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CCDC asked both campaigns if they wanted to send a message directly to our members. We got the attached repsonse from Walker Stapleton. “With 57.3% of Coloradoans with Disabilities Out of Work, Polis Discusses Job Prospects”
We thank both campaigns for considering disability issues and urge our members to research positions of both campaigns and vote for the candidate you think will best.
The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition gave The Pueblo Chieftain and reporter Peter Roper its 2018 ADA Access Media award during the organization’s annual award luncheon in Denver on Oct. 3.
The coalition is an advocacy group whose mission is to protect the rights of the disabled and expand their opportunities.
Roper was recognized for the newspaper’s coverage of the contentious debate in 2017 over plans to change the federal Medicaid program into a block grant to the states.
That’s a change that disabled people fear will lead to a loss in the health-care services that let them lead independent lives outside of institutions. While the disabled make up a small portion of Medicaid recipients, they use about 25 percent of its total dollars on health services and equipment.
Kristen Castor, the coalition’s advocate in Southern Colorado, nominated Roper and The Chieftain for the organization’s media award. She credited the newspaper with accurately explaining the concerns of the disabled to the public during a time when disabled advocates were being arrested in lawmakers’ offices and conducting other kinds of protest.
The other 2018 award winners were attorney Allison Neswood, Denver City Auditor Tim O’Brien, and attorney Joe Beaver.
Given that 41 percent of Pueblo County residents get Medicaid health insurance, local hospital officials and health care advocates wanted Gov. John Hickenlooper, Sen. Michael Bennet and local lawmakers to know Friday there is much at stake as Republican senators write a new federal health care policy behind closed doors.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is presiding over the group of Republicans writing the bill and said he hopes to get it passed by the GOP-controlled Senate by July 4 — without amendments.
Bennet, a Democrat, said the closed-door secrecy was frustrating some Republican senators too.
“They’re so ashamed of what they’re doing they won’t even let all their Republican colleagues see that they are doing,” he claimed.
It was nearly all Democratic lawmakers that met with the Pueblo health care providers Friday, except for state Sen. Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa. Also in the group were Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, and state Reps. Daneya Esgar and Dan Valdez.
October 19, 2018
Regional Transportation District
ATTN: RTD Board of Directors’
1600 Blake Street
Denver, CO 80202
Dear Board Members:
Congratulations on the passage of fare rate changes for 2019. Those of us signing on to this letter are appreciative of the implementation of the low-income fare, which will provide confidence to the community showing Regional Transportation District (RTD) is serious about providing public transit to all sectors of our public. The work of RTD staff, alongside the Pass Program Working Group (PPWG), was instrumental in providing options during this process that were based on extensive discussions, research, and debate.
Today, we are writing to express concern that the fares you have approved for para-transit service Access-a-Ride (AAR) have not been properly vetted in the same way. Our understanding is that PPWG was not asked to review AAR rates because it did not fall into the pass program category. The fact is, the AAR program is nearly 10% of RTD’s budget and needs careful analysis to ensure that the service is provided – to qualified users and efficient funds are available to run the program, in a cost effective and responsible manner.
With this formal request, we ask that RTD create a task force/working group to address the operations of AAR.
Like PPWG, this group should include representatives across the community including users of the system. Specialty areas should include but are not limited to:
RTD has demonstrated by implementing PPWG, that a collaboration of community and transit professionals can help you address important issues.
We are confident that a task force examination of access-a-ride will help improve delivery and efficiency of this critical program.
Thank you for your consideration of our request.
If you have any questions, please contact me, Julie Reiskin, Executive Director of the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition at email@example.com.
Open/Download the full version of the letter:
New story on October 19, 2018, quoting Advocacy Coordinator Michelle McHenry-Edrington and Legal Program Director Kevin Williams regarding the appropriate use of service animals on our RTD vehicles. View attached link to see the story. See the story that aired on Fox 31 News on October 19, 2018. Michelle and Edgar are stars!
Election season is here and at the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC) we have one message. VOTE AS IF YOU LIFE DEPENDS ON IT….BECAUSE IT DOES. CCDC does not endorse or oppose any candidate.
We say NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US…EVER! In order to participate we must exercise our right and responsibility to vote. Democracy is not a spectator sport and only works when we participate. We have no excuse not to vote. Our ballots come in the mail. If we want to go to a vote center we can, there are accessible voting booths at the voting center. If we need help understanding or filling out our ballots we can get that help from your local voting center, a friend you trust, or an advocate (including CCDC staff).
