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State rules Montco pool discriminated by banning campers

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BumRushDaShow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 09:48 PM
Original message
State rules Montco pool discriminated by banning campers
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

A state investigation found that a Montgomery County swim club racially discriminated against 56 African-American and Hispanic children in June when it revoked an agreement to allow a Northeast Philadelphia day camp to use its pool after the children' first visit.

<snip>

The Human Relations Commission report examined Valley Club leaders' actions, including members' e-mails, both before and after the Creative Steps trip to the pool.

In one e-mail to another Valley Club official, board member George Whitehill wrote, "Race is an issue since every e-mail of complaint mentioned race, although stating that, race had nothing to do with the complaint. It only takes one out of the 120 parents to make this an issue, and at no cost to them."

<snip>

The commission ordered the club to pay a $50,000 civil penalty for the club's discrimation again one child, whose parents filed the complain with the commission.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/20090922_Sta...



This broke at 10:30 pm EDT tonight (heard it on the local news radio station). A short version is now running on AP.

Some of the info that came out is pretty sad .... More may come in terms of penalties. At least the kids enjoyed some time at Walt Disney World thanks to Tyler Perry. The next generation now experiences the sting of racism. Better to get them toughened up now while they're young.
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imdjh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 09:55 PM
Response to Original message
1. What authority does a "human relations commission" have to settle a civil case?
I should think that if there was a legal payday in this then the camp/parents would have pursued it in civil court.

Until I am corrected by someone who actually knows, I'd say this is bullshit.
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BumRushDaShow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 10:05 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. It's a commission set up by the state of Pennsylvania
by law. It's to protect citizens of the state from exactly what occurred here. It's like a state version of the EEOC.

http://www.phrc.state.pa.us/
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imdjh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 10:18 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. They don't seem terribly certain of their police power in this case.
I'm inclined to think that they don't have any, because this is a private club. The actionable act of the swim club was that they revoked/broke their contract with the daycamp. They would reasonably owe for any inconvenience, replacement, or additional cost that the camp incurred, but their reason for doing it is beyond the authority of the state of Pennsylvania, because it's freedom of association. Someone might argue that the swim club is functioning as a public accommodation because they accepted outside business, but this is a very well established area of law because country clubs accept limited outside business without forfeiting their right to freedom of association.

Jesus, we just had the case in New Jersey not too long ago, establishing that the BSA, despite behaving and advertising itself as open to the public, despite using government facilities and special treatments, and despite the broad public perception that it was indeed open to the public, is a private religious organization protected in its freedom of association. I simply don't see how the PA human rights commission isn't beyond its authority here.
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RamboLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 10:30 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. The pool club has been ordered to pay out
The commission ordered the club to pay a $50,000 civil penalty for the club's discrimation again one child, whose parents filed the complain with the commission.

The report also orders Valley Club to pay other damages, including reimbursing the parent who filed the complaint for all related expenses. If there is no settlement made between the parent, the club and the commission, either party can request a public hearing before the commission and can after that be challenged in court.

The $50,000 civil penalty is to be paid to state government, under terms of the finding.

Mildenberg said that because the fine is only for the club's discrimination against one child, it could be greatly increased - into the millions of dollars - if applied equally to the cases of dozens of other children enrolled at Creative Steps who also lost the chance to swim at Valley Club.

"If the award stuck on appeal," Mildenberg said, "that would shut them down."

------

Additionally, the report noted that when Valley Club tried in 2009 to expand its membership by recruiting in areas outside its township - Lower Moreland, which has a 0.8 percent black population - mailouts were "mainly directed at areas with overwhelmingly Caucasian populations" including Rhawnhurst, Fox Chase and Churchville.

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/20090922_Sta...

Where are the DU apologists I remember for this club?
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BumRushDaShow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 10:31 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Read the state law that establishes their power
http://sites.state.pa.us/PA_Exec/PHRC/publications/lite...

The fact that the club openly advertised their "availability to public" for a fee (making it no longer a "private club" in terms of the use of the pool), is probably what they are going on and why they sought jurisdiction. The breach of contract is a whole other issue.

With most of these types of Commissions, they seek mediation and settlements rather than litigation and penalties. But apparently this place got cocky. I expect with the release of the report, they may still try to push for some sort of settlement.

