Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Tea with Tait -- Wednesday: Cup No. 3

Thirteen minutes may seem long for a video. But not this one. A father's love for his son ... Enjoy!

 Click here to sign a petition against a new Disabled Adult Transportation System policy 

 Click here for an on-line quote from Challenge Insurance in Edmonton

The Wednesday Camburger: Does DATS think Edmontonians with disabilities are NOT busy?

There are many different angles to share about the new Disabled Adult Transportation System policy, which is scheduled to roll through Edmonton streets Sept. 1. DATS users are being asked to cancel rides two hours before their scheduled pick-ups, 90 minutes more than tee current half-hour cancellation policy. Today, let’s discuss the possible perception DATS administration has of Edmontonians with disabilities: that we are really not that busy.

Perhaps such at attitude still exists from decades ago when people with disabilities were yet to be mainstreamed into employment and school programs. So maybe an outing could be cancelled two hours before a trip because folks didn’t have many things going on. Over the years, though, people with disabilities garnered more services which increased our independence. We became part of the community and our lives became busier.

It’s somewhat frustrating to understand why such an integral support system — transportation — is taking away from our independence. People with disabilities in Edmonton have busy lives. In today’s fast-pace society we need the flexibility to make changes at the last second. Now, under the new two-hour cancellation policy, if we don’t comply within the given time frame, we will be sent a letter from DATS, slapping our wrists. I am sorry, but this isn’t fair.

We have launched a petition against the implementation of the two-hour policy. If you want to show your support, please sign it.

Monday, 29 July 2013

The Monday Cam-burger: MISSION - 500 names on DATS petition by Friday (PLEASE CLICK ON THE HEADLINE FOR MORE!!)

We started a petition against the City of Edmonton Friday, asking them to stop a new policy for the Disabled Adult Transportation System starting Sept. 1. DATS is asking users to cancel their rides two hours before their scheduled pick up. The cancelation policy, as it stands now, is 30-minutes.

As a DATS user (I have cerebral palsy and use a wheelchair) I feel this takes independence and dignity away. I have been disabled my entire life and I feel the new two-hour policy could very well limit what I can and can’t do. I wonder, too, how people who are newly disabled and now use DATS. They need all the re-enforcements and positive policies to help them adjust to their new lifestyles to be contributing community members. I have to seriously wonder what the two-hour policy could do to their incentive.

The other thing concerning me is the lack of consultation DATS had with the users and why they would rely on research from Dallas and Seattle — not much snow there, folks — and enforce the a two-hour policy in Edmonton.

Let’s aim for 500 names by Friday to give the petition a boost. If we can make that statement we can go to the City of Edmonton. And you never know what could happen from there?

Tuesday, July 29 - Cam ' Eggs

Friday, 26 July 2013

Tea with Tait: When a friend has a good day...(PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL POST)

I am really happy this evening for a friend of mine who is getting a chance to do something he loves to do. And, selfishly, I am thrilled he will be in town for a while, because, even though I don’t see him as often as I would like, I have been worried he might leave town. I’m talking about Mark Scholz. I met Mark in the fall of 1997 when he came to Edmonton from Halifax to Edmonton to co-host The Big Breakfast (remember that?) on A-Channel.  Mark and I started sharing time together and formed a great friendship. I can honestly say he is like a brother to me and we have had a few special times together.

Mark is a great drummer. My father played clarinet in a small “orchestra”  — Dad’s words — in Saskatchewan. Dad loved telling stories and Mark loved listening. When Dad passed away Mark was a pallbearer; when my mother passed on Mark and I drove to the funeral together. We’ve travelled together and have had many, many laughs together.

I also know Mark as a very talented broadcaster. I never understood why Mark and A-Channel parted ways. He free-lanced for CBC Radio for several years, but nothing permanent. Until this morning: that’s when 630 CHED announced Mark and J'lyn Nye will co-host the 630 CHED Afternoon News starting Aug. !9. The duo will fill in the 2 to 6 p.m. Time slot, while, in another move announced by the station, Dan Tencer and Andrew Grose have been given the keys to the 9 a.m. to 12 noon slot.

Mark is a dear friend. And any time a friend has a good day, so do I. 


A petition against lack of communication with people with disabilities — revised Friday at 5:15 p.m.

