By: Diane Benjamin
Remember this story from a year ago? https://blnnews.com/2018/07/11/not-the-right-fit-tari/
The City of Bloomington was accused of ignoring attempts to locate an outpatient clinic in Bloomington to serve Veterans.
Yesterday there was a VERY high level meeting in Bloomington. Here is a list of who attended. The DC reps would have been here themselves if Congress had not been in session:
1. Rep Lahood office Mike Gilmore
2. Rep. Davis office staff Tyle Cravens
3. Mark Serbiak VA Danville
4. Sen. Barickman plus assistant
5. Rep Dan Brady plus assistant
6. Alderwomen Donna Boelen 2nd Ward (via email conference)
7. Steve Holt Dist 2 AMVETS Commander
8. Robert Stuebinger AMVETS State Commander
9. Melissa VA Danville Public Relations
10 Shelly Perry Connect Transit
11. Dave White Connect Transit
12, Kathy Rutledge AMVETS Post Commander 270
15. Jimmy Operations Director VFW Post 454
16 Ron Moorehead Laborers Union
17. Jesse Ray Professor Veterans Affairs Illinois State University
18. Art Rodriguez McLean County VAC & AMVETS Post 270
Here’s who didn’t bother to show up:
Jerry Vogler McLean County VAC (Veterans Assistance Commission)
City of Bloomington No Mayor and no City Manager
Sen. Bill Brady Out of town no representation
VAC is the Veterans Assistance Commission through the County and funded with tax dollars.
What was the meeting about?
The new clinic will not be ADA compliant because Connect Transit can’t drop riders at the door. In fact, they want to drop them 120 yards away, after constructing a shelter of course.
The sidewalks are not usable by anyone in a wheelchair or with difficulty walking. Winter will be fun when they are covered with snow and ice.
The meeting was expected to last an hour, it lasted three. The rep from the Laborers Union offered to fix the sidewalks for free. With no representatives from the City of Bloomington, that offer couldn’t be conveyed or discussed.
Go back farther to when the City engineers had to approve plans for the facility. Nobody from Bloomington gave the plans to Connect Transit. Connect wasn’t aware of this new site and the needs of veterans to access it until a few months ago at most. They only became aware because a VAC member told them. The same person called the City of Bloomington and talked to Nora Dukowitz. She told him Tari couldn’t attend but she would have Connect’s Issac Thorne call him. Thorne never called. Note he didn’t attend, he sent his people.
The people invited to this meeting had almost 2 weeks notice.
The VA assumed patients would be dropped off at the door. They didn’t know Connect’s monstrosities can’t navigate parking lots.
Quote from an attendee: “Dumpsters and linen trucks will have better access than veterans”.
Numerous veterans groups met for another two hours after this meeting. They are threatening a lawsuit to stop the opening if these issues can’t be worked out rapidly. The clinic was expected to open this month.
If anyone from Bloomington had cared, the issues mentioned could already be in the process of being solved.
Evidently Nora didn’t care enough to get a City rep there. Did Tim Gleason even know about the meeting?
I do know Donna Boelen has been talking to the vets. Maybe she can get somebody at the City to care about veterans.
With the elimination of the Olive route, one of these wheelchair bound veterans will have to travel around a mile to catch a bus. Obviously serving the people needing the bus isn’t why Connect Transit exists. The huge buses are further proof service is immaterial.
The VA thinks up to 3000 veterans a month with be treated. Even if veterans could access the mobility service, Connect wasn’t sure they could serve them.
Will the City of Bloomington care now?