This guide will do the following:
We are voting for a new Governor. The Democratic candidate is Jared Polis and the Republican Candidate is Walker Stapleton . Both are currently holding other elected positions. Jared Polis is a congressman for the second congressional district and Walker Stapleton is our state Treasurer. CCDC has given both candidates our expectations for a new Governor
The Governor gets to decide who runs every state agency including Health Care Policy and Financing, Human Services, Labor and Employment, etc. If there are changes to the federal Medicaid program a Governor might be able to decide if we accept a block grant for Medicaid—something CCDC strongly opposes. How much a Governor supports Medicaid is important to us.
Governors also are able to appoint people to boards and commissions including rule making bodies like the Medical Services Board, the Human Services Board, etc. We want a Governor that will listen to us about appointments and will appoint knowledgeable advocates who have direct experience with the various systems. We want people appointed that are connected with the community that will seek out diverse opinions and make an effort to listen to our community.
The Governor is the CEO of the state and sets the tone with state agencies. The Governor decides if state agencies are there to support people with disabilities to full participants in the state, or treat us as if we are errant children, in need of protection, punitive measures to keep us compliant, or both. A Governor can choose to keep an open door to hear us if we have problems with state agencies or can assume that longtime agency staff always know best and stonewall any efforts we make raise issues.
We will also vote for Congressional Candidates in all 7 congressional districts. Here are the CCDC requests of our Congressional Delegation. Research candidates directly—do not just rely on 30 second TV commercials.
We also get to elect a new Secretary of State, Treasurer, and Attorney General. All of these positions are important. You can read more about these races here!
Many people will get to elect a Colorado Legislator —all seats are up for re-election but some areas do not have two candidates. Many Colorado Senate seats are up as well, and in some tight districts a few votes might determine control of the Senate. Never doubt that your vote counts. You should be able to have a personal conversation with anyone running in your district. To find out who is running look here. Reach out to candidates in your district and ask them about their disability platform. Ask if they will support Medicaid, and expand programs that allow us to control our lives such as Consumer Directed Attendant Supports. We want consumer/participant direction for all Long Term Services and Supports. Ask if they will support Medicaid Buy-In allowing us to work and get out of poverty. Many of the issues outlined on our Gubernatorial paper are relevant to a Representative or Senator. Most important, ask them to make a commitment that if someone asks them to run a bill that will affect people with disabilities that they will ask the person if people from the disability community have been involved with the bill. If the answer is no then please do not support the bill unless or until they have fully involved our community. Real and Meaningful engagement of people with disabilities at all levels of government must be a priority.
People with disabilities have the right to vote, the right to accessibility and the right to vote in private. Disability Law Colorado is the lead organization that protects these rights. If you have a concern about access to your ballot, or if someone says you are not allowed to vote, please contact Jennifer Levin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-722-0300. Their website has complete information on our voting rights.
As always there are a lot of ballot initiatives.
Below are the ones where there are possible effects on disability and where appropriate, the CCDC position. These are statewide ballot initiatives. There are local initiatives all over the state, such as a measure in Denver to fund mental health treatment. CCDC does not take positions on local issues but encourage you to listen to all sides, read the proposal, talk to people you trust and vote. Here are the statewide ballot initiatives that have a disability component or are about overall governance:
Amendment V: Lower the age from 25 to 21 for someone to be a state legislator or senator. CCDC has no position on this issue.
Amendments Y and Z: Both of these amendments change how go about redistricting to make the process less partisan. Y is for congressional (federal level) redistricting and Z for (state level) legislators. There will be a process to select commissioners using specific criteria and there will be an equal number of commissioners from each major political party and independent/unaffiliated weapons. When the census is taken and the population changes we get more or fewer congressional seats (probably more). This requires the congressional districts be redrawn. This is a very political process because the parties each want to use the district boundaries for their advantage. The same process has to happen at the state level. In the past partisan processes have caused districts to be drawn based on race keeping people of color in certain areas which reduces the power of the minority vote. The same thing can happen with lower-income communities—keeping everyone living in poverty in one area to dilute the power of the low-income vote. It is in the interest of everyone to have fair elections and to have districts be created using non-partisan, objective criteria. CCDC SUPPORTS THESE AMENDMENTS.