We’ve started a petition today against the Disabled Adult Transportation System on their new policy, set to roll into gear Sept. 1. DATS is changing their cancellation policy from 30 minutes to two hours without any consultation with their users. We petitioning the policy — and the lack of communication DATS had with their users: they only shared the news in the DATS newsletter — after the policy was changed.

We’ve seen this lack of consultation rodeo before. In June, Alberta Health Services made wide sweeping changes to home care without — you guessed it — any consultation. In fact, (I know from personal experience as I am a home care user) when existing home care programs were asked to submit proposals, we were told if we called our MLA or the media our proposal could very well be disqualified. Why does the word bullying comes to mind?

Perhaps we’re seeing a trend. I think we need to make a statement and encourage all levels of government to have better consultation with people with disabilities before making significant changes. But, first things first: the DATS policy. If we get enough signatures by Aug. 1 on the lack of consultation with users on the new DATS cancellation policy we will deliver the petition to Edmonton City Council. One never knows: maybe City Council will reverse DATS cancellation policy. After all, we will have talked to people to get their input. 

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

DATS not the way to show respect when making changes

Brenda Lewis made a comment which sums up our Monday meeting with Deanna Crozier, director of the Disabled Adult Transportation System.
"I hate being belittled and having more and more restrictions that are demeaning and break my spirit,” Brenda, a long-time DATS user. We met with Deanna to discuss why DATS is implementing a new policy where users have to cancel their rides two hours in advance starting Sept. 1.

With the city of Edmonton growing as well as specific needs of some DATS users with kidney issues and users with dementia, DATS is trying to get more trips. And while that is fair, the way DATS conveyed the message is not. There were two very vague statements in two DATS newsletters: the most recent being 121 words explaining the policy is changing. There was no mention of DATS participation in a 2010 peer review by the American Public Transportation Association with representatives from Calgary, Ottawa, Seattle and Dallas since January 2011. I find it curious Edmonton does not have the same climate as, say, Seattle and Dallas, in the winter — yet they are implementing a two-hour cancellation policy as the U.S. cities.

This information certainly should have been shared with DATS users. Absolutely. On Wednesday morning in an e-mail exchange, Deanna said “more information will be added to the DATS page of the ETS website, an August e-Bulletin will be sent to e mail users, a “Cancellation Bulletin” will be distributed on the DATS vehicles in August, and additional information will be in the September, 2013.”

Mayor Stephen Mandel
The story has drawn the attention of mayor Stephen Mandel. His office contacted me Monday afternoon the Mayor will meet with DATS to ask how the policy was compacted to the public and “and how they plan to deal with the implications and inconvenience to DATS users.”

This story is far from over. I respectfully ask that you vote on the poll on the right side of the post. Because people with disabilities are being bullied by DATS and it must be stopped. I give the last word to Brenda Lewis.

"We are not second, third or fourth class citizens but you wouldn't know it by the disregard and disrespect we are shown fairly often. If they listened to their clientele, who have no other option for transportation they might find some common ground — but the fact is, they never listen. This is only the tip of the iceberg of deterioration."

July 24 - Cam 'n Eggs

Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. 

—Robert Louis Stevenson

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Welcome to Tea with Tait, the first cup

Part of the excitement of a reporter is to make some educated guesses about an upcoming announcement. So we’re going to have some fun right now and speculate — isn’t that a great word? — on who might be in the announcer’s chair at 630 CHED in the 9 a.m. To noon spot soon. It’s been vacant since Dave Rutherford, who was scheduled to retire at the end of this month, was taken off the air in June. Rutherford criticized QR77 in Calgary for their coverage of the flooding in southern Alberta. Management wasn’t impressed. 

QR77 named the replacements for Rutherford earlier this month: Roger Kingkade and Erin Kelly in take over the mid-morning slot Aug. 19, giving the show a local flavour. Rutherford was carried on 630 CHED in Edmonton and CHED has yet to make an announcement. So let’s have some fun. We’re going to keep the theme of two co-hosts, one woman and one men and see who might make a good fit. 

Ladies first. 

CHED might want to keep things in-house, moving J’yLn Nye from FRESH-FM — a sister station of CHED — into the job. Nye has a ton of experience from her television gig as late-night anchor on Global. She’s personal and has a lot of energy and has done a great job filling in after Rutherford left. 

