Saturday, August 30, 2008

Denver & DNC Insensitive to Disabled

Denver never should have been chosen for the Democratic Convention. It simply does not have enough hotels, and its public transportation system is inadquate. Denver was chosen for political reasons - the Democrats want to win in Colorado - and its logistic weaknesses were overlooked.

In order to house all the thousands of people who come to a Convention, Denver had to use hotels scattered over several miles from the location of the Pepsi Center, where the Convention was held. There were supposed to be shuttle buses running from the hotels downtown, but this was not really true. Buses were for delegates only, so that all the other people had no access. In addition, the buses didn't start running until the afternoon to take delegates to the main event at the Pepsi Center. If they wanted to attend a meeting, go to an event, or just tour Denver, even delegates were SOL.

State delegations are assigned to hotels by the Democratic National Committee. Since Mississippi is not considered important, its hotel was in the boonies. Fortunately, we were relatively close to the last stop of the light rail. If you were young and healthy and unaffected by the altitude, you could walk, if you don't mind walking on roads with no sidewalks, which was quite dangerous. The staff at our hotel was extremely nice, and they would run people to the station in their van, and you could call them to come get you when you returned. Some delegations had to take shuttles for an hour to get to the light rail.

Denver made changes in the light rail service because of the Convention. There was only one problem, no one knew about it. People who worked at our stop had no idea about the changes, so they gave bad advice. Once we arrived downtown, there was no one to tell us where to get off. It took us a couple of trips to figure it out. When we got off the light rail, we had to take a shuttle bus to get closer to the Pepsi Center - but once again, no one told any of us that. And we had to figure out on our own where to get on and off the bus. Then we still had to walk several blocks to the first security fence. Once inside, we thought for sure there would be carts for the handicapped, but there were none - although we saw lots of "important" people in carts. It was a very long walk in the sun, with reduced oxygen because of the altitude, until we arrived at the second fence. Still no handicapped carts in evidence.

The trip from the hotel to the Convention took about 2 hours one way, so there was no going back to the hotel during the day. We were invited to parties and events, but we didn't go to any, because it was too much trouble to get there.

To make matters worse, Denver police and/or Secret Service would sometimes just stop the light rail or the buses without telling anyone - and with no idea when it would resume. Then you were just stuck wherever you were. Taxies are prohibitively expensive. One time when the buses just stopped running, I had to take a pedicab (a cart powered by a young person on a bicycle) which cost $2 a block - so it cost $20 plus tip to take me 10 blocks.

There were a few times that we were lucky enough to find the carts for the disabled, but there was no way to call for one and no one knew where they were or how to get one. We had one woman in our delegation in a wheelchair, and she seemed to have a slightly easier time of it. At least she had wheels, and sometimes people would offer to help by pushing it. Also, people could at least tell she was handicapped. But there were several of us in the delegation with handicaps that aren't visible, and we got no sympathy at all - especially from all the young people who seem to populate campaigns.

One time, I was about to faint, and people around me caught me and called the paramedics. But they didn't even have oxygen - and had no way to call me a cart. They didn't even have one themselves. Unless I wanted them to call me an ambulance, I had to just keep walking. The place was a nightmare.

There was another state blogger who was handicapped, and she and I shared our total dismay with the way we and others in our delegations were treated. Once we've recovered from the Convention, we plan to communicate our concerns to the DNC. However, I don't really expect much of a response.


Anonymous said...

Now I see why no report on the last night of the convention. Did you have a laptop inside the Pepsi Center? This is what I was picturing. The convention logistics sounds like a total nightmare and I can't imagine the Republican being much better in St. Paul!

You are right about people voting with their gut and not their head--I am thinking Palin is no threat but you make a good point. She stands for everything I hate. We just have to keep plugging her inexperience. She looks like a fire-cracker though --it should be interesting.

Casey Ann said...

There was no electricity or internet inside Invesco Field, and there's been no time since them to post a report. Dianne was there and will write a report as soon as she can. The hurricane didn't help matters.

Anonymous said...

I hope John Calhoun reads this and fires off a letter to the Justice Department.
That will teach em'.

Casey Ann said...

John Calhoun is deceased.