Attorney: Council president denies refusing to allow Harry Silver to attend meetings via phone

Hearing set for Thursday at 1:30 p.m.
Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 11:32 AM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - The attorney for Alexandria City Council President Jules Green is denying that his client refused to accommodate District 4 Councilman Harry Silver, who is suing the City and Green for allegedly violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act.

Silver, who is 98, says he has missed meetings since February due to a medical ailment and the COVID-19 pandemic, of which he says he is at high risk of contracting due to his age.

Silver claims the council won’t make arrangements to allow him to attend meetings via phone or video conference.

He filed a federal lawsuit in early June against the City and Green, for allegedly “failing to engage in a good faith interactive dialogue about their (Silver) request for reasonable accommodation,” “for failing to provide a reasonable accommodation,” and “aiding and perpetuating prohibited disability discrimination.”

On June 9, council members Green, Malcolm Larvadain, Joe Fuller, and Gerber Porter voted not to allow Silver attend meetings virtually.

A hearing is set for Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in the federal courthouse in Alexandria that could lead to a federal judge ordering the Alexandria City Council to make arrangements to let District 4 Councilman Harry Silver, who is 98, attend meetings virtually.

On Sunday, a response to the lawsuit was filed by Kelvin Sanders, the attorney for Green. In that response, Sanders challenges multiple claims made by Silver including claims that “Mr. Green refused to allow Mr. Silver to attend City Council Meetings via telephone” despite “a strong recommendation” from City Attorney David Williams, and claims that “by refusing to provide a reasonable and/or meaningful accommodation, Mr. Silver has been unable to participate in the Alexandria City Council.”

Sanders goes on to deny claims that “Mr. Green threatened to punish Mr. Silver for missing meetings by insisting that Mr. Silver return his salary as a Councilperson for the meetings he was unable to attend,” and denies that Silver was “subjected to discrimination” under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act.

He concludes by demanding a jury trial.

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