Connect Transit board nominee asked to step down

Boyd
Members of Citizens to Ensure Fair Transit meet with Citizen’s Transit board nominee Justin Boyd Wednesday at his Downtown Bloomington insurance office. (Citizens to Ensure Fair Transit Facebook page photo)

 

By Howard Packowitz

BLOOMINGTON – One of Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner’s picks to fill future vacancies on the Connect Transit board is being asked to withdraw his name from consideration for the job.

Members of the group Citizens to Ensure Fair Transit are opposed to current Planning Commissioner Justin Boyd’s appointment, so that bus riders with disabilities can serve on the board.

Advocates showed up at Boyd’s Downtown Bloomington insurance office Wednesday, handing him a letter from group member Jennifer Morsch, who is blind.

She said Boyd is much like current board members who are financially well-off, able-bodied, and don’t know what it means to rely on transit as a lifeline.

Morsch said refusing to fill board posts with disabled riders may explain why more than two-thirds of Bloomington-Normal bus stops are not compliant under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

“It may also explain why the board has locked us into a trend of reduced services and increased fares in recent years, resulting in our loss of access to more and more of our wonderful community: access to jobs, groceries, medical care, and socialization,” the letter said.

Boyd declined comment when contacted by WJBC. He’s being asked to respond to the group’s request by Monday.

Morsch wrote, “While we do not hold you responsible for the decisions made by the Connect Transit board, we do hold you accountable to your own decision: will you be complicit in the continued rejection of voices of people with disabilities, voices like mine, or will you make room for rider representation by requesting that Mayor Renner withdraw your name from consideration for nomination to the Connect Transit board?”

The following is a copy of Morsch’s entire letter, as it was posted Wednesday on Citizens to Ensure Fair Transit’s Facebook page:

6/5/2019

Justin Boyd
411 N Main St,
Bloomington, IL 61701

Mr. Boyd,

For four years, Citizens to Ensure Fair Transit (CEFT) has been persistent in our efforts to raise rider needs and concerns to the Connect Transit board. Though we remain steadfast in our efforts, the Connect Transit board has ignored our input in their decision making, disregarding our grievances as a nuisance, and forcing us to live with the harm caused by their actions.

Much like you, each member of the Connect Transit board presents as financially well resourced and able-bodied, cannot possibly know what it means to rely on transit as a lifeline, that when threatened, means that people like me face becoming shut-in and left out.

Preventing people with disabilities from leadership by refusing paratransit rider representation on the Connect Transit board may explain why more than 2/3rds of Bloomington-Normal transit stops are not ADA compliant. It may also explain why the board has locked us into a trend of reduced services and increased fares in recent years, resulting in our loss of access to more and more of our wonderful community: access to jobs, groceries, medical care, and socialization.

In a recent Pantagraph article, a statement you made was quoted as acknowledging a “very important conversation happening,” and went on to say, “We hope the mayor and members of the city council will take that conversation into consideration prior to making any decision about nominations to the Connect Transit board.”

While we do not hold you responsible for the decisions made by the Connect Transit board, we do hold you accountable to your own decision: will you be complicit in the continued rejection of voices of people with disabilities, voices like mine, or will you make room for rider representation by requesting that Mayor Renner withdraw your name from consideration for nomination to the Connect Transit board?

We ask that you understand that this is not about you, but about our independence, quality of life, and our right to be heard and represented in decisions that impact us most. Please know the significance of your decision on our lives when considering our request, and contact us at citizenstoensurefairtransit@gmail.com by Monday, 6/10, to let us know what you decide.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Morsch
Citizens to Ensure Fair Transit

Howard Packowitz can be reached at howard.packowitz@cumulus.com

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