don't think it's been -- I got it late last night. It has not been shared. It was sent to all of our fellow Commissioners. And certainly I think it's important to address the concerns that the union has raised in the proper forum.
I'm concerned at this point because the only agenda item that we have is on the five counties. If there are particular questions relating to the five counties, I'm sure Nick can entertain them but it sounds to me like the questions or the allegations being posed by the union go far beyond what was noticed under the Sunshine Act for discussion here today.
VICE CHAIR EARP: Maybe we can talk off line.
MR. INZEO: Certainly.
VICE CHAIR EARP: Okay, with that I have no questions about the Baltimore modifications.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Commissioner Silverman.
COMMISSIONER SILVERMAN: One of the things that I liked about the repositioning plan that I was concerned about with this change was the way that the Commission decided to reconfigure the field is so that people around urban centers could go to the urban center despite state lines.
For example, someone who is living in Montgomery or Prince George's County, Maryland, close to D.C., my understanding is that even with this change, those people so close to D.C. accessible by Metro and certainly buses, they could still come and file their claims in our Washington Field Office. Is that correct?
MR. INZEO: That's right, Commissioner. In fact, shortly after the Vice Chair and Commissioner Griffin were confirmed, we had the opportunity to have that discussion with Commissioner Griffin when the plan was for those counties to be under Washington Field Office's jurisdiction.
The discussion was that there would be people who for any reason may prefer to go to one office or the other. We have always maintained in EEOC that any person could file a charge in any office.
I have actually had discussions with both the director in the Philadelphia District Office and the director in the Washington Field Office to make sure that those two offices work closely together in serving people who are close to both of their jurisdictions. So yes, people will be able to file charges in both offices and then it will be our responsibility to make sure they are processed appropriately.
COMMISSIONER SILVERMAN: Thank you.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Thank you, Commissioner Silverman.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thank you, Madam Chair. I have a brief statement before I have some questions for Nick if that's all right. I wanted to follow up first on Leslie's last question. It was my understanding before repositioning the policy had always been that people could file at any of our offices anywhere in the country.
If I was out in Puerto Rico and wanted to file there, even if my job activity was in California, I could file in our Puerto Rico office, actually file a charge there. It would be taken in there and then it would be transferred to the appropriate office. I don't think repositioning changed that, nor does this change that.
COMMISSIONER SILVERMAN: I mean that's for Nick to answer but I think the point was they were trying to center it around where the people would most likely be living and working, the suburbs to an office. That's what the focus was on, transportation and things like that.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Right, right, right.
COMMISSIONER SILVERMAN: Just like where we put our offices is important because they need to be somewhere where people can get to.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Right. That was one of the rationales for creating the new offices as well because new pockets of populations have grown up in various areas that have been under-served. I just wanted to make clear that it's my understanding, and correct me if I'm wrong, Nick, that it's been our long-standing policy that people could file at any of our offices. They could file a charge at any of our offices and they would not be turned away to go to the office that served their home county. Is that correct?
MR. INZEO: Commissioner, I think it's correct that it's been our policy that they could file at any office. I am not sure that the practice was always consistent. While this didn't change that, it did bring that issue to light and I think it has helped us see that as an issue where we need to have clearer guidance and expectations for our offices.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: So would it be fair now to say that the policy that we are transmitting to our staff is that you should take in these charges from people who come in to file a charge with you.
MR. INZEO: Yes.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Okay. Thank you very much. Let me do my brief statement first and then I have a few questions for you, Nick. I'm very pleased we're having the meeting today to vote on the change to the borders of the Baltimore office for two reasons. First, the change we're considering today which reunites the state of Maryland into one whole is one that everyone who looked at the map of the office changes agreed with. Stakeholders, elected officials, employees and the FEPAs around the country, everyone thought this should happen.
Like many offices that have been downgraded through this plan, the Baltimore office had a successful enforcement and litigation program and a high rate of accomplishment in its federal sector work. Like other parts of the country, the Baltimore office's jurisdiction under the new plan changed dramatically.
Through today's vote we are addressing a very small part of the problem. But at the end of the day the Baltimore District Office has still been downgraded to a Field Office. It will lose its district director, its regional attorney, its deputy district director, its ADR coordinator, and its program analyst. And it will not have jurisdiction over Virginia.
The second reason I'm pleased to be here today to have this vote is that I hope it signals a willingness to look at further changes in the recently implemented plan, a trend I hope will actually continue.