Amendment A: Removes language in the Colorado constitution that allows slavery and involuntary servitude to be used as punishment for someone convicted of a crime. Because many people in jails and prisons are people with disabilities, and because we are a social justice organization, CCDC SUPPORTS THIS AMENDMENT. It is outrageous that slavery of any form is still allowed under any circumstances.
Amendment 73: Funding for public schools which increases funding for K-12 education through an income tax increase for people with incomes over $150,000 and setting a property tax assessment at 7% for residential properties and 24% for non-residential properties. This is reduction of current property taxes. The measure also encourages the legislature to change the school funding formula. The measure does require the Colorado Department of Education to review how the funds are spent and identify best practices. The legislature should review the funding formula ten years after implementation and make modifications if necessary. CCDC agrees that schools must be well funded. CCDC is not an expert in educational financing measures or taxes and therefore is not taking a position on this bill. For a liberal analysis check out the Bell Policy Center and for a conservative analysis check out the Independence Institute.
Amendment 74 requires a state or local government to compensate a property owner if a law or regulation reduces the fair market value of his or her property. CCDC has no position on this proposal.
Amendment 75 allows candidates to accept 5 times the current campaign contribution limits if any candidate in the race loans or gives his or her campaign more than $1 million. The purpose is to level the playing field between a candidate with personal wealth and his or her opponent. CCDC has no position on this proposal. CCDC generally has concern about the influence of money in politics.
Proposition 109 changes Colorado statutes to require the state to borrow up to $3.5 billion in 2019 to fund 66 highway projects and directs the state to pay back the bonds without raising taxes. It also limits how much interest can be paid back and sets a timeline of 20 years for repayment. CCDC STRONGLY OPPOSES THIS PROPOSAL. Our two primary reasons for opposition are:
Proposition 110 authorizes a slight increase in sales and use tax from 2.9% to 3.52% for transportation projects for 20 years and allows the state to borrow up to 6 billion for transportation projects to be paid back over 20 years. The funding would be allocated as follows
45% to the state
40% to local governments
15% to multimodal transportation projects
CCDC STRONGLY SUPPORTS THIS PROPOSAL because the funds will also fix the highways, which are deteriorating but will not leave out transit projects. Local governments can prioritize their needs as transportation needs vary widely around the state. This funding will not be taken out of another source, such as Medicaid or education. This is a sustainable and inclusive solution that will enable our state to meet our diverse transportation needs to have safe and usable roads and to continue to expand transit options.
Proposition 111 reduces the cost of a payday loan to 36 annual percentage rate and expands what is considered to be a deceptive trade practices for payday lending. Payday loans are usually small loans with hefty repayment fees that do not require a credit check. They are popular with low wage workers and people on fixed incomes. People can get in trouble because the fees are so high and most people that use these loans are low-income and did not have the money in the first place and end up in perpetual debt. 36% is still a very high interest rate. Opponents say that this could cause the payday loan industry to stop doing business in Colorado. CCDC SUPPORTS THIS PROPOSAL. If an industry is going to leave the state because they cannot make money with a 36% interest rate that means that they are currently getting much more. If companies need more than 36% interest leave the state that is OK. It would be a better use of our collective time and energy to focus on fair lending practices, reduce income inequality, increase wages, and reduce the cost of housing and health care so that people are not struggling so desperately.
Proposition 112 requires that new oil and gas developments are at least 2500 feet away occupied structures like homes or businesses, water sources and areas designated as “vulnerable”. CCDC has no position on this proposal.
In closing, please remember to vote. Vote your ballot as soon as it comes so you do not forget. If you experience barriers call Disability Law Colorado. You can also call CCDC with questions or concerns. If you want to help do phone banking to get others to vote please reach out to Dawn Howard at email@example.com or 303-839-1775.
CCDC members Jaime Lewis, Julie Reiskin, and Nicole Bishop have been featured in a Westword article published on October 2, 2018, highlighting the lack of accessibility with ride-sharing apps such as Lyft and Uber.
The challenge with ride-sharing apps and accessibility is that the apps are software companies, not taxi services, and drivers are not required to provide wheelchair-accessible vehicles. Both Uber and Lyft claim to be exploring the option of letting users request wheelchair accessible vehicles.
“I don’t want to fight Uber or Lyft. But if they don’t take responsibility [for providing accessibility], we’re going to have to do it for them,” says Lewis. Neither Uber nor Lyft have wheelchair-accessible vehicles available in Denver at this time.
