Thursday, December 21, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Rescinds 25 Guidance Documents

Department of Justice

Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday, December 21, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Rescinds 25 Guidance Documents

Today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that, pursuant to Executive Order 13777 and his November memorandum prohibiting certain guidance documents, he is rescinding 25 such documents that were unnecessary, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper.

In making the announcement, the Attorney General said:

“Last month, I ended the longstanding abuse of issuing rules by simply publishing a letter or posting a web page. Congress has provided for a regulatory process in statute, and we are going to follow it. This is good government and prevents confusing the public with improper and wrong advice.”

“Therefore, any guidance that is outdated, used to circumvent the regulatory process, or that improperly goes beyond what is provided for in statutes or regulation should not be given effect. That is why today, we are ending 25 examples of improper or unnecessary guidance documents identified by our Regulatory Reform Task Force led by our Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand.  We will continue to look for other examples to rescind, and we will uphold the rule of law.”

In March, President Donald Trump issued Executive Order 13777, which calls for agencies to establish Regulatory Reform Task Forces, chaired by a Regulatory Reform Officer, to identify existing regulations for potential repeal, replacement, or modification. The Department of Justice Task Force, chaired by Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, began its work in May.

On November 17, the Attorney General issued a memorandum prohibiting DOJ components from using guidance documents to circumvent the rulemaking process and directed Associate Attorney General Brand to work with components to identify guidance documents that should be repealed, replaced, or modified.

The Task Force has already identified 25 guidance documents for repeal and is continuing its review of existing guidance documents to repeal, replace, or modify.

The list of 25 guidance documents that DOJ has withdrawn in 2017 is as follows:
  1. ATF Procedure 75-4.
  2. Industry Circular 75-10.
  3. ATF Ruling 85-3.
  4. Industry Circular 85-3.
  5. ATF Ruling 2001-1.
  6. ATF Ruling 2004-1.
  7. Southwest Border Prosecution Initiative Guidelines (2013). 
  8. Northern Border Prosecution Initiative Guidelines (2013). 
  9. Juvenile Accountability Incentive Block Grants Program Guidance Manual (2007).
  10. Advisory for Recipients of Financial Assistance from the U.S. Department of Justice on Levying Fines and Fees on Juveniles (January 2017).
  11. Dear Colleague Letter on Enforcement of Fines and Fees (March 2016).
  12. ADA Myths and Facts (1995).
  13. Common ADA Problems at Newly Constructed Lodging Facilities (November 1999).
  14. Title II Highlights (last updated 2008).
  15. Title III Highlights (last updated 2008).
  16. Commonly Asked Questions About Service Animals in Places of Business (July 1996).
  17. ADA Business Brief: Service Animals (April 2002).
  18. Prior Joint Statement of the Department of Justice and the Department of Housing and Urban Development Group Homes, Local Land Use, and the Fair Housing Act (August 18, 1999).
  19. Letter to Alain Baudry, Esq., with standards for conducting internal audit in a non-discriminatory fashion (December 4, 2009).
  20. Letter to Esmeralda Zendejas on how to determine whether lawful permanent residents are protected against citizenship status discrimination (May 30, 2012).
  21. Common ADA Errors and Omissions in New Construction and Alterations (June 1997).
  22. Common Questions: Readily Achievable Barrier Removal and Design Details: Van Accessible Parking Spaces (August 1996).
  23. Website guidance on bailing-out procedures under section 4(b) and section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (2004). 
  24. Americans with Disabilities Act Questions and Answers (May 2002).
  25. Statement of the Department of Justice on Application of the Integration Mandate of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Olmstead v. L.C. to State and Local Governments' Employment Service Systems for Individuals with Disabilities (October 31, 2016).
Office of the Attorney General Press Release Number: 17-1469 Updated December 22, 2017

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Transportation Changes

Be involved with transportation improvement in Memphis

Allison Donald

By Allison Donald
The Memphis Bus Riders' Union (MBRU) has been working diligently to get back the Crosstown 31 route, as well as asking for extended service hours on the weekends.  The campaign was largely successful because of community involvement.  If progress is going to continue, the disability community must get involved with the Memphis Bus Riders’ Union so that our issues with accessibility and MATAplus can be properly addressed and resolved.

