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California creamin'

Back in the 1970s and 1980s California was considered well ahead of the nation in disability rights. But they seem to be simply wrongheaded on disability stuff a lot of the time nowadays. The backlash against access -- with crips who sue painted as evil lawsuit-hungry terrors -- is just one area in which the anti-disability rights crowd seems to have the upper hand. San Francisco, that alleged bastion of enlightened citizenry, is also spending over half a million dollars to create a new institution for its gimps.

Today seems to be "cream the cripples" day at Voice of San Diego, an alternative nonprofit news site that appears to be rather establishment-driven. Two pieces posted today bash the Americans with Disabilities Act and castigate activists seeking access.

The first Voice story today was sent to me by a reader. Stairway to Trouble is about attorney Ted Pinnock ("Theodore," in the story) who's filing ADA access suits in the small California town of Julian. Wait -- no; he's just "threatening to sue."


"Pinnock researched each business and wrote all the letters himself."

Oh, how precious. And then someone patted him on the head and gave him a lollipop for the effort? A gold star on his behavior chart? Yikes. He's a LAWYER, it's his JOB to research cases and write letters, isn't it? Completely gratuitous mention of the man's ordinary everyday work activities.

Yeah, California, my adopted state, always something dodgy going on someplace around here--remember, it's a big state.


I sent Mr. Lynn (San Diego dog park guy) a short, sweet email today:

I'm not quite following your objection to wheelchair access for dog parks in Voice of San Diego (http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/site/apps/nl/content2.asp?c=euLTJbMUKvH&b=312470&ct=1705237). I'm a wheelchair user, and I have a dog, and I take her to the dog park (in Longmont, Colorado, not that that matters). It's a real struggle to negotiate the non-accessible route between the sidewalk and the dog park. Why are lights and fences good, but access is not?

Very sincerely,
Katja Stokley
the shortest distance between two points
is usually inaccessible


Hey Katya, thanks for your comment, and for sending Mr. Lynn that note! Be sure to let us know if he replies.


As Marvin Wasserman of the 504 Democratic Club pointed out, Goldwater-Coler Hospital in NYC is bigger than Laguna Honda. It has 2000 beds. I guess when you see the difference in size between SF and NYC, it’s not surprising that NYC’s hospital would be bigger. But that does not make it acceptable!

It would be nice if community care were offered to all and these buildings became something else like apartments or a school or anything else!

Jean Ryan, Disabled in Action (of NYC)


All I can say is that I wrote the story. You guys seems to have some complaints with it.

Here's the simple e-mail I got From Mr. Pinnock after the story ran:


good article

ted pinnock

Here's a sample of some of the other letters I received:


Thanks for the informative story. I am wheelchair bound, and visited Julian about six years ago with my wife, and I haven't been back since, exactly for the reasons that Pinnock pointed out. The inconvience that sticks out in my memory is eating lunch at Julian resturant and then attempting to use the bathroom.I do remember the bathroom door had a wheelchair sign on it, but when I entered the bathroom and attemped to use the wheelchair stall, my wheelchair would not fit into the stall or anywhere near the toilet so that I could tranfer on to the toilet. I had to get my wife to help me transfer and to stand guard at the door so I could have some privecy, because I could not close the stall door because there was no room to close the door. I am apalled at the attitude of the merchants in Julian, they are glad to take our money, but have done nothing to make access for the disabled any easier. Let me see, they have had fourteen years to comply, fourteen years of taking money from the disabled, but in fourteen years they haven't made one attempt to comply. Now (Pinnock) has called their attention to the problem and he's the crook? Go figure.

R. Birch

Rancho San Diego

One of the problems with being one-sided is that no-one really listens to you.

Your only audience is the choir that sings alongside you. That's why journalists get paid to write stories that are accurate, unbiased and informative.

I would say my piece was all three.

When you get emails from both sides of the debate praising the piece, you know you have done a good job.

Will Carless


Mary -

I did reply through VoSD, and the text is below. Thank you for opening the debate on this issue.
For those people who think us dog lovers don't want to include wheelchairs in our upgrades to a public park, we did state that we believe the ADA is a good law, but has been misapplied. However, what is disappointing to us is that a complete project is put on hold, a project which includes important safety elements to help prevent more dogs from being killed in traffic, due to various officials not wanting to get sued under ADA.

Again, I support your position. But it is not my duty to pay personally for your requirements in public areas, aside from through my taxes. It is the government's responsibility to maintain public places appropriately. If I were developing a condo building or shopping center, that is an entirely different matter; but this is a public park. Our positions aren't really very far apart: we both want upgrades to public areas and there's no public money.


