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Another columnist sings Julian's woes

Not much comment needed from me on this one:

Some excerpts from the San Diego Union Tribune's Logan Jenkins' Dec. 29 column Laws meant to help disabled are hurting towns like Julian show the predictable pattern these columns usually take.

I... spent time with my father, who was blind for several years before his death. Most of us have watched family members become disabled by age, disease or accident....

If I were disabled, maybe I'd cheer on enforcers – some call them litigious predators – who profit from disabled-access law, no matter how inoffensive the offense. But able-bodied as I am, I can't cheer.


Ted could have filed dozens of lawsuits and capitalized on the damages provisions of California law. Instead he wrote letters to 67 businesses telling them of their ADA violations. He offered to not sue but insisted on a legal agreement to bring the businesses into ADA compliance. He estimated that legal fees to execute an agreement detailing the required barrier removal work would cost each business no more than $2,000. His attempt to give notice and to spare the business owners the typical $10,000 to $25,000 in legal fees and damages when ADA lawsuits are filed in California resulted in Ted being attacked in the media over and over. Suddenly an attempt to give notice which included a demand for a formal agreement and settlement, with an offer to not file a lawsuit, was cast as extortion and an attempt to unfairly take money from business owners who have ignored the ADA for 15 years and California law for many more years than that. The few business owners who accepted Ted's offer has paid legal fees of less than $1,000 each - less than 25% of the minimum mandatory damages, which does not include legal fees and costs, if lawsuits had been filed. About 40 of the 67 businesses are now defendants in federal lawsuits. They simply blew smoke and refused to even consider a settlement that would require their businesses to become accessible.

This public and media reaction to Ted's attempt to not sue all of these owners of small businesses has resulted in Ted joining the ranks of people with disabilities who are fed up and angry. He now wants to increase his activity of representing people with disabilities in ADA lawsuits. I will be working with Ted and his firm to help people with disabilities in California connect with him so that we can have hundreds of plaintiffs in ADA cases instead of just a few people filing hundreds of cases each.

But Ted's goals go beyond simply representing people with disabilities in ADA plaintiff actions. Ted wants to raise money to help cover the costs of litigation so that lawyers can take our cases even if they do not have the financial ability to cover all of those costs until trial or settlement. Ted wants to raise money that can be used to provide grants to people with disabilities in need of such help. Ted wants to raise money to help defeat the newest attempt by some members of the California Assembly who want to take from us our right to sue for violations of our civil rights. He has an interesting way of trying to raise some money for these causes. Here is what Ted is doing:

On October 19, 2003 I decided to take all my old poetry that I wrote from 1970 to 1980 while I lived in the state institution and put it on coffee mugs. I have been selling the mugs for about a year and a half and donating part of the proceeds to charity. This year I decided to sell the mugs to raise money to assist in advocating for the legal rights of people with disabilities and to provide grants to people with disabilities and their families. Also, I am aware that there is a request for the California attorney general to put an initiative on the November ballot to require a 90 day notice requirement. I would like to raise money to fight this initiative. My mugs are located at www.mrarthurlee.com . The most popular collection is the Endeavor. Kindly order 5 of Endeavor: "No Barrier Can Make Us Yield" with the International Symbol of Accessibility Mug for me. The costs $50 including tax and shipping. Please order by credit card by emailing the card info to me.

Whether you visit his website and buy nothing, visit and buy a mug, or visit and buy 5 mugs as he asks, I ask each of you to visit his website (don't let the different name confuse you). Please keep in mind that this poetry was written by a person who was determined to be mentally retarded and was warehoused in an institution. The reality is that Ted is not intellectually impaired but was born with Cerebral Palsy. He holds a law degree and is a member of the California Bar Association. Ted also has a master's degree in political science. I believe that the money he raises will go to just what he says. I just began reading about Ted a few weeks ago. I had my first conversation with him yesterday. That is all it took for me to become a supporter of his efforts.

I look forward to working with Ted and we all should be happy that we have found a lawyer who is disabled who is angry and fed up with discrimination, and who is committing his life to doing something about it.

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