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ABLE files Title VI civil rights complaint


AUGUST 11, 2011

ABLE files Title VI civil rights complaint with the Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration alleging the City of Beavercreek's refusal to allow Dayton RTA bus stops near the Fairfield Commons Mall illegally discriminates against African Americans.

 
The following article, written by Mark Gokavi, appeared in the Dayton Daily News August 10, 2011. ABLE Attorney Stanley Hirtle is quoted in the article. Read the article below, or view on the DDN website.

Group alleges Beavercreek violated Civil Rights Act

A coalition of local churches announced Wednesday it has filed a complaint to federal agencies alleging the Beavercreek City Council violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by denying an application to install three public bus stops near the Mall at Fairfield Commons.

An attorney for Leaders for Equality and Action in Dayton Inc., or LEAD, held a press conference on the steps of the Tony Hall Federal Building in Dayton to announce that the council's March 28 vote to reject the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority's request for the bus stops near the mall constituted discrimination.

The group is calling on the Federal Highway Administration's Office of Civil Rights and the United States Department of Transportation to conduct a Title VI compliance investigation into the denial and Beavercreek's actions.

ABLE files Title VI civil rights complaint with the Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration alleging the City of Beavercreek's refusal to allow Dayton RTA bus stops near the Fairfield Commons Mall illegally discriminates against African Americans.


The following article, written by Mark Gokavi, appeared in the Dayton Daily News August 10, 2011. ABLE Attorney Stanley Hirtle is quoted in the article. Read the article below, or view on the DDN website.

Group alleges Beavercreek violated Civil Rights Act

A coalition of local churches announced Wednesday it has filed a complaint to federal agencies alleging the Beavercreek City Council violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by denying an application to install three public bus stops near the Mall at Fairfield Commons.

An attorney for Leaders for Equality and Action in Dayton Inc., or LEAD, held a press conference on the steps of the Tony Hall Federal Building in Dayton to announce that the council's March 28 vote to reject the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority's request for the bus stops near the mall constituted discrimination.

The group is calling on the Federal Highway Administration's Office of Civil Rights and the United States Department of Transportation to conduct a Title VI compliance investigation into the denial and Beavercreek's actions.

Title VI prohibits recipients of federal financial assistance from using that money in a way that has a discriminatory impact based on race, color or national origin.

"Beavercreek's denial of the RTA application has a disparate impact on mostly the minorities and African-Americans," said the Rev. Francis Tandoh, a Catholic priest and a LEAD representative who noted that more blacks in Dayton use public transportation to get to work. "It something that connotes segregation, something that connotes classism."

In March, Beavercreek's council voted 6-0 against approving three RTA stops near the mall and a new hospital. RTA currently services Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Wright State University.

Beavercreek City Attorney Stephen McHugh acknowledged receipt of the complaint and said: "No statement to the merits of the complaint is appropriate at this time."

Beavercreek Mayor Scott Hadley could not be reached for comment, and Vice Mayor Brian Jarvis said he wouldn't comment until he'd read the complaint and talked to McHugh.

Frank Ecklar, RTA's director of planning and marketing, said: "We heard from the community that they desired access to that area to access jobs, education and other trip destinations, including medical services at the new hospital that's going in. We did our due diligence and applied for the bus stops through the Beavercreek ordinance.

"We will certainly be keeping an eye on the progress of this particular complaint," he added.

The complaint — a 1-inch thick stack of documents — claims Beavercreek has received tens of millions of dollars in federal assistance since 1997, including a planned widening of the Interstate 675 bridge from Fairborn to Beavercreek, the same bridge people must walk over to get to Fairfield Commons from WSU since no RTA stop is available.

Attorney Stanley Hirtle of the Advocates for Basic Legal Equality Inc., or ABLE, said three affidavits from area job counselors show that the inability of African-American job seekers to obtain transportation to the Beavercreek area has been a major barrier to employment.

"By taking these funds from federal taxpayers to improve their city, the city of Beavercreek has agreed to comply with Title VI regulations," Hirtle said. "Title VI specifically precludes recipients from making determinations of locations of facilities, including public transit stops, which have the effect of discriminating on the basis of race."

During the March 28 council meeting, Council Member Vicki Giambrone, who is a former RTA employee, said: "To me, this is about three bus stops. This isn't about race. It isn't about any of those things. It's about three bus stops."

Earlier in the process, Giambrone said she was for approving the application and that the city couldn't stop the RTA from coming into the city, but only could designate design requirements for the stops. Those design requirements changed from meeting to meeting, including discussion about requiring heated and air-conditioned bus stops.

"You can look at what happened and think what you think about what their motives are," Hirtle said. "We don't allege what their motives are. We allege that it has a disparate impact on the minority communities in Dayton, because they can't get jobs, because they disproportionately rely on the bus to get to work."

LEAD said they plan a public demonstration at 3 p.m. Aug. 21 near Fairfield Commons.