Pinnock and Wakefield has decided not to provide notice before filing an lawsuit. The reasons for this decision are as follows:
1. The ADA does not require notice
2. The state law does not require notice
3. Even if the state law required notice the ADA would still allow for a lawsuit to be brought in federal court
4. Due to the threats to Mr. Pinnock and his family
5. Due to the fact that Mr. Pinnock has been investigated for giving notices even though that the private sector requested notice be given
6. Due to the negative publicity
7. Due to the Julian businesses
8. Due to the conduct of Lawyers Against Lawsuit Abuse

From now on Pinnock and Wakefield will file lawsuits to enforce the ADA.
Pinnock and Wakefield believes that it requires the protection of the court system to guard against the hatred and the resistance of businesses towards individuals with disabilities and their advocates that demand to be free from hatred and oppression, to be compensated for access violations and that demand of accessibility.


The news broadcast in BBC that the Retired Pay Restoration Act of 2005 will assist disabled veterans who, under current law, must choose to either receive their retirement pay or disability compensation.


15. The news media and businesses believes there is a disability crisis because lawyers are making money on one small section of ADA Title III called barrier removal and Plaintiffs are being paid damages. So if lawyers did not demand fees and Plaintiffs did not demand damages there would be no crisis. This blanket discrimination. In would be insane to say a divorce lawyer should not make money on a couple’s unhappiness. It would be ridiculous to say a bankruptcy attorney should not charge a person going bankrupt. It would be malpractice for a lawyer to settle a car accident case where the defendant agrees to abide by the traffic laws and maintain her car without seeking money. However, disability rights lawyers and disability plaintiffs are expected to seek compliance only. There is a crisis in this country but it is not what the news is reporting. There is double-digit unemployment amongst qualified people with disabilities! If this were true of white men the media and politicians would focus on the issue as a crisis. People with disabilities are caught on SSI because they need health insurance, which they cannot get in the private sector. This is a crisis. Apartments are being converted into condos displacing tenants with disabilities; there is not enough affordable, accessible housing. Another non-reported crisis. Internationally, the disability crisis is outrageous. People with disabilities die from lack of food and medical care. People that cannot walk do not have wheelchairs. Shame on the media for focusing on the businesses as victims while a child in the Philippines does not have a wheelchair. Shame on the media for ignoring the real disability issues and supporting oppression. It is oppressive for employers and businesses to deny people with disabilities their civil rights and cloaking this discrimination with proclaimed good intentions and philia for the disabled. Philia is reciprocal love or affection. Slave owners felt philia towards their behaved slaves. We do not want philia from businesses; we seek agape – love of humanity, good will and understanding. The struggle is between the privileged governments, businesses and employers who are use to deciding the fate of the poor crippled and people with disabilities empowered with civil rights.
16. My Disability philosophy is TAME-A-DRILL. Transportation, Affordable and Accessible Housing, Medical Care, Education and Employment, and Accessibility are the issues, in order of priority, to be addressed. Demonstrations, Resistance, Individual Advocacy, Litigation and Legislation are the methods to address the issues.
17. Systematic and impact litigation is necessary in each state at the grassroots level to change behavior. There needs to be litigation in TAME-A issues.
18. Massive, nonviolent rallies, boycotts and demonstrations as resistance events must occur on a regular basis lawfully for three years on public sidewalks near large employers, and large and small businesses, and federal, state and local government facilities. There are two main themes of the resistance events: 1) To empower families to advocate for the civil rights of children with disabilities and the profoundly retarded who cannot work; 2) To advocate for jobs, business opportunities and civil rights for adults with disabilities with the cognitive ability to work. Each time there is a lawsuit of public importance filed there must be a rally to support the suit. People with disabilities must attend the resistance events. The resistance events are not for cowards. The goal is to resist systemic discrimination in transportation, employment, government services, housing, and air travel, cruise ships and places of public accommodation. The purpose of the resistance event is not to defeat or humiliate but to win friendship and understanding. Also, the resistance event must focus on the injustice and dark forces, not on the individuals that are caught up in these forces. The struggle is about disability injustice is the basic tension not between people with disabilities and people without yet manifested disabilities. It is critical for resisters to avoid both physical and internal violence. Physical violence means fighting physically including self-defense. Internal violence means hatred, bitterness, retaliatory feelings, and immorality. Hate begets more hate; the resisters must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. In this movement the means and ends must be good; a good end does not justify bad means. I can hear the media now – “Mr. Pinnock you use bad means to enforce the ADA by demanding money.” Following and implementing a just law cannot be said to be using bad means.

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