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Your Opinion: ADA complaint hardly 'frivolous'

Your Opinion: ADA complaint hardly 'frivolous'

February 2nd, 2011 by Nancy Cowan, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

There are so many things wrong with Scott Bledsoe's recent letter regarding the "frivolous" ADA complaint about secondhand smoke at the Capitol.

First: A number of representatives don't have private offices. The mezzanine section has cubicles for 10 representatives and their staffs. When one lights up, everyone gets the smoke. Additionally, the air in a private office does not stay in the private office; the ventilation system will distribute the secondhand smoke toxins throughout the building. An association of professional ventilation engineers concluded no technology is currently available nor should be relied upon to sufficiently remove or clean the air of the toxins in secondhand smoke.

Second: Asthmatics should not have to make an appointment and request a disability accommodation to enter a public governmental building anymore than they should be expected to make an appointment to enter a post office, city hall, courthouse, etc. The state motto "The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law" should include the welfare of those who visit or work in the Capitol, the people's house, and the air should be safe for everyone, including asthmatics.

Third: Political motivations were not displayed by the complainant, but rather by the majority floor leader who directed Republicans to vote against the amendment for a smoke-free House. Every single Republican present voted against a smoke-free rule. Note: the majority floor leader accepted $8,700 from tobacco interests last year.

Fourth: By voting against the smoke-free amendment, the complainant's own representative showed he did not represent his constituent's best interest. As an alternative, the complainant worked with the amendment sponsor as she too is asthmatic and knows firsthand the fight for every breath while being rushed to an emergency room.

Fifth: It is immaterial whether one specific person has or has not made an appointment and request for an accommodation. Asthmatics should not have to encounter a totally unnecessary air pollutant whenever they are in a public governmental building.

Sixth: With the legislators' demonstration of a higher regard for partisan fealty than to the health of their own employees or for visitors to the Capitol, how then can we have faith in their handling of the "more pressing matters"?