It's important to note that we have gone ahead with the implementation of this plan despite having received a letter from the ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee and the ranking member of the Authorization Committee, Senator Mikulski and Senator Kennedy, on December 13th asking specifically not to go forward with the plan.
But also note, Madam Chair, that we all received a letter addressed to you from five members of the Ohio delegation raising similar concerns about the changes to the Cleveland office. I would ask, Madam Chair, that both the letter from Senator Kennedy and Senator Mikulski and the letter from the five members of the Ohio House delegation be made a part of the record and printed in the record in the transcript.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Is that considered privileged information?
MS. MASTROIANNI: In the past we have -- you have agreed that letters of this kind can be part of the record. With respect to anything that goes on our Internet site, you have ruled in the past that the decision making on that is yours.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Commissioner, I'll allow that as part of the record. I don't think it's fair to have an incomplete reading in the record because there are lots of other letters that I have received in support but I will allow that in terms of making it part of the documentation relating to this record.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I referenced it and I didn't want an incomplete reading of that.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: No, that's fine.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thank you. I appreciate the courtesy, Madam Chair.
Several of the geographic boundaries of the plan should also be reconsidered because they split communities of interest. They will cause a drain in our staffing resources and they're not supported by our stakeholders. Let me give you a number of examples.
Our Washington Field Office is not able; it's my understanding, to handle its workload with its current staffing. It's my understanding that it will transfer 400 charges and 70 hearing requests to another office. But it's been given responsibility for all of Virginia that used to be covered by the Baltimore office.
Ohio has been split in a way that will increase six fold the number of counties reporting to the Cincinnati Area Office, an office that at last count had four investigators while taking large parts of Ohio away from the Cleveland office which, as I understood it, had three to four times more investigators.
New Mexico is split, requiring attorneys from Dallas to go to Albuquerque to try cases even though we have attorneys in the Albuquerque office which reports to Phoenix. Oklahoma is moved to the St. Louis office's jurisdiction despite its clear ties to Texas. All of these jurisdictional issues we've raised in past meetings, I again note that I believe that they are worth relooking at and I hope we have an opportunity to do that in the future.
Beyond the lines drawn by this plan, I would ask that my colleagues consider making changes suggested by various stakeholders, including the unions and elected representatives, in order to improve our service which I believe all of us on this body agree is our goal.
Some of these suggestions include increasing the outreach to stakeholders regarding new jurisdictions and new contacts in the offices, a dramatic reduction in the use of term investigators. I believe hiring term investigators is not a cost effective method of doing business and it does not allow these investigators to become seasoned employees.
I also believe that we should look at whether we are providing a sufficient commitment to staffing in all of our offices, especially those that have been given more geographic territory. Part of the need for this stems from a need to reduce the transfer of charges from one office to another. Because of geographic distances, lack of knowledge about local employers, and the difficulty of conducting on-site investigations, transferring charges should be kept to a minimum.
I also believe that we should look to a coherent staffing model. I know that a number of people, including you, Madam Chair, I think have talked about a 10 to 1 ratio as being ideal. I think having a staffing ratio that makes sense for our business model is something we should try to do. I don't know what the proper ratio is. A number of people have thrown out the 10 to 1 ratio including the union.
I think that is something we should look at, but I think it's important that we look at this in every office and not at the Commission as a whole. I think it's more important that we look to see whether our operations in every office make sense for that office.
I know in my travels around the country when I go visit with people in our field offices around the country I'm struck by the disparities from office to office and how offices are structured. Some offices are literally missing a legal staff. Other offices have lost large chunks of their investigatory staff. Other offices have high levels of supervisors compared to front-line employees.
All of these are issues that I think are being worked on. I know in my conversations with my colleagues, I know that many of these issues have been touched on. I believe that through our repositioning efforts we need to reaffirm this commitment to that.
I also believe we need an outside evaluation of how restructuring has improved the agency including a report on the amount of money that has been saved and where the savings have been spent and the cost of actually creating a reorganized body.
It also concerns me, as I raised in past meetings, that job placements for employees displaced by their repositioning that we use the employees' talents and abilities to the fullest extent. For example, several experienced regional attorneys will no longer have these positions.
I believe they should be delegated the authority to recommend litigation directly to the Office of General Counsel or be placed in positions that make full use of their talents and experience. I don't believe that we should create another layer of bureaucracy with people who are going into new jobs.
