Beavercreek, a predominantly white suburb of Dayton, Ohio, is willing to risk millions in federal highway funding as long as it can keep bus riders from Dayton out of their community.
Why are they doing this?
While Beavercreek is mostly white, 73% of the population of Dayton are minorities.
The showdown began in 2010 when the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority proposed adding three new bus stops in Beavercreek, about eight miles east of Dayton.
The plan made perfect sense from a transportation planning point of view.
These new stops would give Dayton bus riders access to Beavercreek’s major shopping mall, a medical clinic, and several schools and businesses. But first the plan had to be approved by the city administration and city council.
Bus Stops Subject to a Dozen Regulations
The Beavercreek City Council got to work at once to ensure the plan would never come to fruition. They came up with a dozen regulations that would have to be met, including heating and air conditioning the bus shelters; 18-inch concrete-pad platforms (larger than the most heavily used stops in the city, which are about 10-inches thick); and state-of-the-art surveillance cameras at the shelters. In other words, conditions not typical of most bus stops, either in the city or the suburbs.
To no one’s surprise, these demands couldn’t be met and the council rejected the expansion.
This is the same spirit of discrimination that brought about the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision on June 25 to declare Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional, thereby gutting voting protections for millions of Americans, particularly elderly, poor, female and minority voters.
That same sense, of us versus them, was also very much present when Larry Arnn, President of Michigan’s Hillsdale College, referred to any students who weren’t white like him as “dark ones.”
Yet city council members in Beavercreek maintain their decision to reject the bus stop application had nothing to do with race or denial of access to transportation.
From Eye On Ohio:
“We turned downed an application because they didn’t meet our (design) criteria,” said (council member) Scott Hadley, noting that Beavercreek shouldn’t be forced by others to do something it doesn’t want to do.
“I don’t mind stops if they’re done properly. We’re not trying to build a wall to stop people from coming into Beavercreek,” he said. “They can come in buses or carloads, I don’t care. That’s not what this is about.”
When asked what the issue is about, he said, “I don’t want to get into that.”
Public Transport a Right, Not a Privilege
A local civil rights group, Leaders for Equality in Action in Dayton (LEAD), filed a discrimination lawsuit against Beavercreek. On June 13, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWY) ruled that Beavercreek’s actions were indeed discriminatory and ordered them to work with the Dayton Regional Transit Authority to get the bus stops approved without delay.
However, as ThinkProgress puts it:
Beavercreek, though, isn’t particularly keen to do that. The city council voted most recently on Friday to put off consideration of the matter until later this month. They are weighing whether to appeal the federal ruling, or perhaps whether to just defy it altogether. Appealing the ruling could cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, according to a Washington D.C. lawyer the council hired. However, non-compliance with the ruling could cost Beavercreek tens of millions of dollars in federal highway funds.
How sad to see the city council of Beaverbrook fighting so hard to keep their African-American neighbors from entering their community.
This is a particularly nasty case of discrimination, since public transport is the only transport available to many people, especially racial and ethnic minorities, as well as the disabled. In addition to being better for the environment, public transport should be considered a right, not a privilege.
Samuel Gresham, executive director of Common Cause, a citizen’s lobbying group in Columbus, puts it well:
“If I don’t have access to a job, then my ability to sustain myself and my family are reduced,” he said. For seniors, the disabled, and low-income people, he said, lack of a car affects access to jobs, schools, doctors and voting.
Shame on you, Beavercreek.
Photo Credit: thinkstock
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