Our story about Lee Henson prompted several notes and letters. In this one, a Columbia disabilities community leader questions an important omission on the Mayor's Crime Task Force.COLUMBIA, Mo 9/7/13 (Guest Editorial) -- Thank you so much for the comments on Lee Henson and sharing one of his last thoughts. (LEE HENSON'S LAST SUGGESTION: A memo to the Mayor's Crime Task Force).
I knew Lee for many, many years. As you said, he was a "gentle soul" and always the optimist.
I have been particularly disappointed in the Mayor's appointments to the Task Force on Community Violence, mostly because it did not include a person with a disability.
Lee and I talked about this issue shortly before he became ill. I told him I would carry on the fight until he was able to join me again.
I have been in contact with task force co-chairs, City Council members Laura Nauser and Michael Trapp, as well as Mayor Bob McDavid.
Mrs. Nauser says she is looking into it, but they have all said the failure to appoint a person with a disability was an "oversight"!
Task force meetings are also scheduled on Wednesday nights, when Paratransit does not run late, which makes it impossible for most people in wheelchairs to attend and give public comment.
Meanwhile, my husband and I have been trying to get the Mayor to form a Public Safety Commission again. But all we keep hearing from our "City Fathers" is "it ain't gonna happen." Neither my husband nor I can figure out why.
We had a Public Safety Commission some years ago that my husband served on. It studied trends in Columbia related to safety. It was disbanded because of lost funding, but had it still been in effect, we may have been able to spot this uptick in gang violence long before it became the big problem it is now.
Why we do not have a permanent Public Safety Commission is truly a mystery. Lately, we have heard that it may come out of the Mayor's Task Force as a recommendation in November 2014, when their findings are due. But that is really too long to wait.
So, as I promised Lee, I will continue the fight, and be as positive and optimistic as possible, in his memory.
Thank you again for doing the piece on Lee and for adding links to the stories he sent you. I, and a lot of other people really appreciate it, and I know his wife, children, and grandkids do also!
Services for Independent Living
Columbia Disabilities Commission, Commissioner
Columbia Transit Commission, Commissioner