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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Election Victory and a Dose of Reality

I am thrilled with the Obama victory. I am equally thrilled with the massive turn out and overwhelming number of votes cast for Obama. For the first time in almost a decade, we have a president who is not only competent but an eloquent speaker. We also have a man in office that understands disability and included a mention of us in his victory speech. This is amazing to me as I was deeply worried that a silent bigotry existed in this country that might affect the election result. After all it was less than 50 tears ago that George Wallace won 17% of the general election based on his support of racial segregation.

Lost among the back slapping and happy news about the Obama victory is what took place in Colorado. I hate to be a harbinger of doom and gloom but I am disturbed by the fact Colorado voters soundly rejected Amendment 51. What was Amendment 51? It was supposed to provide more than 12,000 people with Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and Mental Retardation with critically needed care by raising the sales tax in the state by 1% That number, 12,000, is how many people in the state are not currently receiving any support or care. These are people that are among among the most vulnerable, those that are reliant on others to support them. What the voters of Colorado have done is send a very clear message: voters stated that they would not spend a penny on every $10 dollars spent to fund services for people with developmental disabilities. Yes, a penny is too much to ask for. An extra penny is too much to spend on support services for 12,000 people with developmental disabilities. This extra penny was also a short term tax--lasting only two years.

Those that supported Amendment 51 such as Marjio Rymer of ARC of Colorado and chairwoman of the coalition to End the Developmental Disability Wait List has been gracious in defeat. She blames the economy for why voters soundly rejected the tax increase. Newspaper reports all echo Rymer's comments about the economic basis for why Amendment 51 was rejected. While the economy is undoubtedly a major factor, I think at a fundamental level the percentage of people that voted against Amendment 51 indicate an inherent bias against people with developmental disabilities exists. Given this, what you do not read about is how woefully underfunded Colorado expenditures are for people with developmental disabilities. According to David Braddock at the University of Colorado expenditures in the state are 73 % below the national average. In rejecting Amendment 51 by a ratio of nearly 2-to-1 the voters have sent a clear message to the disability community: budgets are tight, revenues are decreasing and we do not value your existence. This reality has and will continue to hurt disabled people and their families. Simply put there is no safety net in Colorado for a group of people that desperately need one.

10 comments:

Denver said...

Your facts are NOT correct. The tax was 0.1% the first year, 0.2% the next year and continuing at 0.2% into perpetuity or until changed.

There is a national movement to end wait lists. The website is

http://www.noewait.net

william Peace said...

Denver, Ugh, you are correct. My facts are indeed wrong. The website you refer to, Nowaitlist.net, is wonderful. I look forward to reading it in more depth. I appreciate the fact you took the time to point out my error.

Denver said...

You need to also correct your reference to the website, which is

http://www.noewait.net

You copied it incorrectly

I am the founder of NOEWAIT

Denver said...

Also, I thought you might be interested in knowing about my son, Tim Fox, who was (and is) totally paralyzed from the shoulders down in 1986 (21st birthday).

He is an attorney, graduate of Stanford Law School, specializing - with his wife and law partner, Amy Robertson - in class action large disability access lawsuits. KMart, Taco Bell, Burger King, Apple, etc.

http://www.foxrob.com/

Denver said...

Oops - remove Apple - my bad - and replace with Cardtronics and E*TRADE Bank ATMs -- access for blind people

william Peace said...

Denver, Not a good day for me. Two really basic mistakes. Thanks for the correction. That is great your son is a lawyer. Society needs to see more professional paralyzed people. There are times I feel like I am the only college level teacher that uses a wheelchair. I wonder if your son feels the same way in his field.

Denver said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Denver said...

We have a good cadre of folks in wheelchairs who are attorneys or other professionals. Our center point is the Colorado Cross Disabilities Coalition ("nothing about us without us")an extremely activist and effective group. Some folks are:

Julie Reiskin, Exec Dir of CCDC, MSW
Kevin Williams, Attorney with the CCDC
Carrie Lucas, Attorney with the CCDC, mother of 3 adoptees, all with severe-profound disabilities
Julie Farrar, Activist
Laura Hershey, well-known international speaker and writer

A whole bunch of ADAPT folks, as their headquarters is here in Denver.

Etc., etc.

Quite a community of respected professionals.

william Peace said...

Denver, When you write that there is a good cadre of wheelchair using lawyers and professional, are you referring to Denver in particular? It seems to me the city of Denver has been a wheelchair friendly place since the 1970s, a history I am sure you know quite well. And my characterization of Denver as a friendly place is due to the efforts of the people you mention and ADPT.

Based on my experience in New York City disabled professionals are severely under represented. Of course exceptions exist. In my field, academia, professors with disabilities are virtually non existent.

Denver said...

The Denver Metro Area