This blog is about information that will help people navigate the disability community, benefit systems, and other fact related articles.
Congress agreed in late December to provide Covid financial relief worth about 900 Billion dollars that includes money for Amtrak and Transit. According to Senator Warner’s office, the 45 billion for transportation would include 15 billion for mass transit, 1 billion for Amtrak and 8 billion for the bus/motorcoach industry. RTD is currently waiting to see what portion will be distributed to it.
This is the news that RTD and our region have been waiting for. Since the Pandemic started in February of 2020, transit agencies have been eagerly waiting for financial relief. Most transit agencies depend on sales tax, local government contributions, and fares to maintain transportation in their region. The first stimulus package enabled RTD to sustain employment and service in the spring. RTD also used dollars to create a robust bus/train cleaning process that helps eliminate contamination and placed plexiglass in each bus to help protect drivers and passengers. RTD is currently around 60% of last year’s production while ridership is down to 40%. In December RTD started implementing cuts in employment and a reduction in salaries to its staff.
I’ve spoken to several RTD Directors and it is a consensus that operations in 2021 will remain the same until the sales tax forecast improves. Funding from any stimulus package will be used to prop up RTD and may result in re-hiring some employees that have been recently released and may result in the return of some services and frequency of service in 2021. However, if the stimulus payment is much larger, then RTD will adjust accordingly.
To rebound from 2020, changes in the transit climate will need a positive Sales Tax Forecast and the return of riders. The success of RTD will primarily rely on the return of riders. For our transit environment to return to some sense of normalcy riders can help by
As bleak the year 2020 has been for transit there are some opportunities in 2021 for RTD to help stabilize transit. In 2020, an advisory committee was established by the State Legislature to review operating restrictions on RTD. These restrictions were established when RTD was chartered by the legislature in 1969 The three restrictions that the legislature seemed most interested in modifying are, farebox ratio, parking fees, and use of RTD properties.
Farebox ratio– RTD is required by State Law to have a percentage of its budget come from farebox ratio. The other major source of income is sales tax. It is presumed that the legislature in 1969 wanted an additional contribution to transit services by those people using the service. However, the sales tax is applied to everyone whether or not you use the service or not.
Current fare collections,
CRS 32-9-119.7(3)states: The district shall take whatever measures it deems necessary to ensure that the following percentages of its operating costs are funded by revenues collected, as follows:
If the legislature lifts this requirement as recommended by the RTD accountability committee, RTD will have options to change the ratio or to eliminate the farebox altogether. Unfortunately, a zero farebox is probably not possible at this time. Unless RTD receives dollars to fill that 20% gap it will probably use the option to lower fares during emergencies as we experienced in 2020 from the pandemic. The fact that the recovery from the pandemic will probably occur late this year RTD could have had the option of suspending or lower fare during this period of recovery. Other influences that could eliminate a transit fare would be an increase in the sales tax percentage or major dollars from the federal government. The new federal administration has promised more support for transit in the U.S. If funding were provided from them as an essential service then perhaps long-term funding could help Colorado have fareless transit systems. Most of our European friends enjoy low and in some regions no fares because their government considers transit essential and it provides a major portion of funding for their transit systems
One of the restrictions that we all need to acknowledge is that, unlike the federal government, State and local governments have to maintain a balanced budget. It is great that the Federal government can create larger deficits during times of need. This option has provided an opportunity to print more money and provide stimulus packages for its citizens. By law our local governments are not allowed to spend money and just hope they meet their targets at the end of the year. They cannot create budgets that have deficits.
If this recommendation from the Advisory Committee is passed by the 2021 State Legislature,
The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition will be working with Mile High Connects and other organizations in farebox reforms in 2021. Note: The State has postponed starting its 2021 Legislative session until February 16th due to the pandemic.