Eileen Bell reads the afternoon news on CHED and has one of the best voices is town. She knows the right questions to ask and when to ask them. Bell has been around Edmonton for almost three decades and has a great sense of community. 

OK, men … 

Dan Tencer does a great job in the evenings with Inside Sports and with Edmonton Oiler broadcasts on CHED. He’s a great talent. Does he want a shot at a news talk show? You have to wonder. 

If CHED wants to go outside of the building, how about Mark Scholz? He proved he has the stuff it takes for live television and radio. Scholz came to Edmonton in 1997 and was a co-host of the Big Breakfast on A-Channel where he gained vast popularity. He has also worked for CBC AM in town. 

If I were a betting man, and I’m not (right honey?) — but here’s my vote.



The Cam-Burger: A Royal Reminder

I have never been a Royal Watcher (so I may be in error capitalizing both words) so the media treatment of the birth of the new baby in London is a little curious to me. I understand the deep tradition of the monarch and I respect what they represent. But all the hype, the excitement and the media coverage … well, I don’t understand.

I do understand anticipation, though. We need to celebrate the wonderful untapped potential we all have as we make our way through life. Some of us saunter; others gallop, while others trudge through daily activities. Whatever speed we have, we’re members of communities — local, nationally and internationally — and we bring countless skills, talents and opinions. Perhaps, then, that’s what we should be celebrating today.

We need to view the new son to Prince William and Kate as a reminder of the millions of new babies who are born every day.  We need to be challenged by this: to remind ourselves we to embrace every new child as much as we can and give them everything we can — and more — so they can succeed. We need to view them with limitless optimism; for they are our future … regardless or not if they become king one day.


Monday, 22 July 2013

A ray of sunshine from the Edmonton Eskimos

Jonathon Crompton

It’s a rainy, rainy Monday morning in Edmonton and with the Eskimos falling to 31-21 Saturday, there might not be much motivation to put things in gear as we trudge ahead for the week. The Eskimos were beat by the B.C. Lions and slid to 1-3 on the season. But there are a few positive things.

The Esks scored 21 points. That’s 18 more than a week ago when they fell 19-3 to the Lions. But there was something I saw and his name is Jonathan Crompton. He’s a quarterback who came in relief of Mike Reilly in the final few minutes of the fourth quarter. In his first drive, he got the hurry up offence on the go, and on his first drive, Crompton engineered a touchdown. Given the situation the performance was impressive. 

And so the question begs to be asked: could Crompton be the starting quarterback Thursday when the Eskimos visit the Allouettes in Montreal? I would really like to see that. It would be a wonderful challenge for Crompton, and it might give the Eskimos the shot in the arm they need. The team has struggled at the quarterback position, and, who knows? Crompton could be it — proving, yet again, heroes are not born, but made … even in the rain.



Saturday, 20 July 2013


The voice of Telus Field this weekend

Senior baseball players from eight Alberta teams are experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime experience this weekend at Telus Field. As the 2013 Blue Willow Invitational continues through Sunday evening, players will experience playing on a professional field, under the lights and precious time in dug-outs. But the players aren’t the only ones getting the real feel of what it’s like in the Big Leagues. Right, Jordan Schell?
Jordan Schell

Jordan has been the assistant coach of the Edmonton Blackhawks for more than 10 years. Under Blackhawk head coach Randy Gregg Jordan has seen his players, who are the same age as him, develop over the years. Jordan is a dynamic young man who follows his passion: that’s why he is with the Blackhawks this weekend — not as  a coach, but as the P.A. Announcer.

Randy says Jordan did a bang up job as the announcer last year when the tournament was held at Foote Field. He will be in the announcer’s booth in the Telus Field press box, and Randy says he has all the songs figured out for the Blackhawks when they walk up to bat from the clubhouse. It’s yet another example of Jordan being able to contribute and being a part of a team; and how he continues to treat being in a wheelchair due to muscular dystrophy as a characteristic of who he is … rather than a disability.


