DEC 4, 1995 XX Dear XX


I am responding to your letter to President Clinton regarding section 35 of the general business law of the State of New York, as amended in 1991. Please excuse the delay in responding. As we understand it, section 35 permits cities with a population in excess of one million people to apply laws governing street vendors to disabled veterans on the same basis as those laws apply to others. You complain that section 35 has taken away the jobs of disabled veterans in New York City. The Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division is responsible, among other things, for the implementation of title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities, including State and local governments. Under title II, public entities are required to ensure that people with disabilities have the opportunity to participate in, or benefit from, the programs, services, and activities that the public entity provides. Title II does not require a public entity to establish programs that provide benefits for people with disabilities that are not available to others. Because section 35 of the general business law of the State of New York subjects persons with disabilities to the same requirements applied to others, it does not appear to violate the ADA. Therefore, the Department of Justice is unable to assist you in this matter. Sincerely, John L. Wodatch Chief Disability Rights Section

01-04089 August 26, 1995 The Honorable William Clinton President of the United States 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Washington, DC 20500 Dear President Clinton: The disabled veterans of New York City have been betrayed! We have been betrayed by the Legislature of New York State, the governor, the City of New York and it's mayor for the recent passage of a permanent law that allows and encourages the discrimination of the state's disabled veterans who had chosen to earn their livelihoods as vendors. Please note that it was the effort of street vendors in the 19th and early 20th centuries who founded such retail giants as Macy's. Gimbels and Fortunoff among others. Of course, these were American white and European immigrants who had the opportunity to succeed as street vendors. Back in 1894 the New York State Legislature passed a law allowing disabled veterans to peddle their merchandise throughout the state without restriction. In 1991, the rich and powerful Fifth Avenue Association led by it's President, Tom Cusick, bought the support of the legislature through the deep pockets of the organization and via many lies, distortions and half-truths (concerning we disabled veteran vendors) and had a law passed which severely restricted the opportunity to make a living of the disabled veterans of New York City. This bill had a four year sunset provision. On July 1, the bill was made permanent. Prior to the passage of the law in 1991, more than forty disabled veterans had been able to work themselves from a state of

homelessness thanks to the opportunity provided by that law. With the passage they were suddenly thrust back into that tragic state of homelessness. Still others were forced onto the welfare roles because they were no longer able to earn enough in the streets to provide for themselves and their families. At least five others are now dead as a result of the legislation. One committed suicide because he was no longer able to provide for his family. The jobs promised by the Fifth Avenue Association of Doormen, Stock Clerks and Security Guards paid no more than poverty-level wages of twice minimum wage. After taxes, these men could not afford to care for their families or offer their children any hope for the future. As a result of this legislation, many families were torn apart! Further, those few vets who chose to accept the positions offered by the Fifth Avenue Association members were dismissed from those jobs within a few weeks of their hiring. It is an acknowledged fact that many Vietnam vets were so emotionally scarred from the war in Vietnam that they are very limited in their ability to do much more than survive. So, peddling was just about all many of them could do and do well.

01-04090 Thus, several of the few who took the jobs with Fifth Avenue Association members, were just incapable of handling the traditional job. For others, there are indications that the working conditions were so poor that they were literally driven from the job. I suspect that Fifth Avenue Association members were told to hire these vets for a few weeks, then terminate them. In my case, I was promised a Manager In Training position with XX in September 1992. That 12 week training was to lead to either a Manager position in a small XX or an Assistant Manager position in a XX . In nearly three years, I have yet to receive that training. In spite of the years of managerial experience I have as an Officer in the Air Force, a MBA degree and years of experience as a manager following my graduate study, XX has failed to make good on its agreement with me. I, on the other hand have gone above and beyond the agreement for XX . I have developed and created several programs including two successful seminar series for my store which have significantly increased

