Op-ed: Making the case for Public Transportation and Para-Transit in Collin County – CCDWD Takes A Stand

ccddfinal-jpgTime to Quit Kicking the Can Down the Road
Collin County is about to give birth to one of the greatest population explosions in Texas’ history! We are expected to grow up to 80.2% in just 15 years.  By 2030, it is estimated we could have 1.7 million people residing hereCurrently 20 %, or 1 in 5, are people with disabilities or over 65.  As the “Baby Boomer Generation” ages, the number of older adults is projected to grow from 7% to a whopping 13%.  Simply building more houses, more schools, more roads and hospitals won’t be enough.  Reliable public transportation must be a priority, if we are to give rise to a healthy, viable, ever-growing community.  It is something we must do now; it is something we must get right.
For years if not decades, individual cities have struggled with the transportation issue, trying one temporary or band aid solution after another. Since the exit of TAPS earlier this year, the lack of para-transit in Collin County has garnered much concern and attention.  However, just “fixing” para-transit does not address the larger problem:  that of leaving people with disabilities and seniors isolated from mainstream community life.  It’s way past time for Collin County to confront the problem and act.
Public transportation is not an option; it is a critical necessity.  And it is highly desirable because:
It creates a positive climate for economic expansion and development. Businesses thrive, jobs are created, the tax base increases.
It’s cheaper.  It costs less to take public transit than to own and drive a car.  Fewer cars mean less highway construction and maintenance expense for taxpayers.
It saves time.   Regularly scheduled service on established, comprehensive routes gets you there on time and in a better frame of mind.  Unlike an automobile, it is reliable.  It is safer.  It is relaxing.
It’s good for the environment.  Fewer automobiles equals less pollution, cleaner air.  (Remember when you left smog and smaze behind when you crossed the Collin County line?)
It benefits everyone, especially people who don’t drive or cannot because of age or disability.  It allows people independence and mobility to go where and when they want without relying on friends or family.  It enhances the quality of community life.
Combined with paratransit for people with disabilities or special needs—those who require door-to-door services–public transit offers the best solution to our ever-growing need for more and better transportation…one of the most vital aspects of our infrastructure…one that affects everyone in Collin County.   We must demand that our elected officials, our city councils and mayors, get on board and help us reach not only our destination but our destiny.
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Published in McKinney Courier Gazette and Plano Star Courier, November 20, 2016

Open Letter To Supporters of People with Disabilities

I know many of you are as disappointed as I am in the results of this election. But in the face of bigotry, derision, and ridicule, people with disabilities made progress:

  • Our presidential candidate put our issues on the front burner of her policy agenda  and established state  disability networks
  • Throughout Texas people with disabilities recruited   volunteers, organized phone banks, block walks, and voter registration drives at disability events. Volunteers with disabilities tweeted, re-tweeted and shared our message, thus putting a spotlight on the disability community.
  • This year’s national convention featured numerous people with a variety of disabilities and leaders in the disability movement.
  •  The Democratic National Committee established a Disability Council, keeping our issues in the permanent focus of the party. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) principal author and former Congressman, Tony Coelho, will lead the Council.
  • Locally, Collin County Democrats With Disabilities (CCDWD) partnered with Bruce Sherbet, Collin County Elections Administrator, to rectify a major problem with curbside voting that directly affects people with disabilities- at many sites there was no designated parking spaces with signage instructing them how the process works.

CCDWD organized a coalition of non profit, non-partisan organizations that included Disability Rights Texas, Texas Civil Rights Project, Prosumers, and REACH of Plano Center for Independent Living. Volunteers from these groups identified irregularities and alerted the Elections Department when the polls first opened so that the problem could be corrected quickly.

2017 will be challenging for us as will 2018. Now is the time to reflect, mourn, and do whatever one needs to do to get past this significant loss and come out organized and energized for 2017.

Stay tuned… there are better days to come.

