Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pimp Our Ride

I have often said to my children, “don’t buy a car you can’t afford to maintain.”

Despite the eye rolling and moans of “daaaad” that usually accompany my sharing that wisdom, I happen to think it is very good advice. It simply and directly points out that the purchase cost of the car is only the beginning. Other associated costs such as gas, insurance, oil changes, etc., can quickly add up to an unmanageable burden.

For most of us, that point is obvious. For teenagers who have their eyes on purchasing a brand new Cadillac Escalade, not so much.

But if that simple advice is not heeded, and a teenager happens to purchase a new Escalade when he or she only has the means for a more modest vehicle, the day will soon come to pass where tough budget and lifestyle decisions will need to be made. Eventually the vehicle will need to be unloaded and replaced with something cheaper. Or maybe replaced with nothing at all, and it will be necessary to explore alternative forms of transportation.

Why am I bringing this up, other than to embarrass my kids? Well, as we enter 2010, the State of Colorado finds itself with a vehicle purchased decades ago that it simply cannot afford to maintain (and frankly has never had enough seating). That vehicle is the system of service provision and funding for individuals with developmental disabilities. This vehicle is dilapidated and unreliable, and there aren’t enough seats available for the all of the people who need a ride. Often, the vehicle cannot be driven – it has an operator. It operates on a track like an amusement ride – ending up right where you started.

In 2008, the ballot issue Amendment 51, designed to end the waitlist for services for people with developmental disabilities in Colorado was roundly defeated. Take a look at all the State counties that voted “no” here. So we know the taxpayers aren’t going to fix the old vehicle.

It is also extremely unlikely some other resource is going to come in and save this vehicle, a la “Pimp My Ride.”

Still, we can’t go on treating the vehicle like this:

We need to look at making some tough budget and lifestyle changes. Look at different vehicles. Consider alternative ways of traveling. We are in desperate need of finding ways to engage the State so they will consider a new vehicle for driving the DD system. The old model just won’t deliver anymore.

Then again, what do I know?

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