Unwanted houseguests

Leaders of disability athletics might have been wise to have heeded the old Chinese adage warning us to be careful what we wish for, lest we get it.

For amateur sports in America, all roads lead to the U. S Olympic Committee, writes Josie Byzek in our cover story detailing shoddy treatment -- heck, hardly any treatment at all, it seems -- of Paralympics by the sports behemoth.

Since 1978, laws have required the USOC to involve disabled athletes -- but it wasn't till 1995 that Paralymics became an official part of the USOC. This was a move disabled athletes wanted and had sought They thought it would give them funds, prestige, media and credibility. They've gotten precious little of any of it. Instead, writes Byzek, they've been treated like unwanted houseguests.

Our effort to investigate the extent of the snubbing was met with vague comments, calls unanswered, questions stonewalled, documents requested but never received. We were assured by USOC spokespersons that the USOC was working hard on the problem. But not enough has changed quickly enough, we think, to avoid an inevitable confrontation as disabled athletes finally decide they've had enough shoddy treatment.

We did learn, as we were going to press, that finally the two Paralympians on the 50-plus member Athletes Advisory Committee had been given voting status.

It's not fair. But it's legal." That's what attorney Harriet McBryde Johnson says she'd have to tell a client in the wake of the Supreme Court Title I rulings -- a client whose ADA case she in fact won (but that was before the rulings). Robert L. Burgdorf, Jr.calls the rulings "disastrous."

There's not much talk about these Title I rulings among the grassroots. There ought to be. If you don't know why, read our story.

Freedom Clearinghouse

"The Olmstead decision won't stand still long," Lucy Gwin writes in her Mouth House column in Mouth's Sept./Oct. issue.

How come we know what Mouth is writing before it's published? Well, Mouth and Ragged Edge do collaborate some. Just how much we haven't talked about -- till now. We're going to collaborate on Freedom Clearinghouse because, as Lucy says, "the Olmstead decision won't stand still long." Activists need to strike while the decision is hot, before it has a chance to be fiddled with by bureaucrats, as our stories show.

Freedom Clearinghouse is .... well, we'll let Lucy Gwin tell you:

"We'll be calling on you -- your CIL, your self-advocacy organization, your ADAPT chapter, your Psych Survivor group, your AARP chapter, your non-profit, your state or federal agency -- to make sure Olmstead gets done.

"We want you to hire us to supply and connect state-to-state networks with the goods to free our people. With help from all over, we'll make materials people can use, tell them who to sit down with to put Olmstead into practice, and how to outfox the fundsuckers."

For Mouth and Ragged Edge, it's our unfunded mandate. No; we don't have the money -- we applied to NIDRR for a grant last year to do these materials and didn't get it -- but we're going to do it anyway.

So, as Lucy says, get out your checkbooks and get ready to hear from us. If you can't wait, and you want to get involved, write Mouth -- or write us, at PO Box 145, Louisville, KY 40201.

Or you can email us at editor@ragged-edge-mag.com

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