The Daily Moth 5-22-2019

Pelosi accuses Trump of cover-up; Washington state legalizes human composting; Guatemalan teenager dies in CBP custody; South Dakota School for the Deaf campus sold; DCARA reinstates Raymond Rodgers as executive director

Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Wednesday, May 22. Ready for news?


Pelosi accuses Trump of cover-up

Today House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a news conference that she believes President Trump is engaged in a cover-up. She said it after she had a private meeting with Democratic leaders this morning who expressed frustrations that the former White House counsel Don McGahn was blocked from testifying before Congress.

After this, Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had a meeting with President Trump at the White House about a $2 billion infrastructure plan, but news reports say it lasted only five minutes. When Trump walked in the room, he said he wanted to work together on several issues, but that Pelosi said something terrible today when she accused him of a cover-up. Trump said he would only discuss infrastructure once the investigations are finished, then when Pelosi started speaking, he turned on his heel and walked out of the room.

After the meeting, President Trump spoke to the media outside of the White House to say he will not negotiate with Democrats in Congress on anything until they stop their “phony investigations.” He said he doesn’t do cover-ups.

Pelosi said after the meeting that she wonders why Trump did that and that he prays for the president of the United States and for the United States.

Pelosi is being pressured by several Democratic leaders to begin impeachment proceedings. Today Pelosi said she prefers to stay focused on Congressional investigations, but said a cover-up could be an impeachable offense.

President Trump tweeted this morning that Democrats are doing no work in Congress and are instead engaged in “presidential harassment.”


Washington state legalizes human composting

Yesterday Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) signed a bill to legalize human composting. This would allow a deceased human’s remains to be converted into soil and be placed in the ground. The soil can be used to plant vegetables, flowers, or a tree.

Environmental activists say the modern process of burial or cremation is not environmentally friendly.

The person who came up with this idea is Katrina Spade. She founded a company called Recompose, which offers natural organic reduction processes for human bodies to turn into a cubic yard of soil in about a month.

The bodies are put in a vessel, covered with wood chips, and aerated to allow microbes and bacteria to dissolve it naturally. Families can take some or all of the soil home.

The concept is based on farmers and ranchers who use a similar process for livestock to be turned into soil.

Recompose said they expect the costs to be more than a cremation but less than a burial.

There were questions on if this was legal, and now with the state governor signing the bill, Washington is the first state to legalize it. It will go in effect next year.


Guatemalan teenager dies in CBP custody

The Customs and Border Protection said a 16-year-old teenager from Guatemala, Carlos Hernandez Vasquez, died on Monday after he was diagnosed with a flu. He is the fifth minor since December to die in CBP custody.

Vasquez was detained for six days in a large facility in McAllen, Texas. He was with a group of 70 people crossing the border on May 13.

On Sunday, he was diagnosed with the flu and transferred to a smaller Border Patrol station, but died on Monday.

Now the large McAllen facility is not allowing new people in because many detainees have high fevers and flu-related illnesses.

There is an investigation on the boy’s death by the FBI, local police, and the Homeland Security Department.

The CBP said they are saddened by the tragic loss and offered their condolences to his family.


South Dakota School for the Deaf campus sold

The South Dakota School for the Deaf (SDSD) campus has been sold for $6.9 million.

Sioux Falls Ministry Center (SFMC), a Christian non-profit organization, bought the campus, which has 14 acres including the buildings and the football and track field.

The SDSD Outreach services, the only thing that is left under SDSD, is expected to move out within the next 4 to 6 months.

SFMC provides services for low income families and they see this the Deaf school’s campus as a great opportunity for the community.

Before SDSD was established in 1880, Deaf children in The Dakota Territory (the name of North Dakota and South Dakota before they became states) went to Iowa School for the Deaf. The Dakota Territory paid Iowa $5.00 per week for each student who was from the Dakota Territory.

In December, 1880, the Dakota Territorial School for Deaf Mutes was set up. When South Dakota became a state in 1889, the school’s name became South Dakota School for the Deaf.

