Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Correct the Record

According to today's letters to the editor, county commissioner Nelson Peters is quite upset with the Journal Gazette with over some things they printed about him last week. Here's the first excerpt in question, from a story by reporter Benjamin Lanka:

While defending the merits of handicap accessibility, the Allen County commissioners Wednesday questioned the need to spend extra money to make the county compliant faster.

The commissioners delayed voting on a $30,000 engineering contract to investigate the county’s sidewalks and ramps constructed since 1992. Mike Fitch, director of the county highway department, said because his employees are busy working on construction projects, he would be able to put only a few people on this project part time if an outside company wasn’t hired.

“If we added help from a consultant, we could finish it this year,” he said.

Fitch said the costs could be as low as $15,000 depending on the workload.

Commissioner Nelson Peters asked why there was such a hurry to finish the work when the U.S. Department of Justice gave the county several years to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“I don’t know if that’s a good expenditure of this money,” he said. “What makes this a priority?”

Then on Saturday, the paper singled out Peters in its Cheers & Jeers.

JEERS to Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters for asking why the county should be in a hurry to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act when the Department of Justice gave the county several years to comply. When quizzing County Highway Director Mike Fitch about a request for money to hire a contractor to inspect the county’s sidewalks and ramps for accessibility, Peters asked, “What makes this a priority?” It’s a priority because more than 15 percent of the residents of Allen County have disabilities, not including the elderly or people with a temporary mobility challenge. Every resident deserves access.
Today the paper printed a letter to the editor from Peters, who is quite upset at what he says is inaccurate reporting.

What a shame that The Journal Gazette chose to take my words so totally out of context when referring to my lack of concern about individuals with disabilities. During a meeting last week I did question why the inspection of ramps and curbs throughout the community was a priority among all of the other fixes the county was required to make pursuant to a recent settlement with the Department of Justice. I did question why the county’s Highway Department was asking to spend $30,000 with an outside firm instead of doing the work internally. I did not for one second, however, imply that fixes for the disabled should take a back seat to anything.

As the brother of a current resident of the State Developmental Center, I know firsthand the adversities that those with disabilities face. To honor his current plight I have served on the boards of directors for ARC/Easter Seals and Park Center for the past 10 years and will continue to fight for those with disabilities as long as I am able.

So, next time, please report the whole story and save your jeers for your inaccurate reporting.

Allen County Commissioner Fort Wayne

There's an easy way to resolve this, of course. The Journal Gazette ought to print Peters' complete comments (which, I would imagine, are a matter of record) from the meeting on this issue, and let their readers decide if they were negligent. Then everyone would know if the quote was truly taken out of context...or if Peters is making all this up.

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