Monday, July 2, 2012

Horsefeathers!

If you think that the EPA is the only administrative agency attempting to ruin America through fiat and regulation, think again. Sure, the EPA can halt construction of a dream home on private property by “discovering” a wetland on the property. But what if a miniature golf course has hills that are too steep? Or what if a restaurant doesn't allow horses at dinner?

Enter the warriors and all the bureaucrats who enforce the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act). Of course there's the Department of Justice (DOJ) to punish the malefactors.

Recently, the DOJ generously extended the deadline for violators of the new ADA rules. Well, maybe not so generously. The requirements also affect judicial facilities, prison facilities and public recreation facilities. Such governmental agencies always lag behind private businesses in complying with the law. So in actuality, the extension was self-serving. In the private sector, the new rules and regulations already cover the aforesaid miniature golf courses, driving ranges, amusement parks, sauna facilities, the aforesaid restaurants, and shooting ranges.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez spoke at a conference in Baltimore early in June. He said: “We expect the implementation of these accessibility standards to open up doors for full participation in both the responsibilities, such as jury duty, and the benefits, such as playing at city parks, of civil life for people with disabilities.” Thus, the extension of time for implementation. But the same rules apply to private businesses. The public facilities will be improved and made compliant using taxpayer dollars, so what the heck. But the cost to private businesses will be borne by individuals already struggling to survive in a terrible economic environment.

Get out your tape measures and surveying tools, folks. Fifty percent of golf holes on miniature golf courses must be accessible to the handicapped. The ground space around a hole must be a minimum of 48 inches by 60 inches, “with slopes not steeper than 1:48 at the start of play.” At gyms, at least one of each type of exercise machine must be positioned so that it is “accessible” to a person in a wheelchair.

Saunas must have “sufficient turning space” and at least one bench specifically designed for the disabled (sitting and sweating in your wheelchair not allowed). For inside gun ranges, there must be “sufficient turning space for each different type of firing position (my question on that one is 'does that include the standing position?').” Full-sized golf courses get even more attention. There must be an accessible route to connect all accessible elements within the boundary (this could be a bit difficult if the fifty percent of “accessible” holes are not contiguous). Swimming pools must have a wheelchair accessible entry point unless the pool is larger than three hundred linear feet, in which case it must have at least two such accessible entry points.

And now for those restaurants (and taxis, by the way). Well, now it's time to let those guide horses in. Most of us are used to, and understand, rules that allow guide dogs for the blind where other dogs would not be allowed. More recently we have begun to accept the reasonable exception made for those physically or emotionally handicapped persons who are almost entirely dependent on their canine companions for normal activity. But horses?

OK, so they're not going to require that the restaurant owner or taxi driver allow Secretariat or Seabiscuit into their eateries or cabs. It's only miniature horses which must be allowed and facilitated. “A public accommodation shall make reasonable modifications in policies, practices or procedures to permit the use of a miniature horse by an individual with a disability if the miniature horse has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability.” Miniature horses are cute as hell, and can be very affectionate. But no matter how you cut it, they're not as smart as certain breeds of dogs, though most are smaller than a St. Bernard. But whoever heard of “dog flies?”

The justifications for adding miniature horses are many. Among them are religious objections by certain segments of society to using or having contact with dogs. Another is allergy to dogs (a handicap on top of a handicap). There is also the “fact” that miniature horses have a longer useful life span than dogs (seven years for dogs, as much as twenty-five years for miniature horses).

At Joe's Greasy Spoon Restaurant, the biggest objection (other than equinophobia) is the potential mess a horse of any size would be likely to produce where humans are eating and a minimum of sanitation is expected. No problem, say the mini-horse people. Says one ADA spokesman: “Similar to dogs, miniature horses can be trained through behavioral reinforcement to be 'housebroken.'” Since there is not yet a visible “housebroken” certificate or horse tag identifying the little horse as housebroken, it would be a quandary for both the restaurant owner and the taxi driver. What if the mini-horse actually isn't potty trained? Answer: horse manure.

Nobody has yet addressed the potential conflict when two disabled persons show up, one with a dog and the other with a mini-horse. What if Fido and Man O' War don't like each other? How about the patron who is terrified of dogs, or the other one who gets the heaves at the sight or smell of a horse (big, small or indifferent)? But I'm sure we can trust our government bureaucrats to solve those conflicts with ease.

This is going to be great fun (except for those who end up in jail for failing to comply, or in the poorhouse for complying). The possibilities for increasing the number of overpaid bureaucrats to enforce the rules are almost innumerable. San Francisco, always in the forefront of enforcing ADA rules, has proven just how silly loosely-written ADA laws can be, as well as the deleterious results they produce. You'll be seeing things like the San Francisco nonsense nationwide soon.

For instance: A deli-restaurant beloved by San Franciscans for four decades, located on bustling Market Street, was found not to have a compliant disabled accessible entryway. The owners realized that the requirements were both reasonable and legal. So they did what any good citizen does. They spent hundred of thousand of dollars on construction of a disabled accessible entrance. Doing so on Market Street would have been a major interruption of business and would have required outrageously expensive relocation of fixtures and replacement of load-bearing walls and columns. So the owners quite logically and reasonably did the construction at the side of the building on Sixth Street. If you can call construction of a disabled accessible structure a work of art, this was one—including the automatic opening doors.

