DENVER – Disability rights advocates this month honored Denver Auditor Timothy M. O’Brien for his work supporting accessibility and services for those with intellectual, developmental and other disabilities in the city.
The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition awarded Auditor O’Brien its ADA Access Award. The awards are given to honorees whose work goes beyond the letter of the Americans with Disabilities Act and focuses on the spirit of inclusion.
“Advocating on behalf of people with disabilities is essential to the character and wellness of the city we all love,” Auditor O’Brien said. “It is important for community advocates and activists to make their voices heard so the needs of the people of Denver don’t get overlooked. I am grateful to the coalition for its work and for this honor.”
Julie Reiskin, executive director of the disability rights coalition, said this year’s honorees exemplify the definition of advocates. “They are tireless, passionate, and selfless with their time, their experience and their resources,” Reiskin said. “We are indebted to them and so grateful to count them as partners in working for the rights of people with disabilities everywhere.”
The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition is the largest statewide disability rights organization. Members advocate for people with all types of disabilities.
“As an elected official who really believes in transparency, accountability and also being a compassionate advocate, Tim really personifies that,” Colorado Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne said as she presented Auditor O’Brien with the award.
Since taking office, Auditor O’Brien has put significant resources into audits that examine services for the vulnerable and the disabled, such as the examination of the contract between the Department of Human Services and Rocky Mountain Human Services. Rocky Mountain Human Services uses property tax proceeds to act as a not-for-profit, community-centered board designated by the state to provide case management and services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The audit found improper spending of public money and money going out of state instead of helping those who need it here in Denver.
After the 2015 audit, Denver’s City Council approved a new ordinance to outline permitted use of property tax revenues and require regular reporting and residency.
Another audit advocating for access and inclusivity in Denver was the disability parking audit in 2017. Auditor O’Brien called for better maintenance and enforcement of ADA compliant parking spaces. He wanted the city to do better in upholding the spirit of open access to everyone in the city, and he found the resources and enforcement of ADA parking was lacking.
Auditor O’Brien received the disability coalition’s award for his and his team’s work on Oct. 3 at the organization’s annual awards luncheon. Other honorees included Allison Neswood of the Colorado Center on Law and Policy and Peter Roper of the Pueblo Chieftain.
“The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition works tirelessly to speak out in the community, and I am glad they are using their passion to call for positive change in the city,” Auditor O’Brien said. “I thank them for the ADA Access Award, and I look forward to advocating for complete social services on behalf of everyone who cares about Denver.”