I also believe, as I said in our past meeting, that we need to continue our commitment to focus on performance. One of the things that disappointed me greatly in this reorganization plan that I talked about at our last meeting on this is that we ignored employee performance.
We focused instead on charge and federal sector intake with the result being that we have excellent offices being downgraded and other offices with marginal results being kept on as district offices. Obviously this has had a negative effect on employee morale and our employees' willingness to work to their utmost capacity.
Finally, looking to the future, I know there has been much talk about the next step of the reorganization process, and that is at headquarters. And I hope that as we look to the future and as we have a full membership on the Commission that we look to try to make the upcoming reorganization here at Headquarters transparent to be inclusive and to allow input at all stages of the process.
Let me conclude by saying at the last meeting on repositioning my colleagues made several speeches about change and how opponents of the plan were simply scared of change. Well, there's change and there's progress. This reorganization plan is change. I do not believe it is progress but I hope we see further alterations so it will be in the future.
Nick, I have a couple of questions for you. Can you tell me where we are in the reassignment of affected employees of the reorganization, whether positions have been found for them?
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Commissioner, again, I'll have to intervene. It is not germane to the subject at hand.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Let me --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: We can certainly provide for briefings on that but it's not germane to the reason we're here under the Sunshine Act.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Madam Chair, we had a similar discussion when this issue was on the table back in July. We talked about the effect on employees. I can certainly frame this for Baltimore specifically.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Right. If it relates to the five counties that we're transferring and what, if any, impact that has on the employees in the Baltimore office, I'm happy to allow it.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: All right, well, Nick, let me ask you, have the employees who are losing their positions in the Baltimore office, have positions been found for them? What kinds of positions? How many of those are front-line positions? And if positions have not been found for them, when do you anticipate having that done, specifically to the Baltimore office?
MR. INZEO: Commissioner, in the Baltimore office currently, I believe, the only employee whose position has been changed is the former regional attorney's, who would have become an Associate Regional Attorney. To my knowledge, that is the only change right now because of the staffing in the Baltimore office.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: So do you have an anticipated time line as to when the other changes will be made? We voted on this plan half a year ago and the last time when I was briefed on this it was my understanding that people affected by this plan in the Baltimore office had not been talked to about what their changes were in the future. Do you have a time line of when you anticipate changes will be made and when people will be notified?
MR. INZEO: Commissioner, I would anticipate that we would take this quarter to evaluate the situation. Because of the staffing in the Baltimore office, there would be a question as to the ADR unit whether that will be fully incorporated into the ADR unit in Philadelphia or will remain as somewhat of a separate unit.
The only other unit that may be impacted in the Baltimore office would be the Federal Sector Hearings Unit. And again, that will require -- I would think that by the beginning of next quarter we would be in a position of determining how we want those reporting relationships to occur.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: So you anticipate probably sometime in three or four months from now after this quarter has past, this second quarter?
MR. INZEO: I think that's right. yes.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: You had mentioned the changed regional attorney slot. I don't know if you are the right person to ask or if my friend from the General Counsel's Office is the right person to ask but when I talked to Gwen earlier this morning, I asked whether these new Associate Regional Attorney positions were front-line positions or whether they were management positions.
And Gwen graciously told me that they were management positions. Do you -- have we created another level of supervisors here? We have not moved these people to the front lines. Do you have -- would it be fair to say that we have created another level of bureaucracy or is that --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Let me interrupt. I don't think it's fair for the Director of the Office of Field Programs to answer that question. I think an appropriate individual who has supported and worked with us closely on the development and implementation of this plan is our deputy general counsel who unfortunately --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Mr. Lee who is not here.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Who is not here. He has a family --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Why don't I hold that question? I will ask Mr. Lee directly what the plans are for that position. I appreciate that, Madam Chair.
Nick, when we talked in December about the changes to the Baltimore geographic boundaries, we talked about the GAO report on repositioning which stated that the EEOC will not see any savings from this plan until 2010. At that time you told me, I believe, that you thought that was not correct. Is that still your view today?
