Supes. to Disabled: Wait for Access, Disabled to Supes.: Wait for lawsuits

by Bob Planthold on May 8, 2006

The Supes. still act as if SF is in a separate island universe, at least as far as compliance with the American with Disabilities Act is concerned. Awareness of the law of the land somehow hasn’t reached into the hearts and minds of the Supes. Last week, for the 2nd year in a row, the Supes. Budget Committee killed legislation that would have set a formal timeline for completing all the required curb ramps.

It’s worth noting that this rejection of implementing the rights to access for people with disabilities came from so-called “progressive” Supes. The action to kill was based on one leading member of the board’s intent to “… not vote for a $200 million unfunded mandate.” Another negative vote came from a SPONSOR of a version of this same bill he later voted against; worse, disability advocates were told by an aide to this Supe. that the item would be continued for amendments. Other Supes. also told disability advocates the legislation would be continued for amendments; so, no effort was made to get people with disabilities to attend what we were told was an unnecessary hearing. Deception, mis-information, isolation, and negative hyperbole were what the disabled got from the Supes.

Hardly the views and actions of progressives but more typical of the rhetoric we hear from those who are running this country with their values of money before principle, where expediency and serving one’s supporters are more important than inclusiveness and empowerment to all.

Fortunately, no one cited the recently released 10-year Capital Plan. That’s another exercise in “spin” and Orwellian doublethink. On page G-34, this plan claims it is doubling the money to be recommended for curb ramp construction. What that report ignores is also what the Supes. somehow conveniently forgot from last year’s debacle on this legislation. At the current rate of funding curb ramp construction, it would take approximately THREE HUNDRED YEARS to complete the project. So, with a doubling, it would only take ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS to complete. Is that progress–or self-deceiving fantasy?

The massive disparity in funding the need to build curb ramps versus funding what is convenient to the Supes. other priorities may indicate the true level of civil rights commitment of the Supes. If the Supes. had paid attention and remembered, how could they so blithely reject it again this year? Unless people with disabilities don’t register on the political Richter scale of Supes.

Despite all sorts of statements, studies, and strategies, SF is not taking specific and comprehensive action that gives confidence to people with disabilities that SF will EVER fully respond to our legitimate and legislated needs.

It may be time for the disabled to get writer’s cramp and suffer repeated bouts of laryngitis from writing and phoning in multiple complaints about multiple city agencies’ neglect of access.

It seems the Supes. don’t respond to logic or to law as much as they do to litigation.

Prior to litigation, though, people with disabilities can communicate with the US Olympic Committee about how SF has turned its back on completing what is required for full disability access in time for the 2016 Olympics. Though SF may continue to trumpet itself as open to all, we can certainly make the US Olympic Committee aware of the hypocrisy and inaccuracy of such claims. Then, of course, we can use the Sunshine Ordinance to get from the Convention & Visitors’ Bureau the contact information for all the various conventions planning or seeking future meetings here. If enough probing questions get raised by those groups who want to spend money here, then maybe the Supes. will enact a plan to complete the required access for people with disabilities.

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