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Archive for Sunday, July 27, 2008

Disability rights advocates push ADA changes

July 27, 2008

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Glen White has used a wheelchair for 45 years.

Glen White has used a wheelchair for 45 years.

Shopping at a store, going to the pool or watching an event at an auditorium are daily activities that most take for granted.

For those with disabilities, however, these activities pose a wide range of questions about accessibility: Where can I park? Do they have a wheelchair ramp? Are the restrooms easy to get to?

"It's hard enough dealing with a disability in everyday life without having to deal with additional obstacles," said Mike Oxford, executive director for the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center.

Oxford, who suffers from a neuromuscular condition that often requires him to use an electric scooter, cites problems he faces when conducting business, such as getting through doorways or accessing conference tables.

But with Saturday marking the 18th anniversary of passage of the landmark 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, the federal government is proposing new regulations requiring businesses and government facilities to be even more accessible for those with disabilities.

Glen White, who directs the Research and Training Center on Independent Living at Kansas University, was in Washington, D.C., last week providing information to policymakers about the proposed changes.

"As a person with a disability - I've been in a wheelchair for 45 years - I believe in trying to maximize freedom and want to make sure our laws represent everybody," said White, 58.

ADA's impact

ADA has helped remove barriers to millions of people. It required the ramps, curb cuts, Braille signs and captioned television programs that have become part of everyday life.

In recent years, however, advocates for those with disabilities say court decisions have restricted ADA's coverage in the workplace.

"The courts have systematically been chipping away at ADA, so we are trying to get Congress to strengthen it," White said.

Last week, White was among hundreds of disability rights advocates participating in the National Council on Independent Living's annual conference. The ADA Amendments Act has been approved by the House and is expected to go to the Senate soon.

Rocky Nichols, director of the Disability Rights Center of Kansas, says the changes are overdue.

"If you're a person with a disability, you've been fighting for 18 years to get your rights realized," Nichols said.

The proposed changes would affect government facilities such as courtrooms and public swimming pools, as well as new businesses and renovations to existing businesses - affecting a variety of amenities including restroom facilities, entranceways and location of light switches. The public has until mid-August to comment on the changes.

Compliant facilities

Many of the government facilities in Lawrence will be spared expensive renovations thanks to planning, officials say. The three public swimming pools in Lawrence are already handicap accessible with available water wheelchairs, and the Douglas County courthouse would already meet the requirements.

"We've always been aware of the community," said Douglas County Court Administrator Linda Koester-Vogelsang. All of the county courtrooms are handicap accessible, and the witness stands either have wheelchair ramps or are on ground level, she said.

Other municipalities are not so fortunate and could be required to make some expensive changes. Shawnee County, for example, would need to modify all 16 of its courtrooms if the proposed changes take effect.

Cost

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is one group expressing concerns about the financial effect on the private sector because of the proposed changes. Marc Freedman, director of Labor Law Policy at the Chamber, said the proposed changes were "very complicated," adding that provisions in the changes don't go far enough to limit the potential effect on businesses.

The Justice Department estimates the changes will cost businesses and governments $23 billion to implement, but will provide more than $50 billion in public benefits.

Chuck Warner, president of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, brushes aside concerns that local businesses will suffer significantly because of the possible changes.

"(The changes) will add to the cost of construction," said Warner, but added that additional costs will be "gradual, over time," lessening their impact.

Sue Millstein, co-owner of Liberty Hall, is one local business owner who could be affected by the changes to theater accessibility. But even if the changes cost money, Millstein says it's worth it.

"I think any place should be accessible for the handicapped," she said, adding that she views her business as a "community building."

'Basic human rights issue'

Nichols and Oxford say that the proposed changes are a step in the right direction but do not address all of the accessibility issues associated with disability.

"These are just words on a piece of paper," said Nichols, who says how the changes are implemented is as important as the actual changes.

Regardless of the potential costs, though, Nichols says that valuing the rights of all our citizens is the main issue. "This is not a dollars and cents issue : this is a civil rights and basic human rights issue."

- Staff writer Scott Rothschild contributed to this report.

Comments

jafs 5 years, 7 months ago

How about this - when businesses open, they can be put on a list of ADA exempt businesses which would prevent any lawsuits.This list could be easily available and public, and a business owner could post it at their place of business, with their name highlighted if they wish.Or, even easier, have a city inspector inspect for exempt status and provide a sticker for the business - charge the business owner $50 for the service.

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jafs 5 years, 7 months ago

If historic and other small businesses that can't comply easily with ADA requirements are exempt, why are all of these lawsuits putting these folks out of business?Is it just the costs of defending against the suit?If so, perhaps there should be an immediate and inexpensive review of the business - if it is exempt, the suit is denied immediately without prohibitive costs to the business owner.

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

Pro:Could well be the case, which would indeed lead to much loss of internet freedoms.I hardly think that developing such software would be a "slight expense".In any case, moving to offshore hosting and offshore merchant account processing is going to become even more of a viable alternative should this lawsuit be upheld.While many may think that I oppose the ADA, the reality is that I do not.I oppose the misuse and abuse of the act as has been done anda do not believe that further requirements be imposed unless the ability to just run around arbitrarily and selectively suing folks for "violations" is removed and removed in a very pro-active and positive manner.

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Pro_Counsel 5 years, 8 months ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says:"Man, that would require a totally interactive site and involve some really wild Java and Ativex don't you think?"Regardless, your contention was that the issue does not exist in e-commerce. And however slight the effort and investment is to correct the problem, it is obviously more than one of America's largest retailers wanted to expend.The aspect of the Target suit that I found particularly interesting is that it requires a level of accomodation in excess of what's found in their 'brick-and-mortar' stores. If you walk into a Target, you won't find product descriptions and prices in braille everywhere. I would think that, should Target lose, you'll find this is just the beginning of access requirements for e-commerce.

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pace 5 years, 8 months ago

classclown (Anonymous) says:Allow me to be the first to call B.S, I have thought about this and realized that I was passionate about the issue and responded to classclown because I thought it important that people understood that to judge how it works takes using the system, it is pretty easy to get to know facts, volunteer to take someone a few places, or borrow or rent a chair and just do it. t classclown checked with no one, called me a liar. That is a troll, my guess is anytime reality doesn't suit his prejudices he attacks the poster. I remember when I took a bunch of great kids to a concert, Roy Clark spied us and after the concert, with no press, he came back and sit with us. A woman barged in and asked for his autograph, one of the kids kept saying hi to her, she looked down and recoiled and said,"you should be in an institution" the kid smiled back and said, well I am , you should come and visit me, I like visitors. Roy sent that Kid a card and said he was touched by her friendliness. Class clown reminds me of that woman,

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

Pro_Counsel (Anonymous) says: Marion (Marion Lynn) says:"E-Business does not have these issues."Sure about that?http://www.dralegal.org/cases/private_bu:"Marion writes:Sure, USA based hosting, physical presence in the USA, a multi-billion-dollar company with deep poeckts; a perfect "target", as it were.Man, that would require a totally interactive site and involve some really wild Java and Ativex don't you think?Or a separate vision-impaired version maybe?Whew!

