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  Lawmaker picks bad time to park in wrong place
photo of group surrounding auto by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

Mission Hills Representative Al Lane was in a hurry, and he figured he wouldn't be gone too long.

So he didn't think it was much of a problem to park his red Cadillac in front of what he thought was just a walkway at a Capitol parking lot.

The problem was, the spot he chose had white stripes across the pavement and signs on each side depicting a person in a wheelchair -- the international symbol for a designated "handicapped parking zone".

Uh-oh, Al!

Another problem was that his car blocked a curb cut put there for anyone using a wheelchair, scooter, walker or bike.

Uh-oh, again Al!

But the really big problem was that a group of about 1,000 people with disabilities and their allies were gathering at the state's Capitol just a few minutes later. Some of them were there because they were already angry that lawmakers didn't care about their issues.

Some of them use wheelchairs.

Double uh-oh, Al.

Ninety minutes later, after Lane heard about all of the commotion, he came out to move his car.

"I'm sorry I parked in the handicapped space," Lane said, as he looked at several notes placed on his car.

One of the notes simply read: "Hi Al, my name is Kate. I couldn't cross here because you blocked my ramp. Have a good day."

Here is a link to a beautiful picture taken by Topeka Capitol-Journal photographer Chris Ochsner. It shows a group of about 25 people, most wearing red shirts, posing as they hold hands to make a human chain around Lane's new red Cadillac. You can see the blue "handicapped parking zone" signs on either side of the car. Four of the people in the picture are in wheelchairs.

The demonstrators were gathering inside and outside the state Capitol to protest what they say is a lack of commitment to people with disabilities. More details on the demonstrations, along with several links to more coverage, are available from this Topeka Capitol-Journal webpage: http://cjonline.com/stories/042601/leg_disbudget.shtml

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