Saturday, July 20
Game 3 - 8 AM – Cold Lake Cardinals vs Heisler Cardinals
Game 4 – 10 AM – Rocky Red Dogs vs Fort McMurray Pirates
Game 5 – 12 PM – Loser Game 1 vs Loser Game 3
Game 6 - 2 PM – Loser Game 2 vs Loser Game 4
Sunday, July 21
Game 7 - 10 AM – Winner Game 1 vs Winner Game 3
Game 8 – 5:30pm – Winner Game 2 vs Winner Game 4
Game 9 – 7:30 PM – Championship Game – Winner Game 7 vs Winner Game 8


Thursday, 18 July 2013

The Cam-burger: Edmonton Prospects need to fold their tent at Telus Field

  The Edmonton Prospects don’t deserve to play at such a high-calibre as Telus Field. Because for the second consecutive season the Prospects are ending their 46-game schedule without their coach who began the year. Sometime last week Prospect manager Cameron McMullen left the team. We’re seeing a pattern here: last mid-July John Sutherland was fired or quit — doesn’t really matter, though — leading to a mass exit of players, forcing the team to forfeit a game. They had to scrounge and recruit enough players for their remaining games. I can’t help but wonder if some of the current Prospect players might be already thinking about high-tailing it before the end of the season. 

The team is laughable. Their owner Pat Cassidy isn’t going to fire the team’s manager, Tracy Neumann because (but sshh!!! —don’t tell anyone) they’re married. Wouldn’t that be fun over a family Sunday dinner? It’s not even funny how this baseball club has been run, and speaking of baseball, they can’t even play. After Wednesday’s loss, their Western Major Baseball League record is 6-31. Interestingly, they only won six games last season. 

 The Prospects are doing more harm than good: what kind of an atmosphere have they created for their players? How are they going to recruit when they they can’t coaches? How are they helping the baseball image in Edmonton, a city pining for a credible baseball team — or, for that matter, a baseball team at all? Let’s hope there’s professional baseball in Edmonton next year so local baseball fans don’t have to put up with the Edmonton Prospects.



Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The first Edmonton election issue on disability begins ... NOW!

On Tuesday we shared the new policy the Disabled Adult Transportation wants to shift into gear Sept. 1 and have users cancel their rides two hours in advance. We received many emails and tweets from users who are very unhappy with the decision, claiming — and rightly so — their independence is being taken away. We also received an e-mail from DATS director Deanna Crozier asking for a meeting. She said she wants to explain the system wants to do more trips. But at what cost? Clearly, someone will lose out. We’ll find out more after the Monday meeting.

The very fact DATS is trying to make such a policy is another example of people with disabilities, perhaps, being too complacent. As a person with a disability, and a DATS user, I think we need to change the perception politicians and bureaucrats have. A classic example of this was how the provincial government and Alberta Health Services made sweeping changes to home care without consulting users. They felt they could do this because, after all, who would object? 

They were wrong. They awoke a sleeping giant, and the responses to the changes spoke volumes. Perhaps, then, the City of Edmonton felt they could do the same thing with this ridiculous new two-hour policy. They might have a fight on their hands. Because, as a very well-respected DATS user pointed out on the bus Tuesday, there’s a civic election in Edmonton in the fall. The new policy comes into effect Sept. 1. So, let’s make the official proclamation right now: people with disabilities in Edmonton are making the new DATS cancellation a election issue. Try steamrolling us now, folks.

TWITTER @camtait

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

July 16

The July 15 Cam-burger: DATS going in reverse with new policy

The recent announcement from the Disabled Adult Transportation System about a new policy coming into effect Sept. 1 is a sad reflection in today’s society. DATS is changing their late cancel policy from 30 minutes to two hours.
The reasoning: DATS officials say they can schedule a ride for someone who cancels But two hours prior in advance? C’mon. Let’s be real. And, if you do not cancel within that two-hour time frame you get marked a no-show: even if you cancel, say, 60 minutes before your ride. And if you get three no-shows, you could be suspended from the service.

How lovely. This is an insult to the independence of people with disabilities in Edmonton. So we have questions. Does that mean if you’re working, you have to go to the boss 2 1/2 hours before you’re scheduled to go home to see if you have to work late? Does that mean you can’t go the extra mile and stay when the boss gives you a project they need done at the end of the day? Does this mean if you’re having such a good time at a social outing that you want to stay, you have to make that decision two hours in advance? Where’s the spontaneity here?