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Pro_Counsel 5 years, 8 months ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says: "E-Business does not have these issues."Sure about that?http://www.dralegal.org/cases/private_business/nfb_v_target.php

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

BABBOY (Anonymous) says: Marion:I do not even have the time read all of your posts in this thread let a lone post something like whatever you posted. Actually, I lost interest in the first post. It appears you are not a fan of the ADA , but who knows because I couldn't stomach reading all of your long winded posts.I assume you had the day off because if you were at work your boss should fire you becaus you were not working.Man, imagine if you put that effort into something else."Marion writes:Dmn, for someone who thinks that I should have no opinions and should not express them, you got a lot of nerve!Your post is indeed proff that you do not read mine but are wiling to comment in complete ignorance of what I have posted but that is quite typical of the Moonie-like denizens of The People's Republic of Lawrence!Let's aks my "boss if it is Ok for me to post here, OK?Marion: 'Hey, Boss!"(Marion puting on his Boss Hat!)Boss: "Yeah, whattya want, ya slacker?"(Marion removing his Boss Hat!)"Boss, is it Ok if I post on the LJW froums while I take breaks and wait for downloads and uploads to finish?"(Marion putting on his Boss Hat!)Boss: "Aw, do whatever ya want; ya always do anyway! Just keep the money coming in!"(Marion taking off his Boss Hat!)"OK, Boss, I'll make sure the income streams keep flowing!Marion writes:BABBOY, you might want to try Tagamet; it's OTC and great for stomach issues!

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BABBOY 5 years, 8 months ago

Marion:I do not even have the time read all of your posts in this thread let a lone post something like whatever you posted. Actually, I lost interest in the first post. It appears you are not a fan of the ADA , but who knows because I couldn't stomach reading all of your long winded posts. I assume you had the day off because if you were at work your boss should fire you becaus you were not working.Man, imagine if you put that effort into something else.

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

George_Braziller (Anonymous) says: Marion - The ADA has provisions for when alterations are not possible. If the physical access can't be modified then there is to be equal access to the services if it doesn't require undue burden on the business owner.You don't have a clue what you are talking about, you just think that you do."Marion writes:Bet me, George!And how does one establish equal access to a place like The Harbour, at which alcohol may only be served inside?How does one establish equal access to African Adorned?Bring the inventory up to the street for viewing?How about "equal access" to Love Garden?And who decides if it is an "undue burden"?The courts, that's who!Try again!

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Ronda Miller 5 years, 8 months ago

pace, I agree with you that if those of us who normally are not in a wheelchair spent just one hour, or one day per your suggestion, in a wheelchair that we would have a much better idea of what limitations there are in area businesses, etc. We all need to open our minds and walk - or ride, for awhile in someone elses' shoes.

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George_Braziller 5 years, 8 months ago

Marion - The ADA has provisions for when alterations are not possible. If the physical access can't be modified then there is to be equal access to the services if it doesn't require undue burden on the business owner. You don't have a clue what you are talking about, you just think that you do.

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pace 5 years, 8 months ago

Oh, well what a peach you, donÂ't ask details just call someone a liar. , I went with a person to sunflower with a broken leg, using a walker, not a wheel chair, they did not clear or use the lower counter, I went and got a chair for the person and that is what happened. i am glad there is accommodations for a wheel chair, it was during that time when everyone in town was told to come get a box. So maybe they usually do use the lower counter if needed. As for the rest, I have two people in my life in chairs and things are better but you should borrow a chair and go find an apartment or house. Call presbyterian manor and ask if any of their apartments or assisted living areas are ADA? Their bathroom sinks are old cabinet types, we asked if we could change the sink to an accessible one and waited 4 months with no decision. She doesnÂ't live there now. The showers are step up not roll in showers, narrow hall kitchens rather than open kitchens that allow access by chair. STupid designs for the elderly and the handicapped.An assisted living facility in Kansas city, one or more meals provided but roll in showers, chair friendly kitchen sink and bathroom sink, chair friendly closet made those people able to live without constant help.

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Pilgrim 5 years, 8 months ago

Buying tickets to a concert and having no idea where the seats are in the arena. Brilliant!

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Ronda Miller 5 years, 8 months ago

Thanks, lonelane_1: You are a peach. Not back to topic of which I am really not included.

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lonelane_1 5 years, 8 months ago

At no time did Ronda ask for better seats. In fact, she asked if after the show started she could stand with the usher outside the main arena in the hallway. It was the usher who showed compassion and took us to see if better seats could be used. It was an authorized Sprint employee who looked on her list to see if there were any seats available in the ADA section. Had there not been any seats available there she would not have let us use them. That was made clear to us. Also, these weren't Ronda's "buddies" - these were her son and daughter in a crowd of 14,500. The ADA section at Sprint is quite large and there was still plenty of room there after we sat down.We would have been just as happy to stand and listen to Tom Petty if necessary. However, it wasn't necessary.So, Pogo, please don't critisize one of the most compassionate people I've known for the last 35 years and accuse her of trying to somehow take advantage of the disabled.

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Ronda Miller 5 years, 8 months ago

Pogo says, "But you sure took one, didn't you?" - yes, I did and I was thankful for it being there. If it had not have been I would have managed to just listen to the concert from another area. I did not displace anyone with a more serious problem,Pogo says, "I wonder how this "fear of heights" impacts on the ability to ride in an airplane? That's got to be really tough::I mean you're at like 34,000 feet and then some, huh"Actually, Pogo because I know about my fear of heights I take an aisle seat and make sure the window is closed. I also introduce myself to everyone around me and tell them I like to know the names of those people I fly and die with. As many people who have a fear of heights will tell you, fear of heights and fear of flying are very different issues. I think claustophobia may be more of an issue on a plane than heights. The word is "understand", Pogo.

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Ronda Miller 5 years, 8 months ago

Did I mention I like Aisling, Pogo? :) to aisling (my hero!)

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Aisling 5 years, 8 months ago

why so antagonistic, Pogo? I hope you don't think that your attack on Ronda is going to further whatever cause you seem to have embraced.

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Ronda Miller 5 years, 8 months ago

Pogo, believe it or not I am sure there are plenty of people who have temporary disabilities. Let me assist you by naming a few of those: someone breaks a leg or two and ends up "temporarily" in a wheelchair. Someone who is diagnosed with MS sometimes has balance issues and/or no feeling in their extremities - temporarily needs to be in a wheelchair. Someone has a stroke and is regaining the use of one side of their body. Someone who just had surgery on a ruptured appendix, gave birth, had eye surgery, had a heart attack, etc., etc., etc., - really nothing to do with "life of the entitled and gentry", but yes a "temporary disability". My situation doesn't seem to have offended any of the people on this site who say they are in a wheelchair - why then does it you? Oh wait, maybe because they understand. Yeah, key work, understand.

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Pogo 5 years, 8 months ago

A "temporary" disability>>???? Good grief....the life of the entitled and gentry......It must be HE**

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

E-Business does not have these issues.

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autie 5 years, 8 months ago

The continual filing of these lawsuits is BS. So if joe the guy who can't get in sues the store, and that store can't hack it, it closes. Great job, you ruined more lives, beside the fact you definitely aren't going to shop there now. I was thinking property owners had an out if it was a financial burden, like making you close your business..but that still wouldn't remove one from a civil suit. ADA has come a long way baby, and still has a way to go..but that should not be at the expense of harding working shop owners trying to make a living.

