My friend — and multi-talented attorney, activist, and mother — passed last February. We celebrated her life on Saturday. These were my words.
When I sat down to write these words, I knew I would be able to plagiarize a lot of my own previous words. I’ve had the privilege of introducing Carrie at various events and presenting awards to her on a number of occasions.
So I did want any nerd would do: searched my computer for documents mentioning Carrie.
As I anticipated, I found the words I had said introducing her for a Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition award, and later an award from our organization, the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, as well as the words I said to introduce her as a candidate for Windsor town board. I’ll reuse some of them in a sec.
But I also found a long list of other documents that show the central role Carrie played in my personal and professional life for the past 20 years. For example:
- Lucas v. Iliff – the case on which my husband, Tim Fox, and I first represented Carrie and got to know her, asking her divinity school for accommodations.
- Lucas v. Kmart – and our tribute to her when that case was recognized by the Impact Fund as the largest disability public accommodations case to date (and possibly through the present), making Kmart stores nationwide accessible to people using w/c.
- I also found the photos we took for the Impact Fund’s event. Sadly, they didn’t use the one of Carrie, Tim, Kevin Williams, and me all playing poker around our conference table.
- Lucas v. DU and Lucas v. DU. Or in the words of one of Carrie’s best press releases, “Oops, they did it again!”
- Carrie’s adoption reference.
- Carrie’s dumpling sauce.
- A spreadsheet called “Carrie Lucas Internship Timesheet” – when she interned at our law firm as a law student, prepared court-ready pleadings, and of course taught us more than we taught her.
- Lucas v. Colorado Rockies: now you can buy accessible seats behind home plate without buying season tickets.
- Carrie’s EJW photo. After she was awarded the prestigious Equal Justice Works fellowship, I had the privilege of taking the official photo wearing – of all things – a hat my mother made her.
- Her first case in federal court, for which we drafted an amicus brief. (Amicus means friend in Latin – never was it truer than on briefs we wrote to support Carrie’s cases.) I also found the brief from the case last year in which she supported us as an amicus, along with Julie Farrar and Corbett, who is online.
- The published case of Kerr v. Heather Gardens, setting an obscure but important ADA precedent. Every time I cite it, I recognize how Carrie still helps us and so many other lawyers in so many fields.
- Lucas v. City and County of Denver: now you can buy accessible tickets to Red Rocks that don’t cost $5000 on StubHub.
- The many cases on which we co-counseled, including two in a row against the City of Denver for accommodations for Deaf detainees (Oops, they did it again!)
- A long messaging discussion – which I saved, God knows why – about why it is OK to have breakfast for dinner and dinner for breakfast, but NOT to mix breakfast food and dinner food, reaching the consensus that ketchup on eggs was a desecration.
- A downloaded copy of “15 Theses – A Protest to Challenge the Church on Disability,” Carrie’s blog post on Reformation Day, in which she set forth 15 specific, biblically-sourced ways in which the Church needed to become more welcoming to disabled people. (She adds: “I sketched these out during worship last week, but give me time, I could come up with 95.”) I highly recommend this post to people of all faiths or none.
Carrie was the get-shit-donest person I know. We lawyers can be a cautious bunch — always arguing this side and that. I can recall many occasions when — confronting injustice or simply something that needed doing — while the rest of us were still pondering, planning, and arguing about the best route forward, we would discover that Carrie had already acted.
She saw something that needed to be done and she did it. One of the best examples of this is when she found out her niece faced the possibility of foster care: she moved immediately to adopt her.
Then realizing the obstacles she faced as a disabled woman trying to adopt, she made the rights of parents with disabilities the focus of her legal education and career.
When Carrie started her nonprofit, Disabled Parents’ Rights, the number of lawyers in the country who were addressing these issues was in the low- to mid-single-digits. She quickly became an expert in this crucial area, and was a sought-after speaker and teacher for other lawyers, advocates, and even judges.
You’ll hear a lot about all of her many roles: mother, lawyer, advocate, arrestee, photographer, cook. She was all these things. Then we’d be chatting and she’d say something like, “we’re going to see Hamilton, so I’m making Hamilton skirts for myself and my daughters.” Or “I have some time over Christmas break — I’ve decided to learn the hammer dulcimer.”