Best regards,
Kate Garrison, President
Collin County Democrats With Disabilities

 

 

SUPPORT FOR THE DISABILITY INTEGRATION ACT CONTINUES TO GROW…28 CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES…9 SENATORS

dia-logo-small-1MORE SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES ADD THEIR NAMES TO THE BILLS HOWEVER MORE REPUBLICANS ARE NEEDED FOR BOTH VERSIONS.

 

The Disability Integration Act (DIA) is civil rights legislation, introduced by Senator Schumer to address the fundamental issue that people who need Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS) are forced into institutions and losing their basic civil rights. The legislation (S.2427) builds on the 25 years of advocacy to end the institutional bias and provide seniors and people with disabilities home and community-based services (HCBS) as an alternative to institutionalization. It is the next step in a national advocacy after securing the Community First Choice (CFC) option.

 

CURRENT DIA SENATE COSPONSORS:
 CO – Bennet (D)                                                                        CT – Blumenthal (D)
MA – Markey (D)
MA – Warren (D)
NY – Schumer (D)(sponsor)
NY – Gilibrand (D)                                                                   PA – Casey (D)
VT – Leahy (D)
VT – Sanders (D)
CURRENT HOUSE DIA COSPONSORS:
  CA – Grisham (D)                                                                       CA – Liew (D)                                                                               CA – Lofgren (D)                                                                       CO – Perlmutter  (D)                                                                 CO – Polis (D)                                                                             CT – Courtney (D)                                                                   CT – Himes (D)                                                                           FL – Grayson (D)                                                                             IL  –  Davis (D)
IL  –  Duckworth (D)
IL  –  Schakowsky (D)
IL –   Visclosky (D)
MA– Neal (D)
MI– Conyers (D)
MI– Lawrence (D)
MN–Peterson (D)                                                                          
MO-Wm. Lacy Clay (D)                                                                 NY –Gibson (sponsor-R)                                                     NY- Lewis (D)
NY– Meng (D)
NY– Serrano (D)
NY– Slaughter (D)
NY– Tonko (D)
TX– O’Rourke (D)                                                                   
TX- Veasey (D)                                                                         VT -Welch (D)                                                                            WI – Baldwin (D)
WI – Moore (D)                                                                        
WI– Sensenbrenner (R)

NEW CURBSIDE VOTING PROCEDURE FOR COLLIN COUNTY VOTERS!

GOOD NEWS…NO MORE HORN HONKING!
Look for this sign when you go to vote. Early voting begins, Monday October 24th at 8:00 am.

screenshot-120

October 13, 2016cropped-ccdd-index-1.jpg-1.jpg

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES FIGHTING TO VOTE
Voting hurdles remain for disabled voters in Collin County

Plano, TX Collin County Democrats With Disabilities (CCDWD) has launched a movement to ensure that curbside voting is more accessible for those with disabilities. During the last election year, they noticed a major problem at many of the voting sites regarding people with disabilities- there was no designated signage to direct them where to go, and many were not sure how the process was to work. Complaints began to appear on social media sites. “There are 59,882 people with disabilities,18 years of age and older, in Collin County directly impacted by this problem, say’s Kate Garrison, President of CCDWD. “But this election year we plan to change things for the better”, she stated.

This year CCDWD has partnered with Bruce Sherbet, Collin County Elections Administrator, Molly Broadway,  Disability Rights TX, a non-profit, nonpartisan advocacy group, and other volunteer groups, to rectify the problem so that the process is more appealing and user friendly. By law, people with disabilities have the right to an accessible polling place, a private ballot, special voting devices , voting assistance, interpreters, alternative voting methods (curbside voting, voting by mail, early voting), provisional ballots and voter registration. “We have modified the curbside voting signs we are planning to post at voting locations”, Mr Sherbet said, “In addition, we will update the wording on the Elections Department website to reflect the new procedures.”, he said. The goal is to make sure that all curbside voting stations are clearly marked, and that poll workers are aware of how the process works when the listed phone number on the signage is called.

Collin County Democrats With Disabilities is a North Texas based organization committed to representing the needs and issues of people with disabilities. Our mission is to be a visible, proactive advocate for positive change in Collin and surrounding counties; the Democratic Party; and the communities in which we live, work, shop and attend school.