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MaryKatesPillStash 5 years, 8 months ago

Tremendous post, Pace. I tore both my Achilles tendons in high school, and was in a wheelchair for 6 months. I was stared at every time I went out in public. I remember going to the mall to do some back-to-school shopping, only to discover that, although I could get INTO the mall, wheeling into virtually any store was impossible. I had to sit outside in my chair in the hallway, dictating to my mother which pair of earrings I wanted from my favorite jewelry store. Seriously, though, the most annoying thing: wheeling into a bathroom, which is completely empty, except for one stall--the handicapped one. Of course, someone is in there doing their biz, taking their time. Once, in school, I sat there for about 10 minutes, and I could actually hear magazine pages turning. I didn't want to say anything, because what was the person supposed to do, squeeze it out really quick for me? But the other girls' bathroom was on the other floor, and I kept saying to myself "surely she'll finish soon..." Finally, the door opened, and out emerged...my teacher.Since my accident, I have tried to be cognizant and respectful of those who are impaired in some way. It was one of the most embarrassing, frustrating, and infuriating times in my life. I know it is difficult for every store--especially small locally-owned businesses--to come into ADA compliance. After all, to do so is catering to the minority, and that's always costly. But, as another poster pointed out, this will become a more pressing issueas our baby boomers age. It's also expensive to renovate buildings to comply with ever-evolving emergency and building codes. Yet, it's something that must be done, costly or not.

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

Gee, is there NO ONE who will step up to the plate and suggest a Downtown business to destroy in the name of the ADA?What is wrong with you people?I thought that some of you were all about "Equal rights for all, regardless of the cost!"oh waitcould it be that you are beginning to understand the use, misuse and abuse of the CURRENT law?Think about how more more abuse will result from tightening up of the existing law!

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classclown 5 years, 8 months ago

Allow me to be the first to call B.S. on pace's post. Sunflower Cable does indeed have counter space that is designed for people in wheelchairs. In fact the last time I was there about 3 weeks ago, a woman in a wheelchair came in and utilized that spot.Granted, they like to keep their bill paying basket and some fliers there, but when she came in on of the employees moved them out of the way in order for them to wait on her.I'm not saying that there aren't places in town that are not ADA compliant. I imagine every place in town that is designated as "historical" is in violation of the ADA. But his/her rant about Sunflower is obviously a lie, so one has to wonder what else (s)he is flat out lying about. Or at the very least grossly exaggerating about.

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

snap_pop_no_crackle (Anonymous) says: Was the Pretentious Cow ADA compliant?"Marion writes:No, that little glorified cave was not and could not have been made so without modifications to the doorway, costing in excess of $10,000, submission of plans to the HRC and...welll, there you go.Now, Snap, which Downtown business would YOU like to sue to force ADA compliance?

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pace 5 years, 8 months ago

There should be a day in your life that you borrow a wheel chair and do simple errands. Good luck. Take someone with you. Watch clerks look at the person with you and they ask them if you want something. Sometimes strangers pat you on the head, so carry a cane and hit them. Reach your hand over high counters and have the alert clerk place your change , out of sight, your fingers searching, Change banks. Want sunflower cable, standing lines only and yell up over their counters hoping to hear what they say, as they throw bags of equipment in your general direction. Traverse cracks and canyons, watch bounding young men bounce out, with a hang tag on their hummer, using the parking space. Save a corporation a couple of thousand dollars by hiring a person to enter a building for you for the rest of your life. Hire a builder that says he knows how to build accessible and hear that a couple of steps could easily be remedied by a ramp later. Check out assisted living places in town, presbyterian manor apartments and assisted living rooms are not ada, they say what is ADA? No wheelchair sinks, just old fashioned cabinets so you need help to wash your hands. CRAP. Go apartment hunting. that will be fun.

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Pilgrim 5 years, 8 months ago

justbegintowrite (Ronda Miller) says:I don't know how many seats are set aside at the Sprint Center, but it was obvious there was a great deal for such a purpose.I am quite sure that because of the intensely steep seating they knew a certain amount of people would need to be accomodated because of "fear of height" issues.******Uh, how about you look at the seating chart and don't buy tickets that are in the upper balcony? Wouldn't that be a lot easier than whining about it after the fact?

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Pilgrim 5 years, 8 months ago

bennyoates (Anonymous) says:Guess the "liberal media" are right when Marion agrees with them/they agree with Marion.*********Good God! The looney left attacking the SF Gate? The left eating its own! Wow!

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Pilgrim 5 years, 8 months ago

MacHeath (Anonymous) says:Your cut and paste bull is annoying.******Why? Because it tells the inconvenient truth?

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BrianR 5 years, 8 months ago

crazyks, I agree.Destroying someone's business to make a point or worse to make money!?! I think that would be a good time to hoist the black flag.

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Pilgrim 5 years, 8 months ago

Sue Millstein, co-owner of Liberty Hall, is one local business owner who could be affected by the changes to theater accessibility. But even if the changes cost money, Millstein says it's worth it."I think any place should be accessible for the handicapped," she said, adding that she views her business as a "community building."*********So why haven't you made those changes already, Sue? Why are you waiting for the government to say you have to make them? Come on, compassionate liberal, put your money where your mouth is without the excuse of "the government made me do it."

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Linda Endicott 5 years, 8 months ago

There's one thing I don't understand about all these sue-happy people, whether they're physically disabled or not...why would you deliberately file a lawsuit knowing it would mean the business would have to close?If you find a business that doesn't have the things required by ADA, report them, by all means. If they are required to comply, okay. That doesn't mean you have to file a lawsuit as well. Many businesses may be able to remodel to comply, but most would not have the funds available to comply and fight a lawsuit along with it. If your intention is to have them comply, then let them spend their money on remodeling, not lining your own pockets. Remodeling is very expensive. Maybe they could let the businesses do these things a little at a time, instead of demanding that everything has to be completed RIGHT NOW. And if older buildings are required to be ADA compliant, then why are owners of them allowed to rent them to businesses, knowing they're not compliant?I knew a woman once who had a bookstore that had one step up, and no ramp. There were many disabled people who visited there and the employees at the store assisted them in getting in and out. But for one person in a wheelchair that wasn't good enough. She decided to refuse the offer of help, and sue instead. She singlehandedly guaranteed that the store would have to close.

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Flap Doodle 5 years, 8 months ago

Was the Pretentious Cow ADA compliant?

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

So who wants to file a lawsuit against any of the non-ADA compliant businesses which I have mentioned?Ramblers, are you ready and willing to ramble or just only willing to attack "other people's" money because the businesses I mention are businesses which are close to you and you don't want to hurt them?

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bearded_gnome 5 years, 8 months ago

simplykristib,okay I happen to know that a bill is coming out of the congress to strengthen the ADA, and apparently without further encouraging the suits marion and I have been talking about. just to be clear, ADA is very important. but to think that by passing it we have solved or will solve all access problems in america is foolish. no one has answered, did drug addicts and alcoholics get removed from ADA coverage as I believed (mentioned above)?
Mr. Oates, the intention of the act was never to force closure of historic hamburger joints like Roy's Drivein [reffed at least twice above by Marion and me]. you have in all your postings failed to actually address this.if I recall from your previous postings on other threads, perhaps you work for a nonprofit and thus has no concept for the vital need for businesses to make a profit. businesses do not simply exist to employ people or offer access to people with disabilities. finally, Mr. Oates, I will note on a related topic, that the National Federation of the Blind protests the recent court decisions attempting to force the U.S. Treasury to make money (paper bills) adapted for recognition by the blind. their argument is that the massive cost throughout our economy would far exceed the cost of giving each blind person a talking bill reader instead. they further point out that such litigation exaggerates the trouble blind people face in their daily lives. there's a good example of a wise disability group.

