Councilman Silver sues City, Council president over meetings access
Alexandria City Councilman Harry Silver is suing the City of Alexandria and Council President Jules Green for allegedly violating the Americans With Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act.
Silver, who is 98-years-old, said neither the city nor Councilman Green provided accommodations to enable him to attend council meetings via telephone, because he is susceptible to COVID-19 due to his age. Silver is the oldest elected official in the United States.
The lawsuit has been filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana in Alexandria. Silver said he has been unable to attend council meetings since Feb. 4. He said first because he broke his elbow, missing the Feb. 18 meeting and then missed meetings on March 3, 7, 12, as well as April 14 and 28 because of the pandemic.
In the lawsuit, Silver said he asked Donna Jones, the Executive Secretary of the Alexandria City Council, to join the council meeting via telephone for Feb. 18, but he said he never got an answer. Silver then claims he wrote to City Attorney David Williams and said he is medically unable to attend. The lawsuit then said Mr. Williams wrote to Councilman Green saying Mr. Silver should be allowed to attend via telephone. The suit then claims Mr. Green wrote back denying the request and stating, “It may be in order for the unexcused meetings that the salaries are returned to the City of Alexandria.” Mr. Silver said the defendants have made no attempts to meet and confer with him.
Mr. Silver said he was subjected to discrimination under the ADA/RA by “developing a policy/procedure where individuals with disabilities are singled out and treated differently solely on account of their disability.”
Mr. Silver is seeking compensatory and nominal damages, injunctive and declaratory relief and attorney’s fees and costs. He is being represented by Andrew Bizer of Bizer & DeReus, LLC out of New Orleans.
News Channel Five has reached out to Councilman Green and are waiting for a response. We also reached out to Chief of Staff Susan Broussard and she said she is checking on the issue.
Jules Green declined to comment.
Next Tuesday, the City Council has placed on its meeting agenda a request for the Council to “allow any council member ordered by a medical doctor to stay at home during the COVID-19 public health emergency to participate in council meetings by telephone, teleconference, or videoconference and to declare that an absence by a council member who is ordered to stay at home during the COVID-19 public health emergency shall be an excused absence.” That meeting is scheduled to start at 5 p.m.