City of Burlington Undermines Federal Civil Rights Law

City Attorney OKs Vote Against ADA

BURLINGTON, WISCONSIN – The Burlington City Attorney, John Bjelajac, advised the Burlington City Council their vote against a provision of the Americans with Disabilities Act is legal. They did it on the advice of the Burlington City Attorney and the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services.

How could the State of Wisconsin undermine federal civil rights law?   Ignorance of federal law?  Ignorance about the ADA?  It is clear from written material we collected from the department that they do it whenever they feel like it.

Attorney Bjelajac told me that it is legal because they “did it with the regulations”.   How could an attorney not know that ADA Regulations and Standards are federal law?   Why would he tell the Burlington Council that they have “every right” to undermine federal civil law.  He is a UW Law School graduate — a top law school.

It’s aggravating how casually people with disabilities are dismissed.”  Dorothy K Dean, CEO of Disability Justice, a civil rights organization in Franklin, Wisconsin. “Attorney Bjelajac trivializes the Constitutional right of every person to be part of society.” The Americans with Disabilities Act is federal civil rights law.  So are the ADA Regulations and Standards.

The City Attorney told the Burlington City Council they could, and then they did, vote to override the ADA. The vote illegally “approves” a five-year delay to install an ADA compliant restroom in a local business. “Mr. Bjelajac rejects the reality that Federal civil rights law supersedes building codes,” according to Dean.

The Burlington City Council vote is just one example of the discrimination faced every day by people with disabilities.

Attorney Bjelajac, publicly announced that the Burlington Police Department, across the street from the new business, has restrooms for people with disabilities. The Police Department does not.  So, he doesn’t know what constitutes an ADA compliant restroom and he doesn’t understand federal law.

Civil rights attorney for Disability Justice, Jeffery Spitzer-Resnik, in his opinion to the City of Burlington, writes, “What will be next; exemptions to other building codes; violations of other anti-discrimination laws?”

You don’t have democracy when civil rights are dismissed.