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bearded_gnome 5 years, 8 months ago

mr. oates,I never did ref clint eastwood's politics, you're connecting two disparate dots. what I am saying is that the ADA does not serve well much of the population it is supposed to, and that by bringing a legal minefield, may actually further stigmatize people with disabilities. note my reply to 'Redneck.' I am also saying that benefit from the ADA is far from universal among disabled persons. no, a huge number of curb cuts I am familiar with in east lawrence came in in the '90s. one very good example of a failure of ADA along with 504 etc., is:KU will happily put in a ramp, and pay $$$$$$$ for it. that way they can point to it, put it into their brochures, feature on websites, etc. but KU has failed in almost every case to properly provide services for blind students during the past three decades. one person I knew was discriminated against because she is blind. she couldn't get a lawyer to represent her because the discriminator was Columbia Artists and they didn't want to face them in court. ***finally, mr. oates, please be very careful about assumptions you may make about me. you remember what assumptions are, ...they make an ....

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

Ramblers, you ready to ramble or not?

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

Waiting for replies from both Bennydope and Simplekristib!

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

simplykristib (Anonymous) says: I have lots to say about this subject:.. I was one of a ton of people with disabilities to get this historic piece of legislation enacted in July 1990."Marion writes:Good for you!Now.......................................................Let us see if you are up to demonstrating the courage of your convictions!Would you be willing to participate and assist in lawsuits aagainst any or all of the businesses which I mentioned, knowing that such lawsuits would most likely force the closing of those businesses just from the costs of defending the lawsuits alone?None of the businesses mentioned are ADA compliant and are therfore legally liable for action under the act.simplykristib, you are making noises like a rambler, so are you ready to ramble?

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simplykristib 5 years, 8 months ago

I have lots to say about this subject..... I was one of a ton of people with disabilities to get this historic piece of legislation enacted in July 1990. It saddens me to see that the law is being weakened. Why are disability rights advocates and people with disabilities doing more to strengthen this important piece of legislation? I admit that I am out of the loop at this point as far as disability rights goes. Caring for two parents with lung cancer is full-time job.Marion,You look like a fool. You have NO idea what ADA entails. If you did, you would be more supportive of your friend with a disability. Accessibility benefits everyone! Look at our population which is aging. My own parents can benefit from ADA. Small businesses can get help... Owner just need to look for resources. If they can't figure it out, they can contact their local center for independent living.BTW, I used to know both Mike and Glen real well thru my advocacy work.

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

Hey, Bennyoates!We could file against The Harbour!That old front stoop is far from compliant!What about Henry's Upstairs?No ADA compliance there and Dave's got a lot of money, so who cares?Oh, yeah.The Taproom and The Sandbar.Aw, Heck; hit'em both!And while we're at it, let's nail The Replay..that restroom is a disaster and in no way ADA compliant.The little antique mall with the white front has a mezzanine and a basement which are not ADA accessible.Mass Street Music?Yeah, hit'em all!Shut down Downtown in the name of the ADA!Let's get started!Surely in the so-called "legal community" in Lawrence, there is a shyster counsellor who will take on all this!Check around, will you, Benny?

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Ronda Miller 5 years, 8 months ago

benny, thanks for the clarification. I am ashamed to say that I know too little about the ADA - as probably do most people who do not themselves, or someone they know, need to use it. I can understand it could be a great hardship for a small business owner to comply with all aspects, but that is when government needs to step in and assist. We seem to do this in our school system for people with disabilities.I know what I experienced was a small and temporary disability but it was one none the less and I was thankful that there was a means for me to be allowed to enjoy myself that evening. I imagine there are people who attend the Sprint Center who are out of shape, or overweight (seats are quite small) who need to go to this area as well. If you have not been before it is quite an experience in many respects. ;)

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Pogo 5 years, 8 months ago

justbegintowrite (Ronda Miller) says: Pogo, I did not ask for a better seat"++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++But you sure took one, didn't you?- ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++justbegintowrite (Ronda Miller) says: I don't know how many seats are set aside at the Sprint Center, but it was obvious there was a great deal for such a purpose. I am quite sure that because of the intensely steep seating they knew a certain amount of people would need to be accomodated because of "fear of height" issues."+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++I wonder how this "fear of heights" impacts on the ability to ride in an airplane? That's got to be really tough......I mean you're at like 34,000 feet and then some, huh?

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bennyoates 5 years, 8 months ago

gnome,If you are presenting details of the Eastwood case to call attention to unscrupulous lawyers and clients, your point is well taken. If you're doing it to discredit the ADA, the facts of the case don't do that. The court decided in Eastwood's favor, and that is the norm in cases such as these.Re: John McCain. I won't be voting for him but I admire him. One big reason is that he isn't the sort of person who would stand for some of the hateful garbage on these boards that some (certainly not all) "conservatives" post.While you're researching Eastwood, don't look too deeply into some of his personal and political opinions. They might burst your bubble, especially since you think McCain's insufficiently conservative.

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bennyoates 5 years, 8 months ago

gnome,The curb cuts date back to the early 1970s as a result of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the first federal civil rights law for people with disabilities and a precursor to the ADA. Richard Nixon signed it into law. The late Roger Williams, an Air Force veteran with Muscular Dystrophy, led the efforts to make the KU campus and Lawrence accessible to people with disabilities, within the limits of "reasonable accommodation" as mandated by the law and interpreted by our judicial system.

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bennyoates 5 years, 8 months ago

Thanks, Ronda, I appreciate that. But I need to say that the ADA does not mandate that all businesses be accessible and neither do I. The key is "reasonable accommodation," and there are exemptions for businesses located in old buildings and for businesses who do not employ enough people to come under the law's purview. There are people on this board, living in worlds of ignorance and/or fantasy, who have been spinning wild scenarios implying that the norm in this country is for business owners to be at the mercy of rabid disability rights activists and their avaricious lawyers. Anyone who spreads this misinformation is either a liar or too lazy to find out the truth.As I said earlier, the legal history of the ADA shows that US courts, up to and including the Supreme Court, have for the most part interpreted the law narrowly and in ways that are favorable to the business community.Those facts about the law's legal history are easily available, as is the law itself, on the internet and elsewhere, for anyone who wants to express an informed opinion. Marion, in particular, doesn't know what he's talking about, but that's never stopped him from posting before and won't in the future. He should thank his lucky stars that these message boards are more accessible than some public spaces.