All was well, right up through the grand re-opening, at which point one potential customer in a wheelchair objected to the structure, since it was on the side of the building rather than in front, and filed an ADA discrimination suit. He won, and the owners were required to go forward with the far more expensive and unnecessary construction at the front of the restaurant in addition to the one on the side. The owners threw in the towel and closed the business. It sat empty and decaying for months. San Francisco lost a great local restaurant, only to have it replaced much later by a Wendy's franchise. Wendy's could afford better lawyers, and ultimately the handicapped entrance on Sixth Street was allowed after all.

In the “let the taxpayers pay for it” example, all of the San Francisco superior courts and clerical offices were closed while City Hall underwent an earthquake retrofit following the big Loma Prieta quake of 1989. The City/County of San Francisco rented a skyscraper located in the financial district for the period of the retrofit. The building was already wheelchair accessible, though the courtrooms had to be upgraded for accessibility for the public and the jurors. But they forgot one little detail. They didn't make the judges' chambers and benches wheelchair accessible. Doors had to be widened, and ramps built to allow the disabled judges to get onto their seats behind the bench. The cost to the taxpayers ran into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, approaching a million.

Now for the reality. There was only one judge in the entire superior court judicial panel who was actually in a wheelchair. And he wasn't the one who complained. He simply asked nicely if they could fix things up for him, and it was done forthwith. He was happy as a clam. It was an officious intermeddler who was not even part of the system who filed the complaint. So all the courtrooms and judicial chambers were made wheelchair accessible. Only one was ever used. And now the courts are back in City Hall, and all that construction and expense was for naught. But the bureaucrats still have a satisfied smile on their faces as San Francisco sinks farther into debt.

I guess we should be grateful that the one wheelchair-bound judge didn't have a miniature horse to help him out. Now that would have been some really cool reconstruction. "Reasonable modifications in policies, practices or procedures" has an entirely different meaning for government bureaucrats from the meaning you or I would give it. Get ready, this is only the tip of the bureaucratic iceberg.

27 comments:

AndrewPrice said...

The ADA is one of the first big "undefined" acts and that's a real problem. They never defined disabled or reasonable accommodation and they left it to the courts to hash out. That means there's no way to know you're violating the law until you are found to have violated it. It's like something out of Kafka.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: Yep, and its companion is the EPA, both signed, I might add, by Republican presidents. Let's hope Romney knows better than to sign legislation that leaves it up to agencies and bureaucrats to determine what the law is, usually after the fact.

rlaWTX said...

I think I am about to come back around to the idea that every business can discriminate against whoever they want for any reason they want. If they don't disallow access, all internal workings need to be as equal as possible, but otherwise, they can change structure or not change structure or do business with or refuse business to anyone their little hearts' desire. The market will respond if they go too far. Perhaps that's moving backward, but I'm just about at the point where I don't give a rat's patoutie.

Jocelyn said...

Lawhawk, seriously? minature horses? That sounds completely made up. How many people in an urban/suburban setting have a helping horse.

And it is really unfortunate with the business that went out of business due to the placement of the wheelchair ramp. The individual who complained clearly could have gone somewher else if he/she felt so offended by there being an entrance, although it was not in the front. I would personally feel like it's a secret entrance. How cool is it to have your own entrance to a place. Obviously not the complainer.

LawHawkRFD said...

rlaTWX: That's the kind of civil disobedience we need, but most people can't afford. These monstrous acts have to be repealed and their bureaucracies eliminated. Otherwise, they will simply bankrupt, and even imprison the violators. By the time the market has time to respond, the brave souls who defied the government will be in their graves. Piece by piece court victories are few and far between, and there are very few people as brave as the Sacketts who took on the EPA. If they had lost, which was a distinct possibility, they would have owed unimaginable sums to the government, they could have been jailed for noncompliance, and their "dream property" could have been seized.

That is why I strongly stand for the principle of limiting all agencies in both time and power before that bureaucratic monstrosity is even brought into existence. Within ten years or so, both the EPA and ADA had outlived their usefulness. Bad legislation is bad legislation, but bad legislation which creates a superagency with no expiration date is tyranny.

LawHawkRFD said...

Jocelyn: I've been told many times that I have a fevered imagination. But even I couldn't come up with something as strange as miniature assistance horses. It's real, not horse s--t. LOL

The world is full of people like the complainers in San Francisco. These are little people, with no self-respect who attempt to create that respect by manipulating rules and the law to punish people they consider too powerful and too sure of themselves. In addition, most of them are just pissed off at the entire world and the cruel fate that they believe has been dealt to them.