Parking– Another restriction that was placed on RTD in 1969 was that transit users would have free access to parking. Before the Pandemic, RTD was experiencing a drop in ridership. One of the glaring observations was that most parking lots assigned to transit were not being fully used. This causes two concerns. Is the property an asset or an operational liability? It is estimated that each parking spot is worth $12 thousand dollars (this number varies with location) on the real estate market. If RTD does not have the option to recover some revenue it would be best to guess that the property is a liability. RTD has two options to work with if allowed by the State Legislature. One, charge a nominal fee for parking. Though the use of parking is down, it is not reasonable to expect the property to sit idle without allowing the owner to recover some revenue from it. However, RTD will have to be careful not to charge too much or it will be a disincentive for users to use the system. The second initiative that RTD can make is to identify parking areas that show no potential for further use and to sell those properties or work collaboratively with local developers to build transit-friendly housing. ( see more in Properties)
Properties– RTD needs more flexibility in the use of its properties. Properties near transit have grown in value especially since the implementation of new rail lines around the region. The lines provide better opportunities to travel within the district and people are starting to acknowledge the benefits of living near transit. RTD may want to sell certain properties that have limited development. This provides funding to the current budget but this type of sale does not have a long-term benefit to the agency. Another use of properties are collaborations between RTD and developers. This is an opportunity to create annual revenue by working with developers to create housing, commerce, and recreation on RTD properties.
Summary: These possible initiatives on their own cannot solve the financial problems that RTD is facing. However, combine the three and there is potential to provide a 5-10 percent impact on RTD’s budget. If you have an opportunity to attend hearings concerning these issues at the State Legislature we encourage you to do so. Letting them know how important transit is to you will help these recommendations become a reality. Information on how to attend meetings remotely are at https://leg.colorado.gov/
One of the fascinations I have with working with on Transit, as an advocate, is that it is always evolving. One of the changes we will see in the next few years is the electrification of transit systems. Whether it is just electrification of transit fleets or the use of autonomous vehicles, CCDC will be at the table to ensure that the implementation of this technology is accessible to our community.
A few years ago CCDC was invited to see the pilot program for autonomous vehicles in Colorado. We were able to identify many obstacles for our community and gave the manufacturers our concerns and advice on how to make these vehicles accessible.
In 2021, CCDC will be working with (TEEM) Towards Electrical Equitable Mobility
Background: The current transportation system presents challenges for racial equity, mobility, and climate change goals. It is the largest source of air pollution in the United States, with environmental and health implications disproportionately experienced in low-income communities of color. For many, poor access to transportation is a barrier stemming from policies that have discriminated on the basis of race. Today transportation is the second-highest household expense for most people, and a person’s commute time is the most critical factor in their chances of escaping poverty. One solution to many of these challenges is innovative mobility programs that utilize electric mobility. The formation of partnerships between racial equity advocates and traditional environmental organizations will be vital to ensure that such programs are approved, funded, and implemented successfully. If mobility and electrification programs are designed to work for historically underserved communities, they will work better for all communities and will maximize the environmental and economic benefits of electrification.
Purpose of the TEEM Community of Practice: We aim to establish a peer-to-peer community of advocates to share policy goals, learn together, build relationships, and in the process develop a sense of belonging and mutual commitment towards advancing racial equity, electric mobility, and climate change goals.
Though TEEM focuses on racial and environmental equity they realized that the disability community is also a key benefactor when transit is improved. That is why we are participating along with 4 other states to share information about and for electrification of transit systems.
CCDC will be performing outreach activities in 2021 to get feedback about transit equity and to provide findings that the five state collaborative discovers. We look forward to our own Colorado community to participate in this process so that we continue to be at the table.
Jaime Lewis, CCDC Transit Advisor
As we get closer to the November election, questions about the process increase. We have a Q & A for you that may answer many of them.
Just a reminder: Colorado is a vote by mail state. This means you will receive your ballot in the mail and you can return it by mail, or drop your ballot off at a dropbox (secured and monitored by camera.)
You may have been hearing a lot in the media and from the White House about voter fraud surrounding mail-in ballots. A study of the 2016 presidential election conducted by the Colorado secretary of state’s office uncovered 112 total instances of possible improper voting during the 2014 contest. To put that in perspective, that is 112 out of 2.9 million voters or less than 0.004%!
You can ensure your vote counts but checking your voter registration status at the secretary of state website, and then return your ballot with enough time if you mail it or better still, drop it off at a voter dropbox. You can even check the status of the ballot you mailed in or dropped off. Just make sure your voice is heard.
Your vote does count! Recent elections across our country have been won or lost by a few hundred or thousand votes. Coloradoans will be voting for the President and who will represent us in the Senate. The President appoints and the Senate confirms judges that decide important civil rights cases and will determine the future of the ADA. They also decide who will run important agencies like Health and Human Services, Social Security, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development that make rules that affect us. We will also be voting on important ballot measures that affect our daily life in Colorado.
If you do not know how to vote the Secretary of State Website has a lot of great information including information for people with disabilities. If you cannot understand it call CCDC or any disability advocacy organization for assistance.