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bearded_gnome 5 years, 8 months ago

a great quote from that page:on Jan. 21, 1997, zum Brunnen's attorney, Paul Rein, who has initiated more than 20 ADA cases, filed a federal suit against Eastwood. John Burris was broughtin for the trial. He specializes in litigating complaints of ADA violations and believed Eastwood had broken the law. "There was a clear violation of therules when Mrs. zum Brunnen visited, and Mr. Eastwood, as owner of the Mission Ranch, is responsible for the violations of those rules," said Burris duringthe trial.For more than two years after the complaint had been filed, zum Brunnen and her attorney sought a cash settlement from Eastwood. Last spring, Eastwood tolda congressional committee that zum Brunnen wanted an out-of-court settlement of $576,000. It wouldn't have been her first. Previously, zum Brunnen hadwon an ADA lawsuit filed against Mendocino's historic Heritage House Hotel, which paid $20,000 to her and $48,000 to her lawyer. In that case, zum Brunnencomplained that a doorway was too narrow and an ocean-front path too rough for her wheelchair.Not only did Eastwood refuse to settle but he also turned the case into a media war and a four-year legal slugfest. "I'm doing this to help protect small-businesspeople from the same kind of lawsuit," he told this columnist before the trial. Eastwood's attorneys warned him that if he fought the case in court, hecould end up stuck paying $1 million worth of zum Brunnen's legal bills. Under the law, the complainant's attorneys in ADA cases can collect their legalfees from the other side if they win. This double-whammy is why businesses often settle out of court rather than fight.During the trial, Eastwood's attorney, Chuck Keller, told the jury that zum Brunnen may not have even visited the hotel. "There are many discrepancies inher story, and there is a lack of corroboration," Keller said. "For zum Brunnen to win, she must prove that she visited Mission Ranch as a bona fide guest,not on a pretext, setting the stage for this lawsuit." For her part, zum Brunnen had pledged to give her legal winnings to charity.READY TO APPEAL. The jury took only five hours to deliberate -- and it came down squarely on Dirty Harry's side. "The verdict was correct. I hope I setan example for other small businesses to follow," said Eastwood, adding he would have appealed if he had lost. And he's right on the money. All along,Eastwood says that he has supported the ADA's access requirements and continues to. And the facts support him: Eastwood's hotel did have a wheelchair-accessiblebathroom and a wheelchair-accessible room. When notified of existing problems, he fixed them, as mandated by the law. And zum Brunnen's offer to settlefor nearly a half-million dollars seems excessive to this columnist in light of the circumstances.

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bearded_gnome 5 years, 8 months ago

Business Weekly, about Clint Eastwood on this topic, quotes, and great links:http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/oct2000/nf2000106_353.htm

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bearded_gnome 5 years, 8 months ago

scott~~~~~,your ignorance of conservatives is amazing. do you not read what we conservatives post on here? we did not support John McCain in the primary; conservatives in droves voted for other candidates; you are engaging in strawman tactics so beloved of the far-left-fringies on here. at most, McCain agrees with us about a third of the time; that certainly doesn't make him conservative!

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Ronda Miller 5 years, 8 months ago

I agree with Bennyoates and redneck, ADA is essential to many people and all businesses should be made accessible to all people. I agree that if it is so expensive as to put the small business owner out of business that there should be governmental grants to fund such places of business.Pogo, I did not ask for a better seat - if you read my blog thoroughly you will see that I said I would be happy to stand beside the attendant to watch the band - I was also prepared to stand outside of viewing range to listen to them while my chlldren and friend enjoyed the show. The usher took me to an area after the list was checked to make sure there was enough room to accomodate me and there was easily enough room for my children and my friend. We saw one person in a wheel chair in our area - there were a lot of other people coming and going. I don't know how many seats are set aside at the Sprint Center, but it was obvious there was a great deal for such a purpose. I am quite sure that because of the intensely steep seating they knew a certain amount of people would need to be accomodated because of "fear of height" issues. We didn't even know about it so it would be an erroneous statement to say we took advantage of the ADA law.I am glad you continue to read my blogs though, Pogo! :)

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macon47 5 years, 8 months ago

osamaba will help youbut only if your ride a cameland wear a burqurayee ha, giddie up go

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scott3460 5 years, 8 months ago

"John McCain supports expansion of Americans With Disabilities Act"I thought he was running as a conservative and, therefore, opposed to such governmental interference with business (afterall the disabled can simply choose to shop somewhere where they can gain access.) Guess his true progressive colors are showing through.

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bearded_gnome 5 years, 8 months ago

well, Marion,you got Roy's closing in salinas. what benny and others are forgetting in their insistance on access is:the mods cost money; these businesses have to make a profit to stay in business; if mods cost $50,000, and the business's annual budget doesn't have that, the margin of profit isn't very high, etc., they're losing money to provide access. is that the true intent of ADA? and, then, the trawlers (see above) actually make money on doing this. in the case of Roy's in Salinas Ca you quoted and I cited, look at where the plaintiff lives, and how many other suits he has! bennyotes,my point was that some groups benefit more than others do from current, and the original, ADA language. aren't the curb cuts we have on every corner of lawrence directly or indirectly there because of ADA? those benefit people using wheelchairs/crutches. they can cause trouble for blind pedestrians. and, worst of all, most of the curb cuts in lawrence lead to impassible sidewalks for wheelchairs. often, even pedestrians on two feet have trouble with the sidewalk condition. simon gilmore (crazy homeless man often seen downtown, has low-vision) has even said, published in this newspaper, that the reason he walks in the street is because the sidewalks (or lack of sidewalks) are too dangerous for him to walk there! redneck,I fully agree with the first half of your post: you shouldn't face any barrier to participating with your friends, and it does feel like sh*t when you're excluded! yes, i know. however, how would those friends feel towards you if you profited from a lawsuit against the favorite wateringhole of you and your buddies, a lawsuit that closed that beloved tavern? that's what we're talking about. and since we're talking about the ADA, early on, drug addicts and alcoholics were included under it. I think that's been fixed, but don't know. the net effect of including them under ADA was to increase stigma for people with real disabilities.

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

bennyoates (Anonymous) says: "redneck"'s post at 11.05 am is the best one here. It'll stand out despite Marion's desperate campaign to silence and intimidate those who disagree with him"Marion writes:Benny, you poor misguided thing, you!I'm not trying to "silence" anyone!In fact, I'll tell you what!I have got a deal for you!I'll come over to supporting this change in the law if you will join up with me to help file an ADA lawsuit against a business in Downtown Lawrence.I have a disabled freind who is partially wheelchair bound and you has only very limited walking ability so let's set out to see which business we will target!Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.....................................Let's see, here.............................................................Oh, I know!How about The Raven Bookstore?No ramp, high steps, narrow isles!Love Garden maybe?High narrow stairs, no elevator.....yeah.African Adorned?Narrow concrete stairs, inadequte railings and no way to make the place compliant but defending the lawsuit would drive the place out of business!Where else?Oh, yeah!The Jazzhouse!Perfect!My freind is just dying to go there but can't; old bad stairs, no elevator.....yeah.How about the little shops located above the Java Break?Five or six hot lawsuits there and let's not forget about Rudy's Pizza; all down in it's little hole! Can't get a wheelchair down those stairs!Tell, you what, Benny!YOU make the decision and get back to me, OK?