The school had three different deaf superintendents. One of them was Dr. Frank Turk, who is one of the founders of the Youth Leadership Camp.

The 1960’s was the highest peak for enrollment for SDSD. The school had about 100 to 150 students. In later decades, enrollment started to dwindle. One of the main reasons for this change is the school’s shift towards sending students to mainstream programs and an increased focus on an oral/auditory approach.

In 1975, Benjamin Soukup founded the organization Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD) on the SDSD campus. CSD grew into a large organization but SDSD’s student enrollment dwindled.

In 1993, CSD and the South Dakota Association of the Deaf bought the western half of the campus.

In 2005, SDSD dormitories were closed.

In 2009, SDSD’s educational programs ended. The school made agreements with local school districts to send deaf children to either an auditory/oral or a bilingual program.

In 2011, the school closed its campus.

CSD later moved their headquarters and most of their operations to Austin, Texas, and put up their part of the campus for sale.

It was bought in 2015 by a car dealership owner who had a vision to transform the area into a historic town center, but it didn’t happen.

After this, the campus was on sale again, but it was a very complicated process that was controlled by the state’s Board of Regents, which oversees the school. Several organizations tried to make offers and the process was drawn out for several years, but now the campus is sold.

The Daily Moth reached out to the South Dakota Association of the Deaf for thoughts on this.

Teresa Nold, secretary for SDAD, said that her parents, brother, husband, and herself graduated from SDSD. She said she tried to have her son placed at SDSD, but failed three times.

She said that at the time enrollment was dwindling so the school began to not accept students. She tried to fight for her son to attend, but said that nothing was successful.

Nold said that just having the Outreach services is not enough because there needs to be options for deaf children out there to get their education through direct communication.

The Outreach services is connected to over 500 deaf children in South Dakota.

Scott Miller, who graduated from SDSD in 1987, explained that the educational class teaching ended due to former Governor Mike Rounds wanting to save 4 million dollars.

He said that the Deaf community is very disappointed and sad. He explained that this decision has affected everybody around South Dakota.

Many have expressed negative feelings on Facebook posts and word of mouth. However, Miller mentioned that many expected this to happen after many years of the Board of Regents and state governors pushing for SDSD to sell their campus.

Miller said it is important for us to fight for every school to allow ASL to be part of their educational programs.

So, the SDSD campus property no longer belongs to the Deaf community, but only in history and memory.


DCARA reinstates Raymond Rodgers as executive director

Here is a major update with the DCARA situation — Raymond Rodgers was reinstated to his Executive Director position.

The Facebook page “Accountability Now DCARA,” which focuses on providing updates on the DCARA staff’s demands and protests, posted a picture of Rodgers smiling while holding a paper.

DCARA staffer AnnLynn Parker said the paper officially ends the 89 days of struggle ever since Rodgers was placed on paid administrative leave.

Also last night the current DCARA board signed an agreement to end their terms by September 17.

It is a big turnaround for DCARA, as just last week the DCARA board announced they terminated Rodgers and hired an interim executive director, Brian Lucas. That sparked controversy because Lucas was accused of sexual assault, which he has denied, and was blocked by DCARA staff from entering the building. The next day, Lucas said that he was no longer with DCARA.

On Friday, five members of the DCARA board posted a vlog to apologize for former board president Judy Gough’s inappropriate vlog in February, the length of the investigation time, the selection of Lucas, and for causing anxiety and frustration.

Last night the Bay Area Black Deaf Advocates live-streamed a public meeting at DCARA. Almost all of the major people involved in the DCARA controversy were in the room.

Note that this whole situation started after the former DCARA Board President Judy Gough made a personal vlog in early February directed at the NorCAL Board President Sam Holden, who is African-American. Gough suggested that he was a drug user and said that his daughter was adopted. She took down the vlog, but several who saw it said it was racist and demanded action against Gough.

