Wednesday, January 31, 2007

All Quiet On The Charles?

Turner Broadcasting Agrees to 2 Million Settlement for Interference marketing stunt that resulted in a widespresd bomb scare. Boston, Cambridge and Somervile were directly affected, as well as major transportation systems, preventing folks from accessing needed medical care. Boston is a hub for several major hospitals. The announcement was caried on local TV less than an hour ago. Mayor Ken Reeves spoke, but was cut off when the networks returned to local programing. Mayor Reeves started saying he believed in public safety. That is all well and good, but he should look to the multiple unaddressed safety violations the City is responsibe for, and get to work on resolving them, instead of "permitting" the City's in house law firm to fight against compliance with Mass State Safety Standards.

Packages found under bridges in greater Boston were deemed a hoax, sometime after Coast Guard closed the Charles to boating. In a twist of common sense, Turner brodcasting has released a statement which was read over the NBC TV news, taking responsibility and claiming similar "bilboards" were placed in other cities around the nation. Folks were upset that a major corporation could be behind such a questionable stunt. Each violation can result in 2-5 years.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

Barbaro: Not a Leg To Stand On!

I am posting this today, to hold a spot, on this date, for myself, and others to post thoughts about this subject. hum. I wonder just what this subject is? Something I believe we need to explore.

Last week I saw the film, Seabuisquit, oops, mispelled... The difference between the injuries had huge difference in results. One recovered, and the other didn't.

Then, the issue of social justice which was tied to horses being put out of their misery long ago in the film "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" comes to ming.

And there are other films, based on books about horses that explore, if in a side way clance, the issue of disability and social justice. Can you guess what book, film I am hinting at? Black Beauty.

Of course, there are many more. Here I am inviting everyone to contribute and horse stories that you believe to be linked to disability issues the disability community is facing today. my guest...

Don't Fence Me In - Don't Fence Me Out

Furnace stopped during the night, and the tempreture dropped to 51 degrees. Shannon got me up early, and I went to work adding water to the boiler so the heat woild come on again. I wondered how my friends who use wheelchairs could handle this? If I were unable to get down into the basement, I would have to call for help. perhaps I could make an arrangement with one of my neighbours. We all need a helping hand once in a while. Even my neighbours need help whith feeding their cats when they go on vacation.

Montel is speaking on the Rachael Ray show right now, about his disability, and the attitudes he has seen people direct at others. Montel has MS but is not using a wheelchair. He said every step he takes is painful. I can relate to that even though I do not have MS.

I take photos now. I used to be a painter, but now I am unable to tolerate the odor of the materials, and hold the tools. So, I have a jiffy little Cannon A80 digital camera, and soothe my creative spirtit by taking photos. I like to catch the light as it reveals the form. I like colour, and I love to be able to do this.

I wish someone who is blind could let me know if they can "read" my posts. I really do not know how accessible blogger is. I m ust confess that I have not done a good job describing my posted photos.

Above is a photo of a flower with petals that are long and noodle like. A verl light pink colour. The flower but reached through a chain link fence before it bloomed, and now, in full bloom, is caught in the fence. Trapped, with its head hanging over the sidewalk, but with its roots, stem and leaves still in the garden, behind the fence. For me, this demonstrates the beauty of the struggle for life. Reaching for the light, the sun, the warmth. Some might see this as a flaw, a problem, as in "Oh, my, that poor flower is trapped in the fence." What I see is adaptation. Persistance. My self.

Please folks, let me know what you "see."

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Birds and the Bees and the Medical Politics of Perfection

I wanted to share my concern with you in response to several stories in the news, about the Ashley Treatment, and about bioengineering of "perfect" children. Abortions are actually being recommended for minor birthdefects. This "perfection on demand" attitude is spreading throughout the "civilized" world today. I wonder why this is?

Perhaps we no longer believe that a baby is a gift from God. Have we drifted into an arrogent vision of genetically engineered human life? Does a godless society believe that human worth is based on beauty?

One of my doctors has a club foot aquired after birth, as a result of Polio. After reading this article, several questions re the "New Ethics" arose in my mind. Is it ok to eliminate unborn babies who have club feet, but allow children who develop club feet as a result of disease or injury to live, go to school, and to even become doctors?

My brother's eldest child was born with a severe club foot. The doctor ordered a brace, and 24 hour home care performed by the parents. This treatment was so successful, that no one today could ever determine which foot was the club foot. My nephew played all sports, and served in the Air Force. My brother and his wife could not love him more.

What is it then, that causes some folks to believe it is better to abort that club foot baby, and try again for a "perfect" one?

