Editor’s Column – March 2000

Editorial Column Our leads story details 10 people who have filed discrimination suits against the Metro Mobility with the State […]

Editorial Column

Our leads story details 10 people who have filed discrimination suits against the Metro Mobility with the State Human Rights Department. I applaud these individuals for taking this action; there is no doubt that the service Metro Mobility provides has been going downhill within recent years. Metro Mobility riders have the right to receive a ride when they need it. The Metropolitan Council, who oversees Metro Mobility and is responsible for it’s funding, has shown a lack all of leadership in this area. When the Met Council put together an extensive long-term plan for transit in the metropolitan area there was very little attention paid to Metro Mobility. This again shows and lack of leadership. This program deserves adequate funding and planning for the future. It is expected that in the next 10 to 15 years the number of potential riders could double or triple. This type of growth must be planned for and should have been part of the Metropolitan Council’s long-term plan. If Metro Mobility is not serving its customers today, what’s going to happen in the future? It appears to me that the Met Council would rather be dragged in to court rather than face up to the fact that Metro Mobility has some serious problems, which need to be addressed immediately.

It is my belief that the providers are working very hard to provide as many rides as they can with the resources they have available to them. Unfortunately, they take the brunt of the complaints from riders. This also goes for the service Center; they are trying to make changes to the system trying to squeeze out as many rides as they can from the providers. This puts the enormous stress on both the service Center staff and the providers without looking at the real issue. Lack of funding and adequate planning.

At this point are only hope is that the Met Council will take these human rights complaints seriously and seeks additional funding immediately to improve the service short-term. Then take a real world approach to planning for the future.

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Many of us take using the phone for granted. For people with speech difficulties, making a phone call can be a nightmare, including being hung up on because the person on the other end of the line thinks its joke or that the person calling is drunk. This happens every day. Speech to Speech is trying to resolve these issues (see page 1). Now, for the first time, many people with speech difficulties will be able to place a call to anyone they want and be understood. This must be a liberating the experience.

If you know anybody who could benefit from the service please let them know. Sara Meyer would be more than happy to come out and demonstrate how the service can benefit people.

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The legislature is in full swing and many of the bills concerning people with disabilities are moving through the process. Two of these bills need our help. The cost of living increase for the personal care attendant program is well received in the Senate, and Kevin Goodno in the House of Representatives is working very hard to find the funding for this program. The house leadership still needs some encouragement to find funding for this program.

The latest word on the bill, which would expand the Senior Prescription Drug Program so that it will cover people with disabilities, is that the Senate is having a hard time finding funding. Phone calls are needed to Sen. Roger Moe to encourage him to find funding for this important program.

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Of all the candidates running for the U.S. Senate, I feel Dr. Steven Miles is the best candidate. He understands how a universal health care program would benefit everyone nationally. He also understands disability issues and has been a strong advocate for people with disabilities.