A Question of Access
By Nate Jackson
According to San Bernardino’s Peace and Freedom Party chairman Bob Maschi, 52, the building’s lack of handicapped access to the second floor is an injustice that demands public apology. In a press release dated June 14, Maschi, of Rancho Cucamonga, says Dreier should either install an elevator or move to a new office building. But does the fact that the building is technically compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act change his mind? Nope.
“Should a Congress person who’s representing his district (editor’s note: the district covers Rancho Cucamonga), who’s elected to his position, who’s [using] federal money to have his office then have an office where a large percentage of his population can’t go?” asks Maschi.
Maschi says he encountered the lack of handicapped access while joining a group of local citizens who went to Dreier’s office to question his public stance on Arizona’s controversial illegal immigration enforcement law, SB 1070. Although Dreier wasn’t available to meet with his group on June 10, Maschi—who requires the occasional use of a cane—says he was unable to find an elevator and was forced to struggle up the stairs to get to the office.
“While I was able to get up those stairs,” says Maschi, “I was thinking about all those people who are in David Dreier’s district who are in wheelchairs, using walkers who could not do what I have done. They should have every right to address their congress person whether they support him or they don’t.”
However, Maschi’s complaints about Dreier’s office location have fallen on deaf ears given its current state of ADA compliance.
Dreier spokesperson Jo Maney says the rented office suite has stayed up to code with the ADA, which includes Title II, a provision that prohibits any kind of discrimination against the disabled by any local or state facility or entity. The ADA also requires that buildings provide equal opportunities for public services.
“There’s a ground floor office used for those who can’t get up the stairs,” Maney tells the Weekly.
At the time of Maschi’s complaint, he says he was not aware of the ground floor office but says that—ADA compliance or not—constituents or potential employees ought to be able to access Dreier’s ground floor office for a number of reasons.
“What if someone who was disabled wanted to apply for a job in his office?” Maschi says. “They’re certainly not going to leave him in the hall downstairs to do his work.”
Maney dismisses this type of scenario as a hypothetical question, adding that they haven’t had to accommodate a handicapped employee. “We’d work it out somehow,” she says.
Aside from his claim of injustice being deflated by Dreier’s code compliance, his fervent attempts to show the congressman in a bad light might come off as politically motivated due to his leadership with a polar political party. Should he have done more research on the building instead of fire off a condemning (“David Dreier Violates Civil Rights”) press release? Maschi maintains, however, that his complaint has nothing to do with Dreier’s political ideology.
“Let’s get away from saying this happened to me,” says Maschi. “If you are in a walker or in a wheelchair, you can go to his office, you can go through that front door and you can see there’s no way for you to get up those stairs.”
Maschi also says that there is a second floor bathroom with a handicapped wheel chair symbol.
“There’s no way for someone in a wheelchair to get up to the second floor,” he says.