Posted: November 13, 2012
Reporter: TaMaryn Waters
November 13, 2012
Florida has more than 3.5 million residents living with disabilities, many of whom have no way of pumping fuel at gas stations, using controls or gripping the nozzle on their own.
Leon County commissioners took a good faith effort Tuesday to remedy the problem with a proposed ordinance requiring a special decal be placed at gas pumps with a phone number for someone with disabilities to call for a gas station attendant’s help, even if it’s a self-service station. Logistics on how the change would affect stations with only one employee working were discussed, but no action was made.
After hearing comments from J.R. Harding, a quadriplegic and disability expert, commissioners decided to hold off on approving a local law until they heard more from those with disabilities, seniors and gas station employers. They also wanted to publicly notice a suggested change to add hours of operation to the decal.
“Right now, I can’t get gas, and I have no way to get help,” Harding said, who drives a minivan. “I salute their initiative but the proposed ordinance didn’t solve the problem.”
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners debated for more than an hour and a half on several findings in a management review of the Council on Culture & Arts and how to go forward. For COCA, 81 percent of its operating budget is supported by money from Leon County and the city of Tallahassee.
Confusion ran high among commissioners. Some didn’t embrace a staff recommendation to conduct an internal audit on COCA’s policies and finance practices, which came with a recommendation to also pull in the city.
Some commissioners said they were puzzled, not to mention concerned, with the approach used by the staff and COCA to determine findings in the 491-page report several months in the making. For example, one issue came down to what method the county and COCA used to determine conclusions about COCA’s operations.
However, most of the commission felt confident about the county’s approach, and COCA didn’t take issue with all of the findings.
The commission voted 4-2 to accept the management review, move forward with an internal audit and relay findings on the grant process to go before the newly relaunched committee tasked with revamping the master Cultural Plan. Commission Chairman Akin Akinyemi and Commissioner John Dailey voted in opposition.
“This is a necessary discussion so everyone was very patient,” Akinyemi said, adding he didn’t believe an additional audit was necessary. “It was that important to us that we look at this very thoroughly. I’m glad we were able to reach some consensus, but I still disagree with some of the recommendations.”