BY LINDA BENTLEY | SEPTEMBER 12, 2012
FCC implicates MAG and ADOT as partners in transportation survey
‘We just want people to know we’re doing our best to help people who are homebound’
CAVE CREEK – Municipal water customers in Cave Creek and Carefree received a four-page “Cave Creek and Carefree Transportation Survey” inserted with their latest water bill.
The survey, which is prefaced with the following paragraph, goes on to ask some pretty intrusive questions, which have caused numerous recipients to throw it away:
“The Foothills Caring Corps (FCC), in partnership with Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), are conducting a needs assessment as a first step in providing and planning for specialized transportation in the NE Valley. FCC is excited about the new MAG study for pedestrian and bicycle access that you have recently read about in the local papers. This is a great start for our towns working together to solve essential issues. At this time our communities do not have public transportation but we do have many residents who cannot drive or would rather not if other transportation options were available. It is time to begin working together as towns and organizations to plan for solutions to our problems today as well as begin to prepare for a future time when public buses will come our way. The more our community can do to show our readiness to grow and collaborate, the more attention we will get from potential sources of funding. Your input is vital and this partnership thanks you for your participation.
“This survey may be dropped off in Cave Creek or Carefree Town Offices until 9/20/2012.”
Cave Creek Councilman Dick Esser, who was instrumental in obtaining the $250,000 grant for the MAG transportation framework study to address pedestrian and bicycle access through the two towns, knew nothing about the survey.
After reviewing the questions, Esser said they had nothing to do with the framework study.
Cave Creek Town Manager Usama Abujbarah said he knew nothing about the survey but his Administrative Assistant Barbara Allen said the FCC paid to have the survey inserted in the water bills.
According to Abujbarah, any nonprofit organization may pay to have something inserted in the water bill, providing it is not political in nature.
Sonoran News later learned neither MAG nor ADOT had anything to do with the survey and denied collaborating or participating in any sort of partnership with the FCC.
While MAG is currently conducting a transportation analysis in the West Valley, it said no such study is being conducted for Cave Creek and Carefree.
And, even though the narrative prefacing the survey suggests public buses will soon be coming our way, such is not the case.
Sonoran News spoke to FCC Executive Director Debbra Determan (r) to ask why MAG and ADOT were implicated as partners in the survey when they were not.
Determan said “partnership” was probably the wrong word to use.
When asked why they were mentioned at all when they weren’t remotely involved, Determan said the FCC had just received an ADOT grant to coordinate mobility management and determine if there were hidden needs or resources in the community.
However, she admitted neither ADOT nor MAG had anything to do with the survey.
We asked why the FCC asked two pages of personal questions such as annual household income; highest level of school completed; describe living arrangement; how many in household work; whether one has and uses a computer or cell phone; if a person is a veteran and what veteran services they’re receiving; if a person has a disabling condition, including emotional or mental; what hospital the person uses; whether or not one is a member of any faith community; if one is involved in any community organizations and, if so, which, before asking the first question remotely related to transportation needs.
Determan said the survey was created by volunteers and they included questions found in other surveys.
Appologizing for the lack of professionalism because it was created by volunteers, Determan said she took full responsibility for the survey.
Determan said the FCC has 575 “remarkable volunteers” who serve the needs of 665 families and neighbors in Cave Creek, Carefree, North Scottsdale and North Phoenix.
Through its network of volunteers, FCC provides other services in addition to transportation, including weekly home visits, mobile meals, caregiver relief, business help, and minor home repairs, such as changing light bulbs or replacing batteries in smoke detectors.
However, the FCC’s van transportation service that accompanies neighbors to the grocery store or takes them to shopping, lunch outings, movies, libraries, bingo, concerts and more, remains its most popular program.
Determan said the FCC received grants to purchase its five vans, three of which are wheelchair accessible.
Prior to obtaining their first van in 2004, the FCC began 13 years ago as a group of volunteers who provided transportation with their personal vehicles.
While Sonoran News has heard from many citizens who called the survey questions “invasive” and said they threw it away, Determan said they’ve received about 50 responses so far with another basket full of surveys to pick up at Cave Creek Town Hall.
Determan said some of the respondents indicated they moved into the area to get away from big-city amenities/services.
According to Determan, FCC provided 5,615 van trips last fiscal year and 3,838 medical trips.
A van trip, is counted each way, per person and can include anywhere from eight to 40 people for a social, shopping or recreational trip.
A medical trip, also counted each way, is a one-on-one trip where the driver takes a person to a medical appointment, waits for them and then takes them home.
Determan stated the FCC didn’t intend to mislead anyone by implicating MAG and ADOT in the survey and said, “We just want people to know we’re doing our best to help people who are homebound.”