As a non-profit organization, CCDC can not tell people to vote for or against candidates. One suggestion is to make a list of the services you use and then go to the candidate website and see if they are willing to fund the services. Do you use the Division of Rehabilitation (DVR), Medicaid (CDASS, Waivers, Homemaker Services), Special Education, public transportation? In early October, we will have a voter guide to explain ballot measures which will impact benefits and services for people with disabilities. We can suggest that people vote or against ballot measures. You make the final decision!
Ballots will be mailed beginning October 9. It may take up to a week to receive your ballots.
In Colorado, we have several ways to vote. A person can vote in person at a voting service center, mail a ballot in, or drop their ballot off at a dropbox which all have cameras. CCDC is encouraging our members to vote early and drop them off at a drop box. If you are unable to drop your ballot off, you can have an aide or friend drop it off. Anyone can drop off 9 ballots and their own per election. You may be able to drop off another person’s ballot. There is a number on each ballot envelope that you can use to make sure your ballot is counted. Justvotecolorado.org will tell you where the nearest voter service center location is and dropbox. Remember each Coloradoan can vote only 1 time so make sure your voice is counted.
You can find out here: Find my Registration and if you are not registered or your registration is not correct you can Register to Vote.
Yes, Here in Colorado individuals who have a guardian can vote.
People can register to vote and vote on election day until 7 pm (Tuesday, November 3rd) when the polls close.
Colorado law has provisions to help you vote in private if you want to. Go to Accessible Voting for information.
ALL ballots must be in by 7 pm on Tuesday, November 3. This means they must be in, not postmarked. So if you mail your ballot, mail it at least ten days before 11/3 (or on 10/24).
Call Dawn Howard, Director of Community Organizing, at 303-531-7333
CCDC has received questions about returning to work as it relates to people with disabilities. Our state has a return to work guidance that is relevant to unemployment. The EEOC has also issued guidance about returning to work. It is in Section G: Return to Work.
People with disabilities and those we live with have vastly different experiences and needs. Therefore, this is not intended to be directive or legal guidance. This document should help people think about what questions they need to ask of themselves and their employers.
Answering “Yes” to any of these questions means you have additional things to think about with regard to returning to work.
OSHA Guidance for Employers
Questions to ask yourself and your employer:
If you ask for a reasonable accommodation, remember:
If there is no way to accommodate you in your position consider:
If you feel you have faced discrimination, see what your employer’s internal grievance process is. If you are a member of a union, they should be able to help you. Otherwise, if you want to file a discrimination complaint you must submit an administrative complaint with a government agency.
You can go to the EEOC or the state Civil Rights Division if you believe you have faced disability discrimination.
Guidance for Employers and General Public
by Jaime Lewis - CCDC Transit Advocate and Advisor
July 9, 2020
State and County governments have struggled for two decades to fund repairs for roads and bridges. Rising costs and dwindling gas tax revenues have left most of the roads and bridges in our state at near or below standards.
Congress is currently debating the Invest Act. The Invest Act is a sub-portion of the larger act called the “Moving Forward Act” that will address housing, climate change, water, and land use. Four highlights of the Invest Act are,
Two years ago, Dave Genova, former CEO of RTD had a vision. He wanted to reimagine RTD. In other words, what would people expect of RTD in 2050?
The average length of a car trip is 2-4 miles. Smaller communities provide little to no transportation for our elderly, disabled, and the general public. A trip less than 4 miles could mean access to groceries, healthcare, recreation, and social interaction.
That’s all I got to say about that.
CCDC provides this information so you are informed of transit information. We hope some of you will take this knowledge and use it to share with your local representatives.
Article by Ed Carter Ablefutures.org | email@example.com
Running for office takes courage and determination, but it can also require some research. If you are a person who is living with disabilities and is contemplating getting more involved in politics, completing this research can help you make a more informed decision. Here are some of the essential topics you will need to look into before starting your campaign. Continue reading “4 Things to Research Before Launching Your Political Career”
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…”
It is the policy of the State of Colorado that all public meetings and events hosted by or permitted through a State agency are physically and programmatically accessible for all. These guidelines provide organizers with a brief overview of how to plan and stage accessible, inclusive events.
People with disabilities include those with physical, sensory, intellectual, perceptual, and mental health conditions and may require special accommodations to fully participate in public events. People who are older, pregnant, ill, or fatigued may also have accessibility needs. As accommodations may include items not described in these guidelines, organizers may need to do additional research.
