One ICOIL Council member’s “It Feels Pretty Powerless” List

(I wish it could have been an Empowerment List)

By: Ramona Harvey – Former ICOIL Secretary


In March of 2007 the Indiana Statewide Independent Living Council (ICOIL) had a facilitated discussion.  Until recently, I was an officer on this council.  The facilitated discussion as it was publicly advertised was open to the public and no indication was given that the public could not participate, or even introduce themselves.  After I, a concerned citizen the council is supposed to be representing, traveled three hours at my own expense to get to this meeting, I was not even allowed to introduce myself.  Instead the council voted to call the police.  Fortunately for me, the building people did not allow this and instead asked the council and subsequently the public to leave.


But before we left Melissa Madill (who is the CIL director at IRCIL in Indianapolis) said that as a council member it feels pretty powerless to vote on something and then have that vote ignored. 


I got to thinking about that statement and my experience on and with this council.  How I began believing that everyone really wanted to change things. How I made considerable efforts to try and make that happen not just for the council, or the centers in Indiana that are grossly under-funded, but the people in Indiana with disabilities.  People often not heard, but rather ignored by the very people who pretend to represent them. 


People like me who don’t have the services they desperately need.  People who want to change their situation for themselves and others and are willing to be actively involved. People who want to do and not just talk about doing.  People who should be empowered but instead they are exploited not for their own gain, but for someone else’s and/or they get beat up and become too tired or discouraged to continue. 


It really does feel pretty powerless sometimes.  Believe me, I now.  That is why I created my own “it feels pretty powerless” as a council member list.  This list is in no particular order and unfortunately is not all inclusive and may not even be my top 10. 


As a council member:


1)      it feels pretty powerless to be elected Secretary of a council at risk, even when you write accurate minutes in the hopes of protecting not only yourself, but other innocent council members. To voluntarily spend time creating minutes and then be criticized on typographical errors and length (not accurate content).  To then make all requested corrections that the council asked for, and to honestly modify how minutes were written based on their will.  But to be disrespected so much the council ignores your repeated official request that substantial changes to the minutes that are not consistent with the source documentation needed to be voted on, and not an arbitrary decision of one person.


2)      it feels pretty powerless to be a member of the by-law committee that pushed bylaws through by abusing Roberts Rules, and taking advantage of the fact not everyone fully understood what was going on.  Especially when prior to the meeting you were lead to believe something else would happen.  (See the June Bylaw Committee Report.


3)      it feels pretty powerless to be elected into office, but to have your executive committee meeting, which was open to the public, nullified because four center directors could not figure out how to use the phone or ask the operator for help.  (See the Executive Committee Report (Debate Summary) in the original August Minutes written using source documents )


4)      it feels pretty powerless when you have to try three times to make a motion, and then can’t get a second the council would accept. So the motion can be discussed.  The motion: that the council acknowledge that people do matter, and that council meetings be open to the public and that the public be notified in advance of the meeting in a manner consistent with the Open Door Law and any other governing laws.  (See Discussion on Policy of Public Notification of Meetings in the original July )  Note: I am sure Jodi James who was the official ICOIL chair would say it feels pretty powerless to try and second a motion, but to have the council refuse her second, because she was on the phone as an ADA accommodation after her power chair broke.


5)      it feels pretty powerless when as an officer of the council you try to ensure that an official ADA complaint by a council member was read aloud in accordance to that council members request, the Chairs will, and as an accommodation to blind individuals in the audience, and to not be allowed. (See ADA complaint letter from Teresa Torres in the Original July Minutes Note: I doubt Teresa Torres feels powerless, but given the fact that the council still has not purchased an audio-loop despite $3000 having been allocated in July specifically for that purpose, I don’t blame her for her frustrations on this issue. (See July Finance committee Report)


6)      it feels pretty powerless to go to meet with and correspond with the Feds asking for immediate assistance and help in enforcing their rulings and making sure the council is compliant with the law, knowing that part of the reason it is so bad is because nobody believes they will step in.  Then finding out for yourself that the Feds do not particularly care and would rather sweep it under the rug, pretend it isn’t that bad, maintain the status quo, and of course keep their jobs.



7)      it feels pretty powerless when you go to the Governor and meet with his staff.  For several meetings over the course of several days.  When you provide his staff with all the documentation requested and give your personal word that you will do your best to bring the council in compliance with the law, and then your word is ignored and you instead receive a removal letter signed not by the Governor, but by someone you never met or spoke with. (See )


8)      it feels pretty powerless to be removed from office when you are not even present to address concerns, because you are in Washington DC talking with the Feds on how to get the council compliant with there report of findings.  ( visit to learn more about the September Gathering), One positive thing: While we were being slandered without due process at an officially cancelled meeting that the public was not notified of, and where no interpreters available, we got to advocate for important legislation as part of ADAPT. Note: the meeting was cancelled in accordance to our bylaws and other governing laws and I based my agreement on canceling the meeting not on whether I was able to attend, but on a reasonable belief there would not be a quorum  See ICOIL Councilmember attendance record for May to November )


9)      it feels pretty powerless to have the council call the police and violate your first amendment rights (October Meeting), rather then to have a reasonable discussion where evidence of the slanderous accusations is provided and everyone agrees to follow the bylaws and other governing law with regards to such things like elections. (Watch the October meeting for yourself at )


10)   it feels pretty powerless to have a full business agenda and not be able to address that agenda because of lack of quorum. The same people who had to meet in September, and called the police in October, refused to attend in November prohibiting a meeting from taking place.  Note the weather was not bad.  (Watch the November meeting at also see relevant attendance record )




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