Some words of appreciation to the New York Times Magazine for recognizing the life of Carrie Ann Lucas are warranted. So thanks from so many of us to The New York Times that had the ken and cognizance to place Carrie Lucas in The New York Times Magazine, “The Lives They Lived, remembering some of the artists, innovators and thinkers we lost in the past year”: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/12/23/magazine/carrie-ann-lucas-death.html. 
Listen to Colorado Public Radio (“CPR”) this afternoon, 12/30/19, at 4:50 PM to hear an interview by CPR’s Andrew Kenney with CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program Director (“LPD”), Kevin Williams, discuss service animals and the addition of miniature horses to the definition. You can find CPR on your FM dial at 90.1 (wait we do it some other way now, don’t we — sorry your Legal Program Director has been around for a while). In any event, the brief interview will air again today at that time. CCDC’s LPD also apologizes for having lost his voice on the very day the interview occurred. His very strange sounding voice is not the fault of the great people at CPR, we assure you. Continue reading “A horse is a sevice animal, of course, of course…”
The New Year brings with it reflections on the past year, hopes for the year to come, resolutions to do better at something or perhaps a resolution to stop making empty promises to oneself. Why do we celebrate the New Year? Have we not had enough time off from work, enough to eat and drink, and enough time with family by now? The reason we celebrate is the passage of time is something to celebrate –as a culture that is a blend of many different cultures, we celebrate survival. Continue reading “The New Year Brings with it Reflections on the Past Year by Julie Reiskin”
By: Stacy Warden/Author of Noah’s Miracle
The legal process isn’t easy for an already struggling family who is overwhelmed with the care of a child or family member. It’s intimidating from the start. When a family is issued a denial they are provided with a notice of the denial and advised of their rights. However, there’s a tiny little clause that says should you lose your appeal that you very well may have to pay the State back in services and legal fees. Which, for most families is an automatic discouragement from pursuing their appellate rights before an Administrative Law Judge. Continue reading “Medicaid’s Appellate Process Gone Wrong”
Remembering some of the artists, innovators, and thinkers we lost in the past year.
View original article: Carrie Ann Lucas Obituary in the New York Times
By Katharine Q. Seelye
Feb. 27, 2019
Carrie Ann Lucas, who championed people, especially parents, with disabilities and won a major lawsuit to make Kmart more accessible, died on Sunday in Loveland, Colo. She was 47.
Her sister, Courtney Lucas, said the cause was complications of septic shock. Continue reading “Carrie Ann Lucas Obituary in the New York Times (Quoted)”
The aim is to reduce Medicaid fraud by requiring therapists, respite workers and nurses to log in and verify their location when they visit someone’s home to provide care. But backlash, especially from the parents of children with disabilities, has been fierce.
“We’re disabled, not criminals!” shouts one petition. Continue reading “Medicaid law forcing caregivers to be tracked by GPS inspires privacy backlash from Colorado’s disabled community”
The Regional Transportation District on Thursday proposed cutting six bus routes, reducing service on 19 bus routes, suspending special buses for sporting and community events, and curtailing service on three of its light rail lines.
The agency hopes those reductions are enough to give their operators a needed break. Because of a driver shortage, they’ve been required to work overtime for the last four years to keep service levels up. That in turn has led to more turnover, and, in October, senior staff told the RTD board they wanted to make “significant” cuts to service in a last-ditch bid to fix the problem.
“Clearly, we would rather not be doing any of this,” spokeswoman Pauletta Tonilas said at a press briefing Thursday. “But this is our responsibility; we’re owning this. Some of these are going to be painful.”
The agency is currently short about 80 bus drivers and 60 light rail operators; it needs 1,084 and 216 of each, respectively. RTD says the cuts to regularly scheduled service alone would reduce the need for 44 bus drivers and six light rail operators on a given weekday. The suspension of special service buses — which include BuffRide, BroncosRide and RunRide on Memorial Day Weekend — would mean anywhere from six to 114 fewer drivers would need to report to work.
The 16L on West Colfax, the 55 in Arvada, the 99L in Lakewood and Littleton, the 157 to the Community College of Aurora and Buckley Airforce Base, the 236 in Boulder and the 403 in Highlands Ranch, would be cut completely. This map shows which regular bus and light rail routes would be affected by the cuts.
Peak frequency on the 16th Street MallRide would drop to three minutes and the D Line from downtown Denver to Littleton would no longer operate on weekends. Only part of the R Line would see reductions because the federal government, which funded part of the line, turned down RTD’s request to reduce service in Lone Tree.
Service on the 16 would be expanded, as would weekend service on the D Line’s cousin, the C Line. Many 16L riders will likely migrate to the nearby W light rail line.
But on a recent morning, some said they’ll have to switch to the 16 local. Solomon Joseph, who said he takes his kids to school Lakewood on the 16L every day, said the local bus will add at least another 15 minutes each way — and more if he misses his connection.
“RTD, you’re going to make a big mistake if you cut this route,” he said. “Because there are people more than just myself that ride it on a regular, daily basis and depend on it.”
Carla Respects Nothing said she takes the 16L from her home on the west side to her job in downtown Denver every day.
“It takes me not even 10 minutes to get to work. I’m lucky,” she said. “I just hope they don’t cut it because we really need these limited routes to get where we are going faster.”
And it also appears that cuts could affect future users of RTD’s paratransit service, Access-A-Ride. Anyone who lives within a 3/4-mile radius and has a qualifying disability is entitled to use the service. Advocates had worried the cuts would affect their communities, but in November, outgoing General Manager Dave Genova told the board that “We don’t need to touch Access-a-Ride.”