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Pogo 5 years, 8 months ago

The ADA?Let's not leave LJWorld's blogoholic, RHONDA MILLER, who fully misused and took advantage of a law set up for the disabled to obtain a better seat than what she was willing to pay for to see Tom Petty as she documents here:http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/at-random/2008/jul/23/tom-petty-and-the-heartbreakers-live-at-the-sprint/#c647583"I had barely set down when I realized that I would not be able to turn my face forward to view the performance without both vomiting and falling forward......""I was extremely relieved that I wasn't the first person they had met with an acute fear of heights. They told me because of the ADA (American Disabilities Act) that they had a special place for me (not a padded room!) where I would be down much closer to the performance. Lonelane_1 convinced them that we shouldn't be split up because of my children and we were allowed to all go to the "safe zone" for the concert."Blogaholic Miller not only took advantage of the law, but made certain all her buddies got to tag along with her.Question: Where were people with documented disabilities to sit if the "special place" was all filled with people who just wanted better seats but didn't want to pay for them or were just not able to obtain them....or, worse, just didn't want to pay the going rate for the non-nose bleed" seats? Makes one wonder......

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dweezil222 5 years, 8 months ago

He raises a good point. ADA was initially supposed to have exemptions for small business owners, who often cannot afford to comply with its provisions. One solution to this problem would be government grants; give the small business owners the money to make their facilities ADA compliant. But it serves no useful purpose to run a small business into the ground with lawsuits when it's only going to be replaced with another small business that also can't afford to modify its building.

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

From "Ovelawyered":"July 18th, 2008 at 2:44 pmADA: Sure, call him a "professional plaintiff"» by Walter Olson "I have no problem being accused of being a professional whatever," says Allen Fox, who's filed 139 disabled-accessibility lawsuits over six years in concert with attorney Samuel Aurelio, as many as eight of the similarly worded complaints in a day. Most of the complaints result in the payment of legal fees and Fox, of West Palm Beach, Fla., pays nothing on the rare occasions he loses.Aurilio, who has filed 274 ADA cases in Florida, including Fox's, laments that a few lawyers have given all of those who fight for the disabled a bad name. The poster child is a North Miami lawyer who in 2003 was sanctioned by U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks for filing 13 lawsuits on behalf of a man he claimed was a quadriplegic who later walked in to give his deposition in one of the cases.Not only was the man not disabled, he "did not know what a quadriplegic was, and when the term was explained to him, he was repulsed by the thought of being so incapacitated," Middlebrooks wrote in a blistering 18-page order sanctioning lawyer Lawrence Fuller.Fuller was also admonished by the Florida Bar; by one estimate, he'd taken in $3 million in his ADA practice by that point. (Jane Musgrave, "'Pro Plaintiff' Crusades for Disabled Access", Palm Beach Post/Lakeland Ledger, May 12)."

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bennyoates 5 years, 8 months ago

"redneck"'s post at 11.05 am is the best one here. It'll stand out despite Marion's desperate campaign to silence and intimidate those who disagree with him.

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

bennyoates (Anonymous) says: Rather than try to dominate this message board with cut-and-paste (a sure sign of insecurity),"Marion writes:Well, Bennyoates, from where did you obtain your advanced degrees in psychology?Had you such things, you would recognise that the providing of good and accurate information to the benefit of others is always a good thing.Additionally, directly linking to the cited articles might be considered a violation of the TOS of the LJW site.Wanna go for two out of three, Benny?

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bennyoates 5 years, 8 months ago

Rather than try to dominate this message board with cut-and-paste (a sure sign of insecurity), I'll provide a link and just say, "Good for Senator McCain."http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-mccain27-2008jul27,0,7609108.story

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

cont'd:"Removal of barriers for our fellow Americans with disabilities is a universally laudable goal. But while the theory behind the ADA's barrier removal sounds simple - removal of barriers where the removal is "easily accomplishable without much difficulty or expense" - the reality is that barrier removal is both difficult and expensive because of the conflicting opinions of what constitutes a barrier, the lack of useful guidance on what kind of barrier removal is readily achievable, and discrepancies between laws. Enter SB 855. State laws are co-codifiers of the federal ADA. Quite simply, SB 855 would require three steps to resolving an ADA problem. First, before a lawsuit could be filed, an aggrieved party would be required to provide a specified notice of an ADA violation to the owner of the property, agent, or other responsible party. Second, the owner would be required to respond within 30 days with a description of the improvements to be made, or to rebut the allegations. Third, if the owner chooses to fix the problem, he or she would have 120 days to do so. There is little more that Californians despise than frivolous, shakedown lawsuits that have no other aim than to make a few people rich. A case in point is Proposition 64 from last November's election when 60 percent of California voters chose to place reasonable limits on the widely abused Unfair Competition Law. Much like Proposition 64, Sen. Charles Poochigian's SB 855 protects the interests of individuals who have suffered actual harm, allowing them to file suit quickly, but it would require those who have not been harmed to provide notice and allow the business owner to fix the alleged violation. Martyn B. Hopper is California State Director for the National Federation of Independent Business in Sacramento."

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

From The East Bay Business Times:"ADA lawsuit abuse is closing small businessesEast Bay Business Times - by Martyn B. Hopper Like similar discussions on whether or not to close an underused library or an unstrategically located fire station, bring up making badly needed modifications to the American With Disabilities Act and prepare yourself for the wrath of the many whose politics are informed solely by their vaporous passions. Senate Bill 855, cautiously stepping its way through the political minefield in the California Legislature, aims to address a consequence never intended by the bipartisan passage of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, and that is to remove the shameless pimping of it by shakedown-lawyers and activists for their own financial or fame-seeking benefits. This month's issue of "Fortune Small Business" tells two sad stories of California small-business owners that perfectly encapsulate the scandal being perpetrated on the ADA: "Dave Mock was hit too - and harder. The owner of Mock Bros., a saddle maker in Yucca Valley, Calif., was sued for several alleged ADA violations, including a counter that was too high to be accessible for disabled customers. When lawyers' fees hit $27,000, Mock settled and paid $4,000 in damages. But that wasn't the end of it. To address his ADA violations, he would have to make at least another $20,000 in renovations. Instead he shut down his store this past December and sold the property. The great irony: Mock Bros. was founded in 1941 by Archie Mock, Dave's uncle, a paraplegic who is now deceased. "George Leage owns three restaurants in Morro Bay, Calif., which were sued in rapid succession by frequent filer Jarek Molski. Leage says he has credit card slips that show that Molski visited his Harbor Hut restaurant at 4:20 p.m. on June 16, 2003, then dropped by the Great American Fish Company at 6:27 p.m. Two weeks later Molski, who uses a wheelchair, filed suits against all three restaurants, citing ADA violations in their bathrooms. He alleged that he injured himself - not once, but in each of the three bathrooms. It turns out that Molski, 34, is notorious for filing hundreds of ADA suits throughout California." cont'd:

