Later this week, I plan to announce formally the provisional appointment of
David Newburger as my new top advisor on disability rights. David is an attorney and a veteran advocate for people with disabilities. He will be the City's Commissioner on the Disabled, and his goal will be to advance my agenda of making St. Louis more accessible and welcoming to people with disabilities of all types.
David's appointment will mean some important changes in both the philosophy and structure of the City's
Office on the Disabled. The primary goal of the Office will be to help every part of City government develop a better understanding of accessibility issues and the skills necessary to address them as the City carries out its business.
Some of the tasks previously performed by the Office on the Disabled will be decentralized in other parts of the City government that have primary responsibility for various governmental functions. One example of this decentralization is that responsibility for ensuring that disability issues are addressed in major construction will reside in the City's
Building Division, where staff members have architectural and engineering expertise. Rather than making accessibility a barrier (or an afterthought) to new development, David will work to encourage creative approaches to accessibility, recognizing that St. Louis has many historic buildings and public spaces where achieving accessibility will not always be easy.
Here is David's bio: He moved to St. Louis in 1972 to become a member of the law faculty at
Washington University. In 1979, he and the late Steve Vossmeyer formed a private law firm, Newburger & Vossmeyer, where he works today. Mr. Newburger is a principal in the Starkloff Disability Institute. In addition, he has previously served on the boards of Paraquad; the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Center; and the OASIS Institute, an organization that fosters opportunities for older adults to continue to lead independent and productive lives.
David will maintain his law practice and continue his work with the Starkloff Institute. This will give the City the benefit of his expertise, and it will allow his advocacy to be broader than City government.
I am delighted to have David with me.