She was the person I always turned to when I need an answer: What’s the right case to cite? Who should I vote for? What does the trinity mean? How do I format a document in Word without throwing my laptop out the window? She answered these and so many others.
When we gave her the CREEC award a few years ago, we summed up Carrie’s intersectional work and identities by saying: “she may be the only wheelchair-using Latina with a bumper sticker that reads ‘just another disabled lesbian for Christ,’ dressed in camo, driving her trak-chair into the wilderness for the perfect photo.
Carrie was our client, intern, colleague, and co-counsel, but most important to me, she was my dear friend. She had just the right combination of wisdom, compassion, sarcasm, and love, and I miss her profoundly.
Advocacy is the hallmark of democracy. It facilitates the diversity which is cherished by America. This dynamic creates social flow and order which is similar to the way lyrics give music a sense of organization. In this context, people like Carol Buchanan, the Director of Programs at the Denver Regional Mobility and Access Council (DRMAC), an organization that specializes in ensuring transportation is available to the disabled and the elderly, is s prime example of a true advocate.
Upon earning a Bachelor’s of Social Work from James Madison University and a Masters in Nonprofit Management at Regis University, Mrs. Buchanan has had a steadfast desire to uphold a specific vision of society, one in which every walk of life has a voice loud enough to alter the status quo. Her advocacy work with DRMAC has provided those who have limitations with “voice” into having a sense of agency when it comes to expanding their quality of life by picking a simple destination. In turn, within the multifaceted opportunities that accessible transportation has the tendency to provide, individuality is the final achievement. Mrs. Buchanan has dedicated her career to creating a place which allows the purest form of diversity to blossom, ultimately pathing the way for everyone to contribute and participate within their own communities. As a result, multiple voices are heard, and everyone has a chance to sing their song.
The theme of “voice” also manifests in Mrs. Buchanan’s personal life. As a woman who is grounded in her faith, Mrs. Buchanan demonstrates the power of her own voice by participating in the church choir. Moreover, not only does this activity allow Mrs. Buchanan to express herself in a personal context, but it ultimately plays a significant role in terms of shaping the work that she does on a daily basis.
America is a unique place. In theory, it is a nation in which everyone has a place and an opportunity to fulfill almost any dream. This idea is sometimes presented as too idealistic to be incorporated into the social fabric of American society. However, this is the mindset that affords the field of advocacy the strong sense of validity for which it has sustained over decades.
Christiano Sosa, the Executive Director of the Arc of Colorado, a nonprofit organization that specializes in advocating for individuals with intellectual disabilities, has demonstrated the need for systemic and individual advocacy since the mid-nineties. Upon earning a degree in Social Work, Mr. Sosa began to build on his passion for problem solving by becoming involved with the Colorado Health Network DBA Colorado AIDS Project & Howard Dental Center, a nonprofit organization that provides service to and aims to create a sense of systemic equity within the HIV/AIDS community.
Mr. Sosa’s passion ultimately fueled his career path, leading straight into a case managerial position with the organization. On a professional level, this marked the beginning of Mr. Sosa’s alliance with the disabled community. This has become the breeding ground that nourishes his sense of creativity. His passion for creating an accessible society for everyone in the disabled community intertwines with his hobby of cake decorating; his desire for creating eloquent cakes for the sole enjoyment of admiring the finished product ultimately contributes to his overall desire of reducing inequality in many sectors of society.
Similar to one of Mr. Sosa’s cakes, the disabled community has the tendency to be multifaceted, as every disability presents various angles that affect systemic equilibrium. As a result, for people like Mr. Sosa, the process of advocacy is perpetuated on a continuum that intersects at a multitude of points. This dynamic plays a critical role in the decisions Mr. Sosa has made throughout the work he has done as an advocate.
