Wichita City Council member Paul Gray used an agenda item on swimming pool improvements at last week’s meeting to blast the Americans With Disabilities Act. Gray, a contractor who works in commercial construction, said he appreciated the sensitivity of such issues and has friends and relatives with disabilities, but that making facilities ADA-compliant can add $15,000-$20,000 to a $80,000 project and prove too much for mom-and-pop businesses. “Some little bureaucrat sits in a room and draws a picture and says, ‘This is the rules everybody has to follow,’ but they far exceed the requirements of people that are handicapped,” Gray said. “We treat the world as if everybody is blind and in a wheelchair, and that is not the circumstance. We are driving our economy into the ground with stuff like this.” Gray voted for the item, as did reluctant fellow council member Pete Meitzner. Hearing Gray’s rant about the 23-year-old ADA, it was hard to believe he was talking about what then-Sen. Bob Dole called “fair and balanced legislation that carefully blends the rights of people with disabilities … with the legitimate needs of the American business community.”
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