Friday August 2, 2013

Davis ‘blew it’

Editor of the Reformer:

I usually enjoy Richard Davis’ columns and often agree with him, but he really blew it in a recent column ("Stupidity is not a handicap," July 24).

Richard, as someone in the healthcare field, do you really need to ask "What kind of disability would a 50-something guy on a motorcycle have that would legally allow him to park in a handicap space." How about COPD? Heart problems? Knee or hip replacements? Prosthetic legs?

You acknowledge that not every handicap is visible, and yet other than paying lip service to the notion, you seem to be completely unaware of the realities of invisible or less-apparent disabilities. Not everyone with a disability wants to wants to be any more challenged -- nor should they. Yes, there are some scumbag scofflaws out there -- but for every one of them, I know (and I’m sure you do, too) there is at least one other person out there with mobility problems who refuses to get a handicap placard because they want to leave it for people "who really need it" The whole point of accommodations is to allow people with disabilities to live the most normal lives they can. For some, that includes riding a motorcycle.

I don’t know whether there are handicap plates for motorcycles in Vermont, but I do recall my friend Robin Romaine’s fight for them in New Hampshire. After losing her leg above the knee, she first rode with a sidecar and then learned how to adapt her Harleys so that she could shift gears with a custom built right side shifter. Despite the legal handicap plate on her bike, she often gets snide comments from people making the same assumption you did about the guy at Price Chopper. In her case, her gait is visibly affected, so if you saw her walk, you might understand, but if you passed her in the parking lot, you -- like many others --- would make unfair assumptions or comments that amount to telling people like her to go live like a cripple now that she has a disability.

The best comeback I ever heard of was from a friend of hers, a below-knee amputee who won the fight for handicapped motorcycle plates in Connecticut by taking his prosthesis off, throwing it on the judge’s bench and saying "now tell me I’m not handicapped." Looks like you need a flying prosthesis to land on your desk as well.

Ingrid Boccelli,

Westminster West, July 27

How about some shade?

Editor of the Reformer:

I take the train from Brattleboro a few times a year and family and friends arrive for visits regularly. A recent improvement has been that there are chairs for us to sit in while we wait but the sun can be brutal from noon until the southbound train leaves and is still very bright when the northbound gets in around 5:30 p.m. We really need some shade. It would be great to have an awning above the rows of chairs. Brattleboro attracts visitors and should make an effort to make those who come by train as comfortable as possible.

Mal Herbert,

Putney, July 28

Creative yet elite

Editor of the Reformer:

"Creative Brattleboro" is for the creative, not the rest of us who are "noncreative," I overheard an elitist say publicly at the latest Brattleboro Citizens’ Breakfast (July 26).

He spoke while typical, "noncreative" citizens were busy earning their livings doing essential work in accounting, banking, communications, construction, dealerships, factories and shops, fields, forests, government, health care, lodgings, maintenance and repair, offices, public utilities, stores, restaurants, transportation and warehouses, hoping that their jobs will last and new jobs will be created.

How does "Creative Brattleboro" benefit them? How do they benefit the "creative" elite?

Howard Fairman,

Vernon, July 28