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

From "Overlawyered""September 21st, 2004 at 12:34 amADA suits close another beloved eatery» by Walter Olson Once again it's happening in central California: "After more than 40 years in business, Roy's Drive-In in Salinas is closing - in part because the owner can't afford a lawsuit that accuses him of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act." Jarek Molski of Woodland Hills in southern California, who uses a wheelchair, "is suing Patterson because he claims the restaurant is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Molski has sued over 200 small businesses for not meeting ADA requirements. :Built in the 1950s, Roy's Drive-In does not have ramps to access the windows and restrooms, but employees say the business is accessible to all of their customers - including the disabled," through car-hop service. The restaurant is scheduled to close today. ("Roy's Drive-In Closing After 40 Years", TheKSBWChannel dot com, Sept. 20; Claudia Melendez, "Roy's Drive-In to close", Salinas Californian, Sept. 18). Last year (see Sept. 2, 2003) On Lock Sam, a beloved 105-year-old Chinese restaurant in Stockton, closed after being hit with an access suit.Complainant Molski has been known to call himself "Sheriff", and his activities (assisted by lawyer Thomas Frankovich) have caused an uproar lately in central California. His suits repeatedly recycle identical allegations concerning the lack of accessibility of establishments he says he has visited, and demand money over such putative misdeeds such as placing paper towel holders at an incorrect height. Hundreds of residents "filled the Morro Bay council chambers" after Molski hit a dozen local restaurants with suits. (Andrew Masuda, "Residents speak out over ADA lawsuits", KSBY, Sept. 14). "Customers are calling Molski's tactics a get-rich-quick scheme," reported KSBY. Molski is "asking for $4,000 a day until the remodeling is completed," says Ruth Florence, who owns Ahedo's Mexican Restaurant in Grover Beach. "That's ridiculous." (Carina Corral, "China Bowl owner speaks out", Sept. 15). More coverage on the same station: Sept. 8, Sept. 9, Sept. 10, Sept. 14.Nor is Roy's Drive-In the only casualty: "Owners of The Hungry Fisherman restaurant on Beach Street in Morro Bay say that Molski's lawsuit caused the establishment to close after 28 years."

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redneck 5 years, 8 months ago

I have a disability myselft and use a power wheelchair. I have a couple of times gone to a gathering with co-workers or friends and I was not able join in because the business was not handicap accessable. You have no idea how stupid that makes you feel. In a sence they are making a statement that my kind are not welcome there. I wonder how that would fly if women or African American's were not welcome somewhere. My sister tried to tell me once that I can't expect everything to be accessable. I don't know why that isn't possible in today's world. Everybody bashes Wal-Mart and the like, but guess what. They are ALWAYS handicapp accessable. I hate not being able to support some of our local business's just because they don't want to obay the law & accomodate people with a disability. I'm sorry, but I don't feel sorry for business's who get into these lawsuits. Business's who are not ADA compliant are just asking for a lawsuit. Wana hear good one? I was dispatcher for the Hays PD & they were not ADA compliant. The very people who are supposed to enforce the laws are not even ADA compliant. I know these business's are not picking on people like me. They just don't want to spend the money. Hey; I don't want to pay my income taxes. But I will have to pay fines or go to jail if I don't. Get the idea? I'll get of my soap box now.

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

Take a look here:http://www.ada.gov/hsurvey.htmThis is the check list for ADA compliance in public accomodation.Can you imagine the cost of renovating an old 1940s-1960s style motel or hotel to meet these standards?Now about the cost of bringing into ADA compliance a family owned bed-and-breakfast located in an old Painted Lady?Here is the checklist for bars and restaurants (Someone should sue Louise's or The Wheel for non-compliance!):http://www.disabilitylawcenter.org/publications/ada%20checklists/ADA%20Restaurant%20Checklist.pdf

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

Did you folks know that the Kansas Lottery was the victim of such a lawsuit?Now for businesses to sell lottery tickets, they must be ADA compliant or offer curb service.If you doubt me, call the lottery and ask them!Justify this one, please!From "Overlawyered":"May 13th, 2008 at 12:45 amADA litigation closes another Calif. restaurant» by Walter Olson Even rural Northern California affords no refuge from the filing mills:Eureka's Arctic Circle franchise has closed its doors after the restaurant was sued for noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.Jack Williams, who has owned the franchise with his wife, Peggy, since 1989, said the couple decided to close the business last Tuesday because they cannot afford the renovations required by the lawsuit.The suit was filed by local attorney Jason K. Singleton, who in recent years has filed ADA-related suits against a number of local establishments, including Village Pantry, Broadway Cinema, Fortuna Theatre, Cafe Waterfront and College of the Redwoods, among others. :"Here we had a business that was serving all kinds of customers and now is serving no one," Hockaday [J Warren Hockaday, executive director of the Greater Eureka Chamber of Commerce] said".

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bennyoates 5 years, 8 months ago

The ADA is the most important civil rights legislation of the last 20 years. Strong bipartisan support, with leadership by Republicans like George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole, and Democrats like Tom Harkin and Edward Kennedy, helped put the law into effect. But the most important factor in the ADA was grassroots action from millions of American citizens, many of whom have disabilities or have family or friends with disabilities.ADA opponents can cherry-pick examples of questionable lawsuits all they want. Those examples say something about unscrupulous lawyers. They do not discredit the ADA. The record shows that in ADA cases, courts tend to side with the business community and tend to interpret the ADA strictly, not generously.People like Marion act in bad faith, i.e., they simply don't want the ADA to exist, period. They want to throw the baby out with the bathwater because of egregious lawsuits. And people like Marion lack the capacity to make a real argument against the ADA, so they try to intimidate people by finding news stories that support their viewpoint and blanketing message boards with them. Guess the "liberal media" are right when Marion agrees with them/they agree with Marion."Not all persons with disabilities need what is advocated in this"--says gnome.How do you know? Thank goodness the courts decide such questions, and thank goodness the Congress was intelligent enough to pass ADA restoration.

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bearded_gnome 5 years, 8 months ago

Many of these suits have been filed by one of a handful of disabled plaintiffs who are represented by Thomas Frankovich, one of the best known and mostcontroversial ADA accessibility lawyers in California.marion,often you are just irritating, however in posting this article you are correct. in salinas, a fifty-year-old walk-up burger place is closing because of such a suit. it has happened here in lawrence where an out-of-town person, usually a man in a wheelchair, drives to town and scouts around for violations. these are called "trawlers." one caught that old hamburger joint in salinas ca. at least once, lawrence has been visited by a trawler. also, marion, you want some good reading on this topic: look up what clint eastwood has had to say! now, the ljworld/wire article is correct that ADA needs some strengthening. and maybe the feds need to put some money behind those mandates on local/state government. finally, wish to note that overwhelmingly this article addresses needs of persons in wheelchairs, using crutches. not all persons with disabilities need all of what is advocated in this.

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beobachter 5 years, 8 months ago

Marion, a link to story would have made a lot more sense. It's obvious you are clueless about disabilities, except maybe for some mental ones.

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MacHeath 5 years, 8 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

Blackseth contends the small-business owners have been "failed by the city" in that building inspectors should have informed them that they had a problem. "When you enforce building codes and local statutes you will catch 95 percent of the ADA violations," he explains. "But when you rely on the building inspector, it just doesn't always happen like it's supposed to." Gorce's attorney Joe Bravo also believes that the enforcement mechanism could use some tinkering - especially in California where the statutory damages can be so high. "It can be an expensive surprise for small owners who don't have capital reserves. Herein lies the conflict: how to make a law and enforce it but at the same time not put small owners out of business? That's the real tragedy here - it's pitted disabled people against small businesses." Bravo wishes that the city had a method of citing businesses that were not ADA compliant - in the same way that a business owner can be cited for health and safety violations. Because ADA is part of federal civil rights law, however, the city is not responsible for monitoring and enforcing it. So, although City Hall may express concern about the fate of these small businesses, as Office of Small Business Director Rajah Norris told me: "We have no jurisdiction over federal laws." In a place like San Francisco where so many micro-businesses - crammed into tiny storefronts built decades before the passage of ADA - consider themselves "grandfathered in," finding instances of ADA noncompliance is as easy as picking apples in an orchard. Or as Blackseth puts it: "They are low-hanging fruit. Why sue Mc Donald's?"