sales, store traffic and the store's stature in the community. Yet, over the past year and a half, numerous persons have been accepted into the Manager In Training program and have received a portion of their training in our store. Further, several members of the staff from my store have been selected to receive the management training. I continue to be passed over. I think there is a blatant breach of contract in this case. From the very beginning, it was clear that there was no intent to fulfill the agreement. In fact, the intent seemed to be to get rid of me as quickly as possible. It didn't happen (for I needed the job so badly) and I have contributed more to that store than anyone including the manager. The legislation that has wreaked such havoc and damage on our lives is extremely discriminatory. It discriminates against the disabled veterans in New York City (the law applies only to those cities with populations with one million or more); it discriminates against those who were disabled in service to this nation. It is also racially discriminatory in that 50% of the veterans affected are Black and another 25% are Latino. Of course, most of the minority veterans in New York State live in New York City. So, it seems that we were singled out! The Fifth Avenue Association wanted to get us off as many New York City streets as possible. With its money, power and political influence, it was successful. In the four years prior to permanent passage of the bill, neither New York State nor New York City has done anything to ease the transition from street vendor to other occupations for us. In fact, I have sought employment at both levels of government and the private sector with no success. In the four year period, I have applied for well over three hundred jobs, with no success. At this point, I am sure that age has been a major factor and for me now, health is an issue. 01-04091 The effects of the legislation and XX failure to live up to it's agreement with me have been devastating. Not only have I struggled to survive financially - after having earned a very decent living as a vendor - but it has adversely affected my health. XX XX . It was all a result of the stress, tension and emotional anger caused by the mean-spirited, callous and bigoted actions of the Fifth Avenue Association, New York State and New York City.

It has been extremely painful as well as angering, devastating and disappointing that I served my nation in time of war, was injured and I am now deprived me of the opportunity to live my dreams. As I look back on my life as an American in this nation, I regret my having served in this nation's military. When I was twentytwo, I was accepted to study French at the University of Caen, in Caen, France. I had saved my money for tuition and expenses for a year there and had purchased my travel ticket on the Sitmar Lines. Three weeks prior to my departure date, my draft board denied me permission to leave the country. Had I known then or had a premonition that this nation would treat me (and other disabled veterans) with such disdain and disregard and thus deprive us of opportunities that it affords people from throughout the world, I would have defied the draft board and proceeded to France or gone to Canada or Sweden or some other country. Mr. President, I am ashamed of having served this nation. I recall very vividly my strong opposition to the Vietnam War and my many letters expressing that opposition to my Congressman, William Clay while I was in combat training and in Vietnam. In our desperate attempts to fight our unbeatable foe, the Fifth Avenue Association, we have sent letters to several members of your cabinet hoping to find some guidance, some compassion, some concern and assistance. Unfortunately, we have found none. Several of us wrote letters to Mr. Jessie Brown seeking his assistance and guidance. There was never a response. We wrote to Attorney General Reno because of possible legal violations in this legislation. Again, nothing. With the lack of response and apparent lack of concern about our plight, we realize that it doesn't pay to be poor and a minority in this nation and that there is no dignity in being a veteran and having fought for this nation. Especially, when we come up against the desires of the wealthy and powerful such as the members of the Fifth Avenue Association. With the recent passage of Congressional legislation and Supreme Court decisions which have set civil rights efforts back by at least thirty years, we minority members of the nation who served in Vietnam are now at an age in our lives where there is little hope for the future. We have not asked for governmental handouts nor do we want them. All we want is the opportunity/right restored to earn a decent living, to lead respectable lives and

01-04092 to have reasonably secure and comfortable retirements. Mr. Clinton, I hope this letter doesn't fall on deaf ears. I only have a few years left in this world and I would like to be in a position to enjoy what remains of them. That of course includes having an opportunity to retire with security. I certainly do not wish to have to work for the remainder of my life, but to close it out peacefully, quietly and without the anxiety of struggling to work in order to survive. Thus, I appeal to you for your help in getting the Justice Department involved in the investigation of the discriminatory law in New York State. I also encourage you to have the Department of Veterans Affairs do what is necessary to protect this nation's veterans from the predatory efforts of the rich and powerful business organizations that would drive out small businesses (as we were as street vendors) in what may very well be monopolistic efforts. One final note Mr. President: I have been concerned about the sorry state of parenting in this nation. As a result of this concern, I have developed a business plan (I do want my own business) for the development of a business which specializes in taking parenting seminars to the business place. In addition, I have written the script for a parenting video designed primarily for Black parents with a more all-inclusive one to follow. While the project has been acclaimed for its potential value to helping teach good parenting techniques, through the use of real life scenes, I lack the capital to get the project off the ground. In fact, one of the effects of the legislation was to cost me all of my savings (part of which was to use to help capitalize my business idea) including my retirement. So, I am frantically trying to raise money for this project. Because I have no money, I am having great difficulty raising the necessary capital. I so believe in the value of this idea that I am compelled to continue my efforts to bring the idea to fruition. I am accompanying several documents with this letter including a copy of my resume and the contract with XX . I do hope you will be able to give my requests some consideration and assist me in gaining justice in a very unjust situation.

I wish you the very best for the remainder of this term in office and also in your campaign for a second term. I have always been impressed with your compassion for all people and your commitment to doing what is just and right. Sincerely, XX