In turn, given the fact that he has been active participant in the disabled community for the bulk of his career, Mr. Sosa is essentially motivated to reduce inequity for all parties who are ultimately marginalized due to the direct or indirect role that disability plays in one’s life. Like every other advocacy organization in the United States, Mr. Sosa’s objective has been to repair systemic glitches in order to assist with bringing a sense of balance between the roles of personal responsibility and society.
written by Timothy Postlewaite
Disability Community Expectations of Our Next Governor
- Commitment to have representatives from the disability community throughout the transition team.
- Commitment to quarterly meetings with disability community leaders.
- Commit to a process to have ear of Governor when agency staff are obstructive. This requires understanding that we do understand the laws that govern our programs.
- Civil Rights Division will become disability friendly and be trained on disability rights law.
- Boards and Commissions will actively work with our community. This includes
- allow us to choose our representatives where we have statutory right to a seat (absent a legitimate reason to decline),
- prioritize people with lived experience,
- quarterly meetings to discuss what positions are coming due so we can find appropriate candidates
- Make Colorado a model employer of people with disabilities
- Specific outreach
- Establish a preference for qualified individuals
- Establish disability affinity group among state employees and allow them to ally with advocates.
- Review of job descriptions and accommodation needs and how that happens
- Extend SSDI Trial Work Period concept to state programs (Section 8, Medicaid, etc)
- Extend Medicaid buy-in programs beyond age 65 and allow for breaks in employment. Currently people with disabilities that require daily care have to stop working and impoverish themselves if they live to age 65 in order to continue receiving supports such as daily home care to get out of bed, shower, etc. This gives no incentive or ability to save for retirement and will leave most people in a position of losing their homes.
- Continue to fix The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) which receives significant federal funds to help people with disabilities obtain meaningful careers and jobs.
- Assure equal funding for transit in all transportation funding.
Access to Community Based Services and Supports
- Active functioning Olmstead plan that touches all of state government
- Community First Choice will be priority in Colorado
- Increase participant direction options and allow for all Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS) services in all waivers and explore for certain state plan benefits.
- Equalize wages with agency based care
- No direct care staff ever is paid less than $15 an hour at bare minimum. Redefine what is skilled and unskilled and reform rates accordingly.
- Commitment to improve the health facilities unit of Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to act as true consumer advocate.
Asset and Earning increases
- Increase Medicaid LTSS asset limit from $2,000 (set in 1982) to at least $10,000
- Allow people who acquire disabilities at young age to save unlimited amount for children’s college and to leave a home up to a certain value to them, even if they live past age 55. (Difference between helping young people with disabilities escape poverty and making Medicaid an inheritance protection program)
- Allow Medicaid buy-in clients to continue working as long as they want (currently they have to stop at age 65 despite retirement not occurring until age 67) and to keep assets accumulated while working when they retire. (see below for fixing the age 65 cut off)
- Use all federally allowable options to liberalize food stamps.
- Continue reforms to make Aid to the Needy Disabled less draconian.
- Require new housing be at least visitable
- State based vouchers
- Stronger fair housing protections and enforcement (see Civil Rights Division)
- Keep homestead exemption for low-income seniors and consider expanding to people on fixed income affected by gentrification.
2018 Ballot Guide
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:
- Go over the major races and suggest things to think about as you make your choices about which candidate has most earned your vote.
- Discuss your rights as a citizen with disabilities, including talking about who can vote (including many people with a criminal background and all people that have guardians).
- Go over the ballot issues that have any relevance to people with disabilities.
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 email@example.com or 303-722-0300. Their website has complete information on our voting rights.
As always there are a lot of ballot initiatives.
- AMENDMENTS ARE CHANGES TO THE CONSTITUTION. If they are lettered they were referred by the legislature. If they are numbered they were placed on the ballot by the citizen petition process.
- PROPOSITIONS CHANGE STATE LAWS:
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:
- This only funds highway projects with nothing for transit or other modes of transportation. This hurts people with disabilities, many of whom rely on public transportation.
- Given the limited amount of discretionary funds available to the Colorado Legislature, if taxes cannot be raised the only way to repay the money will be to cut existing programs. Medicaid or other programs important to our community could be cut to repay this debt.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-839-1775.