For more information and/or interviews, please contact Kate Garrison at 307-314 ABLE (2253 or disabilitydemocrats@gmail.com.

 

Things You Need To Know For the November Election

 every_vote_counts Early Voting

If you are eligible to vote on Election Day, you are eligible to vote during the early voting period. The lines are shorter and the days and hours are more convenient. Early voting is open to all voters.

Collin County residents may vote at any of the 34 early polling locations.  Click here for Early Voting Locations, Calendar, and a tool to find the nearest polling location.  http://www.collincountytx.gov/elections/election_information/Pages/early_voting.aspx

Not sure you are registered?

You may select one of three methods to perform a search:

  • Your Texas driver’s license number, if you provided it when you applied for voter registration
  • Your first and last name.

Find out if you are already registered.

 

COLLIN COUNTY DEMOCRATS WITH DISABILITIES CANDIDATE ENDORSEMENTS

Collin County Democrats With Disabilities is pleased to announce the endorsement of the following Democratic candidates:
  • Adam Bell, U.S. House of Representatives, District 3
  • Karen Jacobs, Texas House of Representatives District 33
  •  Scott Coleman, Texas House of Representatives District 67
  • Denise Hamilton, Texas House of Representatives District 89

In February of 2016, Democratic candidates for Texas House District 33, 66, 67, 70, and 89 and U.S. House District 3 were asked to complete the 2016 Candidates’ Questionnaire. The questionnaire was designed for people with disabilities and those who love them to know where candidates stand on the issues.

Candidates for Texas House districts were sent a 14-point questionnaire covering accessibility, education, housing, and Medicaid funded community based services and supports, income & employment, voting rights, transportation and expansion of Medicaid.

Candidates for U.S. House of Representatives, District 3 responded to seven questions covering accessibility, housing, and Medicaid funded community based services and supports, income & employment.

Endorsements were made based on the following criteria:

  • Understanding of the challenges facing people with disabilities, 
  • Demonstrated support for our priorities and plans to address these issues.
  • Extent to which inclusion of people with disabilities appear in candidates’ website, publications, and speeches

We believe that when elected, these Democrats will support us in our mission to represent the needs and issues of people with disabilities. It is on this basis that we offer our endorsadam-bellement and support. (L-R in photo: Top row: Adam Bell, Second row: Karen Jacobs, Scott Coleman.  Bottom row: Denise Hamiltonkaren-jacobsscott-coleman

denise-hamilton

People With Disabilities Aren’t Entitled to the Minimum Wage. Antiquated labor laws treat people with disabilities as second-tier employees!

  

Section 14(C) of the Fair Labor Standards Act allows some employers to seek exemptions from the minimum wage and pay employees with disabilities much less than the minimum…sometimes as little as $1 an hour!

When elected, HRC will end the two-tier wage system that allows segregated employment and sheltered workshops to exploit people with disabilities.

https://www.thenation.com/…/people-with-disabilities-minim…/

Simone Biles Proudly Opens Up About Having ADHD

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/simone-biles-adhd-medical-hack_us_57d85a7ee4b09d7a68803f5f?section=parents&

The man who mocked the New York Times reporter’s disability could become your next President!

Washington Post poll: Clinton and Trump locked in dead heat in Texas

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/washington-post-poll-clinton-and-trump-locked-in-d/nsR6r/

Texas Law: Supported Decision Making/Alternatives to Guardianship

 

Texas has done many things the wrong way when it comes to voting rights. Here is one thing Texas did right.

TEXAS IS THE FIRST TO PASS A LAW TO PROTECT VOTERS WITH INTELLECTUAL OR DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES RIGHT TO VOTE.

Many people think that guardianship is the best way to help adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities make important decisions. The truth is, guardianship is often not necessary. Learn more about the new guardianship reform laws passed in Texas that will give people with disabilities more independence.

Continue reading “Texas Law: Supported Decision Making/Alternatives to Guardianship”