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

cont'd:"That may be true in some cases, but after hearing byzantine stories from several business owners of confusing red tape and contradictory expert advice, I'm not surprised that some of them have simply made mistakes or tried to bury their heads in the sand. One restaurant owner told me she thought she couldn't legally put in a ramp because her entrance was too close to the crosswalk. Another worried that if she made the entrance to her cafe accessible, she would be sued for a lack of an accessible bathroom - a remodel that she said would take over much of her kitchen. Gorce said his architect told him that the sidewalk is above the building's basement (another example of San Francisco's idiosyncratic built environment) and could not structurally accommodate a permanent ramp. The building inspector agreed that installing one would be an unreasonable hardship, and after Gorce fulfilled other ADA requirements, signed off on the permits. The lawsuit came much later. Kim Blackseth, an ADA consultant for both defendants and plaintiffs as well as builders, sympathizes with small businesses - not because they have a right to exclude the disabled, but because they are often caught unawares after depending on the advice of architects, contractors, and local building inspectors. "If I were them I would be very angry," he said. "The business owners are the only ones that are not (building) professionals and yet they are the ones left holding the bag." For instance, after the city approved their permits, Gorce and his wife believed XOX Truffles was ADA compliant. "You think you do everything correctly," said Gorce. "The city says you're OK. They never warn you this can happen."

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

cont'd:"An analyst at the Office of Small Business said the city is "very concerned about the number of businesses that are being served by these suits," especially because these merchants are often "living on the edge, working seven days a week" and the financial impact of these suits is "critical to their bottom line." A hearing on the issue is planned for July 15th. But mounting a movement around these diverse lawsuits may be like keeping frogs in a wheelbarrow. Many shop owners quickly and quietly settle, fearful of becoming the subject of another suit. Some of their lawyers have counseled them not to speak on the record with reporters. Others, according to Frankovich, received his clients' warning letters of inaccessibility and made alterations that rectified the infraction. Some businesses, like XOX Truffles, have not fared so well. Mariner and Company Flowers on Polk Street closed down rather than undertake a remodel. Other shop owners, like Molte Cose's Teresa Nittolo, have made the physical alterations but she refuses to pay the plaintiffs because, as she told me, "it just seems wrong." Although for some shop owners paying thousands of dollars to a plaintiff may "seem wrong," attorney Frankovich told me, it's far from illegal. In fact, it is just how the law was designed to function. "The lawmakers decided that enforcement should be carried out through private lawsuits rather than hiring an army of attorney generals." Not only is his work legal, he contends, but effective: "It works, we've made hundreds of places more accessible." Frankovich has little sympathy for the business owners who claim to have been blindsided with a lawsuit. "The laws have been on the books for 18 years," he said. "Everyone gets a letter saying they have to fix it or they will be sued - you can't be much more fair than that. But some of these small businesses just don't care." cont'd:

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

cont'd:"Frankovich told me he doesn't keep count but he guesses that he's filed between 1,500 and 1,800 ADA accessibility lawsuits since 1994 and he currently has about 50 active ADA suits in San Francisco. Last year, he was the subject of a San Francisco Weekly cover story "Wheelchairs of Fortune," detailing his multi-million dollar business in ADA suits. In 2006 he was suspended from filing any more cases in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for six months after a judge ruled him a vexatious litigant. California's new wrinkle Since the Americans With Disabilities Act was passed in 1990, thousands of lawsuits have been filed nationwide by disabled plaintiffs who discover that despite state and federal laws dictating that public accommodations be fully accessible, steps, doors and other architectural barriers still exclude them. The federal law was written such that enforcement takes place via civil suit - when a disabled person experiences a lack of access, he or she has the right to hire a lawyer and sue. California goes one step further. Our civil rights statutes make lawsuits more lucrative. Under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, plaintiffs of disability access cases may sue for $4,000 per infraction. In other words, our golden state has moved toward accessibility for all via the threat of one lawsuit at a time. This method of enforcement has generated a fair amount of controversy. Disability rights activists defend the law as the only thing that really works (voluntary programs with grant money for compliance rarely generate much response). Businesses in turn complain that the law incentivizes frivolous lawsuits. What's interesting about the city's recent spate of suits is that there are enough of them to get the attention of City Hall. Supervisor Aaron Peskin has pledged to help local businesses, although he admits his powers are limited. At a meeting last month of North Beach merchants who had convened to organize around the lawsuits, Peskin excoriated such "drive-by lawsuits" and promised to personally donate $500 for the businesses legal fund. cont'd:

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

cont'd:"Businesses have always bellyached about the cost of becoming ADA compliant - whether they are large corporations or hole-in-the wall diners. And without the hammer of ADA lawsuits the world would remain far less accessible to the physically disabled. Yet this number of cases targeting very small businesses in historic neighborhoods is re-igniting a debate about ADA enforcement and the city's role in helping or compelling merchants to comply with the law. Along with XOX Truffles, at least six other businesses on the same block of Columbus Avenue have been served, including Sushi on North Beach, Italian restaurant Da Flora and the sandwich shop Petite Deli. Last week Ricos, a burrito joint on the same the street, received their summons. On Polk Street, Teresa Nittolo, owner of the gift store Molte Cose, said that about ten of the neighboring stores along with her own have been sued. Many of these suits have been filed by one of a handful of disabled plaintiffs who are represented by Thomas Frankovich, one of the best known and most controversial ADA accessibility lawyers in California. cont'd:

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 8 months ago

Yet another reason to not have a brick-and-mortar business!Too bad the LJW didn't tell you the REST of the story!Neve mind; I'll get you started!"ADA accessibility lawsuits causing headaches for small business ownersBy Carol Lloyd, Special to SF GateFriday, June 13, 2008A tray of asymmetrical chocolate lumps balances on the counter behind the espresso machine, where owner Jean-Marc Gorce is slinging a cappuccino. Scotch-taped to the walls, clippings about the mom-and-pop truffle shop display accolades from Gourmet, the New York Times and 7 x 7. At the window, a few stools share a high counter; outside, two tables perch on the sidewalk. Cluttered but quaint, off-kilter but authentic, XOX Truffles is just the sort of place that one might associate with North Beach's motley character. Yet one of its design anomalies - a step from the curb into the shop - may turn out to be its downfall. On Jan. 26 Gorce and his wife, Casimira, were served with an Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility lawsuit, in which the plaintiff, Patrick Connally, claimed he had visited the store on six separate occasions and was prevented from entering the shop in his wheelchair. The parties are currently in settlement negotiations, with Gorce praying to avoid a trial. He said the cost of the suit has already forced him to lay off his three full-time employees and man the shop by himself. If the case ends up in court, he says, legal costs may result in the shuttering of his business. "I don't sleep anymore," he says. "This is has been a real nightmare." Small businesses targeted Gorce's refrain is not an uncommon one. In the past few months, a rash of ADA accessibility lawsuits has descended on neighborhoods across San Francisco from North Beach to Clement Street, from Polk Street to Geary Boulevard, enraging many local merchants and neighborhood advocates. Some invoke Clint Eastwood who, when his Carmel restaurant, Misson Ranch, was hit by an ADA lawsuit in 2000, famously claimed these suits amounted to "legalized racketeering."

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