Thank you, Jaime, Julie and Nicole for advocating for our members!
DENVER – The ACLU of Colorado is proud to announce that Chuck Plunkett, Dave Krieger, Alex Landau, Amy Robertson and Tim Fox will receive our 2018 Civil Rights Awards, which will be presented at the Bill of Rights Dinner on Thursday, September 27th at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Denver.
Amy Robertson and Tim Fox are co-executive directors of the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC), a nationwide civil rights organization based in Denver. Over the last several years, they have settled class actions with the cities of Denver, Seattle, and Portland, as well as the Colorado and Montana Departments of Corrections, Red Rocks Amphitheater, and the Pepsi Center. The total dollar value of settlements CREEC has negotiated on behalf of their clients is more than $500 million. Last year, CREEC established a new project, investigating immigration detention facilities for violations of the Constitution and federal law.
Robertson and Fox will receive the Carle Whitehead Memorial award, recognizing lifetime commitment to protecting and extending civil rights and civil liberties.
“Amy Robertson and Tim Fox are vigilant, tireless fighters for justice,” said ACLU of Colorado Executive Director Nathan Woodliff-Stanley. “By establishing and growing CREEC into a powerful civil rights watchdog, they have fought for the rights of thousands of people who were victimized by unequal and discriminatory policies and practices. We are honored to recognize their immense impact.”
Chuck Plunkett and Dave Krieger will receive the Larry Tajiri media award in recognition of their principled defense of objective journalism and editorial independence. Plunkett was the editorial page editor at the Denver Post from July 2016 to May 2018. Krieger was the editorial page editor at the Boulder Daily Camera until April 2018, when he was fired for self-publishing a column criticizing Alden Global Capital, the corporate hedge fund that owns both the Denver Post and the Daily Camera, for making deep staffing and budget cuts to the respective newsrooms. After learning that Krieger was fired, Plunkett resigned his position at the Denver Post in protest.
“The work of ACLU of Colorado, and much broader, the functioning of our democracy, relies on a strong, independent press to expose corruption and hold those in power accountable for their actions,” said ACLU of Colorado Director of Communications and Advocacy John Krieger (no relation to Dave). “We are proud to honor Chuck Plunkett and Dave Krieger, who were willing to speak out and sacrifice their livelihoods to protect the independence and integrity of their profession.”
In recognition of his achievements as an activist, organizer, and educator, Alex Landau will receive the Ralph Carr Award. Landau was the victim of extreme police brutality at the hands of Denver police officers in 2009. Driven by that experience, Landau has worked to build a movement for racial justice in Denver and around Colorado. In his role as community outreach coordinator for the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, he has taught Know Your Rights trainings, led community-based advocacy campaigns, and mobilized voters. He is currently working to expand access to the ballot for pretrial detainees in Denver area jails.
“Alex Landau is an activist, coalition-builder, teacher, role model, and change-maker,” said Woodliff-Stanley. “He took a horrific event that nearly ended his life and used it as fuel to build a movement for racial justice and equality. We are proud to honor his past, present, and future contributions to civil rights and civil liberties.”
The 2018 Bill of Rights Dinner will feature a keynote presentation from Lorella Praeli, ACLU’s Deputy National Political Director and Director of Immigration Policy and Campaigns. Praeli’s presentation will focus on the ACLU’s nationwide effort to combat the Trump Administration’s destructive immigration policies, reunite families that were cruelly separated by the administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policy, and encourage lawmakers to pass comprehensive immigration reform and legislation to protect DREAMers.
CCDC is thrilled that Amy Robertson and Tim Fox are being honored by such a cool organization as ACLU.
U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), along with Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced legislation on September 18, 2018 to make it easier for small businesses comply with the ADA. The Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act bolsters the Disabled Access Credit (DAC), which helps businesses pay for renovations by doubling the maximum tax credit and allowing more small businesses to receive it. The legislation also invests in programs that mediate ADA-related disputes to avoid additional litigation and help individuals and businesses understand the ADA.
CCDC is excited to learn of Senator Duckworth’s proposed legislation that advocates for our members. Senator Duckworth, a veteran and double-amputee, has a proven track record of advocating for people with disabilities. CCDC strongly supports increasing the reach of the ADA, specifically in a way that will incentivize small businesses to become more accessible.