The 31 Crosstown (Firestone) route is not the only change that will effect riders.  The changes from December 10 will impact the 7 Air Park, 11 Frayser/Raleigh, 12 Florida, 40 Wolfchase, 47 Shelby Farms, 56 Lamar, and 77 West Memphis bus routes. MATAplus is impacted by the fixed-route service changes; they will only operate at the same times and within three-quarters of a mile of the fixed-route.
Ms. Bobbie Fields has been riding MATAplus for more than thirty years.  Ms. Fields lives along the 7 Air Park bus route, and due to the changes MATA has made service has stopped on Sundays and limited travel times on Monday through Saturday.  

“I have to find alternative transportation on Saturdays, she said.  “The inconsistencies of when I am able to travel and where and how. It is clearly noted on my profile the type of vehicle that is needed to accommodate my trips.”  

Ms. Fields’ experience with MATAplus is all too common. We must get involved and stay informed and engaged about the changes that effect our ability to travel in Memphis as people with disabilities.

For more information, visit the MATA website at: or call the MATA Call Center hotline at 901-274-6282. Information specialists are available to assist with schedules and routing information from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday - Friday and from 7:30 am to 4 pm on Saturday. Please note that the MATA Call Center hours may vary on observed holidays.

If you     live in or near one of these areas and you ride MATAplus please call ahead at 901-722-7171 and listen to the prompt until you get the reservation line to find out if you are still within the service area.  Memphis Bus Riders Union meeting are held every second Saturday of the month from 12:00 to 200pm at the Cossitt Library.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Ramp access

Eagle Scouts volunteer for access in Memphis

By Tim Wheat
Eagle Scout Candidates help with the ramp
Over the weekend MCIL helped to provide needed access to one Memphian. The credit for this actually goes to local Eagle Scout volunteers who saw a need and provided all the labor to make a real difference in our community.

MATA had threatened to cut off service to a customer because they felt her ramp was dangerous. The ramp had wear and did not include a “curb rail” that would prevent her from possibly rolling off the ramp surface and under the handrail. 

Photos from the event: 

The local boy scouts, candidates for Eagle Scout, raised money for new materials for the ramp. They also designed a new structure that would be safer and solid for long-term use. MATA made MCIL aware of the problem and we put the Eagle Scouts in touch with the resident in Memphis.

MCIL and the Scouts are planning to coordinate on more of these projects and we expect that not only will the projects be helpful to people with disabilities in Memphis, but also helpful to the Eagle Scouts. This is one of the areas where there is a clear benefit to the community, and completely financed by the gifts and kindness of neighbors and friends.

The project was not easy. The Eagle Scouts used the good materials existing to build a strong structure. They cut and replaced all of the surface to be treated boards. This creates a solid surface that will not hold water and prevents the buildup of dirt. It is a lot stronger than the original ramp and will be good for a long time.

MCIL has a minor home modification program, but it has limited funds and must seek approval from the City of Memphis in a process that takes months. MCIL is looking to improve that program that is needed in Memphis.

Eagle Scout Candidates help with the ramp

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Transit and paratransit in Memphis

Take the Transportation Survey that is part of Memphis 3.0  

The ADA prohibits discrimination based on disability and requires accessibility in public transportation. In the past two decades since passage of the ADA, some progress has been made; however transportation options for people with disabilities remain unacceptably limited.  Mia R. Oberlink, reported in “Opportunities for Creating Livable Communities,” that of the nearly 2 million people with disabilities who never leave their homes, 560,000 never leave home because of transportation difficulties. 

Transportation and mobility play key roles in the struggle for civil rights and equal opportunity in the disability community. Affordable and reliable transportation allows people with disabilities access to important opportunities in education, employment, health care, housing, and community life.

Even though paratransit services are provided to people with disabilities in Memphis, problems still persist.  Restrictive eligibility criteria, unfair trip denials, tardiness, failure to show-up for a ride, slow service in route, drivers’ lack of respect for users and inefficient and unfriendly telephone reservation systems. The paratransit system administration also provides inaccurate information, fails to respond to complaints, provides inadequate training for drivers and uses punitive cancellation policies.  As a community we cannot and should not be expected to depend solely on the paratransit system to travel in Memphis. 