As a analogous situation, note what happened to the YMCA and YWCA in the past (including here in Philadelphia) when blacks were not allowed or had to establish segregated Ys (and those institutions were religious-based). The agitation caused the boards to pass resolutions and polices that banned discrimination.
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RamboLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 10:47 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. Read the affadavit
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BumRushDaShow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 11:01 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Thanks for posting that!
Interesting! :hi:
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imdjh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 11:02 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Thanks for bringing it, I just did. I think the gaping hole is in the last paragraph.
The ruling is premised on the swimming pool being a "public accommodation" and a "commercial property". I don't know how this particular club is structured, but our community pool in the last place I lived that had one was not a public accommodation nor was it a commercial property. Its tax zoning was "institutional (exempt)" and its organization was a nonprofit private club, essentially the same as an Elk's club. This is quite different from a YMCA which actually sells memberships at the front desk to whomever walks through the door. The Hunt Valley Club might hinge on whether members have to be approved by a vote of the board or membership, or if they sell memberships at the facility on the spot.

We'll see.
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RamboLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 11:16 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. Read 4,5,6 & 7 which basically states membership
is open to the public, requires no sponsorship or membership vote.
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imdjh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 11:24 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Then they are probably fucked. They are probably busy right now, making the place judgement proof.
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wisteria Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-23-09 12:09 AM
Response to Original message
11. I disagree with the ruling, but with all the publicity surrounding this story,
Edited on Wed Sep-23-09 12:36 AM by wisteria
those reviewing the case and the club didn't have a chance. People would have attacked the commission too as being racist. Now that those who made the accusations sued and are a little richer, I hope this is the end of it. If not, they will drive the club out of business and no one will have a place to swim. If I recall, didn't the club offer an olive brach here, but it was refused?

I will also add, that sending out flyer's of recruitment to local areas is not a form of discrimination. The areas mentioned are in close proximity to the club and it would seem logical to send them to those areas. Why would they send flyer's out to locations that are farther away? Would you want to travel to a swim club that was located 45 minutes to an hour away when there were clubs closer to you. It is not the clubs doing that the population in those areas are populated by caucasians. Are you suggesting that something be proposed to even out the populations in those areas?

And, I will add the race situations and relationships of those who live in and right outside the Philadelphia area are complex. Many people have moved outside the Philly area and into the suburbs to get away from the high crime, terrible schools and drugs. Cheltenham, which was mentioned, is not a mixed area and has been notorious for the crime and drugs. The population in that area I would surmise, has no money for a luxury like a swim club membership.







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BumRushDaShow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-23-09 05:12 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. Wow.
Your whole dissertation is breath-takingly bigoted and definitely an uninformed hit piece. But that is not surprising. "High crime" is most certainly not limited to the city but the "caucasian" sections of Montgomery county, home to meth dealing and juvenile white supremacists with weapons caches that would make any city criminal gawk.

You apparently didn't read the affidavit linked above. It was obvious that the facility was actively seeking additional income by offering the use of their pool and going "public". But thanks to some racist idiots among their membership, they may take a fall. If anything, the email exchanges quoted in the affidavit between the board and the director showed that the director did attempt to mitigate but then made the mistake of bowing to the racists.

And as a note, this facility was actually close to where the day camp was based as they attempted to find nearby facilities with a pool large enough to handle the group after the Frankford Y (their normal spot) closed. The Girard College facility that eventually offered them pool time after they were turned away from Huntingdon Valley, is much farther away than this club was.

Moral of story? If you don't want "those people" at your club, then don't advertise per diem use by the general public without the need for membership or referral.
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imdjh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-23-09 01:04 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. There is a flaw to your logic which we choose to ignore.
Edited on Wed Sep-23-09 01:06 PM by imdjh
It is precisely the unpopular speech, the unpopular religion, the unpopular association (or exclusivity) which require constitutional protection.

The translation of your last sentence is: "If you don't want to act like you think the same way that I do, then I will prevent you from using your property and labor the way you choose to." And that is why we get accused of being liberal fascists or chauvinists.

The only wrongful act here which is of legitimate interest to government is that the contract was broken, and people were inconvenienced and deprived of a service for which they had paid in advance. The only rightful judgement would be for the provable damages.
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