And what if you are on one of those 90-minute DATS rides, getting to your destination a half hour before you’re scheduled to return? Does this mean you only have 30 minutes at your destination because you didn’t call in the two-hour window? It is indeed most curious, considering we live in a society where we can get updated information by the second and DATS is going in reverse, asking their clients for an unreasonable amount of notice. Someone within the City of Edmonton needs to apply the brakes to this, sooner than later.


Cam 'n Eggs: A chance to be a leader

 Rona Ambrose starts her new tenure as federal health minister today and Alberta politicians and bureaucrats should be watching her every move. Ambrose has the exciting opportunity of being a wonderful role model. The timing, for Alberta, could’t be be better. To say Alberta’s health system is on shaky ground right now is putting it mildly — and is in need of someone showing them the way. Ambrose can do that.

The Spruce Grove MP was a part of prime minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet shuffle Monday and was appointed health minister. The portfolio is, indeed, a challenging one given the aging population and making sure there are enough resources to go around without taking health services away from anyone. It requires a plan, but it also takes even more compassion. And that’s where the Alberta government and Alberta Health Services failed: the recent home care changes were done, by and large, without any consultation with users. That wasn’t fair.

Because Ambrose is from Alberta, she can have an impact — even though she has federal jurisdiction. Her initiatives  can be shared provincially. This is not to say, by any means, Ambrose is a shoe-in as someone who will go down in history as a champion for government run health care. But she has a chance. And on this Alberta morning, with a very fragile health system, perhaps that is reason enough to be optimistic.
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Why the Disabled Adult Transportation System is in reverse

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Monday, 15 July 2013

Cam's Community Cause - July 14

Cam-burger: Eskimos show lack of respect

 He huffed and puffed, Kavis Reed did, during his post-game press conference Saturday, and blew the assembled media down. (Look at the end of the post and you will see yourself.) The Edmonton Eskimos dismal performance Saturday night against the B.C. Lions — a 17-3 loss — is another sign the once mighty Canadian Football League team is in a deep slide. And maybe that’s the reason I am cannot get very excited about the Esks these days.

Penalties. They were a huge reason why the Eskimos lost their second consecutive home game of the season. Eleven penalties for 103 yards. One hundred and three yards. Isn’t that more than the entire length of the football field? From unnecessary roughness infractions to roughing the passer, a somewhat disturbing trend is unfolding.  In three games the Eskimos have been penalized 41 times for 330 yards. No gold stars here.

Rick LeLacheur
Forget lack of discipline. It’s lack of respect, period. It’s a football team out of control with — for whatever reason — arrogance. But for what? Winning the Grey Cup last year? Nope. Not even posting a winning record last year with a 7-11 showing. Ever since Rick LeLacheur retired as president, I have felt a disconnect between the front office and the fans. Look at the number of good, qualified people who left the organization. Long-time vice-president of communications Dave Jamieson left the team just two weeks into the season last year. Trouble in paradise? Absolutely. Somewhere down the road the Eskimos have forgotten how well their grass-roots foundation of the franchise worked. The arrogance of the front office has spread on to the field. Kavis Reed has the daunting task of cleaning it all up — something, clearly, he should not have to do.


(Interesting note: The Eskimos removed this from their website but the CFL did not)

Twiter @camtait

Cam 'n Eggs: Why Brad Bartko is smiling

Brad Bartko
Brad Bartok is probably still smiling this morning — and so he should. Brad has an on-line radio show every Sunday evening for an hour and last night he conducted a very smart 18-minute interview with Edmonton Oiler GM Craig MacTavish. Pretty darn impressive for the Spruce Grove son who attended NAIT’s Radio and Television Arts program. 

Craig MacTavis
 But here’s what really impresses me about Brad: he isn’t just sitting in front of his computer and turning on the microphone. He’s out there making contacts. Brad went out to Oiler development camp last week in Sherwood Park and introduced himself to MacTavish. He told MacT about the show and arranged the interview. Brad asked some of the hard questions: how do you start a trade, what was it like trading Shawn Horcoff to the Dallas Stars, and is he planning to move Ales Hemsky. 

 I first met Brad several years ago and was inspired by his motivation. He has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. But his knowledge of sports and keen mind — and a great wit — is painting him a bright, bright future. He’s already closing in on 100 radio shows giving him reason to smile even more.
Brad with Kevin Karius of Global Television


The disrespectful ways of the Edmonton Eskimos