What’s the More Pressing Issue: Ramps for Handicapped School Children, or Transportation?

Tim Kaine wants to focus the gubernatorial debate on transportation, which he rightly describes as the most important issue facing the electorate today. (See the article in Leesburg2day.) Right now, the only person consistently getting ink on transportation is Russ Potts, and he is degrading the debate through the mindless repetition of platitudes. But Jerry Kilgore doesn’t want to talk about transportation — he wants to talk about the Americans with Disabilities Act. Why? Because it’s a stick he can beat Kaine with.

The Kilgore campaign’s latest attack memo criticizes Kaine’s record for failing to get the city of Richmond schools into compliance with the Americans for Disabilities Act. The Richmond Times-Dispatch wrote about the problem. A study reported that it would cost $20 million to bring the schools to compliance. Most recently (since Kaine left office), a lawsuit in federal district court notes that only four of the city’s 60 schools meet ADA standards.

Kaine spokesperson Delacey Skinner told the Washington Post that the ADA problem was “not a problem that was ever brought to the attention of the city council or the mayor.” The Kilgore memo mocks Kaine: “He claims he didn’t know there was a problem. Leaders are supposed to know.”

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. It looks like the Kilgore campaign has found a “gotcha” issue that will put Kaine on the defensive. No Democrat wants to appear insensitive to the travails of the disabled. Kaine can’t win this one. But is this really an issue that Republicans can exploit? What is Kilgore suggesting — that Kaine should have spent the $20 million bringing all 60 Richmond city schools up to standard, ignoring all of the school system’s other pressing needs? Is Kilgore going to advocate spending hundreds of millions of dollars to bring schools across Virginia up to ADA standards today? I don’t think so. And I don’t think the electorate will either.

Jerry, go debate Kaine on transportation. It is the most important issue out there right now. I don’t care if you debate in a formal televised debate, or just through informal channels like your stump speeches, radio ads and e-mail missives. Just debate it.

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  1. Actually, Kilgore was responding to a Kaine attack (which was probably preemptive). The Kaine attack faulted Kilgore for filing a brief against a lawsuit by a disabled California man who wanted to practice medicine.

  2. Laszlo Avatar

    Depends on what you are riding in, a wheelchair or a car.

  3. What were Kaine’s priorities as Richmond’s Mayor?
    Kilgore will not dig in too far because then he will offend the same people that Kaine buddied up with.

    Hint: Those Broad Street white elephants are not going away.

  4. Salt Lick…you walked right into this one. I thought about letting it go, but alas, I couldn’t.

  5. Salt Lick Avatar
    Salt Lick

    Thanks for thinking of me, Paul, but you’ll have to find someone smarter than me, because I don’t get it.

    Except maybe you’re trying to sell me AFLAC?

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