People with disabilities in Memphis need more accessible, affordable transportation options that bring employment, health care, education, housing, and community life within reach. It is important that the disability community continue show up the way we did during the last Memphis 3.0 survey period which took place earlier this fall.  Our concerns about the current state and future of public transportation in Memphis were ranked third with more than 30 people responding to the survey. 

 As a community of bus riders with and without disabilities, we will have to make decisions that will not only impact our transportation needs in the years ahead, but the bus riders for decades to come.  One of the key questions this report examines is if we want buses to run more frequently or do we want more neighborhoods covered. 
To read the complete report or become an ambassador for a Memphis 3.0 event you can visit: 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Pizza with Planners: Affordable Housing

Housing Trust Funds may help Memphis

By: Timothy Redd
Timothy Redd
On Tuesday November 14, 2017 I attended Pizza with Planners. The topic was affordable housing. There was a robust conversation about housing disparity and affordable housing in Memphis.

Justin Entzminger from Innovate Memphis walked us through the landscape the challenges Memphis faces. Some key things form the 2017 American Community Survey were:

  • Memphis has lost the highest amount of affordable housing nationally.
  • There are more renters than homeowners here, 53 % of people here rent which is an 11% increase.  
  • Research shows a correlation between housing and poor out comes related to mental and physical health, family stability, neighborhood sustainability
  • Low home ownership, low home values, and high vacancy add to high cost burden.

Michael Anderson, Center for Community Change Director told us about how housing trust funds could address and remedy the need for affordable housing. Housing trust funds are distinct funds established by city, county or state governments that receive ongoing dedicated sources of public funding to support the preservation and production of affordable housing. Housing trust funds can increase opportunities for families and individuals to access decent affordable homes. 

Today more than 770 housing trust funds have been established across 47 states contributing a 1.2 billion dollar revenue. Nashville has established one as well as Knoxville and it has helped people attain affordable housing. 

I think this is a great initiative we learned in many cities voters went to the ballot box and voted measured for affordable housing. I left the meeting thinking this could be a push in the right direction but I also was left wondering how we make housing trust funds happen here. To learn more about this initiative check out

Friday, November 10, 2017

Disability Awareness Committee

 Access and Abilities

By Christina Clift
On Thursday, November 9, 2017 the members of the Memphis Advisory Council for Citizens with Disabilities (MACCD) Disability Awareness Committee met to begin working on meeting their goals for 2018.  The committee established two main goals during the strategic planning meeting held back in August.  They include Holding a city-wide conference and creating a media and social media campaign that will emphasize the strengths and abilities of Memphians with disabilities.  

The committee also plans to work on improving the disaster preparedness policies in our city by looking at ways to improve communication during the event to all persons with disabilities.  Besides performing a postmortem of our Lifecare Planning Seminar, the committee worked to create action steps to begin planning a city-wide event in 2018.  We decided to table the media and social media campaign action plan until our January meeting.

The committee decided to hold the city-wide conference focusing on Access and Abilities either on September 19th or 26th of 2018.  The committee plans to ensure that this event is as hands-on and interactive as possible.  Some of the ideas for the event will include an assistive technology fair.  This event would not only demonstrate new devices or software that enable people with disabilities to do everyday activities, but also educating the public about the latest advancements in technology so that they can make informed choices.  

Our second area will be adaptive sports.  Again, not only will there be demonstrations but also an educational component about how to create adaptive sports programs in our community.  Next, we plan to have an obstacle course to simulate various types of disabilities.  This activity will provide attendees the opportunity to experience briefly how people with disabilities do everyday things like buttoning a shirt with one hand or getting something from a high shelf while seated in a wheelchair.  Finally, we will have several panel discussions related to the various activity areas.  While this event is not finalized, we hope to have a location and date nailed down by December 15, 2017 and will begin publicizing it by the end of January.

The next meeting of the Disability Awareness Committee is scheduled for January 11, 2018 from 1:00-2:30 PM.  If you’d like more information on how to join the committee or would like to provide input, please e-mail Christina Clift, the committee’s chair at or call (901) 726-6404 ext. 108.