I think, perhaps, it is the continued, and unaddressed "attitudes" we face in the community everyday. Making fun of others. Looking down on others. Demeaning, discouraging, and disincluding others who are considered not our equalls. Not Good Enough for us. It is our own feelings of inadequacy that alloows us to bully others, in an attempt to disasociate with those "undesireables" and to becole aligned with the "beautiful people." It is our fear, not their lack of worthiness, that is the real imperfection. We should be about perfecting ourselves, not our bodies. we should look to our heart, not to our "packaging."

One thing I have noticed is the confusion folks have over the Civil Rights Act of 1990. There seems to be a real disconnect with this Law. I hear many times folks tell me it means: "You must not treat disabled folks differently from other folks."

Huh? Somehow I think there is a major gap in criticle thinking skills here, if this is what folks believe.

I wish one could understand that what the Act, the ADA, requires Cities to do is to "identify" policies, practices, programs, activities, ordinances, etc, that discriminate against foplks with disabilities, and modify those policies, practices, programs, activities, ordinances, etc., so they no longer discriminate against PWDs.

It means we must identify barriers and remove barriers. So we don't handicap others whose abilities are different from ours.

It means there is nothing "wrong" with having a disability.

It means that PWDs have abilities, and need to go about their lives just like everyone else.

It means that to fail to identify barriers, and failure to remove barriers is to "handicap" PWDs so they have an unfair burdon, and are disadvantaged. It results in isolation, institutionalization, humilaition, shame, begging, poverty, lack of self esteem, etc, etc, etc.

Failure to identify and remove barriers is not only poor behavior, inhuman, and unethicle, it is also ILLEGAL!!

Perhaps someday we can abort babies who would grow up to alergic to bees, or peanuts? We could eliminate asthma this way, too? Maybe, we could develop sophisticated tests that would detect bad attitudes? We could then abort any potential bigot? Eliminate selfish, uncaring, self-centered folks from even blighting this earth.

Now that is one way to fight against this idea of inclusion!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Police arrest Disabled woman using guide dog in Cambridge MA

Above is a photo of Officer Helberg who arrested me on May 14th, 2004 for entering CVS in Harvard Sq. with my service dog after notice. The police report stated that I had shown them a copy of the ADA service animal law, and "lectured" them on my civil rights, so, because the store shift supervisor didn't want the dog in the store "because it looks like a wolf and might bite someone" they arrested me when I entered toe store to finish my shopping.

This photo was taken on April 25th, 2006, in Central Sq. He said that if I tried to enter any store in Central Sq and the store owner didn't want the dog in there, if I didn't leave he would arrest me again. I asked him he he had recieved the training that Michael Muehe, the City's ADA coordinator claimed would "fix" this blatent discrimination against me based on my disability by "educating" the police about ADA law. That is public law 101-336. Officer helberg replied he hadn'r recieved any training about service dogs at all. then I informed him that the judge had dismissed the complaint against me, and I had filed a complaint against the City with MCAD. I also informed him the City had cut 1 1/2 min out of my 911 phone call. Here he is, right after I said that, scurring off, munbeling "I'm gonna check that out." I haven't heard from him since. I go into any store that other folks go into, accompianied by my servoice dog.

Today I found a link to a story in Florida on another PWD's blog. here is part of the e-mail I sent to the City Council, the ADA coordinator, the Mass Office on Disabiulity, the Office of the Attorney general, and, of course, my rep and senator.......

In Florida a person who deliberately interfers with a PWD accompianied by their guide dog is subject to arrest. The story explains the manager claimed he knew the law but "their" policy was to require alternative placement for "the dog."

In Florida, alternative placement for "the dog"is not allowed.

Meanwhile, in Cambridge Ma, the City threatens to arrest me again, and confiscate my service dog again!!! The City had demanded "alternative placement" for "the dog" and called it a "reasonable accomodation"!!!

The last time the City of Cambridge arrested me for being accompianied by my service animal in a public accomodation the judge dismissed the charges. Does the City really think it can keep threatening me with arrest for being accompanied by use of my service dog like this.

Public Law 101-336 states that the City is required to modify it's policies to allow a person with a disability as defined by the ADA to be accompianied by their service dog anywhere the public is allowed to go.

Why is the City of Cambridge allowed to continue to threaten me with arrest for being accompianied by my service animal?? The City's behavior is outrageous! (please see previous post, service dogs banned in cambridge City Council)

SHAME SHAME SHAME on all of you! (adressed to the officials) Why have you failed to protect the Civil Rights of PWD's as required by the Civil Rights Act of 1990?

In Florida the one who willfully violates the Civil Rights of PWD's is arrested; in Cambridge the person who's civil rights is violated is arrested.