My dad lost his right arm in a farming accident when he was a child. And he was right-handed. Still, he went on to a very successful life, including running his own small trucking company and driving one of the trucks himself. He never once contemplated suing anyone for creating a world designed almost exclusively for right-handed people. He didn't sue the thresher company and he didn't sue Dodge (his favorite brand) for making trucks with shift levers on the right. He didn't expect the world to adapt to him, he adapted to the world--quite successfully.

LawHawkRFD said...

Jocelyn: I agree with both you and rlaWTX that businesses should be able to determine their own rules without bureaucratic governmental interference so long as they don't break sensible laws regarding health and safety. But we live in a nanny state and we have to live with this until conservatives not only take charge of government, but then do something to get the government out of our ordinary daily activities.

Naturally, my old home (San Francisco) was among the first to ban plastic grocery bags. But this was typical of bureaucratic creeping regulation. First, plastic bags were allowed if they were designed to decompose within a few months. Most of the markets switched to them, and the customers continued to prefer them over paper bags which tear and leak. That just drove the plastic-hating bureaucrats and busybodies into banning plastic entirely. Now that they're done with plastic, can paper be far behind? After all, they have to cut down Gaea's trees to make them, and paper production produces pollution. There's just no end to it until we're all back living in caves.

Even George Carlin, an environmentalist and a liberal, did an entire routine making fun of the anti-plastic crowd. "The reason why we have plastic bags is that Mother Earth needs plastic. Would she have allowed plastic to be invented if she hadn't needed it?"

Tennessee Jed said...

the war on the private sector continues

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: That was short, sweet, and accurate.

StanH said...

We as a country have lost our minds. We’ve absolutely allowed the lunatics to run the asylum. It’s almost as if you were writing a comedy routine for Monty Python, or early SNL, you’d point and laugh saying, “God those people are stupid.” Speaking of God, he and his heavenly compatriots are rolling in the aisles, looking down and laughing.

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: We're becoming like the old Soviets. We let our government push us around in insane ways, and all we do is complain rather than oust them. So I guess we had to develop the same ironic sense of humor. The Germans have a word for it. Galgenhumor (gallows humor).

T-Rav said...

I don't know what this article was about, because I looked at the accompanying picture and OHHHH IT'S A MINIATURE HORSE! OHHH IT'S SO CUTE!!!!!

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: Now stop that! And besides, that isn't a miniature horse, it's a giant St. Bernard

tryanmax said...

I wonder if GLAD® is also behind lobbying for the banning of plastic grocery bags? I haven't bought a trash liner in forever because I keep sticking Walmart bags in my trash can. And here's the funny part: whenever I go shopping, I make sure to get two or three thing put into paper sacks so I can have those handy as well.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: I wouldn't be surprised. I haven't bought a trashcan liner in years because I use the ones from the grocery store (and WalMart too). I have a tendency to put partially full Coke cans in the trash, and you know what that does to a paper bag. GLAD still gets its money because I use their leaf bags and big trash can liners for the cans outside.

Jen said...

I came up with this back in '10. Feel free to tweak it anyway you want.

V-vote
O-out
I-incumbent
D-Democrats
(For all you enlightened people who vote split ticket.)

V-vote
O-out
I-incumbents
C-challenge
E-everyone

(In case the first one doesn't apply.)

Am I wrong on this?

LawHawkRFD said...

Jen: Both versions are improvements on and extensions of "question authority."

T-Rav said...

Jen, not bad. VOID/VOICE: I like it. Although personally, I'm kinda fond of my "Screw you. Grow up" slogan. Which, by the way, also applies to those "enlightened people" you mention who split their ticket, because "I vote for the person, not the party." How special. Too bad political organizations don't work that way.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: I think the same people who split their ticket are the idiots who respond to pollsters one day before an election that they're undecided. They should just stay home.

Jen said...

T-Rav, I like yours as well, but you know how fond some of these people are over alphabet agencies, etc.

Maybe you can find a way to combine the two??? ;)

Individualist said...

Lawhawk

Matters could get worse for the restaurant owner. Imagine if on the day teh seeing eye dog and the seeing eye horse are having it out an individual with arm disabilites shows up with a helper monkey.

Now you have a dog chasing a monkey with plenty of horse manure for ammo. Was the ADA a law made to help disabled people or was it a way to make a Marx Brothers movie come to life.

LawHawkRFD said...

Indi: The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The intention was to help the disabled. The result was the Marx Brothers (and you wrote a pretty good script outline!).

LawHawkRFD said...

Jen: Did you happen to save that e-mail? I remember reading the same one, but I didn't save it.

Jen said...

LawHawk: Yeah, I still have it.

SYGU? Okay, it's short and sweet (LOL!). How about this?:

VOID/VOICE, and if ya don't like it, then, SYGU!

LawHawkRFD said...

Patti: We'll all soon be trogs if Obama stays in the White House. Do they have better mortgage rates and incentives for cave-buyers? Or do we just occupy them?

LawHawkRFD said...

Jen: If you want to copy and paste it here, nobody would object.

Individualist said...

Jen

Woo Hoo!

Renounce your citizenship but don't leave the country and collect the benefits an illegal alien gets, what a plan! What a Country! Hey so long as it is for a democrat you even get to vote....,

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