Last night during the live-streaming, board member Jerry Grigsby explained that the board was not aware of the vlog or the situation until they were confronted about it by Rosa Lee Timm, the marketing director with DCARA, and the DCARA POC committee. The meeting took place on February 22nd. Grigsby said it was an unfriendly meeting and that the board later found out that Rodgers already knew there was a situation, but did not notify the board about it.

Grigsby said they then suspended Rodgers and called for an investigation. He said the board determined that Gough violated the board’s bylaws and asked her to resign, and she agreed to.

Grigsby said after the investigation was over, they saw that there were multiple issues on what happened in February. They then met with Rodgers and made him an offer to come back with certain conditions, but said he did not accept it so they asked him to leave.

Grigsby later said Rodgers was dismissed because he did not follow bylaws in the communication process between the staff, the executive director, and the board — that Rodgers allowed the staff to complain directly to the board.

Rosa Lee Timm and Rodgers then took the stage. Timm said it was the first time in a long time they have heard directly from the board. Timm said the staff were not the ones who made the initial complaint about Gough’s vlog, but that it came from people in the community.

Timm said Rodgers encouraged her to discuss it with Gough, but that there were authority issues with her being a staffer and Gough being a board president. This caused delays of several days that frustrated the POC committee within DCARA.

Timm said the staff decided to directly confront the board about this without giving them advance warning. She said Rodgers decided to take a back seat in this and allowed them to take the lead because he was a white man. Rodgers confirmed this and said he helped to establish ground rules for the meeting.

Timm said on the meeting on February 22, the POC committee sat directly across from the board and made a list of demands, with several of them very strong demands. Timm said Gough responded in a beautiful way and said she would resign, but that two board members defended Gough, and made racist remarks. Timm said the POC committee realized that the entire board needed to go.

Rodgers then took the stage. He explained that he had meetings with Gough prior to February 22 to try and resolve the issue, but felt awkward with it because she was her boss and that there was no process in place in the bylaws for this specific issue. He said he wanted the staff to bring it directly to the board.

Grigsby then took the stage and said it was clear that there are many things that the board and the staff can work together on to improve on for a better future. He said the board would undergo training to become more sensitive and knowledgable.

There were multiple community members who came up onstage to criticize the board members. Grigsby and other board members responded to them by either acknowledging their comments or apologizing.

After this, two meeting facilitators who used to be DCARA board presidents came up onstage to announce a written agreement between DCARA Board and Rodgers and the staff/management team.

The agreement was that Rodgers would come back as executive director without any conditions, that Liann Osborne would take over as interim board president, and that the current board members’ terms would be terminated on September 17, 2019 with new board members sworn in, including members from community organizations.

Gough then took the stage. She said prior to her vlog on February 10, she had been holding down emotions for several months. She said her son was taken to the hospital several times because he tried to commit suicide.

Note: this has to do with Gough’s son being involved in online debates about LEAD-K and their working relationship with AG Bell.

Gough said she felt like she was not doing anything to defend her son so she made a vlog to address Sam Holden, who was and still is the board president of NorCal, another organization where LEAD-K is also based in. Gough said she later took down the vlog and apologized to Holden the day after, but received no response.

There was a confrontation between Gough and a man that appeared to be Xman Ackerman, a leader within BABDA. Others stepped in to stop them from talking to each other.

Gough said she was not a bad woman and said she was the one who called the lawyer. She said she loved DCARA and resigned to try and resolve the issue. She said she has donated a lot of money to the DCARA organization and that people have no reason to be mad or to hate her.

The LIVE video ended there.

So, this is a long recap of what happened with the DCARA situation and the meeting last night. In short — Rodgers is back as executive director and the current board will end their terms in September. This meets the major demands from the DCARA staff, for Rodgers to be back and for the board to resign. The staff has been protesting in multiple ways for almost 90 days.

Accountability Now DCARA Post:

Bay Area Black Deaf Advocates Livestream:

TDM Report about DCARA from last week:

DCARA Board Apologizes:


That is all for today. See you tomorrow and stay with the light!