Gee, I think we are miles apart on this issue.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Martin Luther King, Jr., a Voice We Need to Remember on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Today, Monday January 5, 2007, is the day set aside to reflect on the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

It seems to me he was a great visionary. He experienced the most offensive discrimination in his life time, and although he did not live to see all the positive changes we take for granted today, I am sure he "believed" in basic human goodness. He believed we would overcome all the ugliness, the denial, all the seperatness, all the stereotyping, all the uncomfortableness.

When I grew up in the 1940's and 1950's most folks I knew "talked" a good "game." Everyone is equal, don't discriminate, was the message delivered. Our revolutionay leaders, like Jefferson, and presidential "fathers" like Lincoln, were held up to us as example. Then, after "higher" education in the 60's, when we were confronted with the actuality of how our "honoured" leaders really behaved, and were confronted with how our "darker" classmates continued to suffer from discrimination, we were forced to take a stand.

Silence, back in the day, was considered supporting the statis quo of discrimination against people of colour.

I had several roomates, and often went to the "soda fountain" on Longwood Ave in Boston. But when I went with the one who was "coloured" we were ignored. It was as though we were not even there. No one said anything, and if we called out to the waitress for service it was as though we had no voice. My roomate would tug at my sleeve, and beg me to leave. She would hang her head, and plead with me "not to do this." So, always, I would acceed to her sensibilities.

Martin Luther King became the voice that could no longer be ignored.

Now, today, we see much progress, but there remains much that needs to be done. When my son, (Chinese surname with caucasian features) flies on a plane, he is always "randomly" pulled aside for a complete "body search." Folks on the "T" in Brookline casually inform me that the "T" has gone to the new Charlie Card, because there are fare cheaters in "Dorchester."

Worse, from my point of view, even those who identify themselves with the Civil Rights "Movement" today activly ignore the voices of another group who historically has experienced the most grievous discrimination. These Civil Rights activists even deny the fact that People With Disabilities even have Civil Rights. They "believe", mistakenly, that the Civil Rights Act of 1990, public law 101-336, otherwise known as the ADA, is really a "health care-housing" bill, and has nothing to do with protecting People With Disabilities from discrimination.

How can one explain to those "troops" from the "Civil Rights Movement" that we too have Civil Rights, and that we too need our voices to be heard, and not ignored?

Today, we have a challenge before us, to end the "invisibility" imposed upon us, and by speaking out, so our voices can join those other voices that eventually were heard before us. It is possible, it will happen, but we all need to lend a hand.

It would be so helpful, however, if we had our own "Martin Luther King" to lead our "marches," to give voice to our "dream."

Kathy Podgers
Advocate for Persons with Disabilities
Founder, Citizens for Feasible Compliance

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Trees Bloom in Confusion in Spring Like January Weather

These beautiful blossoms usually appear in April after the trees have enjoyed a long winters rest. However, the month long warm spell, including January temperatures in the 50's, have confused the trees into blooming 3 months early. With temperatures expected to reach the mid 60's on Saturday, look for other plants to spring forth blooms.

Immediately above is the Cherry tree on the corner Green and Putnam Streets. As you can see it is in full bloom in January!

Top photo shows one of the many trees in bloom on Perry Street.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Icy untreated sidewalks bar safe passage

Service dogs are unable to effectively aid PWD's with mobility disabilities when the sidewalk is covered with untreated ice.

Ice should be treated promply to assure folks don't slip and fall.

Here you can see what happens when we have even an inch of snow. On the side street, where there is little foot traffic, the sidewalk is still snow covered, and not a slippery sheet of ice. However, on the main sidewalk where many folks walk, turning the snow to slush, the slush freezes over night and forms an impassable sheet of ice. The City must enforce it's own policies on clearing snow and treating ice in a timely way. You can also see in this photo the curb ramp is iced up.

Jeff Bartley Welcomes Friends to the 15th Anniversary of Cantab's Popular Folk Nite

Jeff welcomes friends to the celebration of Cantab's 15th Anniversary of Folk Nite. This wonderful venue, held most Monday evenings for the past 15 years, is well loved and attended by experienced and budding song writers as well. drawing on local music schools and the Cambridge Community, Jeff attracts quality performers from across the country week after week to the delight of all!

A giant chockolat cake from Rosies tempted us all evening.

The house was packed with well wishers.

Bill McQuaid plays his 1931 National Style O single core ( Nickle Plated Brass) guitar, that some might refer to as a steel guitar.

Featured act, Scott Aleric, who has been heard on Prarie Home Companion, sang Bob Dylan's North Country Fair.

Christine slices the cake for a delicious finish to another wonderful open mike night at the Cantab!