ADAPTs latest Washington DC action--A New Hampshire perspective

Thomas Cagle (nh-adapt@juno.com)
Thu, 20 May 1999 19:07:50 -0400


This note is going out to a number of folks with different situations and
diagnosis. I will try to tell a bit about me--ADAPT and why what I do is
such a big deal to me.

First a bit about me. I am impulsive in joy, love, anger and despair.
When I have a good leash on things I can usually direct that impulse to
constructive ends. However after my diagnosis and as my disability
unfolded my life as I knew it had to radically remade. More radically
than when I first left home to begin an adult life. One of the things I
had to work through was how to feel about the new field put in front of
me to plow. I could either be depressed and look for a bridge to jump off
of, or find a fight and get some blood in my mouth. For those of you who
don't box it isn't a fight instill you taste your own blood. Anything
less is just talking about it.

ADAPT proposed to provide not just a fight but talked in no nonsense
terms about breaking down medical models and the integration of PWD
(people with disabilities) into society. SRV (social role valorization)
self-determination and other ideals are just that, ideals. ADAPT offered
direct approaches on how to get some, not just talk about it. I didn't
want to talk through how I felt about being disabled and marginalized. I
wanted back in the world on the new terms my disability made necessary.
Being picky about confronting this issue was not an option. Nothing less
than the equal protection the law said I had would do.

One more thing about me, most of my disability is invisible. An unsteady
left side coupled with a devastating global fatigue allows the
indifferent to presume I am just another drunk or psychiatric case. I
don't rank very high in the world of poster-children. I never liked Jerry
Lewis much either. So I don't pull into the front ranks of ADAPTs
leadership as a result. My job isn't to select the battle, it is to stay
alive in the trenches.

So here we go again. It's Washington DC May 8 1999. I am bone tired I
feel like it's the tenth round and the action has not even started.
Because I have been at this for a while newer ADAPTers want to know who
we are going to call on this week. I have some guesses, but they are just
that guesses. I tell the eager "it's Washington pick an agency at random
from the phone book and lets go visit them, if we ask them for their ADA
self evaluation, they'll tell us what they have not done to get in
compliance with the law". Washington loves to create and recreate
'reconstruction' there isn't a single agency that Is in compliance with
the law--how can we miss?

We are short handed for Sunday's inservices. Bunny and I cannot make it
to, nor present in all the ones we should. If only I could get Jack,
Pete, Chuck, or Joe to an ADAPT action this part of ADAPTing would hit
them the hardest. They work like yeomen without ever learning of what
their contemporaries are doing. A body could have an internet terminal in
their bathroom and still not get the same measure of reassurance or
validation that one hour with your peers from a couple dozen states
provides.

Monday: ADAPT is getting smarter. We load onto the Metro via three
stations instead of six hours each way trying to funnel 400 wheel chairs
two-by-two through the elevator, we do it in under two. The troops are
getting savvy to the staging drill too. The group is primed and ready to
roll on cue. The NGA (national governors association) has no clue. A
negotiating team is sent to their office while we blockade the lobby.
Bunny negotiates for and ultimately purchased the woman's bathroom key--a
prize she still retains. The NGA made a second side amicus for Olmstead,
a little bit of perfidy that governors of states who found it politically
expedient to withdraw directly as state ADAPT chapters turned on the heat
regarding Olmstead. Well we asked the NGA nicely to drop their amicus
by letter and phone call, no dice. Sooo--here we are in their face and
not being particularly nice about it. The arrest option was offered and
accepted by 70. It is beginning to dawn on the NGA that we can and will
dog their actions. Governor Petaki was suprised to know we exist, I guess
Tommy Thompson um, forgot to tell him about us. Too bad. We really mean
that the NGA has to honor the letter of the law. Section 504 and the ADA
apply equally. Petaki agrees to meet to divert our meeting like this
again.... We'll see.

Tuesday: Same round up and Metro drill. Today it is HUD (housing and
urban development). This is a site we have hit in the past. No attempt is
made to enter the building. However inasmuch as this is known building
that has been occupied before many know where the exits are this block
long irregular building is surrounded in just a couple minutes. The
"Federal Protective Police" HUDs solution to actually enforcing the law
as we have repeatedly requested manages to get a couple cruisers in front
of one door. They work almost as good as wheelchairs do to blockade the
building. All-in-all they were an assistance to us. Director Cuomo
promises to put out clear and concise terms on the civil rights laws we
want him to enforce. Details on what this means for 232 nursing home loan
guarantees will follow. If we get one thing from HUD and it is the
termination of this odious rule we will have really done something.

Wednesday: Olmstead vigil. For those who want to scoff at ADAPT and claim
we get marginalized as those d**ned kooks in wheelchairs. Today makes
that a lie The politicians are beginning to line up. More over some one
in their staff has read our words--and written for them speeches we want
to hear. I get to the vigil late to hear Tom Harkin sounding more like
Wade Blank than anybody else.

We fill the sidewalk on both sides of the street out in front of the
supreme court. I got to the action late because I did a stint as a
'pointer', pointers are stationed at exits and corners to direct out of
town ADAPTers to the next turn. This day we have literally hundreds of
faces from other groups from all across the nation. I have never seen so
many people (new faces) at an ADAPT action. Capitol Police make our count
at 4000. The cap off is to present to our congressmen-senators with a
copy of MiCASSA the re-worked and more complete version of a national
attendant care bill. There were more wheelchairs filing into office
buildings than flees onna mangy dog.

Your mission will be to submit a copy of MiCASSA to your congress person
I have in  electronic and text versions.

MiCASSA personal assistance, coming to a legislature near you!
Tom Cagle           
nh-adapt@juno.com
http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/6482
ICQ 7555286
Visit Crip-Chat  http://members.xoom.com/Bunnygail/index.htm   8-9
Eastern 
--------- End forwarded message ----------

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