STEP 1: PLAN FOR ACCESSIBILITY
STEP 2: CHOOSE AN ACCESSIBLE LOCATION
STEP 3: CREATE ACCESSIBLE ANNOUNCEMENTS
STEP 4: CREATE AN ACCESSIBLE EVENT SPACE
STEP 5 : ASK FOR HELP
CREATED IN PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE COLORADO CROSS-DISABILITY COALITION AND THE OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
There are now two programs in CO one for Xcel consumers which provides relief on summer pricing; and the Black Hills program which is year-round reduced rate.
The Chronic Care Collaborative is the administrator that processes the applications and confirms usage with Xcel or Black Hills to qualify a residential customer. Sabrina is the staff person who can assist your staff or constituents. She can be reached at 303-993-5056. Or firstname.lastname@example.org
What follows is the updated links with the application and information for 2019. Feel free to post this on your website or include in newsletters with your constituents, members or participants.
The direct link to the info sheet PDF: https://www.xcelenergy.com/staticfiles/xe-responsive/Billing%20&%20Payment/Energy%20Assistance/CO-medical-exemption-program-info-sheet.pdf
Direct link to the application PDF: https://www.xcelenergy.com/staticfiles/xe/Corporate/CO%20Medical%20Excemption%20Program%20App.pdf
Chronic Care Collaborative web page
One year ago today, the Department of Justice reached an agreement with the City and County of Denver (“City”) under Project Civic Access (“PCA”), the Department’s initiative to ensure that cities, towns, and counties throughout the country comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). That agreement covers accessibility to numerous programs, services, activities and facilities throughout Denver. The agreement specifically addresses Law Enforcement and Effective Communication, Polling Places, Emergency Management Procedures and Policies, Physical Changes to Emergency Shelters, Web-Based Services and Programs, New Construction, Alterations and Physical Changes to Facilities, Programs for Victims of Domestic Violence and Abuse. Many of the deadlines for compliance occurred today, one year after the effective date of the agreement. Click on these links to review the DOJ Press Release and for the DOJ Settlement Agreement. Also, attached is a PDF version of the Agreement with all of the one-year deadlines highlighted.
The Settlement Agreement contains one error in that it states that “On January 20, 2016, Denver and the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center [“CREEC”] reached a separate agreement addressing accessible sidewalks and curb ramps in Denver.” It is correct that CREEC with the assistance of CCDC reached a class action settlement agreement with the City regarding curb ramps, but sidewalks were not addressed. Click on the link to review the Curb Ramp Settlement Agreement. Click on the link here to see CREEC’s Website. This Settlement Agreement provides for comprehensive curb ramp replacement throughout the City. CCDC is unaware of why the issue of sidewalks was excluded from the DOJ Settlement Agreement with the City because the case involving curb ramps was never intended to address sidewalks and was approved by the court as a class-action settlement on September 9, 2016 before the DOJ Settlement Agreement. Click the link here to review the Order Granting Final Approval of Settlement. The rules and regulations that apply to curb ramps are different from those that apply to sidewalks.
With respect to sidewalks, according to a recent article published in the Denverite, the City has launched a project to install sidewalks where they don’t exist and make additional sidewalk repairs. At this time, CCDC does not have additional information regarding the sidewalk project. Click on the link here to see the Denverite article regarding sidewalks.
According to the Denver Office of Disability Rights’ (“DODR”) website, “The Denver Office of Disability Rights coordinates the City and County of Denver’s efforts to ensure compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Our role is to ensure that all City services and programs are accessible to people with disabilities.” Information is provided on the DODR website regarding curb ramp renovations and installation and the City’s plan for sidewalks and transportation. The DODR is also listed as the agency to which all notifications or communications under the DOJ Settlement Agreement are to be made. Click here for the link for the Denver Office of Disability Rights. The address and other contact information for the DODR is:
Denver Office of Disability Rights
201 W Colfax, Dept 1102
Denver, CO 80202
Legal Program Director
CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program
As of November 26, 2018, until February 1, 2019, the CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program will not be taking any new cases or intakes. We do not receive funding to provide referrals. Therefore, if you have a legal problem that you think we can assist with, you will need to contact another attorney until January 1, 2018. We apologize for the inconvenience. We will not be returning calls or other intake emails, including social media or by any other method.