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Letters for the Week of May 15, 2013

Readers sound off on disabled parking and the OPD.


"Do Disabled Motorists Need Free Parking?," News, 5/1

Find the Fraud

Charging for disabled parking defeats the entire purpose.

If there is fraud and folks using placards they are not entitled to, go after the fraud. Don't destroy a needed law. And no, Joe Blow on the street should never confront possible abusers. You have no idea what their medical situation is, nor should the disabled have to justify themselves to any cretin on the street who questions them.

If you suspect abuse, report it. Take a picture or video of the alleged offender and the vehicle and placard info and report it. Then the investigators can check things out and fine those not in compliance.

As for who I am, I am on full SSDI disability and in a wheelchair with two forms of arthritis and other medical issues. In other words, my income is only a bit over $900 a month. Personally, I do not know why the non-disabled even drive, much less drive downtown. Are they too good for mass transit?

Neal Feldman, Salem, Oregon

What About the Doctors?

As an orthopedic nurse, I'm asked regularly to sign for handicapped parking permits. Fewer than 10 percent of the requests come from people using a cane, let alone crutches or a wheelchair. Unfortunately, it seems that many people sincerely believe that if walking a few blocks causes discomfort, they should have a placard. Pain is real and subjective, but it is not a disability. In almost all cases, increased activity, such as walking on flat surfaces, is beneficial and part of their treatment plan. Providers need to be held more accountable for placating patients with placards instead of educating them to maintain function.

Alice Benham, Richmond

Parking Should Never Be Free

Parking a private vehicle in public space should never, ever be free. Not only are cars responsible for tens of thousands of deaths every year in this country, they pollute everyone's air, and take up public space. Motorists need to pay their share and pony up to their costs to the public. No free parking ever, disabled or not.

Rene Alvarez, Oakland

The Baby and the Bathwater

So ... in order to deter the able-bodied who commit fraud, punish the truly physically impaired who actually need and have legally obtained disability parking placards? Way to go! Hey, let's take away food aid from starving folks, too, since sometimes people who don't need food stamps steal them! And wasn't there just some big scandal in MediCare or MediCal where fake billing was uncovered? No more health care for the verifiably sick or disabled! 

This has the reek of yet another effort to balance the budget on the necks of the poor and disabled. I suspect the Quan administration would rather collect money from those of us who are disabled than put a little muscle into cracking down on fraud.

Increased fines for illegal placard use would be a real and far more effective deterrent to corruption, and add more to the budget than picking the pockets of the disabled. Incidentally, why do people with placards need free parking? Because some of us can't make extra trips back and forth from our destination to our parking spot to feed the meter. Because medical appointments can run hours late. Because, depending on one's disability, everything can take longer. Because many of us are on a fixed income precisely because we are disabled, or because being disabled enough to qualify for a placard often means one can't work full-time.

Mara Math, San Francisco

"Deanna Santana Blocks Reform of Internal Affairs," News, 4/24

The City of Oakland Weighs In

This article contained numerous factual errors. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the article refers to the city administrator by name in the headline, accusing her of "block[ing] reform," the reporter never contacted the city administrator, Citizens' Police Review Board staff, or anyone in the administration to fact-check his assertions or gather data to substantiate his conclusions. Had he done so, we could have provided accurate information to help you provide your readers with a full view of the facts.

This Administration is 100 percent committed to fully implementing an array of reforms designed to enhance community trust in the Oakland Police Department. There are two important reforms now underway that will advance this goal. One change entails using civilians instead of sworn officers to take complaints about police officers' conduct so that community members feel that their complaints will be received objectively and fairly. The other involves transferring the Office of Inspector General (OIG) from the Oakland Police Department to the city administrator's office, a best contemporary policing practice to increase civilian oversight of the police department.

The Administration has completed a significant amount of work on these reorganizations: we have consulted with the federal monitor and initiated communication with the compliance director regarding the proposals; begun the meet and confer process with the police officers' union; drafted an OIG transition plan for compliance director approval; and completed appropriate job classifications. Upon receiving the compliance director's approval, the City will recruit candidates to fill the new positions and implement the work plans right away.

There are three main errors in the story:

1. The amount of funding allocated for civilianization of internal affairs was not "slashed in half."

The allocation was only temporarily reduced during the current fiscal year because implementation was postponed for six months, resulting in a half-year of savings of about $700,000; it is not an ongoing reduction.


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