If anyone doubts that federal oversight is still necessary to prevent racial discrimination, here is your proof. Amid charges of racism, the Beavercreek City Council is fighting against approval of three bus stops for neighboring Dayton's bus system, even at the risk of losing federal highway funds. Back in 2011, the council voted 6-0 to deny approval for three bus stops, saying the Dayton Regional Transit Authority refused to comply with its design criteria. Accusations of racism quickly ensued, based on the fact that the ridership of Greater Dayton RTA is 73% minority, while Beavercreek is almost entirely white. The council vociferously denied that charge, instead insisting it was about local control, lack of ridership, as well as potential safety concerns.
The feds disagreed. A local civil rights group, Leaders for Equality in Action in Dayton (LEAD), then filed a discrimination lawsuit with the civil rights division of the Federal Highway Administration. In June, they ruled that the denial of those bus stops did constitute discrimination, and has ordered the council to approve them or face losing federal highway funds.
The council has yet to act. Instead of relenting and approving the stops, they have postponed the vote to a later date in order to consider their options. That means that they are actually considering a very costly appeal — hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees — or noncompliance,which would cost them millions in federal funding, rather than simply allow the installation of three bus stops likely to bring minorities into town.
The bus stops could open opportunities to those seeking work or education who don't own a car: mainly young and poor people. The proposed bus stops would provide access to a shopping mall, a medical center, several schools, and many businesses.
For whatever reason, it certainly looks like Beavercreek does not want those bus stops, or maybe they want to set some sort of record for the most fabulous bus stop shelters ever. Their design requirements for the shelters, which were the sticking point of the dispute, included very expensive and unrealistic upgrades like heating and air conditioning, surveillance cameras, and an extra-thick concrete foundation. Of course no bus shelter in Beavercreek, or any other city, meets those requirements, but the town insisted that these three had to have them.
Perhaps racism is not the only element influencing the town's decision. Some residents said their opposition to the buses was based on the fear of crime, but Dayton RTA officials dismiss that and point to other retail areas they serve as proof. And one of the city council members who voted against the bus stops is African-American.
But it is hard to argue that race did not play a role. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck ...