Feds Probe Cedar Rapids’ Compliance With Disabilities Act
By Rick Smith, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cedar Rapids has opened an investigation into the city of Cedar Rapids’ compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In a letter to Mayor Ron Corbett, the federal prosecutor’s office suggests that the probe centers on access to city buses for disabled people who use wheelchairs.
The city is asked to produce any record of complaints against it in the last three years related to access to public transportation, “in particular, access to buses by individuals who use wheelchairs and may need additional time to board or exit from a bus.”
Sandi Fowler, special assistant to City Manager Jeff Pomeranz, on Friday said the city has had no complaints filed with it about access to city buses in the last three years. One person filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission in 2010, she said, adding the commission investigated the matter and concluded the case was unfounded.
Pat Ball, Cedar Rapids’ utilities director, said Friday, “We’re not sure what this is?”
Pete Deegan, an assistant U.S. Attorney in Cedar Rapids, said the office could not comment further on the matter.
Fowler noted that Department of Justice sent a team to Cedar Rapids in June 2011 to conduct an audit of city facilities and their compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The city has not received a report on the audit, she said.
She added that the all of the city’s buses are outfitted with ramps and lifts for wheelchairs and that the city’s bus drivers are trained to work with people with disabilities. In addition, she said the city has taken steps over and above what is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act to provide amenities for the disabled as it renovates and replaces buildings damaged in the 2008 flood.
In the letter to the city, Stephanie Rose, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, states that the Department of Justice would like to resolve the matter “expeditiously” and “without resorting to litigation.”
Rose states that her office on behalf of the Department of Justice can go to court to seek injunctive relief and monetary damages “if voluntary compliance is not achieved.”
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