Saturday, May 22, 2010

Civil Rights not Compassion

Howdy Comrades!

I find it very ironic that Councilman Mike Martinez recently led the Austin City Council in opposing the discriminatory law against racial minorities in Arizona, but last week he informed the MMWG President that the Cap Metro Board will pass the following resolution at their meeting next Monday.








COUNTY OF TRAVIS                                                           RESOLUTION CMTA-2010-0524



            WHEREAS, the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority is required by Federal Regulation, 49 CFR 37.135, to update our ADA Paratransit Plan in conjunction with Board approved changes to service; and


            WHEREAS, the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority intends to support and act upon the recommendations identified in the Sunset Commission Report; and


            WHEREAS, the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority wishes to obtain meaningful input and comments from the community; and


            WHEREAS, the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority wishes to comply with the Mediation Agreement between Capital Metro and the Metro Mobility Working Group (MMWG); and


            WHEREAS, the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority must submit recommended policy changes to the Board of Directors in conjunction with the 2011 budget process.


            NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors that:

  • Staff is directed to initiate the public input and comment process in May 2010 and to complete all outreach by June 15, 2010;
  • The MMWG is requested to bring forward their final recommendations on the three outstanding issues, eligibility, open returns and taxi vouchers, to the June 2010 meeting of the Board of Directors;
  • Staff and the MMWG are requested to work together to identify a mediation service that can facilitate the process to support the advancement of the MMWG recommendations at the June 2010 meeting of the Board of Directors; and
  • Staff is directed to present, at the June 2010 meeting of the Board of Directors, analysis of all public comment and input, final staff recommendations of service levels, service area and policy change recommendations.

---Why Councilman Martinez would undermine the civil rights of persons with disabilities is beyond me.  Moreover, it seems somewhat presumptuous of him to state categorically that this resolution will pass prior to public comment.  There are some real legal issues involved in short-circuiting the mediation agreement between Cap Metro and plaintiffs who sued in 2008.  I foresee further litigation and intervention by the FTA if this resolution is actually passed.  There is not enough time to resolve these issues and obtain public comment in order to submit a revised ADA plan in July.  Perhaps, Mr. Martinez already knows the outcome of the citizen input and has the new ADA plan written ready to go?  We need to approach the Cap Metro Board and Mr. Martinez to let them know that this is not an issue of "compassion" but an issue of civil rights.  Remember we have had a regime change in Washington and standards have changed with respect to enforcement of civil rights.  Indeed, the new director of the Office of Civil Rights at DOJ is disabled, and DOJ officials have indicated to activists in Austin an interest in these kinds of transportation issues.  Perhaps, Metro staff has misled Mr. Martinez and sold him a bill of goods they told him are legal.  They are not and will be opposed by all elements of the mobility impaired community here in Austin.


Chairman Mal

Power to the Peeps!


Saturday, May 01, 2010

Speaking Truth about Cap Metro

Howdy Comrades!

I agree with the sentiments expressed in Glenn Gavin's response to Pat's message about unacceptable practices at Cap Metro.  Austin once had a national reputation as having a model paratransit service.  In the past five years, however, Cap Metro senior staff began to implement a strategy to minimize costs, in a fatuous an ineffective manner.  I believe he is correct that behind this is a desire to create a train system for Austin and Central Texas no matter how much the cost to taxpayers and users of fixed route buses and paratransit.  We have tried to work within the system and have been misled by Metro staff.  The culture at Cap Metro is one exhibiting a collective factitious disorder.  In desperation, some blind STS users went to court to stop the encroachment to paratransit service.  We have slowed down the worst changes but some of our new Board members do not seem to get it when it comes to the civil rights of disabled citizens and the needs of transit dependent customers.  It may be time to consider direct action as proposed in the previous post regarding Glenn's message to Pat et al. I hope the complaint to FTA will freeze the action, so to speak, but we need to rebuild the kind of community support we once enjoyed in Austin and from our liberal establishment.


Chairman Mal

Power to the Peeps!

PS: On behalf of the Blind Panther Party, I wish everyone a Merry May Day 2010.