Thursday, December 17, 2015

They Try To Ignore Her But She Won’t Wheel Away

This photo annotated by advocate Debra Buell explains the problems with the crosswalk where Cornelia and Broad streets split off.  Click image to enlarge.

© 2015 Luke T. Bush

Self-described  Warrior for Justice Debra Buell is using her legal sword to cut through the red tape.  After 25 years impatience is understandable.

The advocate is pressing Plattsburgh City and other entities in The System to comply with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).  Enacted in 1990 the act’s goal was to eliminate barriers encountered by members of the handicapped community.

Example: Most people can walk up stairs without any problems but others such as those using walkers don’t have the same convenience.  A ramp would solve the problem but not when it remains unbuilt.

Debra prefers awareness, compliance, and enforcement by The System without the need for confrontation.  But after years of expressing her concerns through official channels very little has been done.

That’s why she is forced to take legal action as a self-described hell on wheels.

She has spent innumerable hours researching the ADA and related laws.  Debra is unpaid, working mostly on her own.  The North Country Center for Independence (NCCI) has helped her with her advocacy, sharing her concerns.

The System seems adamant about continuing as usual, i.e., not doing a frakking thing.  And now in one instance able-bodied citizens might also be getting screwed.

The situation involves a missing curb cut and a five lane crosswalk.  In the area of 306 Cornelia Street there’s a Y intersection, Broad Street splitting off from Cornelia. 

A few years ago changes were made at the intersection to accommodate a new Walgreens store that opened where the WIRY Radio station once stood.  When the area was under reconstruction, Debra says, the city should have added a curb cut (sloped sidewalk section) on the north side of the street across from the Walgreens entrance 

No curb cut results in a safety concern.  The crosswalk signal only allows 21 seconds to cross, not a problem for someone who isn’t pushing a baby stroller or using a walker.  Until the cut is installed, Debra says, the duration of the crosswalk signal should be lengthened to one minute.

According to Debra the city came up with an alternate solution: eliminate the crosswalk.  If it’s not there the problem is solved.  No more safety concern.  Ergo no liability for the city.

Of course speeding vehicles will have complete domain.  Let cars rule.  Don’t hold up the traffic.  Too bad, pedestrians and disabled people.  Find another way to cross.  Boohoo.  (Remember: elected officials work for you.)

This is only one issue.  Debra has filed grievances with the appropriate governmental agencies about other ADA compliance problems.  Typical results: delays, short say-nothing replies, or no response.

Such tactics only motivate her all the more.

Debra won’t go away.  She keeps rolling.

Watch your toes, apparatchik.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Where's My Comet?

(C) 2015  Luke T. Bush

The night sky has remained on the unimpressive side since the 1997 visit by Hale-Bopp.  There have been stories that other approaching comets would be just as spectacular as HB but they turned out to be fizzle, not fireworks.

These images are scanned from negatives, a process that was unnecessarily complicated thanks to Canon, my scanner's maker.  The company doesn't offer an updated driver for Windows 10 compatibility with its Canoscan program.  I had to use my old computer to do the basic work (Vista) and then wrapped it up on the new one (W10.).  Apparently Canon wants me to go out and buy their latest scanner. Sure, I'm gonna do that with my limited budget -- when Hale-Bopp returns.  

There Isn't A Planet B

(C) 2015 Luke T. Bush

PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY - Dec. 12, 2015

Patches of green grass that should have been buried under snow were scattered on the bare ground.  Demonstrators gathered at McDonough Monument wearing light jackets, not bundled up in parkas. A speaker observed the mild weather was evidence of climate change.

Later during the march some chanted for snow.

Meanwhile in Paris an international conference (COP21) hadn't made any announcement about mutually agreeing to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

With that in mind three activist organizations combined their energies late Saturday morning to hold a rally and march in downtown Plattsburgh to  promote awareness of the global warming threat.

Concerned citizens gathered with members from Plattsburgh, Mothers Out Front, and People for Positive Action at McDonough Monument to listen to a few speakers address the problem.

The large bronze eagle atop the monument watched the gray skies but no raindrops fell. 