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Commissioner, again, is this related to the Baltimore office?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, Madam Chair, the Baltimore office is being repositioned.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Would you like to rephrase the question as it relates to the Baltimore office?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I put Baltimore in the first line of my question.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Okay. I just want to make sure that the question relates not to the entire repositioning which was fully discussed and vetted at our July meeting but it just relates to the minor modifications. The purpose that we are here today is to talk about the boundaries relating to Baltimore. So any questions that you have about that I'm happy to allow.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: All right. Thank you, Madam Chair. I appreciate the courtesy of that.
Nick, let me reframe the question. I'll ask that question in another forum in another day. You had mentioned that this was the only issue raised by the appropriators. Are they fully satisfied with the response that this change provides? Does this fully satisfy the concerns that were raised by the Congress?
MR. INZEO: Commissioner, I certainly haven't been part of all of the discussions with all of the members and their staffs but it is my understanding that this change is one that they would like. As far as I know it's the only one that has been raised. I would assume then since it's the only one that's been raised that this would satisfy those concerns.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: On the overall issue of repositioning or just on jurisdictional lines?
MR. INZEO: I think on jurisdictional boundaries.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Okay. Thank you, Nick. Appreciate your candor as always.
Madam Chair, thank you very much.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Thank you very much, Commissioner.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: You know, obviously I haven't been here for most of this discussion and the vote and everything like that but, from the briefing that I got from Nick and Jim and I've said this to other Commissioners, I came from a perspective where I saw that a lot of agencies were closing offices and really Rehab Services Administration closing all their regional offices.
So when I looked at this and heard about it, although I know it's not something that everybody agrees with, it didn't seem to be the worst restructuring or repositioning that I had seen.
I think I looked at it from that perspective. I know I will be interacting with other people who are affected by this repositioning who may not be happy and I may find that there are issues that affect the way we do business. I would hope, as Stuart has said, if we find over time that things aren't working right, that people are being adversely impacted, that we could go back and actually make some changes and I hope that we could do that. That's all I really have to say. Thank you.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Thank you. Thank you, Commissioner.
At this point is there a motion to approve the modification of EEOC Order 120 as it relates to the boundaries of the Baltimore Field Office?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I so move.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Is there a second?
VICE CHAIR EARP: Second.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Any discussion?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Madam Chair, I have one sentence that I would like to read from the letter that you graciously allowed to go into the record from Senators Kennedy and Mikulski. It goes back to my last colloquy with Nick about whether this satisfies the concerns of the Appropriations Committee.
The sentence is this. It talked about the changes we were supposed to vote on in December. It says, "The potential modification in the plan [meaning the plan to Maryland] does not address concerns we raised about downgrading the Baltimore office from a district office to a field office. We remain concerned that downgrading district offices impacts the Commission's ability to effectively enforce civil rights laws." That's in the letter and it's a part of the record so I'll stop there. Thank you, Madam Chair.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: No further discussion? All right. We're ready to vote. All those in favor, please say aye.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Opposed? The vote -- did I hear right? The vote --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: We could do a roll call, Madam Chair. That might be fun.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Let's do a roll call; just make sure I get it on the record. I vote yes. Madam Vice Chair?
VICE CHAIR EARP: I vote yes.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Commissioner Silverman?
COMMISSIONER SILVERMAN: I vote yes.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Commissioner Ishimaru?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I vote yes without reservation.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Commissioner Griffin?
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: I vote yes.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: What a way to start the year, with a five-zero vote. The ayes have it.
I want to thank everyone. I also want to echo the words of Commissioner Ishimaru when we first started this meeting. You know, my parents had two different religions and they both agreed on the final destination but how to get to heaven was a matter of great, great, animated discussion in my family because the manner of traveling to get there, they both had different points of view.
And I think it's very evident that we are all driven by our shared goal of really doing the very best that we possibly can, each and every one of us, for the Commission. I have never been one to say, hey, you know, we tried this, we did the very best but we need to adjust our course and go in a different direction. And I think that is what the Kaizen concept of continuous improvement is all about.
So I know that my fellow Commissioners share that commitment of looking at what's working and always trying to continue to improve doing the very best that we can for the people that we serve. So thank you very much. The meeting is now -- well, any further business? Let me just say that. Do I hear a motion to adjourn the meeting?
VICE CHAIR EARP: So moved.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Second.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: All right. All in favor?
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Opposed? The ayes have it and the motion is carried. Thank you very much, Nick. I'm so excited we have a five-zero vote that I forget all these things. But the meeting is adjourned.
(Whereupon, at 2:34 p.m. the meeting was adjourned.)
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