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The press, not law, misses the mark

Re: Rights law falls short of target, critics say, June 19

The Times is adding to the distorted information being presented about the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Your article is an example of the press missing the mark by highlighting the sensational and ignoring the reality of this civil rights act for persons with disabilities.

In the first three paragraphs, you present three sensational cases of individuals who sued their employer using the ADA as justification. Not until the 38th paragraph do you acknowledge that all three cases were dismissed.

Indeed, your article goes on to point out that this is a new law that must be tested in order for employers, employees and, yes, even attorneys to understand what constitutes a disability under the law and what reasonable accommodation is all about.

As your graphic pointed out, Florida is second only to Texas in the number of ADA charges filed with the EEOC. Instead of using that statistic to single out individuals with disabilities as complainers, the Times should be suggesting to Florida employers that they may have some work to do in order to reduce the number of acts of discrimination based upon disability. The Times could have used this opportunity to educate employers about their obligations, not diminish their responsibility simply because it sells papers.

Additionally, there is no mention of the many available resources to assist employers and individuals with disabilities in their efforts to comply with this law. Abilities of Florida, headquartered in Clearwater, is the Florida affiliate for the Southeast Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center and can provide this assistance. There are many others.

Jack D. Humburg, communications director, Abilities of Florida, Clearwater

Shops article does

"terrible injustice'

Re: Beneficial turns Shops into offices, June 16.

This article did our stores a terrible injustice. It has taken us 10 years to build a reputation as a dealer of Star Trek, Emmett Kelly, Sports Impressions and Enesco Precious Moments collectibles. However, it has taken the Times the following paragraph to tear down all our hard work:

"But despite its hefty $10-million price tag, The Shops (at Harbour Island) never took off. Instead of upscale fashion boutiques and fancy eateries, it ended up attracting places like Everything's A Dollar and Scruples Unlimited gift shop."

Do you realize what it means for people to see our name in print comparing us with a $1 store? Whoever reads this article will now assume that we are not the collectible gift shop that we are, but a low-end gift shop.

My remaining store at University Collections shopping center in Tampa will suffer from this adverse publicity.

Haven't we suffered enough by having to close down our two stores on Harbour Island without having this to contend with? Had reporter Robert Keefe realized that we had two shops on the island _ one a souvenir/T-shirt shop (which is probably the one he wrote about) and one an exclusive gift shop _ perhaps he wouldn't have written such a thoughtless article.

It takes a thousand positive things to make up for one negative item in this quickly declining retail market.

Mikki Edelstein

president, Scruples Unlimited Inc., Largo

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