But now, RTD says no new customers will be added to the program if routes are eliminated in their area.
“I have issue with that,” said Jaime Lewis, a transit adviser with the Colorado Cross Disability Coalition who attended the press conference. “I can see the scenario where if somebody obtains a disability, that their neighbor is going to have access to Access-A-Ride and they won’t. That proposes an issue with our community.”
Additionally, what were originally advertised at “temporary” cuts now contain a caveat that poorly performing service will likely not be reinstated. RTD staff say those services likely would’ve been cut through the agency’s routine service changes.
At a special board meeting Thursday evening, several directors said they’d like to know which specific lines are unlikely to come back. Staff said they couldn’t say at the moment.
Overall, RTD says 1,049 out of 10,102 daily bus trips would be affected, along with 420 out of 1,036 light rail trips. Two board members estimated that added up to about 5 percent of RTD’s services, though staff did not corroborate that assessment.
“I think this is a good start. I think we don’t want to go too far,” said RTD COO Michael Ford. “We want to stabilize the system, and we don’t want to cut it so much where we’re impacting the system in a negative way.”
Even if the board approves the cuts, RTD says they will not amount to enough to completely eliminate the need for forced overtime. As the process moves forward, public meetings will be held in January and February in each of the 15 districts that make up RTD. The final plan would likely be in front of the board in March and would go into effect in May.
If the plan is a success and RTD is able to add and retain more drivers, well-performing routes that were dropped would then be considered for reinstatement.
by Bryce Rafferty, CDASS Participant
While I wasn’t born in the state of Colorado nor did I grow up here, I am beyond thankful for this state, it’s people, and the public healthcare that makes life in Colorado that much better for persons with disabilities. Most people know Colorado for its mountains, but most don’t know that Colorado State Medicaid is one of the best in the union. Speaking with another quadriplegic like myself from Iowa, I heard about how Medicaid in his home state falls far short of the coverage and quality of care that I enjoy on a daily basis. However, being on federal health insurance anywhere has its fair share of challenges, and it is the responsibility of the people to hold the government accountable and maintain the positives when they are threatened by changes or pitfalls in policy. Continue reading “The Vital Importance of Advocacy in Colorado”
The monster snowstorm that pummeled the Denver metro area just days before Thanksgiving strained Littleton’s snowplowing capacity, but advocates say poorly shoveled sidewalks can pose a threat to vulnerable people long after the roads are cleared.
People with mobility issues can find themselves effectively trapped by iced-over walkways, said Julie Reiskin, the executive director of the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition.
“Shoveling sidewalks means everything” for people with disabilities, said Reiskin, who uses a wheelchair. “A lot of us don’t drive. We use buses, and in many cases after this last storm we couldn’t make it down the block, much less to a bus stop.”
Businesses and absentee landlords seem to be some of the worst offenders, Reiskin said.
“We notice businesses that keep them clear, and we patronize them year-round,” she said.
Reiskin said even some well-meaning shovelers simply scoop out a path as wide as their shovel blade, which doesn’t accommodate wheelchairs or people with walkers.
Shoveling the vast majority of sidewalks in town is the responsibility of adjacent property owners, said David Flaig, Littleton’s landscape manager.
“The law says you’ve got 24 hours after the snowflakes stop falling to get your walk shoveled, and that means all the way to the corner,” Flaig said.
The city is responsible for shoveling about five miles of city-owned sidewalks, many on bridges or around city buildings, Flaig said, but citizens are responsible for many dozens more.
“If you live on a corner, that includes the curb cuts,” Flaig said.
The Thanksgiving storm was especially gnarly because the following days didn’t warm up enough to melt the snow and ice, Flaig said, and while city crews could put down more ice, there are environmental concerns at work.
“We could salt everything like crazy, and it would work, but at the end the South Platte would be about as salty as the South Pacific,” Flaig said.
Snowplows may fling snow and ice right back up on curb cuts, Flaig said, but it’s still residents’ responsibility to make sure they stay clear.
Poorly shoveled sidewalks can spell trouble for blind people, said Dan Burke, the spokesman for Littleton’s Colorado Center for the Blind.
“We teach independence, and that means we’ve got to be out in all kinds of weather,” Burke said. “You can’t be a fair-weather employee. But when we’re out and the sidewalks are jammed, it pushes us into the street, which just isn’t safe. Also, we use curb cuts to know where crosswalks are, and if we can’t find them, it’s easy to end up headed off at a bad angle.”
Poorly shoveled sidewalks are bad news for the elderly, said Diane McClymonds, the executive director of TLC Meals on Wheels, which brings food to homebound seniors.
“It can mean the difference between being able to get to the doctor or not,” McClymonds said. “And in a big storm like this last one, many of our clients aren’t able to shovel that much snow.”
The program always needs volunteers, Jorgensen said. Right now, she’s got 11 volunteer shovelers on the list, but last year she wound up with more than 80 seniors who needed shoveling help.
“It means everything to the folks on our waiting list,” Jorgensen said. “If you can help, get in touch. Your neighbors need you.”
Whether city code enforcement issued any tickets for unshoveled sidewalks after the Thanksgiving storm wasn’t immediately available, said Jennifer Henninger, the city’s community development director, but residents who encounter unshoveled sidewalks can report them to the city through the “SeeClickFix” phone app.
Reiskin, the advocate for people with disabilities, said reporting unshoveled sidewalks doesn’t help much in the moment.
“We’d really like to see cities doing their own enforcement, rather than putting the onus on people out on the street,” Reiskin said. “Reporting violators doesn’t help someone who’s stranded. We just really need people to take this seriously.”