Plattsburgh City Councilor Mike Kelly pointed back at the nearby Saranac River, saying that it was one of the city's great resources.  This natural resource could be ruin by drastic changes in the climate induced by greenouse gases.  He mentioned his Southern accent, saying obviously he wasn't from around here.  After he relocated from Tennessee he quickly grew to appreciate the natural beauty of the North Country.

Peru native Mike Derrick took to the podium to share his concerns.  He referred to Congressperson Elise Stefanik, how he didn't agree with the Republican Representative's views on the environment.  That reason among others, he continued, was why he was going to run against Stefanik in the next election.

With loud chants the demonstrators marched to Champlain Monument and then back to pose on the front steps of City Hall. The penultimate stop was at Stefanik's local office to deliver a petition.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Adirondack Tunes

Roy Hurd (guitar and vocals) & Skip Smithson (mandolin).  Palmer Street Coffeehouse.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Farmer John Feare

(Photo-edited to remove distracting reflections and background elements.
Clink on image to enlarge view.)

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Vocal Citizens Express Frustration At CCPT Meeting

Patti King (second from left) shares her views on the proposed changes to CCPT rural paratransit.

© 2015 Luke T. Bush

PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY – Sept. 29, 2015

Noontime.  Clinton County Government Center conference room.

Around twenty people listen as County Planning Technician James Bosley gives a brief recap of last week’s meeting.  Then he opens the floor to the public.

Deer-in-the-headlights silence.

Well, this should be a short meeting.  200 words will cover it.

The meeting last week was set up for community agency representatives to give their input regarding CCPT (Clinton County Public Transit) and its rural paratransit options.  

Problems have fallen hard on the bus system. Funding shortfall.  Aging buses breaking down, leaving half of the fleet out of service.  The long process to get more money for new buses.  Changes have to be made to the rural paratransit service.

Today it was the public’s turn for input.

Dreary day.  Rainy. Overcast.  Not sunny like last time.  Weather induced sluggishness?

CCPT operates four separate services: city fixed route, city paratransit, rural fixed routes, and rural paratransit.  The rural paratransit service helps members of the disabled community who live outside the greater Plattsburgh City area.  It provides door to door transportation.

But with all of the problems piling on CCPT overall service has to be reduced.  James has explained city paratransit would remain the same while the rural service would be cut back.  There are options.  Decisions have to be made.
Public input is needed.

It’s quiet in here.  Did I hear a cricket?

Debra Buell

Advocate Debra Buell waits for someone to kick off the comments.  Then she decides to voice her opinion.

Others join in.  Most participants calmly ask a question or share a comment.  Along the way some comments become more pointed.  A couple of voices are strident, driving thoughts across to James.

James remains reposeful.

Activist Mary-Alice Shemo appears to be the kindly grandmother type. But don’t get her going.

She’s perturbed when she hears the county hadn’t done a survey to ascertain the needs of paratransit riders.

“You would think,” she says, “that a survey would have been done by now.  Duh.”

James mentions kidney dialysis patients would be prioritized under the new service.

Debra Buell says one group couldn’t be favored under ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) regulations.  That’s disparate impact discrimination.

Debra knows dialysis treatments are life-sustaining.  But rural paratransit, she says, should also help those needing a ride for work or shopping.  If renal patients are given priority over others, CCPT would be out of ADA compliance.  Again.

Also regarding dialysis patients Debra asks why couldn’t the renal treatment center at CVPH be flexible?  It could schedule appointments to coincide with the rural paratransit schedule.  Why not speak to them about this?

Mary-Alice observes the renal center is a for-profit corporation using a public service, CCPT.

Gotta maximize those corporate profits.  

After a while the same points are batted back and forth.  Debra and Mary-Alice repeat comments, trying to get James to understand.  “I’m not saying that, I mean this.”

Clinton County Legislator Harry McManus

In attendance is Harry McManus, Chair of the Clinton County Legislature Transportation Committee.  The county legislature will decide what changes will be made based partly upon input from this meeting.

He diplomatically interrupts the discussion repeat cycle, saying the same comments have been made, it’s time to move on.

The meeting runs over its hour schedule but finally ends.  A lot was discussed. I glance at my pages of notes.  All of this has to fit into a brief article.

So much for the short meeting, short article…